Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wilt Chamberlain

He was one of if not the most dominant player in the History of Sports.  A true legendary figure that changed the way his sport was played and paved the way for future athletes to succeed on and off the court.  To say he dominated the game doesn't even do justice to the level at which he excelled above his competition.  Wilt Chamberlain gave a face and a name to the term "Big Man" in the middle.  Basketball analysts refer to "the Big Dipper" as the quintessential Center when talking about the best players at their position from a historical perspective.

The Greatest Players always appear to be better than everyone else on the field or court by a wide margin.  And speaking of a wide margin, Chamberlain is responsible for the widening of the lane (16ft wide painted area under the basket was 12ft before Wilt).  This is significant in that players could no longer camp out closer to the basket and impose their will by physically overpowering
opponents for shorter shots at the hoop.  The 3-second rule, which was enacted from George Mikan's inside dominance in the 40s & 50s, affected the amount of time players could operate inside the paint with the ball.  3 seconds was more than enough time for Wilt, so the NBA decided to increase the paint area forcing Chamberlain further outside, making him work much harder to score.

The numbers Wilt Chamberlain put up illustrate just how ridiculously talented he was.  1959-60 as an NBA rookie he averaged 38 points and 27 rebounds.  In his third year he upped the scoring to !!!50!!! points and 26 rebounds per game.  The next year he averaged 45pts & 24rbs.  After the 63-64 season the NBA decided to make the rule changes because Wilt was dominating to the point of utter absurdity.  We're not talking 25 or 40 game seasons either.  The NBA Schedule is the same now as it was then.  82 games.  And Chamberlain was incredibly durable.  He played 80 games in nine of his fourteen seasons.  Wilt's dedication to physical fitness separated him from the rest of his skinny NBA contemporaries.

Here are some Chamberlain records: Only player to average 50 points in a season.  Only player to average 40 points in a season.  Most Points scored in a season 4029.  All-Time Leader in Rebounds 23,924.  Most points scored in a single game 100.  Only player to average 30pts & 20rbs for a season.  Had sex with over 20,000 women without contracting a single STD.  OK i embellished on that one a bit, just like Wilt did.  Several calculations have been done on that figure.  The actual number is closer to a couple thousand, if Wilt was as sexually active as he claimed (I was born in the wrong decade).

Chamberlain, like most transcendent people, was way ahead of his time.  He was a physical specimen unlike any other.  Wilt left college a year early to play for the Harlem Globetrotters because the NBA required college players to play 4 years.  He and famous Globetrotter teammate Meadowlark Lemon performed a skit where Wilt would throw Lemon into the air and catch him like a baby (Lemon was 210lbs).  According to Lemon, Wilt was the Strongest Athlete To Ever Live.

People debate Chamberlain's greatness with reference to the Era he played in and the fact he only won 2 NBA championships.  Fact is it takes a team to win.  Wilt and his teams played against the Greatest Celtics team, quite possibly the best basketball team ever.  Russell, Cousy, Havlicek, Jones, Sharman and Heinsohn coached by Red Auerbach won 11 championships in a 13 year span from 1957 to 1969.  5 of the top 50 NBA Greatest Players were on those Celtics teams.  Wilt Chamberlain won a title in '67 & '72 with the 76ers and Lakers.  After his basketball career Wilt continued with his entrepreneurial pursuits and acted in films.  Wilt played an integral part in the Cultural Shift of the time period from the 50s through the 70s.  He changed perceptions and made people take notice to the all-encompassing talents of black people.

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