The Big Dipper Altered His Game to Become a Champion

Everyone knew Wilt Chamberlain could score — he had won seven consecutive scoring titles and once had averaged 50.4 ppg for an entire season. But it took his new coach, Alex Hannum, to convince Chamberlain that just putting points on the board wouldn't get him a championship ring.

That was evident in 1966-67, when Hannum convinced Chamberlain that with all the other talented scorers on the team, he should focus his talents on other aspects of the game. That can be a hard sell to a seven-time scoring champ, but Chamberlain bought into the philosophy, and the result was one of the greatest teams of all time. Chamberlain's scoring averaged dipped to 24.1 ppg, but he led the league in rebounding (24.2 rpg),  field goal percentage (.683) and ranked third in assists (7.8 apg). Without Chamberlain dominating the ball, other scorers emerged in forward Chet Walker (19.3 ppg), guard Hal Greer (22.1 ppg) and sixth man Billy Cunningham (18.5 ppg).

Philadelphia won 45 of its first 49 games and romped to a 68-13 regular season record, at the time the best in NBA history. The Sixers beat out Boston by eight games for the Atlantic Division title, and the writing was on the wall: The Celtics' string of championships was about to end. Boston was no match for Philadelphia when they met in the Eastern Division Finals, winning only Game 4 at home after the 76ers had grabbed control of the series with three straight wins. Philadelphia pounded Boston 140-116 in Game 5 to finish things off, then moved on to an almost anti-climactic NBA Finals in which the 76ers defeated the San Francisco Warriors in six games for the title.

In 1980, during the NBA's 35th year anniversary, the 1966-67 Philadelphia squad was recognized as the greatest team in league history.  Wilt was selected as the MVP.


NBA Champions: 1967 Philadelphia 76ers


Back to top