“Wanted to comeback in, to be the hero” – Red Auerbach sounded off on Wilt Chamberlain’s theory from Game 7 of the ’69 Finals

Auerbach believes Wilt only wanted to grab the spotlight in Game 7 of the ’69 Finals.


Whenever Game 7 of the 1969 NBA Finals is brought up, many LA Lakers loyalists speculate that the outcome could have been different if coach Van Breda Kolff had chosen to reinsert Wilt Chamberlain into the contest when the home team narrowed the deficit to 103-102.


However, Red Auerbach was quick to dismiss such beliefs by defending coach Kolff and even subtly accusing ‘The Big Dipper’ of wanting to grab the spotlight.


Auerbach defended Kolff for choosing Counts


With just over five minutes remaining on the clock, the towering 7’1″ center injured his knee as the Purple and Gold trailed by seven points. However, after a brief rest, Chamberlain was ready to hop on the court, but Coach Kolff opted to stick with Mel Counts on the floor instead of bringing the four-time MVP back in. Ultimately, it was the Boston Celtics that secured a 108-106 win.


Discussing the same instance in an interview with Bob Costas in 1991, Auerbach was made aware of Wilt’s perspective that Kolff only forced him on the bench to prove that he could win a championship without him. In response, Red revealed some harsh truths that might never sit well with Wilt’s fans.



It wasn’t just Auerbach who defended Kolff’s decision to back Counts, but the latter remained steadfast in his principles. Despite acknowledging that many considered his choice to not put Chamberlain as the ‘dumbest idea,’ as he had a game-high 27 rebounds in that game, Kolff admitted that he would make the same decision if given the chance again.


Undoubtedly, some may use this infamous decision to tarnish Kolff’s coaching legacy. Yet, he remained resolute in his stance till the very end, even if it meant sidelining the greatest scoring big man.



Gideon Canice

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *