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Wilt Thinks Lakers Will Prevail Despite Fans, Media and Kareem

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Times Staff Writer

Prof. Wilt Chamberlain believes that the Lakers have mathematics on their side.

“If you asked people before this series (Lakers vs. Rockets), I guarantee you about 95% of them would have said the Lakers would win in four games, maybe five,” Chamberlain said. “Now, if all us Laker fans believe they can run over the Rockets in the first place, there’s no reason we can’t believe it now.

“I’m gonna to go out and get myself some bets. What kind of odds you think I can get? Ten to one? That’s about what I figure. I’m not going to bet the house or anything. I’ve got about $1,000 here and I’m gonna go out and see if I can spread it around the beaches.”

Chamberlain always has opinions, especially about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

“I find it interesting, this talk about how tired Kareem is, how age is catching up with him,” Chamberlain said. “He’s scoring more now in the playoffs, his game hasn’t changed. I find it amazing how inconsistent the fans and sportswriters are.”

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So Chamberlain likes the way Abdul-Jabbar is playing?

“He has to rebound, and get up and down the court, and play less minutes,” Chamberlain said. “It’s time they gave him some time on the bench, so he can utilize his time in the game a whole lot better. They can’t play him for 42 minutes.

“Can he get more rebounds? Sure he can. I find it hard to believe he can be so animated on offense but only get three, four rebounds. I tell you, he’s not trying to get rebounds. He’s even ducking away sometimes. He’s like an old batter up at the plate, bailing out, afraid to get hit. I see him bailing out. He still has the agility and he can still jump, at times, but I see him bailing out.

“I’m not here to demean Kareem. I’m talking about what needs to be done to win the game. I wanna know why is he ducking out of the way of rebounds, when Spud Webb can go out there and get seven, eight rebounds.

“He’s still a good basketball player, but he’s not great anymore. He doesn’t do things a great center does anymore--rebound, block shots, get up and down the court. That thing where he fakes up-court (toward the defensive end), then stays (under the Laker basket) and they throw him the ball for an easy dunk. Have you ever known another center to cherry-pick like that? I’ve played and watched the game for 40 years, and in the history of basketball I’ve never seen another center do that, stay down at the other end while four of his teammates fight on defense, then get the ball and throw it to him.

“I guarantee you’ll see that play three or four times every game. Of all the things I’ve seen in basketball, that’s the most disgusting. The coach might tell him it’s OK sometimes not to hustle down on offense , but no coach in his right mind can tell his center not to come down on defense .

“I don’t think Kareem is the only reason Houston is winning. And I’m not irritated so much at Kareem as at you guys (the media) for not pointing it out.”

Then Chamberlain took a parting shot at Laker fans, noting how they seem to have abandoned all hope of a Laker comeback.

“L.A. fans are the worst ,” he says. “They sit in the stands, wave their gold chains, they don’t know anything about being fans.”

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Then Chamberlain said goodby. He was on his way to the beach.

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