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Chamberlain, Wilt

Wilt Chamberlain

1936-1999

American basketball player

In a 14-year professional career studded with superla-tives, Wilt Chamberlain established the centrality of court dominance in basketball, and thus changed the game forever. At seven feet, one inch tall, he was a towering figure, nicknamed "Wilt the Stilt"a moniker he is said to have despised. Chamberlain was not simply a Goliath, however; he was also extraordinarily coordinated, and seemed to score and rebound almost without effort. Along the way, he racked up countless records, including the highest number of points for a single player in a single game (100), the most rebounds (55), and the greatest number of consecutive field goals (18).

Chamberlain was no stranger to controversy, as when he claimed in 1991 that he had bedded more than 20,000 women. Yet the controversy would hardly have mattered if his performance as a player had not been so extraordinary. At the time of his retirement, Chamberlain had scored more points in his career31,419than anyone in NBA history. The only player to exceed that record, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, said at Chamberlain's funeral, "Wilt was one of the greatest ever, and we will never see another like him." Even more poignant were the words of the Boston Celtics' Bill Russell , with whom Chamberlain engaged in a celebrated on-court rivalry (and off-court friendship) during the 1960s and 1970s: "He and I will be friends through eternity."

A Giant at an Early Age

Named Wilton after the street on which his parents lived in west Philadelphia, Chamberlain was one of eight children born to William and Olivia Chamberlain. William worked as a porter at a publishing company, and Olivia sometimes cleaned houses to supplement the family's income. Given Chamberlain's size, one might guess that his parents or siblings were tall, but such was not the case. Indeed, none of the other nine Chamberlains exceeded a modest 5'9" in height.

At the age of 10, Wilt was already tall, and he became positively gargantuan after he reached adolescence. In a single summer, he gained four inches, and by the time he began playing for Overbrook High School, he stood 6'11". With his height, he was a natural for basketball, but from the beginning, he was not simply big: he was also graceful, resourceful, and creative as a player.

Recruited by Kansas

Beginning with his 1952-53 varsity year, Chamberlain led the Overbrook team to a series of victories, with season records of 19-2, 19-0, and 18-1. His reputation as a

rebounder began at this early stage: the Overbrook high coach actually taught his players to miss free throws so that Chamberlain could rebound them and score more valuable field goals. In those days, goaltending, or hovering over the basket, was still legal, and Chamberlain was known to tip a ball thrown by a teammate into the hoop even when it would have gone in anywaya practice that irritated his fellow Overbrook players.

At Overbrook, Chamberlain did not confine himself to a single sport, gaining notoriety on the cross country and track and field teams, and even winning a conference titlenot surprisinglyin the long jump. It is also not surprising that college recruiters had their eye on Chamberlain, and that the University of Kansas gave him a scholarship. In terms of talent, he qualified for the varsity team, but NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) rules at the time prohibited freshmen from playing varsity basketball, so Chamberlain took his place on the Jayhawks' freshman squad. In a significant showing of his skills, Chamberlain led the freshmen to victory in their first gamewhich happened to be against their varsity counterparts. Thanks to some 40 points, 30 rebounds, and 15 blocks courtesy of their extraordinary new player, the freshmen trounced the varsity Jayhawks 81-71.

On December 3, 1956, Chamberlain, now a sophomore, played his first game for the Jayhawks' varsity team. In that game, against Northwestern, he set a school record by scoring 52 points, helping to ensure an 87-69 victory. In 1957, Kansas went to the NCAA championships against the University of North Carolina, and though the Jayhawks lost by a single point in triple overtime, Chamberlain himself earned the title of MVP (most valuable player) for the tournament.

From the Jayhawks to the Globetrotters to the Warriors

During his college years, Chamberlain played for all-conference and all-America teams, and again showed his prowess off the court at the Big Eight track and field championships, in which his 6'6" high jump won. He was eager to get on with his career, however, and for very practical reasons: he wanted to start earning money. Therefore, he finished out his junior year at Kansas and went on to the pros.

An NBA (National Basketball Association) rule at the time forbade professional teams from hiring college players whose class had not yet graduated. Therefore, Chamberlain spent the year 1958-59 on a team quite literally in a league of its own, a spot that earned him a salary of $50,000. Though hardly impressive in the world of pro basketball today, at the time this was an almost inconceivably large salary for a basketball player.

Chamberlain, who would later tour with the Globetrotters during a few summers in the 1960s, joined his first NBA team in 1959. Thanks to the "territorial" draft rule established by the NBA in 1955, a team could choose a local college player in exchange for its first-round draft pick. Even though Chamberlain had actually played for a school far away, Philadelphia Warriors owner Eddie Gottlieb claimed the Philadelphia native, and since Kansas had no NBA teams, there was no competition for the 7'1" juggernaut. Once again, Chamberlain earned a distinction, in this case as the only player in NBA history to become a territorial pick based on his roots prior to college.

Beginnings of Rivalry with Bill Russell

During that 1959-60 season, Chamberlain averaged 37.6 points and 27 rebounds per game, and earned the title of NBA rookie of the year, all-star game MVP, and NBA MVP. He was also selected for the All-NBA First Team. Once again, Chamberlain was virtually without equal: other than Wes Unseld nine years later, no other player would win rookie and MVP recognition in a single year.

Chronology

1936 Born August 21 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William and Olivia Chamberlain
1955 Finishes high school career with a total of 2,252 points scored in four years, joins the University of Kansas Jayhawks freshman team
1957 Leads Kansas in the NCAA championships against North Carolina, and earns the title of MVP for the tournament
1958 Leaves Kansas in his junior year, and begins a season with the Harlem Globetrotters, earning a then-unheard of $50,000 a year
1959 Begins his professional career with the Philadelphia Warriors
1960 Engages in the first of eight different NBA championship playoffs against Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics
1961 Begins the season in which he becomes the only player in NBA history to score more than 4,000 points in a single season
1962 Scores 100 points, setting an NBA record for the most points by a single player in a single game, against the New York Knicks on March 2
1962 Moves with the Warriors to San Francisco
1965 Two days after the NBA All-Star Game, is traded to the new Philadelphia 76ers
1966 Leads the Sixers to the best record in the league (55-25)
1967 Capping off a year in which the Philadelphia 76ers set a new league record with a 68-13 season, leads the team to victory over Boston in division finals, and over the San Francisco Warriors in the championships
1968 Traded to Los Angeles Lakers
1972 Leads the Lakers to a season record better than that of Philadelphia in 1966-67 (69-13), and to the second of two NBA championship victories, against the Knicks
1973 Retires with what were then all-time records for total points scored (31,419) and average points per game (30.1), as well as number of rebounds (23,924) and average rebounds per game (22.9)
1991 Publishes second autobiography, A View from Above, containing controversial boast of 20,000 sexual conquests
1999 Dies of heart attack in his sleep at his home in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles on October 12

Awards and Accomplishments

1957 NCAA Tournament MVP, unanimous first team all-America
1958 Unanimous first team all-America
1960 NBA rookie of the year and most valuable player; NBA all-star and all-NBA first team; record for most points (2,707, or 37.6 ppg) and rebounds (1,941, or 27.0 rpg) in a rookie year, and for most points by a rookie in a single game (58, on January 25)
1961 NBA all-star and all-NBA first team
1962 NBA all-star, NBA all-star MVP, and all-NBA first team; all-time record for most points scored in a single game (100, on March 2); seasonal records for most minutes (3,338, or 41.7 mpg), most points (4,029, or 50.4 ppg), field goals made (1,597), and field goals attempted (3,159); single-game all-star record for most points (42)
1963-65 NBA all-star and all-NBA second team
1966 NBA most valuable player; NBA all-star and all-NBA first team
1967 NBA championship with the Philadelphia 76ers; NBA most valuable player; NBA all-star and all-NBA first team
1968 NBA most valuable player; NBA all-star and all-NBA first team
1969-71 NBA all-star
1972 NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers; NBA all-star and finals MVP; all-NBA second team, NBA all-defensive first team
1973 NBA all-star and all-defensive first team
1978 Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
1980 Named to NBA 35th anniversary all-time team
1996 Named to NBA 50th anniversary all-time team

The Warriors, which Chamberlain propelled from last place to second place, went up against the Celtics in the 1960 NBA playoffs, thus beginning the legendary Chamberlain-Russell rivalry. This was the first of eight years in which a team on which Chamberlain played would meet the Celtics in the playoffs, but only once would Chamberlain's team gain victory over the Celtics.

After the 4-2 loss to Boston in the series, Chamberlain stunned fans by announcing that he was thinking of retiring after just one season. Precisely because of his size, he was taking too much of a pounding from opposing teams, who worked to level the playing field, on the way committing numereous hard fouls against him. Chamberlain himself never fouled out once in 1,045 regular-season and 160 playoff games, a hallmark of his even temper on the court. Of course, one could argue that he did not have to get angry, given his physical dominance. In any case, all the abuse on the court was taking its toll on his body, and to combat the effects, Chamberlain, who was already strong, made himself even stronger. He worked out with weights, and by the time he reached the peak of his career, he tip the scale at 300 lean, fast, muscular pounds.

Victory over BostonFinally

Chamberlain's second year with the Warriors was every bit as good as his first, and his third (1961-62) was significantly better, with an average of 50.4 points in a game. That was also the year when he became the only player in NBA history to score more than 4,000 points in a single season, and on March 2, 1962, he did something perhaps even more extraordinary. He had been out partying the previous night, and yet in a game against the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Chamberlain scored 100 of the Warriors' 169 points against the Knicks' 147. As the minutes ticked by and his teammates became aware that they were witnessing history being made, they began applying the old Overbrook strategy of doing everything in their power to get the ball into Chamberlain's hands, even fouling the Knicks so that the legendary rebounder could take control.

Chamberlain stayed with the Warriors when they moved to San Francisco in 1962, and during the two seasons that followed, he was the leading scorer in the league. Then, just two days after the 1965 NBA All-Star Game, the Warriors traded him to the new Philadelphia 76ers for three players and $150,000.

Twice the Sixers went up against Chamberlain's old nemesis, Boston, only to loseeven in 1966, when they had earned the best record in the league at 55 wins and 25 losses. Then, in the 1966-67 season, Philadelphia earned a 68-13 record, the best in league history up to that time. In the division finals, Philadelphia trounced Boston in five games, ending an eight-year streak of Celtics NBA titles. The championship found him up against his old team, the Warriors. The 76ers came away victorious after six games, giving Chamberlain the first of only two championship wins in his career.

A Team Player

The 1966-67 season would prove to be not only the halfway point of Chamberlain's career, but also the high point. As Oscar Robertson once said, when a Philadelphia Daily News reporter asked him if Chamberlain was the best player of all time, "The numbers don't lie"and this was equally true when assessing the relative decline that marked Chamberlain's latter years. Granted, his 20.7 point-per-game average for the period 1967-74 was one for which most NBA players would kill, but it was only a little more than half as good as his 1959-67 record of 39.4 points per game, a showing that only Michael Jordan has managed to equal.

Career Statistics

Yr Team GP PTS PPG FG% FT% REB RPG APG
LAL: Los Angeles Lakers; PHI: Philadelphia 76ers; PHW: Philadelphia Warriors; SF: San Francisco Warriors.
Traded to 76ers after 1965 all-star game.
1959-60 PHW 72 2707 37.6 .461 .582 1941 27.0 2.3
1960-61 PHW 79 3033 38.4 .509 .504 2149 27.2 1.9
1961-62 PHW 80 4029 50.4 .506 .613 2052 25.7 2.4
1962-63 SF 80 3586 44.8 .528 .593 1946 24.3 3.4
1963-64 SF 80 2948 36.9 .524 .532 1787 22.3 5.0
1964-65 SF/PHI 73 2534 34.7 .510 .464 1673 22.9 3.4
1965-66 PHI 79 2649 33.5 .540 .513 1943 24.6 5.2
1966-67 PHI 81 1956 24.1 .683 .441 1957 24.2 7.8
1967-68 PHI 82 1992 24.3 .595 .380 1952 23.8 8.6
1968-69 LAL 81 1664 20.5 .583 .446 1712 21.1 4.5
1969-70 LAL 12 328 27.3 .568 .446 221 18.4 4.1
1970-71 LAL 82 1696 20.7 .545 .538 1493 18.2 4.3
1971-72 LAL 82 1213 14.8 .649 .422 1572 19.2 4.0
1972-73 LAL 82 1084 13.2 .727 .510 1526 18.6 4.5
TOTAL 1045 31419 30.1 .540 .511 23924 22.9 4.4

A variety of reasons have been offered for Chamberlain's relative decline. Age and the effects of lifestyle (including all those amorous encounters of which he boasted) were obvious possibilities, as was the development of better defenses by opposing teams. Chamberlain, on the other hand, maintained that his coachesin a reversal of patterns that went back all the way his high-school yearsdid not want him shooting as much. The fact was that while Chamberlain did well, teams on which he played did not tend to fare as well in the finals. During that winning 1966-67 season, on the other hand, Coach Alex Hannum instructed him to pass more and shoot less, a strategy that obviously worked.

Chamberlain took on his new, more team-oriented role with alacrity, leading the NBA in assists during the 1967-68 season. Traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1968, he went on to take his team to the finals four times, and in 1972 won his second and last championship in five games against the Knicks. In his final years in the NBA, Chamberlain distinguished himself as a team player alongside the likes of guard Jerry West and others, and in 1971-72 the Lakers went one better than the record set by Chamberlain and the 76ers in 1966-67, with a season record of 69-13.

A Very Busy Retiree

After he retired in 1973, Chamberlain pursued a number of careers. He coached the San Diego Conquistadors of the shortlived American Basketball Association for a season; played tennis, volleyball, and racquetball; and ran the Honolulu marathon. He coached a women's volleyball team, and even challenged Muhammad Ali to a fight that never occurred. Despite hints that he might return to basketball, Chamberlain never did.

Even before his retirement, Chamberlain had appeared in Rowan & Martin's Laugh In, as well as a memorable Volkswagen commercial that played on the length of his legs in relation to the size of the car. He later did spots for Brut aftershave and Miller Lite, and appeared alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Grace Jones in Conan the Destroyer. He also served as executive producer for the documentary Go For It in 1976.

In 1973, Chamberlain published the first of two autobiographies, Wilt: Just Like Any Other Seven-Foot Black Millionaire Who Lives Next Door, later published simply as Wilt. Nearly two decades later, a second autobiography, this one called A View from Above (1991), caused a much bigger stir with his claim of 20,000 conquests. Nearly coinciding as it did with Magic Johnson 's announcement that he was HIV-positive, the boast seemed ill-timed, and many observers criticized Chamberlain for being irresponsible.

During his later years, Chamberlain suffered from heart trouble, and his health declined quickly over a period of just a few weeks in the fall of 1999. He died of a heart attack at his home in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles at age 63. In addition to Russell and Abdul-Jabbar, mourners at the City of Angels Church of Religious Science in Los Angeles included Meadowlark Lemon of the Globetrotters, West, Bill Walton, and Jim Brown.

The Warrior

Chamberlain earned enemies in the African American community when he condemned the Black Power movement in the late 1960s. He never aligned himself with civil-rights leaders such as Jesse Jackson, and invoked considerable ire when he supported Richard Nixon's campaigns for the presidency in 1968 and 1972. Blacks and whites alike expressed antipathy toward Chamberlain's oft-stated preference for white women.

Related Biography: Philadelphia Warriors Owner Eddie Gottlieb

Edward "Eddie" Gottlieb, who in 1959 succeeded in claiming Philadelphia native Wilt Chamberlain for his Warriors on the National Basketball Association (NBA) territorial rule, did not simply own the Warriors; he had founded the team and its predecessor.

Born September 15, 1898, in Kiev, Russia (now Ukraine), Gottlieb came to the United States with his parents as a small boy. In 1910, he began playing basketball with the Combine Club, a group of Jewish boys in grammar school, and went on to play for South Philadelphia High School. After graduating, Gottlieb organized a team known as the Sphas for their sponsor, the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association. Because they had no home court, they called themselves "the Wandering Jews."

The Sphas, who were good enough to beat the Original Celtics in a three-game series, changed their name to the Philadelphia Warriors in 1926. Originally members of the American Basketball Association, they joined the newly formed NBA in 1946. During the team's first three decades, Gottlieb was coach, manager, and part owner, but in 1953 he became full owner. After he sold the team to buyers in San Francisco in 1963, he became a consultant with the NBA.

Gottlieb also worked closely with the Harlem Globetrotters as business adviser and scheduler, and promoted black major-league baseball teams, as well as professional wrestling. He died December 7, 1979.

A Bum Rap

Go ahead and remember Chamberlain as a scoring machine, a braggart and a guy who needed some tutoring with his bedroom arithmetic. He was certainly all of the above. But you should remember him, too, as a winner. If two world championships, six trips to the NBA Finals and over 700 regular season victories don't make someone a winner, what does?

The King is dead. And by now, St. Peter probably has heard far more about Hershey, Pa., finger-rolls and rejected jump shots than he ever wanted to know.

Source: Ryan, Jeff. Sporting News 223 (October 25, 1999): 12-14.

In the world of basketball, Chamberlain won many a detractor with his candid talk and his outspoken persona. In the mid-1960s, he caused a stir with a Sports Illustrated story in which he was quoted as criticizing various coaches and players provided his critics with plenty of ammunition. Yet for all his ability to spark controversy, Chamberlain could get the job done on the court, and the breathtaking scope of his accomplishments will stand long after the disagreements have been forgotten. Said Russell, speaking to USA Today at the time of Chamberlain's death (quoted in Jet ), "I'm one

of the guys who think Wilt was so good that people don't even known how good he was. I remember sitting at home, getting ready to play him one night, and thinking, 'another night in hell.'"

SELECTED WRITINGS BY CHAMBERLAIN:

(With David Shaw) Wilt: Just Like Any Other Seven-Foot Black Millionaire Who Lives Next Door, Macmillan, 1973, published as Wilt, Warner, 1975.

A View from Above, Villard, 1991.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Books

Chamberlain, Wilt with David Shaw. Wilt: Just Like Any Other Seven-Foot Black Millionaire Who Lives Next Door. New York: Macmillan, 1973.

Chamberlain, Wilt. A View from Above. New York: Villard, 1991.

Garner, Joe and Bob Costa. And the Crowd Goes Wild: Relive the Most Celebrated Sports Events Ever Broadcast. Napierville, IL: Sourcebooks, 1999.

Libby, Bill. Goliath: The Wilt Chamberlain Story. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1977.

Periodicals

Achenbach, Joel. "Wilt, Filling a Tall Order; The Hoops Legend Bares His Greatest Stat: 20,000 Women." Washington Post (November 1, 1991): B1.

Ryan, Jeff. "A Bum Rap." Sporting News 223 (October 25, 1999): 12-14.

"Wilt Chamberlain, 1936-1999: NBA Legend Remembered." Jet 96 (November 1, 1999): 51-56.

Other

"NBA History: Wilt Chamberlain." National Basketball Association. http://www.nba.com/chamberlain_bio.html (November 19, 2002).

The Official Web Site of Wilt Chamberlain. http://www.wiltchamberlain.com/ (November 19, 2002).

"Wilt Chamberlain Biography." Basketball Hall of Fame. http://www.hoophall.com/halloffamers/Chamberlain.htm (November 19, 2002).

Sketch by Judson Knight

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Knight, Judson. "Chamberlain, Wilt." Notable Sports Figures. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 31 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

Knight, Judson. "Chamberlain, Wilt." Notable Sports Figures. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. (May 31, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3407900100.html

Knight, Judson. "Chamberlain, Wilt." Notable Sports Figures. 2004. Retrieved May 31, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3407900100.html

Chamberlain, Wilt

Wilt Chamberlain

1936-1999

Basketball player

Few individual athletes have ever excelled at a sport as spectacularly as Wilt Chamberlain, the 7' 1" center who dominated professional basketball for more than 14 seasons beginning in 1959. Chamberlain, or "Wilt the Stilt" as he was often known, is enshrined in record books and memories for a legendary 1962 performance in which he scored 100 points in a single game, a record no other player has come close to matching.

Chamberlain set records and led the National Basketball Association (NBA) in many statistical categories during all phases of his long career. Toward the end of his playing days, responding to criticism that his individual scoring exploits came at the expense of his team's performance, he demonstrated his all-around skills by beginning to win awards for defensive play and to notch impressive numbers of assistspasses that enabled another player to score. "When I think of pro basketball, I think of Wilt Chamberlain," basketball Hall of Famer Jerry West was quoted as saying in African-American Sports Greats. "He just stood out."

Excelled in High School and College

Born Wilton Norman Chamberlain on August 21, 1936, in Philadelphia, he was one of eight siblings. His father was a custodian and handyman, and his mother a housecleaner and laundress; both were of normal height. Chamberlain grew rapidly during his teenage years and began to play basketball seriously during junior high school. His three years on the basketball team at Philadelphia's Overbrook High School were a portent of his career to come: he scored 2,252 points (90 of them in one game), and led the team to two city championships. Some considered him the nation's top high-school player. The NBA's Philadelphia Warriors, anticipating the heavy recruitment of phenomenal young players that would become commonplace in later decades, claimed the rights to his future professional services, and many dozens of colleges dangled lures Chamberlain's way in hopes of persuading him to enroll. Chamberlain settled on the University of Kansas, making his varsity debut as a sophomore in 1956.

His college career was likewise spectacular. Named an All-American in both his sophomore and junior years, Chamberlain led Kansas to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) finals in the spring of 1957. Several of the rules of college basketball had to be changed as a result of Chamberlain's talents, which simply dwarfed those of previous players. Opposing players double-and triple-teamed him and played a slowed-down game rather than attempt to confront Chamberlain's offensive skills head-on. These techniques helped the University of North Carolina defeat Kansas 54-53 in triple overtime in the 1957 championship game.

Such tactics also frustrated the rapidly developing Chamberlain, who startled the basketball world by turning professional rather than returning to Kansas for his senior year. NBA rules forbade him from joining the league until the year in which he would have graduated from college, so Chamberlain played for the razzle-dazzle touring professional team the Harlem Globetrotters during the 1958-59 season. He joined the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959, having already collected a large bonus for signing.

Individual Triumphs in NBA

Chamberlain was an NBA star from the beginning, leading the league in scoring and rebounding, and taking home honors not only for Rookie of the Year but also for Most Valuable Player. Frustrated by defensive tactics similar to those he had faced in college, and by what he considered biased officiating, he threatened to leave the league and return to the Globetrotters in 1960. But he did not follow through on his threat, and soon learned to outmaneuver his tormentors through sheer size, speed, and skill. In the 1960-61 season he led the league in scoring once again; he would not relinquish his position atop the league's scoring lists for another five seasons.

The 1961-62 season took Chamberlain beyond stardom into the realm of legend. For an ordinary basketball player, scoring 35 or 40 points in a game is considered an exceptional performance. Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points per game that year. The apex of his scoring binge came on March 2, 1962, when Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game against the New York Knicksone of those sports records that seem to defy the inevitable advance of human physical capabilities, promising to remain unattainable by any other player.

Moving with the Warriors to San Francisco, and then returning to his hometown as a result of a 1965 trade in which he was sent to the Philadelphia 76ers, Chamberlain continued to dominate the pro basketball scene. The one accomplishment that remained out of his grasp was that of playing on a team that won the league championship. When Chamberlain faced off against Boston Celtics center Bill Russell, it was Chamberlain who came out on top statistically, outscoring and outrebounding his Boston nemesis. But the Celtics' balance and superb teamwork often made them the winners at game's end.

Won Titles with 76ers, Lakers

Chamberlain reacted with true sportsmanship to this situation, reining in his high-scoring style and concentrating on defensive skills and on the fortunes of his team as a whole. His efforts bore fruit: the 76ers won a then-unprecedented 68 regular-season games and cruised past strong Boston and San Francisco to win the NBA championship. Traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1968, Chamberlain continued to hone his defensive skills. He led the league in assists in the 1967-68 season, and played a crucial role in propelling the Lakers to the 1971-72 NBA title. The Lakers erased the 76ers' record of 68 regular-season wins, winning 69 times, including a string of 33 consecutive wins.

When he finally retired from the NBA in 1973, Chamberlain was the holder or co-holder of no fewer than 43 NBA records. The first player to score over 30,000 points in a career (he finished with 31,419), he set career records for average game scoring (30.1 points per game), average rebounds per game, total career rebounds, most complete games played, and in many other categories. He scored 50 points or more on 118 separate occasions. Despite the physicality of his opponents' attempts to cope with him, Chamberlain never "fouled out" of a gamehe was never ejected from a game for committing more than a certain number of prohibited personal fouls. Flamboyant and flashy as he could sometimes be, Chamberlain was also one of the most reliable players in basketball history.

At a Glance

Born Wilton Norman Chamberlain on August 21, 1936, in Philadelphia; son of William (a handyman) and Olivia (a housecleaner); died October 12, 1999, in Los Angeles, CA Education: University of Kansas, 1954-58.

Career: Harlem Globetrotters, professional basketball player, 1958-59; Philadelphia Warriors (team became Golden State Warriors in 1965), professional basketball player, 1959-65; Philadelphia 76ers, professional basketball player, 1965-68; Los Angeles Lakers, professional basketball player, 1968-73). San Diego Conquistadors, American Basketball Association, coach, 1973-74; appeared in television commercials and films, 1970s-1980s; Wilt Chamberlain Restaurants, Inc., owner, 1992-99.

Selected Awards: NCAA Tournament Most Valuable Player (MVP), 1957; NBA Rookie of the Year, 1960; NBA MVP, 1960, 1966, 1967, 1968; inducted into Basketball Hall of Fame, 1979; Philadelphia Sports Writers Association Living Legend Award, 1991; number retired by Philadelphia 76ers, 1991.

Chamberlain faded from the limelight somewhat after the end of his professional career. A one-year stint as coach of the San Diego Conquistadors in the failed American Basketball Association was followed by various non-basketball ventures: Chamberlain invested in and even played on teams in such sports as volleyball, racquetball, and track and field. Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978, Chamberlain in the 1980s made some film and television appearances and built a mansion in the foothills above Los Angeles. He also started a chain of restaurants in the early 1990s.

Another venture gained more attention. Chamberlain's 1991 autobiography A View from Above, written without the aid of a co-author, caused a stir and sold well, largely as a result of Chamberlain's claim that he had slept with 20,000 women over the course of his life. Coming as it did nearly simultaneously with basketball star Magic Johnson's announcement that he was suffering from the AIDS virus, the resulting controversy hurt Chamberlain's image for a time. But Chamberlain was no stranger to criticism, and outlasted the storm. Known to brush off negative publicity, he countered with the pithy comment that "nobody roots for Goliath."

Chamberlain passed away on October 12, 1999, a victim of congestive heart failure. He was widely remembered not only as one of the greatest basketball players of the century, but as a kind, warmhearted man. Former rival Bill Russell remarked to Sports Illustrated that "if Wilt had possessed a mean streak, there would have been no stopping him." Chamberlain's legacy lives on, in endowed scholarships at his alma mater, the University of Kansas; in an 18-foot tall bronze sculpture outside Philadelphia's Wachovia Center basketball arena; and in the memories of all those who saw his epic battles with Russell to determine who was the best big man in basketball.

Selected writings

A View from Above, Villard Books, 1991.

Sources

Books

Chamberlain, Wilt, A View from Above, Villard Books, 1991.

Estell, Kenneth, ed., The African-American Almanac, Gale, 1994.

Libby, Bill, Goliath: The Wilt Chamberlain Story, Dodd, Mead, 1977.

Porter, David L. ed., African-American Sports Greats, Greenwood, 1995.

Periodicals

Boston Globe, February 9, 1997, p. C7.

Jet, January 30, 1995, p. 50.

Maclean's, November 18, 1991, p. 84.

Sporting News, February 17, 1997, p. 31; October 25, 1999, p. 12.

Sports Illustrated, December 9, 1991, p. 22; October 25, 1999, p. 80.

James M. Manheim and

Tom Pendergast

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Manheim, James; Pendergast, Tom. "Chamberlain, Wilt." Contemporary Black Biography. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 31 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

Manheim, James; Pendergast, Tom. "Chamberlain, Wilt." Contemporary Black Biography. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. (May 31, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3431300014.html

Manheim, James; Pendergast, Tom. "Chamberlain, Wilt." Contemporary Black Biography. 2005. Retrieved May 31, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3431300014.html

Chamberlain, Wilt 1936–

Wilt Chamberlain 1936

Professional basketball player

Grew Rapidly in Teenage Years

Turned Pro After Junior Year

Scored 100 Points in One Game

Inducted into Hall of Fame

Sources

Few individual athletes have ever excelled at a sport as spectacularly as Wilt Chamberlain, Wilt the Stilt, the seven-foot-oneinch center who dominated professional basketball for more than 14 seasons beginning in 1959. Chamberlain is enshrined in record books and memories for a legendary 1962 performance in which he scored 100 points in a single game, a record no other player has even come close to matching.

He set records and led the National Basketball Association (NBA) in many statistical categories during all phases of his long career. Toward the end of his playing days, responding to criticism that his individual scoring exploits came at the expense of his teams performance, he demonstrated his all-around skills by beginning to win awards for defensive play and to notch impressive numbers of assistspasses that enabled another player to score. When I think of pro basketball, I think of Wilt Chamberlain, basketball Hall of Famer Jerry West was quoted as saying in African-American Sports Greats He just stood out.

Grew Rapidly in Teenage Years

Born Wilton Norman Chamberlain on August 21, 1936 in Philadelphia, he was one of eight siblings. His father was a custodian and handyman, and his mother a housecleaner and laundress; both were of normal height. Chamberlain grew rapidly during his teenage years and began to play basketball seriously during junior high school. His three years on the basketball team at Philadelphias Overbrook High School were a portent of his career to come: he scored 2,252 points (90 of them in one game), and led the team to two city championships. Some considered him the nations top high-school player. The NBAs Philadelphia Warriors, anticipating the heavy recruitment of phenomenal young players that would become commonplace in later decades, claimed the rights to his future professional services, and many dozens of colleges dangled lures Chamberlains way in hopes of persuading him to enroll. Chamberlain

At a Glance

Born Wilton Norman Chamberlain on Augmt 21, 1936 in Philadelphia, son of William (a handyman) and Olivia (a housecleaner) Education: University of Kansas, 195458

Career: Profesional basketball player, 1958-73; high school basketball star, Overbrook High School, Philadelphia; led University of Kansas basketball team to NCAA finals, 1956; played for Harlem Globetrotters, 1958-59; played for Philadelphia Warriors (1959-65, team became Golden State Warriors, 1965), Philadelphia 76ers (1965-68), Los Angeles Lakers (1968-73); scored 100 points in one game, March 2, 1962; holder of numerous records; coach, San Diego Conquistadors (American Basketball Association, 1973-74); appeared in television commercials and films, 1970s-1980s; owner, Wilt Chamberlain Restaurants, Inc.; 1992-.

Awards: NBA Rookie of the Year, 1960; NBA Most Valuable player four times; numerous other awards for individual performance; inducted, Basketball Hall of Fame, 1978; Philadelphia Sports Writers Association Living Legend Award, 1991; number retired by Philadelphia 76ers, 1991.

Addresses: c/o Seymour Goldberg, 11111 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025.

settled on the University of Kansas, making his varsity debut as a sophomore in 1956.

His college career was likewise spectacular. Named an All-American in both his sophomore and junior years, Chamberlain led Kansas to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) finals in the spring of 1957. Several of the rules of college basketball had to be changed as a result of Chamberlains talents, which simply dwarfed those of previous players. Opposing players double-and triple-teamed him and played a slowed-down game rather than attempt to confront Chamberlains offensive skills head-on. These techniques helped the University of North Carolina defeat Kansas 54-53 in triple overtime in the 1957 championship game.

Turned Pro After Junior Year

They also frustrated the rapidly developing Chamberlain, who startled the basketball world by turning professional rather than returning to Kansas for his senior year. NBA rules forbade him from joining the league until the year in which he would have graduated from college, so Chamberlain played for the razzle-dazzle touring professional team the Harlem Globetrotters during the 1958-59 season. He joined the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959, having already collected a large bonus for signing.

Chamberlain was an NBA star from the beginning, leading the league in scoring and rebounding, and taking home honors not only for Rookie of the Year but also for Most Valuable Player. Still frustrated by the tactics his college opponents had used against him, and by what he considered biased officiating, he threatened to leave the league and return to the Globetrotters in 1960. But he did not follow through on his threat, and he learned to outmaneuver his tormentors through sheer size, speed, and skill. In the 1960-61 season he led the league in scoring once again; he would not relinquish his position atop the leagues scoring lists for another five seasons.

Scored 100 Points in One Game

The 1961-62 season took Chamberlain beyond stardom into the realm of legend. For an ordinary basketball player, scoring 35 or 40 points in a game is considered an exceptional performance. Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points per game that year. The apex of his scoring binge came on March 2, 1962, when Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game against the New York Knicksone of those sports records that seem to defy the inevitable advance of human physical capabilities, promising to remain unattainable by any other player.

Moving with the Warriors to San Francisco, and then returning to his hometown as a result of a 1965 trade in which he was sent to the Philadelphia 76ers, Chamberlain continued to dominate the pro basketball scene. The one accomplishment that remained out of his grasp was that of playing on a team that won the league championship. When Chamberlain faced off against Boston Celtics center Bill Russell, it was Chamberlain who came out on top statistically, outscoring and out-rebounding his Boston nemesis. But the Celtics balance and superb teamwork often made them the winners at games end. Chamberlain reacted with true sportsmanship to this situation, reining in his high-scoring style and concentrating on defensive skills and on the fortunes of his team as a whole. His efforts bore fruit: the 76ers won a thenunprecedented 68 regular-season games and cruised past strong Boston and San Francisco teams to win the NBA championship. Traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1968, Chamberlain continued to hone his defensive skills. He led the league in assists in the 1967-68 season, and played a crucial role in propelling the Lakers to the 1971-72 NBA title. The Lakers erased the 76ers record of 68 regular-season wins, winning 69 times, 33 of them consecutive.

When he finally retired from the NBA in 1973, Chamberlain was the holder or co-holder of no fewer than 43 NBA records. The first player to score over 30,000 points in a career (he finished with 31,419), he set career records for average game scoring (30.1 points per game), average rebounds per game, total career rebounds, most complete games played, and in many other categories. He scored 50 points or more on 118 separate occasions. Despite the physicality of his opponents attempts to cope with him, Chamberlain never fouled out of a gamehe was never ejected from a game for committing more than a certain number of prohibited personal fouls. Flamboyant and flashy as he could sometimes be, Chamberlain was also one of the most reliable players in basketball history.

Inducted into Hall of Fame

Chamberlain faded from the limelight somewhat after the end of his professional career. A one-year stint as coach of the San Diego Conquistadors in the failed American Basketball Association was followed by various non-basketball ventures: Chamberlain invested in and even played on teams in such sports as volleyball, racquetball, and track and field. Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978, Chamberlain in the 1980s made some film and television appearances and built a mansion in the foothills above Los Angeles. He also started a chain of restaurants in the early 1990s.

Another venture gained more attention. Chamberlains 1991 autobiography A View from Above, written without the aid of a co-author, caused a stir and sold well, largely as a result of Chamberlains claim that he had slept with 20,000 women over the course of his life. Coming as it did nearly simultaneously with basketball star Magic Johnsons announcement that he was suffering from the AIDS virus, the resulting controversy hurt Chamberlains image for a time. But Chamberlain was no stranger to criticism, and outlasted the storm. Known to brush off negative publicity with the pithy comment that nobody roots for Goliath, Wilt Chamberlain by the late 1990s could relax and enjoy the knowledge that he was universally acclaimed as one of the very greatest players the game of basketball had ever known.

Sources

Books

Chamberlain, Wilt, A View from Above, 1991.

Estell, Kenneth, ed., The African-American Almanac, Gale, 1994.

Porter, David L. ed., African-American Sports Greats, Greenwood, 1995.

Periodicals

Boston Globe, February 9, 1997, p. C7.

Jet, January 30, 1995, p. 50.

Macleans, November 18, 1991, p. 84.

Sporting News, February 17, 1997, p. 31.

Sports Illustrated, December 9, 1991, p. 22.

James M. Manheim

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Manheim, James. "Chamberlain, Wilt 1936–." Contemporary Black Biography. 1998. Encyclopedia.com. 31 May. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

Manheim, James. "Chamberlain, Wilt 1936–." Contemporary Black Biography. 1998. Encyclopedia.com. (May 31, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2872000015.html

Manheim, James. "Chamberlain, Wilt 1936–." Contemporary Black Biography. 1998. Retrieved May 31, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2872000015.html

Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain (born 1936) is considered one of the world's all-time greatest professional basketball players.

Wilt Chamberlain was born in Philadelphia and was one of nine children. His father lived in a racially-mixed middle class neighborhood, and Chamberlain had a relatively pleasant childhood. At Shoemaker Junior High School, Wilt began to play on the basketball team, and he also played on the playgrounds against older players who taught him a lot about the game. He later said, "I still think you could pick up a team from the street corners of Philly that would give most colleges a real hard time." Wilt attended Overbrook High School in Philadelphia beginning in 1952. At that time he was already 6'11" tall, and had developed what he termed a "deep love for basketball."

Recruited By More Than 200 Universities

Chamberlain's high school basketball career was astounding. In three seasons he scored more than 2200 points. More than two hundred universities recruited Chamberlain, but he wanted to get away from big cities and preferred to play in the midwest. After seriously considering Dayton, Michigan, Indiana, and Kansas Universities he chose Kansas because of the recruiting by Hall of Fame coach Phog Allen.

At the University of Kansas, Chamberlain continued his brilliant play on the basketball court, scoring fifty-two points in his first varsity game. During his first varsity season he led the Jayhawks to the finals of the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament, but they lost to North Carolina in double overtime. During his college career he averaged over thirty points per game and was twice selected to All-American teams. Following his junior year, he decided to quit college and become a professional because, he said, "The game I was forced to play at [Kansas] wasn't basketball. It was hurting my chances of ever developing into a successful professional player."

Because he did not play his final season at Kansas, Chamberlain was not eligible to join an NBA team until one more year. So he joined the Harlem Globetrotters and spent the year traveling the world and entertaining adults and youngsters alike. He still claims that his year with the Globetrotters was his most enjoyable season of basketball.

Scoring Machine

In 1959, Chamberlain joined the Philadelphia Warriors of the NBA. The great centers of the day were Clyde Lovellette, Johnny Kerr, Johnny Green, and, of course, Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics. But Chamberlain made an immediate impact on the league. He could score almost at will, and opposing teams gave up trying to stop him and instead tried only to contain him. His scoring average during the 1959-60 season of 37.9 points per game was more than eight points per game higher than anyone else had ever scored in the history of the league. He was named both rookie of the year and most valuable player, the first person to receive both awards in the same season.

For the next six seasons, Chamberlain led the league in scoring. In 1961-62 he averaged 50.4 points and scored 100 in one game. In 1962-63 he averaged 44.8 points per game. Chamberlain was simply the greatest scoring machine in the history of basketball.

Despite his scoring achievements, Chamberlain and his teammates were not winning NBA championships. The late 1950s and 1960s were dominated by the Boston Celtics and their center Bill Russell. Russell had revolutionized basketball as much with his defense as Chamberlain had with his offense, and Russell always had a great group of supporting players, including Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, John Havlicek, and Sam Jones. Chamberlain often had strong supporting players as well, but Russell always seemed to pull out the championship. Chamberlain always took a great deal of abuse from the media and fans because of his lack of success against Russell.

Wins Championship with the 76ers

Finally, in 1967, Chamberlain reversed his fortunes. The Warriors had moved to San Francisco, and Wilt had gone with them, but he was later traded to the new Philadelphia team, the 76ers. In 1967, the 76ers had a great supporting cast, including Chet Walker, Luke Johnson, Hal Greer, Wally Jones, and Billy Cunningham. They finished the regular season with the best record in the history of the league. In the championship series, the 76ers polished off the San Francisco Warriors to win the first world title for Chamberlain.

Several years later Chamberlain was traded again, this time to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers had featured numerous great players through the years, including Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, but had not won a championship since moving to Los Angeles from Minneapolis in 1960 (they lost in the championship series seven times between 1962 and 1970). For the last two losses, in 1969 and 1970, Chamberlain was on the team. The 1969 loss was particularly devastating, since it was to Russell and the Celtics again. In the final game, Chamberlain was injured and played very little. Russell later criticized Chamberlain for not playing, thus infuriating Chamberlain and removing the last remnants of friendship between the two men.

In 1972, however, the Lakers seemed poised to finally win a championship. They finished the year with the best regular season record in history, breaking the record set by Chamberlain and the 76ers in 1967. In addition to Chamberlain, the team now featured Happy Hairston, Gail Goodrich, Jim McMillan, Jerry West, and a strong set of reserves In the playoffs, the Lakers first defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, with Chamberlain completely outplaying the Buck center, Kareem Abdul Jabbar. In the championship series, the Lakers played the powerful New York Knickerbockers, led by Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley, and Walt Frazier. In the fourth game of the series, Chamberlain suffered a fractured wrist. Although the Lakers led the series three games to one the series still seemed in doubt because of Chamberlain's injury. Despite understandable pain, Chamberlain played the next game with football linemen's pads on both hands. He scored twenty four points, grabbed twenty-nine rebounds, and blocked ten shots. The Lakers won the game and the series, four games to one and brought the first world championship to Los Angeles. After the final game Wilt said, "For a long time, fans of mine had to put up with people saying Wilt couldn't win the big ones. Now may be they'll have a chance to walk in peace, like I do."

Following the 1973 season, Chamberlain left the Lakers to become the coach of the San Diego Conquistadors of the old American Basketball Association (ABA). Chamberlain left the NBA as the all-time leader in points scored (more than 30,000) and rebounds (over 22,000), and with four Most Valuable Player awards and more than forty league records. The ABA was a different sort of challenge, however; the athletes were not generally as good as in the NBA, and Chamberlain had never been a coach before. The Conquistadors were a poor team, even by ABA standards, and Chamberlain left the coaching ranks shortly thereafter for a well-deserved retirement.

Controversial Book

In recent years, Chamberlain has been involved in a wide variety of activities. He has sponsored a lot of amateur athletic groups, including volleyball teams and track clubs. He has invested wisely through the years and remains a wealthy man. He has also kept in outstanding physical condition. When he walks into a room or onto a basketball court today, he is a legendary presence.

Chamberlain gained notoriety in 1991 with the release of his second and most talked about autobiography, A View from Above. The book contains observations on athletes of the 90's, gun control and his 14 years in the NBA, among other topics. But it's the claim that he has slept with 20,000 women that landed him in the celebrity spotlight and in the public hotseat. Reflecting upon this claim, Chamberlain regretted the way he discussed sex in the book and became an advocate of safe sex.

Further Reading

Chamberlain, Wilt, and David Shaw, Wilt: Just Like Any Other 7-Foot Black Millionaire Who Lives Next Door, MacMillan, 1973.

Libby, Bill, Goliath: The Wilt Chamberlain Story, Dodd, 1977.

Sullivan, George, Wilt Chamberlain Grosset, 1971.

Ebony, April, 1972, pp. 114-121.

Esquire, May, 1988, pp. 53-56.

Life, March 13, 1970, pp. 46-50.

Look, June 10, 1958, pp. 91-94; March 1, 1960, pp. 51-57.

Sports Illustrated, October 29, 1973, p. 44-48; August 18, 1986, pp. 62-76; December 9, 1991, pp. 22-26.

Time, May 22, 1972, pp. 47-50. □

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Chamberlain, Wilt

Wilt Chamberlain

Born: August 21, 1936
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: October 12, 1999
Los Angeles, California

African American basketball player

Wilt Chamberlain is considered one of the world's all-time greatest professional basketball players.

Born to play basketball

Wilt Chamberlain was born August 21, 1936, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, one of nine children raised by William and Olivia Chamberlain. His father worked in a local publishing company, while his mother performed outside housework. The Chamberlains lived in a racially-mixed middle-class neighborhood, and Wilt enjoyed a relatively pleasant childhood.

At Shoemaker Junior High School Wilt began to play on the basketball team. He also played on the playgrounds against older players who taught him a lot about the game. He later said, "I still think you could pick up a team from the street corners of Philly that would give most colleges a real hard time." Wilt attended Overbrook High School in Philadelphia beginning in 1952. At that time he was already 6'11" tall, and had developed what he termed a "deep love for basketball."

Recruited by more than two hundred universities

Chamberlain's high school basketball career was astounding. In three seasons he scored more than 2,200 points. As a result more than two hundred universities recruited Chamberlain, but he wanted to get away from big cities and preferred to play in the Midwest. He chose the University of Kansas because of the recruiting by Hall of Fame coach Phog Allen.

At Kansas Chamberlain continued his brilliant play on the basketball court, scoring fifty-two points in his first varsity game. During his first varsity season, he led the Jayhawks to the finals of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament, but they lost to North Carolina in double overtime. During his college career he averaged over thirty points per game and was twice selected to All-American teams. Following his junior year, he decided to quit college and become a professional.

Because Chamberlain did not play his final season at Kansas, he was not eligible to join a National Basketball Association (NBA) team for one more year. He instead joined the Harlem Globetrotters and spent the year traveling the world and entertaining adults and youngsters alike. He later claimed that his year with the Globetrotters was his most enjoyable season of basketball.

Scoring machine

In 1959 Chamberlain joined the NBA's Philadelphia Warriors and made an immediate impact on the league. He could score almost at will. Opposing teams gave up trying to stop him and instead tried only to contain him. His scoring average during the 1959-60 season was 37.9 points per gamemore than eight points per game higher than anyone else had ever scored in the history of the league. He was named both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player, the first person to receive both awards in the same season.

For the next six seasons Chamberlain led the league in scoring. In the 1961-62 season he averaged 50.4 points and scored 100 points in one game. In 1962-63 he averaged 44.8 points per game. Chamberlain was simply one the greatest scoring machines in the history of basketball.

Despite Chamberlain's scoring achievements, he and his teammates were not winning NBA championships. The Boston Celtics and their center Bill Russell (1934) dominated the game in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Russell had revolutionized basketball with his defense as much as Chamberlain had with his offense, and Russell always had a great group of supporting players. Chamberlain always took a great deal of abuse from the media and fans because of his lack of success against Russell.

Wins championship with the 76ers

Finally, in 1967, Chamberlain reversed his fortunes. He had been traded to the new Philadelphia team, the 76ers, and in 1967 they finished the regular season with the best record in the history of the league. In the championship series, the 76ers polished off the San Francisco Warriors to win the first world title for Chamberlain.

Several years later Chamberlain was traded again, this time to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers had featured numerous great players through the years, including Elgin Baylor (1934) and Jerry West (1938), but had not won a championship since moving to Los Angeles from Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1960. In 1972, however, the Lakers seemed poised to finally win a championship. They finished the year with the best regular season record in history, breaking the record set by Chamberlain and the 76ers in 1967. In the championship series, the Lakers played the powerful New York Knickerbockers, led by Willis Reed (1942), Dave DeBusschere (1940), Bill Bradley (1943), and Walt Frazier (1945). In the fourth game of the series Chamberlain suffered a fractured wrist. Although the Lakers led the series three games to one, the series still seemed in doubt because of Chamberlain's injury. Despite understandable pain, Chamberlain played the next game with football linemen's pads on both hands. He scored 24 points, grabbed 29 rebounds, and blocked 10 shots. The Lakers won the game and the series four games to one, bringing the first world championship to Los Angeles.

Following the 1973 season, Chamberlain left the NBA as the all-time leader in points scored (more than 30,000), rebounds (over 22,000), and with four Most Valuable Player awards and more than forty league records. After retiring from basketball, Chamberlain was involved in a wide variety of activities. He sponsored several amateur athletic groups, including volleyball teams and track clubs. He invested wisely through the years and spent his retirement years as a wealthy man. He also kept in outstanding physical condition. When he walked into a room or onto a basketball court, he was a legendary presence.

Controversial books

Chamberlain gained further notoriety in 1991 with the release of his second and most talked about autobiography, A View from Above. The book contains observations on athletes of the 1990s, gun control, and his fourteen years in the NBA, among other topics. But it was the claim that he had slept with twenty thousand women that landed him in the celebrity spotlight and in the public hot seat. Reflecting upon this claim, Chamberlain regretted the way he discussed sex in the book and became a champion of safe sex. In 1997 Chamberlain published Who's Running the Asylum?: The Insane World of Sports Today. His last book provides a critical discussion of the sports industry and the NBA, including his own ranking of basketball's greatest players.

Chamberlain died on October 12, 1999, in his Bel Air, California, home. Chamberlain had been treated for an irregular heartbeat in 1992 and was on medication to treat the condition. Chamberlain is remembered as one of the most dominant players to ever grace a basketball court. His record of 100 points in a game is a record that will be hard to break.

For More Information

Chamberlain, Wilt. A View from Above. New York: Villard Books, 1991.

Frankl, Ron. Wilt Chamberlain. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1995.

Greenberger, Robert. Wilt Chamberlain. New York: Rosen Central, 2002.

Libby, Bill. Goliath: The Wilt Chamberlain Story. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1977.

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Chamberlain, Wilt

Wilt Chamberlain (Wilton Norman Chamberlain), 1936–99, American basketball player, b. Philadelphia. At the Univ. of Kansas he was a two-time All-American center. During 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association, "Wilt the Stilt" (over 7 ft 1 in./216 cm) led the league in scoring seven consecutive seasons (1959–65), was the leader in field goal percentage 9 times, the top rebounder 11 times, and the most valuable player 4 years (1960, 1966–68). He played with the Philadelphia Warriors and 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers. Famed for his long-standing rivalry with Boston's Bill Russell, Chamberlain set many records, including 100 points scored in a game (1962, against the New York Knicks) and 23,924 career rebounds. His controversial autobiography, View from Above (1991), focuses on the lifestyle of a professional athlete.

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Chamberlain, Wilt

Chamberlain, Wilt ( Wilton Norman) (1936–99) US basketball player. Perhaps the greatest offensive player in professional basketball history, he had a career total of 31,419 points. He played in the NBA for Philadelphia (1960–62, 1965–68), San Francisco (1963–65) and Los Angeles (1969–73). He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978.

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