Re: Chamberlain & Thurmond > Russell Defensively
Kareem never played a game against Bill Russell.
Wilt Chamberlain was famous for using the needle on guys, and if that quote came after Russell's outrageous comments made from the safety of retirement, then there's no telling what he really thought.
I think Thurmond is right when he talked on this subject years ago.... he was able to play Chamberlain so well because he practiced against him every day when they were on the Warriors; and he was able to play Kareem so well because he'd already fought Chamberlain for so many years. I don't think Thurmond was better than Russell.
Wilt better defense than Russell? Chamberlain was an offensive force that has so far seen only one equal. That fact has to be accounted for when you consider how much energy it takes to excel on defense. After he blew out his knee in '70 and shifted his focus to almost pure defense, Chamberlain was better than the Bill Russell that I saw. I can't compare him to Russell's best days which was early 60s.
It's also not a fair comparison in another way and this is just an opinion based on old memories and thoughts more than watching any tape recently... but I believe Russell used non-stop running as one of the cornerstones of his defense. Those Celtics teams lived for transition ball. Bill Russell didn't just get the rebound and throw an outlet pass. By no means.
He flat ran guys into the dirt.