Who Is Better: Lebron James Or Wilt Chamberlain?
LeBron James and Wilt Chamberlain are among the greatest basketball players of all time. Both have won multiple championships and have records that could stand the test of time. Read below to find out which of these greats are better in terms of championships, scoring ability, and longevity in the NBA.
Even though LeBron’s career hasn’t ended, he has already surpassed Wilt for championships and Finals MVPs. Currently, James has four titles (2012, 2013, 2016, 2020), while Chamberlain owns two rings (1967, 1972). When it comes to finals MVPs, James has won the award each year that he’s won the title. Chamberlain didn’t have the opportunity to win the honor in 1967, but did so in 1972. As far as finals appearances, LeBron is tied for the third-most all-time with ten, including a remarkable stretch of eight in a row from 2011-2018. On the other hand, Wilt made six trips to the finals. Overall, James has more championships, more appearances, and more finals MVPs than Chamberlain, making LeBron the better player in this aspect.
The scoring debate is really interesting between James and Chamberlain. By points-per-game, Wilt averaged 30.1 points, while James sits at around 27 points. In fact, Wilt owns the record for most points scored in a single game. On March 2, 1962, Chamberlain piled up 100 points, a record that may never be touched, considering Kobe Bryant’s 81 points, done in 2006, are the second-most ever. After Wilt’s last game in 1973, he was the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
With all that being said, James is more of a complete scorer than Chamberlain. Now, Wilt didn’t have the three-point line in his day, so the best way to judge the shooting is free throws. James shoots over 70% from the line, while Chamberlain shot just 51.1% from the charity stripe. Also, LeBron is much more of a passer than Wilt ever was, averaging nearly three more assists per game than the big man. On top of that, James is now the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and is on pace to become the first player to hit 40,000 career points.
In terms of individual scoring dominance, Chamberlain was better than James. But, in terms of being a more complete scorer, LeBron is superior to Wilt.
This debate isn’t necessarily about which player played longer. It’s about whose peak lasted longer, and there is no question that it’s LeBron. James entered the NBA in 2003 as an 18-year-old out of high school, yet he averaged over 30 points per game in 2022. Chamberlain played 15 seasons, but his prime was really in the beginning (1959-66). During those eight years, Wilt averaged at least 30 points per game, including an NBA record 50.4 points per game in 1962. However, after 1966, Chamberlain only scored more than 25 points per game once (1970), and he only played 12 games that season. James has been a model of consistency, hovering between 25-30 points per game since his rookie season. Overall, Chamberlain may have had an outstanding peak, but he couldn’t sustain it like LeBron.