We are celebrating Wilt Chamberlain and his historic 100-point game here in Philly tonight on the 50th anniversary of that incredible feat. He might have been the most fantastic athlete ever, surely the greatest basketball player who ever lived, an outstanding performer as a high jumper in college, a world class volleyball player in his post NBA days and, most of all, a Really Good Man.
Some Wilt facts you might not know:
He was most proud of his days at Overbrook High School and wore his high school letter jacket regularly;
He and his high school team used to scrimmage with the Villanova basketball team which had two All-Americans on the squad a the time and, though the score was never kept, won more often than they lost;
He left the city to go to college at Kansas but really wanted to attend the University of Pennsylvania because of the Penn Relays and their track program;
Red Auerbach, the legendary Boston Celtics coach, tried to talk him into going to Harvard so that, using the territorial draft that was NBA policy in those days, he could draft him;
Wilt had the grades to get into either of those Ivy League schools;
He was eminently fair: if he went up and blocked a shot during a playground game he figure it was really goal-tending, he would turn and dunk the missed shot into the opposing basket as he came down with it;
There were only 4000 fans in attendance that 1962 night in Hershey but many more than that said they were there over the years, many of them claiming it was played in Philadelphia at Convention Hall;
A notoriously bad free throw shooter, he hit 28 of 32 that magic night;
No film or video of that game exists and only a portion of the final quarter is on tape, recorded off the radio by a listener;
He was never selfish on the court, telling his teammates not to pass him the ball because “I will get it off the boards (rebounds)” and, when stung by charges that he hogged the ball, he said he would, and did, lead the league in assists one season:
He once averaged more minutes played that the schedule contained (due to overtime games) because he was rarely substituted for;
He had 118 games in which he scored more than 50 points and average just a tap shy of 23 rebounds a game for his career;
He would embellish many of the stories he told (I have it on good authority that he only slept with 19,999 women and not the 20,000 he claimed);
He was generous to a fault, tipping lavishly because, he said, “it’s our job to be fair to everybody” and left a large portion of his wealth to charity.
Final Note: The 76ers team scored 105 points tonight. Wilt was named player of the game by the TV broadcast crew.