Friday, March 8, 2013

the last book I ever read (King of the Court: Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution, excerpt fourteen)

from King of the Court: Bill Russell and the Basketball Revolution by Aram Goudsouzian:

After a prolonged holdout, Chamberlain had signed a one-year, $250,000 contract. Yet the highest-paid athlete in history lacked gusto for another campaign. “I’d broken my own records year after year,” he recalled. “I’d even been on a championship team. What else could I do?” Defending the NBA title did not qualify as a goal. He still defined excellence in individual terms.

So Chamberlain motivated himself with another individual, statistical goal: leading the NBA in assists. He stopped attacking the basket, favored passes to quick shooters like Chet Walker and Billy Cunningham, and passed up easy shots. In one game, he failed to take a single shot. He remained capable of fifty-two and sixty-eight point outbursts, but he got obsessed with assists. Once he even searched out the scorekeeper in an emptying arena to dispute his tally. He led the NBA with 8.6 assists a game—a remarkable feat for a center. He also won his third straight MVP, surpassed twenty-five thousand career points, and put his team eight games ahead of Boston. Yet, somehow, Chamberlain had made unselfishness selfish.

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