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Wilt Chamberlain

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

Wilt Chamberlain, shooting for basket

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.'"

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Famous Sports StarsBasketballWilt Chamberlain Biography - A Giant At An Early Age, Recruited By Kansas, From The Jayhawks To The Globetrotters To The Warriors - SELECTED WRITINGS BY CHAMBERLAIN: