Gone but not forgotten, Wilt’s legacy lives on

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Posted: Sunday, August 21, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 12:07 pm, Thu Oct 23, 2014.

On Sunday, Philadelphia’s own Wilt Chamberlain, the greatest player to ever play the game would have been 75 years old. Chamberlain was born on Aug. 21, 1936. Although Chamberlain died Oct. 12, 1999, his life, basketball legacy, accomplishments and humanitarian efforts will live on.

Chamberlain, a 7-foot-1, 275-pounder, was recognized for his strength, power, agility, quickness and dominance in basketball. He was a major force in the game. His outstanding play sparked many rule changes such as widening the lane, offensive goaltending, altering the rules of in bounding the ball and shooting from the foul line.

Chamberlain scored 31,419 points and grabbed 23,924 rebounds in his NBA career. He won two NBA championships. He guided the Philadelphia 76ers to a league crown in 1967 and the Los Angeles Lakers to a title in 1972.

As a college basketball player, he was an All-American at the University of Kansas. He led the Jayhawks to the NCAA championship game.

He was a tremendous player at Overbrook High School. He was one of the most highly recruited scholastic players in the country.

The Philadelphia Tribune initiated an effort to honor him with a United States postage stamp three years ago. Chamberlain is now eligible to have his image on a U.S. postage stamp. He would be the first basketball player so recognized.

Next year would be a great time to issue a postage stamp with Chamberlain’s photo. In 2012, that will be the 50th anniversary of his 100-point game. On March 2, 1962, he scored 100 points in a single game. He shot 36-for-63 from the field and 28-for-32 from the free throw line to lead the Philadelphia Warriors to a 169–147 win over the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pa.

Guy Rodgers, former Northeast High and Temple star, played in that game. Rodgers handed out 20 assists that night. Paul Arizin, a Villanova product, scored 16 points in that contest.

Al Attles scored 17 points shooting 8-for-8 from the field and 1-for-1 from the free throw line.

“It was something you’ll always remember,” Attles said in a 2009 interview with the Tribune. “He was such a great talent.”

That year, he averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds a game. He averaged 48.5 minutes a game. An NBA game is only 48 minutes long but Chamberlain played in several overtime games that season.

“If anyone from basketball belongs on a U.S. postage stamp, the first has to be Wilt Chamberlain,” said Don Hackney, former Northeast High basketball player and Cheyney University Hall of Famer. “To the world over the last 60 years The Big Dipper is the face of basketball. Wilt changed the game more than any other player who has ever played. Others will come and go but there will never be another Wilton Norman Chamberlain.”

Fans can help Chamberlain receive a postage stamp by sending letters and petitions to: Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, c/o Stamp Development, U.S. Postal Service, 475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300, Washington, D.C. 20260-3501.

 

Contact staff writer Donald Hunt at (215) 893-5719 or dhunt@phillytrib.com.

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