Teammates from 1968 through 1971 on the Los Angeles Lakers, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain weren’t exactly the best of friends. The two men possessed huge similarly styled egos. Each always thought he was right all the time and never hesitated to express their unvarnished opinions. One locker room argument exemplifies their disdain and incompatibility…
“[The Boston Celtics] run like a bunch of turtles with arthritis [Baylor] joked to the delight of his fellow Lakers.
“Are you joking about people again?” Chamberlain inquired seriously.
“I’m not talking about people,” Baylor answered.
“You always talking about people,” Chamberlain replied.
“What do you mean?” Baylor asked.
“How do you think people feel when, you know, you call them turtles with arthritis?” Chamberlain said.
“I didn’t say they were turtles with arthritis. I said they run like turtles with arthritis,” Baylor responded.
… what had begun as jovial locker room interplay between teammates quickly descended into an unpleasant clash of egos…
- Via Thomas Whalen’s Dynasty’s End
Forget the arthritis, the Lakers locker room was one big awkward turtle. Chamberlain thought Baylor was beyond his prime and ought to relegate himself to secondary status behind the Big Dipper and Mr. Clutch. There was some truth to Chamberlain’s thoughts. Baylor after suffering from a serious knee injury in 1965 was robbed of his explosive first step. Prior to the injury Baylor had averaged 30 points and 15 rebounds a game. Afterwards it was a “mere” 23 points and 11 rebounds.
In truth, though, Chamberlain wasn’t quite the overpowering force he had been in younger years either. Gone were his routine spectacles of 50 points and 30 rebounds in a game. He was still good for 20 points and 20 rebounds a night, but both of these men were past their most physically spectacular, statistically outlandish years. As it so happens, they often performed their statistical feats opposite one another.
Using the wonderful databases at basketball-reference.com, I’ve been able to find three instances where Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor scored at least 50 points against one another in the same game. And as it so happens they all took place in December 1961 and December 1962.