Wilt Chamberlain Career Rebound Record Question

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Wilt Chamberlain Career Rebound Record Question

Postby kkowalski_1998 » Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:12 am

I have a picture showing Wilt chamberlain standing in front of a giant plaque celebrating Wilt breaking the career rebound record. (There is also a youtube video showing the same thing). It was a game against Portland on Jan 30, 1972 when Wilt broke the record. The plaque shows that he just eclipsed 21,722 rebounds. However, Bill Russell, who held the record before Wilt broke it (and who was retired by this time) is credited with 21,620 career rebounds. So, it seems like Wilt should have broken the record a few games before the game against the Blazers. Can anybody explain this?
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Postby John Grasso » Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:31 pm

Here's some background but I don't know for sure what the correct number is.

2/1/72 - NY Times - "Wilt Clears Mark From Boards"
"... With 1:54 to go in the first quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers, the game was halted after Chamberlain grabbed his 12th rebound, making him the NBA's career leader with 21,722. He was rewarded with a two minute standing ovation, the game ball and a wooden backboard engraved with his name...."

The Sporting News "Official 1972-73 NBA Guide" for the 1961-62 season shows Russell with 1891 rebounds, second to Chamberlain's 2052 that year. That figure of 1891 appears in 3 separate places on p. 313.

The Sporting News "Official 1973-74 NBA Guide" for the 1961-62 season shows Russell with 1790 rebounds - again in 3 separate places on p. 327.

All subsequent "Official" NBA guides list the 1790 amount.
All previous guides have the 1891 figure.

The Sports Encyclopedia: Pro Basketball, 1975 edition shows Russell's record with the 1790 figure and 21620 career rebounds.

Subsequent editions of that book continue with the 1790, 21620 figures.

The Official NBA Basketball Encyclopedia, 1989 edition, shows Russell's record with the 1891 figure and 21721 career rebounds.

The second edition of the Official NBA Basketball Encyclopedia, 1994, shows Russell's record with the 1790 figure and 21620 career rebounds.

The third edition of that book also has 1790 and 21620.

Total Basketball, published in 2003 also has 1790 and 21620.


As far as team totals - the 72-73 Guide shows Boston with 6075. The 73-74 Guide has 6080. The other 3 Eastern Division teams have different total amounts between the 72-73 and 73-74 Guides. Individual totals do not add up to that amount because of the category of "team rebounds" which are not attributed to any player. Unfortunately the figure of "team rebounds" for that season is not shown in any record book that I'm aware of.

So, at least you know that the award was presented at the correct time, given the knowledge and stats available in 1972. Whether the figure was correct I still don't know.
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Thanks, John

Postby kkowalski_1998 » Fri Feb 15, 2008 6:05 pm

John : Thanks for solving the mystery. I did comb the web looking for any additional info which would explain why Bill Russell had 101 rebounds subtracted from his total, but couldn't did anything up. Unlike Ty Cobb's well discussed .367 to .366 lifetime batting average change, Russell's career rebound change appears to have received no press. I wonder if it was just a case of adding up the per-game rebound numbers incorrectly in 1961-62, or something more sinister. I know from reading a Wilt biography that there was suspicion among the Phil Warriors staff that the Boston Celtics statisticians were padding Russell's rebounding numbers so that he would beat Chamberlain in that category.
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Re: Wilt Chamberlain Career Rebound Record Question

Postby fpliii » Thu Aug 29, 2013 4:10 am

Not sure what the policy here is for bumping old threads, but I was looking at our file at nbastats.net after remembering this topic from a while ago. We have Russell's rebound figures from old Globe box scores stories, excluding the following games:

2/13/62 (vs Packers)
2/14/62 (vs Knicks)
3/8/62 (vs Packers)
3/9/62 (vs Pistons)

He also missed four games (1/24/62 vs Hawks, 1/26/62 vs Knicks, 1/27/62 vs Warriors, 1/28/62 vs Warriors) with a foot injury. For the 72 games for which we have his rebounds, Russell's total is 1712. This means:

1790-1712=78 rebounds (19.5 per game)
1891-1712=179 rebounds (44.75 per game)

The second total seems awfully high, and very much improbable (unless Russ had multiple super high rebounding games that weren't mentioned in TSN guides or record books) given that his highest rebounding game was 12/21/61 against the Knicks.

Anyhow, apologies if this had already been completely resolved, but when I was still lurking a few years ago I remember seeing this and being awfully confused on the matter. :)
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