The constantly evolving game of basketball has been revolutionized by a few players who brought new styles of play to the court. The recent eras of basketball technique and style can be broken down into three very basic twenty-year periods. The time period from 1960 to 1980 can called the modernization of basketball. During this time period, one dominant player, Wilt Chamberlain, revolutionized the game of basketball. Known as the era of finesse, the years 1980-2000 housed one dominant player, Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan changed the game by combining finesse with incredible jumping ability to allow guards to play above the rim. The current era, 2000 to the present, happens to be an era that combines fast-paced, power basketball with incredible defensive skills. Athletes like Lebron James have been a source of this new playing style. The game of basketball has changed greatly in a sixty year time period because of the way Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, and Lebron James have impacted the game. When he arrived on the scene, Wilt Chamberlain was one of the largest players the game had ever seen. He measured in at six-feet eleven, inches and almost 300 pounds ("Wilt”). Basketball had never seen a player with his size and strength, and he quickly earned the nickname “Wilt the Stilt”. Chamberlain “modernized” with his sheer size and the way he played. While not a good free-throw shooter, Wilt would simply throw the ball towards the rim, take two steps towards the goal, grab the rebound, and dunk the basketball ("Wilt”). While Chamberlain did not invent “dunking”; he incorporated this powerful move into his arsenal successfully. The combination of his size and ability to dunk began a slow change in the basketball world.
Wilt remained unstoppable in the years that he played because of his sheer size and strength. His debut game as a Kansas Jayhawk, Wilt scored 52 points, shattering the previous record, followed by an NCAA championship later in the season ("Wilt”). Wilt did not add aggression to the game; in fact, Wilt leaned more toward a gentle personality. This lack of aggression did not mean a lack of competiveness. The coach of the 76ers, Larry Brown said, "Wilt was a tremendous individual, I really got to know him when I was coaching at UCLA. He spent a lot of time with the team. As far as basketball, he changed the way the game is played through his gentle competitiveness and dominance in the paint" (“Wilt”).f Chamberlain became the highest scorer to date in the NBA, averaging just over fifty points per game his second season. Basketball had never seen a player of this caliber, and had no answer to it, except to adapt and become more like him. Because of Chamberlain’s impact on the game of basketball, the NCAA and NBA were forced to create new rules to even the playing field.
The NBA saw the impact Wilt made inside the paint and decided to attempt to slow down his scoring by widening the lane to keep him further away from the rim. Goaltending, established because of Wilt’s ability to block above the rim shots, kept him from blocking a shot close to the rim. Wilt’s impact on basketball set the stage for the NBA we have today and paved the way for the great players of today. Players like Michael Jordan have built upon the foundation Wilt Chamberlain created to elevate the game to new levels. The most competitive player on the court, Michael Jordan, hated to lose. Jordan displayed this element of competitiveness through small guards playing “above the rim”. This revolutionized the game because until Michael changed traditional basketball, specific set positions for each player rarely changed. For example, a shooting guard did not normally drive the basketball inside the lane on a larger opponent. Most guards would wait for a pass around the three-point line and shoot a jump shot instead. Jordan, one of the first to effectively get the ball around the three-point line and drive in the lane,