Wilt Chamberlain

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Basketball player
Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain
Player information
Full name Wilton Norman Chamberlain
birthday August 21, 1936
place of birth Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , United States
date of death October 12, 1999 at the age of 63
Place of death Los Angeles , California , United States
size 216 cm
position center
college Kansas
NBA draft 1959, Territorial Pick , Philadelphia Warriors
Clubs as active
1958-1959 United StatesUnited States Harlem Globetrotters
1959-1964 United StatesUnited States Philadelphia / San Francisco Warriors
1965-1968 United StatesUnited States Philadelphia 76ers
1968-1973 United StatesUnited States Los Angeles Lakers
Clubs as coaches
1973-1974 United StatesUnited States San Diego Conquistadors

Wilton Norman "Wilt" Chamberlain (born August 21, 1936 in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , † October 12, 1999 in Los Angeles , California ) was an American basketball player and one of the most attacking players in the history of the NBA . Despite his height of 2.16 m, he was characterized by high mobility, speed and above all strength. Chamberlain was far superior to the opponents of his time and is counted among the most dominant players in the history of the NBA.

Chamberlain holds the record for the highest score ever in an NBA game with 100 points (on March 2, 1962 for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks). Aside from Michael Jordan , he is the only NBA player who has averaged more than 30 points per game (30.07 PPG) during his entire playing career.

On March 1, 1972, he scored his 30,000 for the Los Angeles Lakers . NBA point. By the end of his career in 1973, he was in the all-time best list with 31,419 points in first place, until Kareem Abdul-Jabbar overtook him in the 1982/83 season . Today he ranks behind Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points), Karl Malone (36,928 points), LeBron James (33,655 points), Kobe Bryant (33,643 points), Michael Jordan (32,292 points) and Dirk Nowitzki (31,560 points) 7th place (as of 2020).

Athletic career

High school

Chamberlain's exceptional talent was already evident during his high school days (1952–1955). Chamberlain broke records at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia. During a high school game - with only 32 minutes of play - he scored 90 points, over 60 of which in a 12-minute run. In his senior year he had an average of 44.5 per game. Thanks to him, Overbrook won the Public School Championship three times and two city championships in Philadelphia. Chamberlain finished his high school career as the national scoring record holder with 2206 points.

NBA teams tried to lure him to a college in their area, as the draft rules of the time knew the so-called " territorial pick ". After that, a professional team based in the same city as the college would have had a privilege over Chamberlain. However, Chamberlain went to the University of Kansas , where there was no professional team near. So Eddie Gottlieb , owner of the Philadelphia Warriors , chose him as the “territorial pick” in the 1955 draft, on the grounds that Chamberlain was a star in Philadelphia when he was in high school.


At the University of Kansas , Chamberlain was not allowed to play on the team for the first year due to NCAA rules. With the selection of the Freshmen called “Junior Varsity” he played against the “real” team of the Kansas Jayhawks and, according to his own statements, made “about 40 points, 30 rebounds and 15 blocks ” in an 81:71 win for the Freshmen. In the following season 1956/57 Chamberlain made his debut for the Jayhawks. In his first game he scored 52 points, the record for the Jayhawks that has not been broken to this day. From then on, the opposing teams defended harder, he did not reach the 50 point mark in Kansas. Nevertheless, he led the team in 1957 to the final of the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship , where Kansas was only defeated after the third extension against the University of North Carolina 53:54. He was then voted Most Outstanding Player .

In his two years with Kansas Chamberlain averaged 29.9 points and 18.3 rebounds per game. In addition to basketball, he also took part in competitions in athletics. His personal best in the high jump was 1.98 m. In the shot put , his record was 17.07 m (the winner of the 1956 Olympic shot put competition hit 18.57 m), and he ran the 100- yard sprint in 10.9 seconds. With the Jayhawks, the final of the previous year could not be repeated. Chamberlain decided to skip his senior year and became a professional player in 1958. But since he was not allowed to join the NBA before 1959, he signed a one-year contract with the Harlem Globetrotters .


Finally, Chamberlain moved to the NBA in 1959 to the Philadelphia Warriors. Chamberlain's career start could not have been more furious: In his first game he scored 43 points and got 28 rebounds. It clearly surpassed the previous point record of 2105 points ( Bob Pettit , 1958/59) with 2707 points, as well as the rebound record of 1612 ( Bill Russell , 1958/59) with 1941 rebounds. He was consequently voted both Rookie of the Year and MVP . He became the first rookie in NBA history to win the MVP award. In the following season, he screwed the record for points and rebounds again. He was the first to score more than 3000 points. The 2149 rebounds of the 1960/61 season are still a record today. On November 24, 1960 Chamberlain got 55 rebounds in one game, also an unmatched record to this day.

In the 1961/62 season Chamberlain again achieved NBA historical achievements. He played through all but one of the games and ended up with an average of 48.5 minutes per game. In 45 of the 80 season games he scored more than 50 points, at the end of the season he had an average of 50.4 points per game. In total, he collected over 4000 points in the 1961/62 season. To date, apart from Michael Jordan (1986/87), no other player has even reached the 3000 mark.

100 points in one game

On March 2, 1962, he scored 100 points in a game against the New York Knicks , a record unmatched in the NBA to this day. Wilt hit 36 ​​of 63 litters. He scored 41 points in the first half, 28 in the third quarter and another 31 in the final quarter. On that day he was even safe from the free-throw line, converting 28 of 32 free throws. Except for Kobe Bryant on January 22, 2006 (81 points), no other player came over the mark of 75 points in a game. The Warriors won the game 169: 147, setting another record for most points in a game (316). The game has been declared one of the greatest of all time by the NBA. Chamberlain broke even more points records in the 1961/62 season, five of which are still unbroken today.

For a long time Chamberlain lacked the right teammates to break the dominance of the Boston Celtics . Chamberlain met several times with his teams in the playoffs on the Celtics, but they failed each time. In the 1966-67 season, the Philadelphia 76ers , to whom Chamberlain joined in 1965, finally had a great team together (including Chet Walker , Hal Greer , Billy Cunningham ). This team won 45 of the first 49 games of the season and ended up with a score of 68:13. In the finals of the Eastern Conference , the Celtics, who had previously been champions for eight years in a row, were beaten 4-1. The final victory over the San Francisco Warriors was purely a matter of form, the Sixers and Chamberlain won their first championship.

The NBA anticipated a Sixers dynasty to follow that of the Celtics. But Chamberlain fell out with the team owner of the Sixers, Irv Kosloff , and played accordingly listlessly in the 1967/68 season. Nevertheless, he was elected MVP for the third time in a row. In the play-offs, they were eliminated despite the 3-1 lead against the Celtics. Chamberlain demanded to be sold to another team (trade) and otherwise threatened to switch to the ABA . On July 9, 1968, he went to the Los Angeles Lakers , who already had two of the best players in the NBA in their ranks, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West . With the Lakers he reached the NBA Finals four times in the five years he played there. But Chamberlain did not win a second title for a long time at the Lakers either. Only after two final defeats (against the Celtics in 1969 and the Knicks in 1970) did the Lakers win revenge against the Knicks in 1972. After triumphing over the Knicks, Chamberlain was voted MVP of the Finals. This season he has 33 away wins in a row. After another season, after he reached the NBA Finals one last time with the Lakers, but lost them to the Knicks, Chamberlain, now 36 years old, ended his career.

Chamberlain ended his NBA career as a record holder for points (31,419, now outbid by Abdul-Jabbar , Malone , Jordan , Bryant , James and Nowitzki ) and rebounds (23,924, not outbid to this day). He led the NBA seven times in scoring (1960-1966) and scored 118 times more than 50 points, 32 times more than 60 points and six times more than 70 points. The free throw rate of his entire career was 51.1%, with a total of 5,805 missed free throws. No player has missed attempts in the history of the NBA. Wilt Chamberlain was elected MVP four times in his career (1960, 1966, 1967, 1968). He was also called up to the All-NBA First Team seven times (1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1968) and twice (1972 and 1973) to the All-Defensive First Team. In over 1,200 games (regular season and playoffs) he never committed six personal fouls. For the Kansas Jayhawks, the Harlem Globetrotters, the Warriors, the 76ers and the Lakers, his jersey number , 13, has been withdrawn and is no longer awarded. He has been a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame since April 28, 1979 . He scored at least 65 points 15 times. The second-placed player has five such games. In his first seven seasons he won the scoring title. He was the best rebounder eleven times. He is the only center that delivered the most assists in a season with 702 (1967-68). 1961-62 he played 48.5 minutes per game. He was never fouled out in 1,045 games. He collected 55 rebounds in one game. He broke the previous record of his rival Bill Russell (51). Another record still exists today: his team remained unbeaten 30 times in a row when Wilt scored at least 20 points and collected at least 10 rebounds (1966-68).

Chamberlain planned a career as a coach after his active career and got an offer from the San Diego Conquistadors from the ABA. He should act as a player-coach; Due to his current contract with the Lakers, however, he was legally prohibited from participating as a player in ABA games. After a season as a coach with the Conquistadors (1973/74) and a record of 37:47 Chamberlain ended his coaching career. He then tried different sports. For a while he played world class beach volleyball . He also played tennis and at times polo . When he was over 60, he ran a marathon in Hawaii .

Chamberlain died of heart failure at his Bel Air mansion at the age of 63 .

Film career

In addition to his career as a basketball player, Chamberlain also tried his hand at acting. His best-known role is that of Bombaata in Conan the Destroyer , where he was seen alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger.


In political philosophy , he became the namesake of the so-called Wilt-Chamberlain argument without having to do anything himself. In his book Anarchy, State and Utopia, the libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick discussed as a thought experiment a society in which numerous people voluntarily buy tickets to basketball games, in particular to see Chamberlain play, and therefore a very small contribution to the ticket price goes directly to him. This leads to the result that Chamberlain accumulates his personal wealth, which then goes well beyond the salary of other players and thus contradicts egalitarian theories as a consequence . According to Nozick, despite the inequality involved , this distribution of wealth is fair as it is based on the voluntariness of the paying viewers. Nozick argues that welfare state models that seek to achieve a distribution of wealth that is previously perceived as "fair" through redistribution cannot be justified ethically.


  • Wilt Chamberlain: A View from Above , Bergenfield (NJ), 1992. ISBN 0-451-17493-3 (English)
  • Robert A. Cherry: Wilt: Larger than Life , Chicago 2004. ISBN 1-57243-672-7 (Engl.)
  • Gary M. Pomerantz: Wilt, 1962: The Night of 100 Points and the Dawn of a New Era , New York 2005. ISBN 1-4000-5160-6 (Engl.)

See also

Web links

Commons : Wilt Chamberlain  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. NBA statistics on www.nba.com
  2. ^ NBA's Regular Season Records: Rebounds
  3. NBA's Greatest Moments: Wilt Scores 100!
  4. Fran Blinebury: 50 years later, Wilt's achievements shut astound peers. On: National Basketball Association website; New York, NY, January 9, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2020 (in English).
  5. Fran Blinebury: [ http://archive.nba.com/2012/history/features/04/09/season-of- giants-bill-russell / index.html Two giants: Russell, Wilt scrapped on court, laughed off it. ] On: National Basketball Association website; New York, NY, April 9, 2012. Retrieved August 20, 2020 (in English).
  6. Mitch Lawrence: Chamberlain's feats the stuff of legend. On: Entertainment and Sports Programming Network website; Burbank, CA, October 15, 1999. Retrieved August 27, 2020 (in English).
  7. ^ Robert Nozick: Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Basic Books, New York 1974, pp. 160-164.