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Wilt Chamberlain (1936 – 1999)


Basketball player in the NBA.
Wilt Chamberlain
In Tom Robbins' Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, the narrator attempts to describe a Whooping Crane in 25 words or less. One attempt at the description reads Imagine Wilt Chamberlain in a red yarmulke and snowy feathers... The narrator cuts off the attempt with the explanation You're assuming that the reader knows who Wilt Chamberlain is. Many people don't follow basketball and wouldn't understand that Wilt signifies size and strength and arrogance made palatable by grace.
Chamberlain quotes
In Denver, Nugget Coach Dan Issel said, "As I grew up, Wilt the Stilt was the player. Just the things he was able to do. I guess one year they told him he couldn't make as much money as he wanted because he couldn't pass the ball, so he went out and led the league in assists. "Watching Wilt, you always kind of got the idea he was just playing with people. That he was on cruise control and still 10 times better than anybody else that was playing at that time."
Chamberlain
Former Celtics guard K.C. Jones remembered his casual run-in with Wilt. "He stopped me dead in my tracks with his arm, hugged me and lifted me off the floor with my feet dangling," Jones said. "It scared the hell out of me. When I went to the free-throw line, my legs were still shaking. Wilt was the strongest guy and best athlete ever to play the game."




Chamberlain Wilt quotes
In 1982, when he was 45 and Philadelphia 76er owner Harold Katz was hot after him, the Houston Chronicle's George White asked Elvin Hayes if Chamberlain could still play. "Some things about Wilt, you never forgot," Hayes said. "He was such an awesome physical specimen. To go up under Wilt Chamberlain, to be down there and look up at him when he's towering up over you waiting to dunk, was a terrifying picture. To see him poised up there, knowing he was about to sweep down with that big jam . . . that must be the most frightening sight in sports. The ball goes shooting through the net and you better have your body covered up because he could really hurt someone. I was scared. Everyone was scared when he got that look in his eye, that don't-try-to-stop-this look that he got when he really wanted it. . . . "I think Russell realized there was no way he could have stopped Wilt if he had been fully intent on making it a two-man game. No one who ever put on a uniform could have done it. When I played him, I kept this foremost in my mind: Above all, don't make him mad. Don't embarrass him. You wanted to keep him quiet as long as possible."
Chamberlain Wilt
Several years after Wilt stopped playing, he toyed with the idea of a comeback. On the day he visited the Knicks' offices in Madison Square Garden, he talked to Red Holzman, then strode out to the elevator. When it opened, two deliverymen were struggling with a dolly piled high with boxes of office supplies, mostly letterheads and envelopes. The load was so heavy, the elevator had stopped maybe four inches below the floor level and now the deliverymen were huffing and puffing, but they couldn't raise the dolly high enough to get it on the floor level. After maybe two minutes of the deliverymen's huffing and puffing, Wilt, his biceps bulging in a tank top, peered down at them and intoned, "Gentlemen, maybe I can help." They stepped back, he stepped into the elevator, grabbed each end of the rope slung under the dolly and without much exertion, quickly lifted the dolly onto the floor level. Looking up in awe, the deliverymen said, "Thank you." Wilt said, "You're welcome." Wilt stepped into the elevator and rode down to the street level as another witness followed the two deliverymen toward the Knick offices and asked, "How much does all this weigh?" They quickly surveyed the stack of big boxes of office supplies. "Close to 600 pounds," one said.
Wilt Chamberlain quotes
"On the trip to Russia with the Harlem Globetrotters, we were in Lenin Stadium, and they assigned a dressing room to the team. The players were getting dressed for one of their games. They were in rather close quarters. Remember, these were young kids-Wilt was 23. The others were his age. They were like kittens. You bump me, i'll bump you back. And before you know it, two of the guys set on Wilt. They started playfully pushing and shoving him. And finally one of his teammates hit Wilt a little too hard. He took these two guys, twisted each of their shirts, and lifted both of them off the ground. Each of these guys weighed over 200 pounds. It looked like he had two little crackers in his hands. I thought he was going to hit their heads together. It was an amazing demonstration of strength".
Wilt Chamberlain
"When I was a freshman, I fooled around with shooting free throws this way: For some reason, I thought you had to stay within the top half of that free-throw circle, so I would step back to just inside the top of the circle, take off from behind the line and dunk. They outlawed that, but I wouldn't have done it in a game, anyway. I was a good free throw shooter in college." Actually he was a 62% free throw shooter, which is poor except in comparison to his 51% as a pro.
Chamberlain Wilt quotes
Of all his memories of Wilt Chamberlain, the one that stood out for Larry Brown happened long after Chamberlain's professional career had ended. On a summer day in the early 1980s, when Brown was coaching at UCLA, Chamberlain showed up at Pauley Pavilion to take part in one of the high-octane pickup games that the arena constantly attracted. "Magic Johnson used to run the games," Brown recalled Tuesday after hearing that Chamberlain, his friend, had died at 63, "and he called a couple of chintzy fouls and a goaltending on Wilt. "So Wilt said: 'There will be no more layups in this gym,' and he blocked every shot after that. That's the truth, I saw it. He didn't let one [of Johnson's] shots get to the rim." Chamberlain would have been in his mid-40s at the time, and he remained in top physical shape until recently
Chamberlain
(Monte) Johnson recalled that: "Wilt had such unbelievable endurance and speed that, if he took off running, there wasn't any chance that anybody would keep up with him. He glided around the track and had the grace of a deer. I said to the coach, 'It might look like it helps us to chase him, but it may kill us because you can't catch someone who runs that fast.' After practice, he was the only one who wasn't tired. I never saw him tired."
Chamberlain Wilt
Wilt Chamberlain claims that his sergeant, during his prime, was "46 to 48 inches, easy."
Wilt Chamberlain
What's unfortunate is that most people regard the great leapers as being only the short guys who could dunk," said the 7-1 1/16 Wilt Chamberlain. "My sergeant [vertical leap] was higher than Michael Jordan's. When I went to Kansas, they had a 12-foot basket in the gym, because Dr. Phog Allen was advocating the 12-foot basket. I used to dunk on that basket. It was an effort, but I could do it.




Wilt Chamberlain quotes
"Chamberlain played the game the same way Russell did, except he scored so much more. But his teams had to get more points from him. He'd score 45 points and his teams would still lose."
Wilt Chamberlain
"When challenged, Wilt could do almost anything he wanted. In 1961 a new star named Walt Bellamy came into the league. Bellamy was 6-foot-11, and was scoring 30 points a game. First time they played against each other, they met at half court. Bellamy said, 'Hello, Mr. Chamberlain. I'm Walter Bellamy.' Chamberlain reached for Bellamy's hand and said, 'Hello, Walter. You won't get a shot off in the first half.' Wilt then blocked Bellamy's first nine shots. At the start of the second half Wilt said to Bellamy, 'Okay, Walter. Now you can play.'"
Chamberlain quotes
"Wilt had to fight people's dissatisfaction that his teams didn't win. There he was, this great dominating player, and his teams didn't win championships. Well, Wilt wasn't playing for the right team. As an individual, he was in a class by himself, but his teammates--they were OK, but not the supporting cast Russell had."
Chamberlain Wilt
Bill Mayer, then the managing editor of the 'Lawrence Journal-World' recalled on of Wilt's impressive athletic feats: "We played Oklahoma in basketball on a friday night, here in Lawrence(, Kansas), When Oklahoma had one helluva team. And they pounded the living daylights out of Wilt, just beat him to a pulp. I think he got 32 points. This was on a friday, and the finals of the Big Seven indoor track championship were the next night in Kansas city in the Municipal Auditorium. Wilt goes in, and with a minimum of practice during the week-he had just been fiddling around-he sets a school record and ties for the Big Seven championship, jumping 6' 6 3/4""
Chamberlain Wilt quotes
Darrall Imhoff, who as a 6-foot-10 rookie center for the New York Knicks had the misfortune of guarding Chamberlain during his 100-point game in 1962, said, "I spent 12 years in his armpits, and I always carried that 100-point game on my shoulders. "After I got my third foul, I said to one of the officials, Willy Smith, 'Why don't you just give him 100 points and we'll all go home?' Well, we did." Two nights later, at Madison Square Garden, Chamberlain tried to go for the century mark again. But Imhoff 'held' him to 54 points. The fans gave Imhoff a standing ovation. "He was an amazing, strong man," Imhoff said. "I always said the greatest record he ever held wasn't 100 points, but his 55 rebounds against Bill Russell. Those two players changed the whole game of basketball. The game just took an entire step up to the next level."
Wilt Chamberlain
"Nobody seems to appreciate what an incredible player Wilt was," Russell said at 1997 All-Star Game when the league named and honored its 50 greatest players. "He was the best player of all time because he dominated the floor like nobody else ever could. To be that big and that athletic was special."
Wilt Chamberlain quotes
Former NBA center and Chicago Bull coach Johnny "Red" Kerr, who played part of one season in Philadelphia with Wilt and against him for six-plus years, said, "He was the NBA. He was the guy on the top. Wilt was the guy you talked about--he and Bill Russell. He was the most dominating center--the best center to ever play in the NBA."
Wilt Chamberlain
"One time, when I was with Boston and he was with the Lakers, Happy Hairston and I were about to get in a scrape," said Charlotte Hornets coach Paul Silas, who was a rugged, no-nonsense enforcer. "All of a sudden, I felt an enormous vise around me. I was 6-7, 235, and Wilt had picked me up and turned me around. He said, 'We're not going to have that stuff.' I said, 'Yes sir.'"
Chamberlain Wilt
"If you want to get Wilt ticked off or bitter, just mention Bill Russell. You will incite him."


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