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Wilt Chamberlain Biography

A Giant At An Early Age, Recruited By Kansas, From The Jayhawks To The Globetrotters To The WarriorsSELECTED WRITINGS BY CHAMBERLAIN:


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 career—31,419—than 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."


(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.

Sketch by Judson Knight

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Famous Sports StarsBasketball