[94] In Game 4, Chamberlain scored 18 points and grabbed 25 rebounds and helped tie the series at 2. [69] Indeed, the two teams split the first six games, and because of the better season record, the last game was held in the Celtics' Boston Garden. [2] Chamberlain immediately became the NBA's highest paid player, when he signed for $30,000 (equal to about $263,000 today)[note 1] in his rookie contract. The lack of a second guard next to West (and thus, the lack of speed and quickness) concerned coach Butch Van Breda Kolff; after losing Clark and Gail Goodrich, who joined the Phoenix Suns after the 1968 expansion draft, he said: "Egan gets murdered on defense because of his [lack of] size ... but if I don't play him, we look like a bunch of trucks. [29] Leading a talented squad of starters, including Maurice King, Gene Elstun, John Parker, Ron Lonesky and Lew Johnson, the Jayhawks went 13–1 until they lost a game 56–54 versus Oklahoma State, who held the ball the last three and a half minutes without any intention of scoring a basket, which was still possible in the days before the shot clock (introduced 1984 in the NCAA). [97] Although Chamberlain lost, he was lauded for holding his own against MVP Alcindor, who was not only 10 years younger, but healthy. [110] But in that game, he fell on his right hand, and was said to have "sprained" it; it was actually broken. His name appears so often in the scoring record books that his name could be the default response any time a question arises concerning a scoring record in the NBA. [45] The teams split the first two games, but in Game 3, Chamberlain got fed up with Heinsohn and punched him. Knowing how dominant he was, the opponents resorted to freeze-ball tactics and routinely used three or more players to guard him. [11] In his early years Chamberlain was not interested in basketball, because he thought it was "a game for sissies". Yet the streak led to one strangely dissonant event. [6], Chamberlain was known by several nicknames during his basketball playing career. Chamberlain often criticized Abdul-Jabbar for a perceived lack of scoring, rebounding, and defense. "Wilt's Big Night", Weekend America, American Public Media, June 4, 2005, How the 100-point game almost went un-recorded. [52] On March 2, 1962, in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Wilt scored 100 points, shot 36 of 63 from the field, and made 28 of 32 free throws against the New York Knicks. [88], On July 9, 1968, Chamberlain was the centerpiece of a major trade between the 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers, which sent center Darrall Imhoff, forward Jerry Chambers and guard Archie Clark to Philadelphia, making it the first time a reigning NBA Most Valuable Player was traded the next season. Chamberlain took his new role so seriously that he led the league in assists the next season. He was born in 1936 in Philadelphia and grew up to be 7-1 and 275 pounds. The Big Dipper brought down a massive 55 boards in that game. [2], The rookie Chamberlain then shocked Warriors' fans by saying he was thinking of retiring. [48], Chamberlain again failed to convert his play into team success, this time bowing out against the Syracuse Nationals in a three-game sweep. [114] However, Chamberlain was not pleased by the Qs' meager attendance: crowds averaged 1,843, just over half of the Qs' small San Diego 3,200-seat sports arena. [125] However, he would continue to epitomize physical fitness for years to come, including participating in several marathons. In the scuffle, Wilt injured his hand, and Philadelphia lost the next two games. I never thought I’d take that many shots in a game.” Toward the end of the game, the Warriors went out of their way to feed Chamberlain the ball, to the point of fouling the Knicks whenever they had possession. An incident recounted in the Philadelphia Daily News involving Tom Meschery of the Seattle SuperSonics illustrated what it was like to play in the trenches against Chamberlain. [22] The Panthers won the Public League a third time, beating West Philadelphia 78–60, and in the city championship game, they met West Catholic once again. The Sixers charged their way to a then-record 68–13 season, including a record 46–4 start. In three varsity seasons at Philadelphia’s Overbrook High, starting in 1952-53, Chamberlain led the team to records of 19-2, 19-0, and 18-1. [2], As the star player for the Overbrook Panthers, Chamberlain averaged 31 points a game during the 1953 high school season and led his team to a 71–62 win over Northeast High School, who had Guy Rodgers, Chamberlain's future NBA teammate. Chamberlain would help lead the Lakers past Abdul-Jabbar and the Bucks in six games. The Sixers' center scored 29 points, 36 rebounds and 13 assists and was highly praised by Celtics Russell and K.C. His lifelong on-court rival and personal friend Bill Russell stated "the fierceness of our competition bonded us together for eternity", and Celtics coach Red Auerbach praised Chamberlain as vital for the success of the entire NBA. The 15-round bout would have taken place on July 26, 1971 in the Houston Astrodome. And as if to prove that he was not a selfish player, he had the NBA’s highest assist total in 1967-68. He was especially lauded for his good rapport with his fans, often providing tickets and signing autographs. After attending the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr., Chamberlain called out to the angry rioters who were setting fires all over the country, stating Dr. King would not have approved. Coach Schayes called timeout, and decided to run the last play over Hal Greer rather than Chamberlain, because he feared the Celtics would intentionally foul him because he was a poor foul shooter. [29], In Chamberlain's junior year of 1957–58, the Jayhawks' matches were even more frustrating for him. [150] During his career, Chamberlain competed against future Hall of Famers including Russell, Thurmond, Lucas, and Walt Bellamy. He preferred "The Big Dipper", which was inspired by his friends who saw him dip his head as he walked through doorways. [171] Designed according to his preferences, the house was constructed with no right angles, and had an "X-rated" room with mirrored walls and a fur-covered waterbed. Bill Russell regularly feared being embarrassed by Chamberlain,[34] Walt Frazier called his dominance on the court "comical",[122] and when 6-ft 11-in, 250-pound (in his early years)[168] Hall-of-Fame center Bob Lanier was asked about the most memorable moment of his career, Lanier answered: "When Wilt Chamberlain lifted me up and moved me like a coffee cup so he could get a favorable position. Of the 14 years he played in the NBA, only twice did his teams emerge with the NBA title. He could actually quote 100 reasons for that but let´s now move to the second tier of this Top 10… When Chamberlain finally slipped on a Philadelphia uniform for the start of the 1959-60 season, the basketball world eagerly awaited the young giant’s debut — and he didn’t disappoint. The Lakers won 60 games in the regular season and reached the 1973 NBA Finals against the New York Knicks. Advertisement [103], In the 1971–72 NBA season, the Lakers hired former Celtics star guard Bill Sharman as head coach. However, it also became evident that he was an atrocious free-throw shooter, making hardly half of his foul shots. "[90] The greatest problem was his tense relationship with Lakers coach Butch Van Breda Kolff: pejoratively calling the new recruit "The Load", he later complained that Chamberlain was egotistical, never respected him, too often slacked off in practice and focused too much on his own statistics. Nonetheless, Chamberlain, who scored 23 points and 14 rebounds,[29] was elected the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. After King scored a basket, Kansas was ahead by one point, but then Tar Heel Joe Quigg was fouled on a drive with 10 seconds remaining and made his two foul shots. [8] As a testament to his importance, the IVA All-Star game was televised only because Chamberlain also played in it: he rose to the challenge and was named the game's MVP. The NBA Scholar has to concur. Sixers forward Chet Walker testified that on several occasions, players had to pull Chamberlain and Hannum apart to prevent a fistfight. Soon after, Chamberlain was traded to the Lakers for Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark and Darrall Imhoff. But because of an NBA rule that prevented college players from playing in the league until their class graduated, he was in limbo for one year. I had 40 or 42 points, about 30 rebounds, about 15 blocks. Most are related to professional basketball, although a few notable nicknames from the U.S. college game are included. Chamberlain's 4,029 regular-season points made him the only player to break the 4,000-point barrier;[2] the only other player to break the 3,000-point barrier is Michael Jordan, with 3,041 points in the 1986–87 NBA season. [6] In that season, the center again dominated his opposition by recording 33.5 points and 24.6 rebounds a game, leading the league in both categories. [126] According to those close to him, he eventually began taking medication for his heart troubles. At one point he hoped to challenge Muhammad Ali to a world heavyweight fight. [52] Chamberlain also won his first field goal percentage title, and set the all-time record for rebounds in a single game with 55. Sharman introduced morning shoot-arounds, in which the perennial latecomer Chamberlain regularly participated (in contrast to earlier years with Dolph Schayes) and transformed him into a defensive-minded, low-scoring post defender in the mold of his old rival Bill Russell. Despite the fact that Chamberlain had reportedly stayed out all night the previous evening, he obviously came ready to play against the Knicks. Chamberlain promoted the sport so effectively that he was named to the Volleyball Hall of Fame: he became one of the few athletes who were enshrined in different sports. [86] In Game 2, Philadelphia evened the series with a 115–106 victory, and won Games 3 and 4, with Chamberlain suspiciously often played by Celtics backup center Wayne Embry, causing the press to speculate Russell was worn down. When Chamberlain was 50, the New Jersey Nets had the same idea, but were declined. [71] However, contemporary colleagues were often terrified to play against Chamberlain. In response, Chamberlain "had everybody put all the pens in the middle of the floor and stepped on them. [96], After the 1971 playoffs, Chamberlain challenged heavyweight boxing legend Muhammad Ali to a fight. There are three stars in the Big Dipper's handle organized in a line. [37] However, in 2015 a man named Aaron Levi came forward claiming to be Chamberlain's son based on non-identifying papers from his adoption and information from his biological mother. [6] There were three NBA Finals matchups in the rivalry between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, but they played different positions and did not guard each other. By conventional wisdom, Chamberlain now should have dominated against little-used Knicks backup centers Nate Bowman and Bill Hosket or forwards Bradley and DeBusschere, who gave up more than half a foot against the Lakers center. "[74] In Game 3, Chamberlain scored 31 points and 27 rebounds for an important road win, and the next day, coach Schayes planned to hold a joint team practice. He hit 36-for-63 from the field, about which he commented to HOOPmagazine, “My God, that’s terrible. For the final play, Dick Harp called for Ron Loneski to pass the ball into Chamberlain in the low post. [183] But as the championship count became increasingly lopsided, the relationship got strained, and turned hostile after Russell accused Chamberlain of "copping out" in the notorious Game 7 of the 1969 NBA Finals. Prior to the start of a game at Moscow's Lenin Central Stadium, they were greeted by General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev. Loaded with several other players who could score, such as future Hall-of-Famers Hal Greer and newcomer Billy Cunningham, Hannum wanted Chamberlain to concentrate more on defense. [94] The Lakers lost 107–100 in what was called one of the greatest comebacks in NBA Finals history. [2] Celtics forward Heinsohn said: "Half the fouls against him were hard fouls ... he took the most brutal pounding of any player ever". It is safe to say these players on the list made an unforgettable highlight or two. In the third overtime, the Tar Heels scored two consecutive baskets, but Chamberlain executed a three-point play, leaving KU trailing 52–51. He wished people would understand that their roles were different. [64] But as Cherry remarked, not only Chamberlain, but in particular Hannum deserved much credit because he had basically had taken the bad 31–49 squad of last year plus Thurmond and made it into an NBA Finalist. [174] Following his death, in 1999 Chamberlain's estate was valued at $25 million. At age 35, he managed to grab 19.2 rebounds per contest and was selected to the NBA All-Defensive First Team. [52] In 2002, writer Wayne Lynch wrote a book about this remarkable Sixers season, Season of the 76ers, centering on Chamberlain. [89] Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke gave Chamberlain an unprecedented contract, paying him $250,000 after taxes (about $1.8 million in real value); in comparison, previous Lakers top earner Jerry West was paid $100,000 before taxes (about $740,000 in real value). [45] Chamberlain broke eight NBA records, and was named NBA MVP and Rookie of the Year that season, a feat matched only by fellow Hall-of-Famer Wes Unseld in the 1968–69 NBA season. Because NCAA rules at the time prohibited freshmen from playing at the varsity level, Chamberlain was placed on the freshman team upon his arrival at Kansas. By 1971–72, at age 35 and running less, his game had transformed to averaging only nine shots per game compared to the 40 in his record-setting 1961–62 season. [134] He was also responsible for several rule changes, including widening the lane from 12 to 16 feet, as well as changes to rules regarding inbounding the ball[133] and shooting free throws. Ex-soldier Hannum, who later entered the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach, was a crafty psychologist who emphasized defense and passing. [35], On October 24, 1959, Chamberlain finally made his NBA debut, starting for the Philadelphia Warriors. Chamberlain made history by becoming the only center in NBA history to finish the season as the leader in assists, his 702 beating runner-up, Hall-of-Fame point guard Lenny Wilkens' total by 23. He later admitted that this loss was the most painful of his life. Again, the Lakers charged through the playoffs, and in the 1970 NBA Finals, the Lakers were pitted against the New York Knicks, loaded with future Hall-of-Famers Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley, and Walt Frazier.

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