Alcindor v. Chamberlain: Blogger's Interlude

1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks 

  At this point in the rivalry, let's take a break to gather our thoughts. The two giants had now done battle in 11 games over two years, Alcindor winning the scoring battle 7 times, while the Bucks prevailed as a team eight times. Most importantly, as you can see from the above graph, Alcindor's Bucks ousted Chamberlain's Lakers in 6 games during the Western Conference Finals. Four games later Alcindor claimed his first NBA title.

Truth be told, Wilt got injured during year one of the rivalry, and sat out the rest of the season, while the Bucks had a much better team in year two. Before the 1970-71 season began, Milwaukee acquired All-Star guard Oscar Robertson, known to sports fans as "the Big O." Milwaukee went on to post the best record in the league with 66 victories in the 1970–71 NBA season, including a then-record 20 straight wins. Alcindor was awarded his first of six NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, along with his first scoring title (31.7 ppg). In the playoffs, the Bucks went 12–2 (including a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Bullets in the NBA Finals), won the championship, and Alcindor was named Finals MVP. On May 1, 1971, the day after the Bucks won the NBA championship, Lew Alcindor adopted the Muslim name Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, its Arabic translation roughly "generous/noble (Kareem), servant of (Abdul) the mighty/stern one (Jabbar) [i.e., of God]."

So now the battle changes name, becoming Wilt v. Kareem. The dynamics will also soon change as we move from Milwaukee's storied 1970-71 season to the Lakers' storied season of 1971-72. Let's see how the Lakers improved team impacts this great individual rivalry.

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