Tip-Off Timer: Wilt Snags 55 Rebounds
There are no cheap records in the NBA. But one of the most eye-popping records Wilt Chamberlain holds, all things considered, is his mark for most rebounds in a game: 55, captured against Bill Russell's Celtics early in the 1960-61 season. The final score of that game (on November 24, 1960) was 132-129.
Interestingly enough, it was Russell's record that Wilt broke. (Russell had 51 rebounds against the Syracuse Nationals late in the 1959-60 season.) But as was so often the case in the Wilt/Russell rivalry, while Wilt got the record, Russell got the win.
Only two players not named Russell or Chamberlain appear on the NBA's list of players who have tallied at least 40 rebounds in one game: Nate Thurmond (42 in 1965) and Jerry Lucas (40 in 1964). While players have made assaults on Wilt's single-game points and consecutive made field goal records, no one can touch the rebounds mark. Part of that is due to the nature of the game -- the pace has slowed way down and teams shoot a lot better; heck, NBA teams only averaged 41 rebounds per game last season. Today's league and Wilt's league are oranges and tangerines.
That doesn't make it any less impressive, of course, just as "100" isn't cheapened by the circumstances of Wilt's league.