I recommend a book called "the sports gene"
Most of the improvements in times and endurance come down to improvements in technology, training and nutrition and specialization of body types. The humans bodies back then still held the same athletic potential, or rather if not the same the difference is marginal for this discussion. and basketball was already specialized for hieght.
For example if you account for the loss of enegery n the different running surface, and shoes, Jesse owens in 1936 would basically be stride for with usain bolts record. Usian would be faster, but only slightly.
Did the US produce less basketball players, sure, but only 96 were in the NBA. probabaly only 60% or less of them played mayjor minutes. your telling that america could get 63 quality atheletes on par with atheltic potential of the average in the NBA today?\
Whatch film of Russel, he's an elite athlete,it's obvious now what would he look like if he had modern training methods, modern nutrition? The gap between him and the rest of the NBA would be close to the same IMO.
if anything playing in the 50's underrates his greatness.
Russel is the greatest defensive player to ever live. Period. It should be universal constant when discusisng basketball, like the speed of light it should be an unchangable constant.
The gap between him and everyone else is too big to made up by questions of the era he played in.
I wanted to get into this over the weekend, but not over my phone.
What Osh is saying is true. Russell/Wilt being as dominant as they were in that era, doesn't mean they wouldn't be just as dominant now. Just means they were ahead of their times. They'd likely be even MORE dominant today.
Look at Larry Bird. One of the "greatest shooters ever" His career high for 3's in a season is 98. Ninety. Eight.
Robert Covington made 167 last year.
Bird played in an era that didn't exploit the 3 point line. If he played today? With his stroke, his work ethic, his IQ, and ability to get the ball off, he figures to be much more in the 200+ 3's a year range, right?
If they had the skill back then, and had today's analytic s or technology or nutrition, etc, they would up their games even more across the board. Only way they wouldn't is if they were flat out lazy, and guys like Russell, Wilt, Bird, etc don't strike me (or anyone else) as lazy.