Doug Sibor contributes to Sneaker Report, Complex Media, and Bleacher Report, and can often be found shuttling between Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium and TD Garden. If you wish to discuss sports, sneakers, reality TV or acceptable meats to use as pizza toppings, follow him here.
No. 10 - Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers
Stats: 20 points, 41 rebounds
Game: 4/5/1967 vs. Boston Celtics
On their way to an NBA title (the first of Wilt’s esteemed career), the 76ers had to overcome their fierce rivals from Boston. Wilt almost single-handedly ended the Celtics’ run of eight straight championships, owning the paint in his Converse All-Stars as he outmaneuvered nemesis Bill Russell under the hoop. Wilt’s 41 rebounds set a record for the most ever recorded in a playoff game, and that mark still stands over 45 years later (and will likely never be broken). With the win, the 76ers went up three games to none in the best-of-seven Eastern Division Finals, and they would close out the series in five on their way to a championship.
No. 9 - Elmore Smith, Los Angeles Lakers
Stats: 12 points, 16 rebounds, 2 assists, 17 blocks
Game: 10/28/1973 vs. Portland Trail Blazers
If you asked even the most diehard of hoops fans about who holds the record for most blocks in a game, chances are you aren’t going to hear the name Elmore Smith come up too often. The Lakers big man was certainly on his game against the Trail Blazers, as he elevated above the rim all night long to set the NBA record for blocks. On the same night, he also set the record for blocks in a half with 11, playing all 48 minutes and guiding the Lakers to a win. The traction offered by the rubber outsole of Smith’s Converse All-Stars kept the center grounded as he patrolled the paint, and was a big reason why at the end of the season he led the NBA in blocked shots.
No. 8 - Jerry West, Los Angeles Lakers
Stats: 52 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game (playoff averages)
Game: 4/5/1965 vs. Baltimore Bullets
The Logo put together perhaps the single greatest playoff series in the history of the league, averaging a record 46.3 points over the six games. Lakers’ star Elgin Baylor had blown out his knee in Game 1, putting the entire burden of scoring on West and his Converse All-Stars; the guard was certainly up to the task, pouring in at least 42 points in every game. The canvas upper afforded West all the stability he’d need as he zig-zagged across the court, elevating over defenders and knocking down his signature mid-range jumper.
No. 7 - Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors
Stats: 78 points, 43 rebounds, 1 assist
Game: 12/8/1961 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
At the time, 78 points in a game seemed like a really big deal; after all, it was an NBA record. However, it would be less than three months before Wilt made his second-highest scoring effort a distant memory. Wearing his Converse All-Stars and supported by their high-top canvas upper, Wilt shot an even 50 percent from the field, which is a decent enough output that projects to monstrous numbers when taking 62 shots. With 31 misses, it’s no wonder he was also able to corral an almost equally astounding 43 rebounds, which currently places him in a tie for seventh-most in a single game in NBA history.
No. 6 - Bob Pettit, St. Louis Hawks
Stats: 50 points, 17.0 rebounds per game (series average)
Game: 4/12/1958 vs. Boston Celtics
Pettit seemingly could not get over the hump against the Celtics, losing to them in the Finals in 1957, 1960 and 1961. However, for one glorious season, he was able to dominate his foes from the East with a Game 7 for the ages that delivered his Hawks an NBA title. Pettit set a then-record for playoff scoring with 50 points, including a blistering fourth quarter in which he scored 19 of his team’s 21 total points. His final basket, a tip-in with 15 seconds remaining, gave his team a three point lead that they would not relinquish. The durable canvas upper of the Converse All-Star was perfect for the rangy big man’s game, which relied upon him using the entire floor to get his points.
No. 5 - Elgin Baylor, Los Angeles Lakers
Stats: 71 points, 25 rebounds
Game: 11/15/1960 vs. New York Knicks
While it would only stand for just over a year, Baylor’s incredible effort on this night in his Converse All-Stars set an NBA record for most points in a single game. One of the opposing players, Johnny Green, told Hoop magazine that Baylor’s performance was actually “typical,” and that there was “nothing amazing about it.” While this comment may seem like an insult, though, it actually was meant to speak to the greatness Baylor brought to the court every single time out. This dominant scoring barrage is current tied for the eighth most in a game in league history.
No. 4 - Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors
Stats: 34 points, 55 rebounds
Game: 11/24/1960 vs. Boston Celtics
This might be the most unbreakable basketball record of all-time. For some perspective, the team with the highest rebounds per game average this past season (the Golden State Warriors) averaged 34.2 rebounds a night. Wilt had over 20 more than that. Making this record-setting performance even sweeter, he was able to set it against his nemesis Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics, a team that had proven problematic for the Warriors for years. In typical Wilt fashion, he was wearing the Converse All-Star, whose rubber outsole helped give the center the traction he needed to chase down all those rebounds. The Warriors’ statistician from that night, “had never seen Russell more distraught” than he was after the game, and rightly so; nobody likes being on the wrong side of history.
No. 3 - Elgin Baylor, Los Angeles Lakers
Stats: 61 points, 22 rebounds
Game: 4/14/1962 vs. Boston Celtics
While some former players might struggle with today’s more modern game, if Baylor came into the NBA tomorrow he would instantly be a star. The incredible athleticism he possessed was matched only by his incredible touch around the basket, and wearing the Converse All-Star he was unstoppable in Game 5 of the 1962 NBA Finals against the Celtics. Baylor’s gaudy point total not only set a playoff record that still stands, but also gave his team a 3-2 series lead over their rival. As former Celtics guard Tom “Satch” Sanders put it, “Elgin was just a machine in that game” as he shredded one of the league’s best defenses.
No. 2 - Bill Russell, Boston Celtics
Stats: 30 points, 40 rebounds
Game: 4/18/1962 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Russell’s propensity for coming through in the clutch has only added to his legend. In 10 Game 7s during his career, he was a perfect 10-0. This was his finest effort of them all, as with the NBA title hanging in the balance Russell used his Converse All-Stars to help the Celtics take yet another championship, this one their fourth in a row. His 40 rebounds set a playoff record that stood until 1967 (and are still the second-most all-time), and the Celtics’ overtime win also marks the last time a finals Game 7 has gone to an extra period.
No. 1 - Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia Warriors
Stats: 100 points, 25 rebounds, 2 assists
Game: 3/2/1962 vs. New York Knicks
It was on this night in front of just 4124 people and with no TV cameras in the building that Wilt Chamberlain set basically every single-game shooting and scoring record that exists. He had 69 points after three quarters, then fought through triple and the occasional quadruple teams to pour in 31 in the fourth and set the record. The Knicks’ Darrall Imhoff noted Chamberlain “literally stuffed us through the hoop with the ball” as he powered to the basket, with the durable canvas upper of Wilt’s Converse All-Stars holding its shape despite his attempting a record 63 shots over the course of the game.