Happy Birthday Wilt: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Chamberlain

    Wilt Chamberlain was larger than life on and off the court, but he was more than just a basketball player. He rolled into life on this day in 1936 like an impenetrable ball of thunder and eventually became a legend and revolutionized the center position, displaying unprecedented talents, athleticism, and execution for a 7-foot-1 NBA center. His battles with Bill Russell are the stuff of true pioneers and legends. 

    Matt Birk on Twitter

    In 143 games vs Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain averaged 29 Pts and 28 Rebs. WHAT?!?

    As dominant as he was as a player, his zest for life experiences took the cake. Before he rolled out into the sunset in 1999 at the age of 63, Chamberlain had touched several generations of people throughout the world, shed the moniker of basketball player and become a cultural icon. 

    Curtis Harris on Twitter

    Scrounging up photos of Wilt Chamberlain, the most interesting man in the world

    Here are 5 things to know about Wilt Chamberlain on his birthday 

    1. Wilt Chamberlain was a famous nightclub owner during the 60s and 70s.

    Chamberlain was a hustler on and off the court. Big Wilts Paradise was located in the basement of 2294 Seventh Avenue near 135th Street in Harlem, New York City. The spot was purchased by Wilt and became a lit spot where the black elite of sports, entertainment and the underworld came to socialize and party during the 60s and 70s. Stars like Sammy Davis Jr., Willie Mays, Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali, freedom fighters Langston Hughes and Malcolm X and Harlem’s global gangsters such as Bumpy Johnson, Frank Lucas, and Nicky Barnes, were all known to hang around the spot. 

    The club was extraordinary. It featured dancing waiters and waiters on roller skates. It also stayed open like an all-night store, with the day ending with breakfast dances at 8 am. Wilt lived in New York during his playing days to stay close to the action in Harlem which was the epicenter and tastemaker of Black culture during that time. The club closed in 1986.   

    2. Hes The Only Player To Ever Drop A 100 Stack In a Game

    Chamberlain was considered a Goliath of the game and his offensive repertoire was multifaceted and simply dominant. 

    When Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points on March 2, 1962, in the Philadelphia Warrior’s 169-147 win over the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pennsylvania, there wasnt any video footage to capture the moment. A few clips of some radio audio can be found, but that’s about it. 

    All that remains to commemorate that iconic achievement 55 years ago of 100 points in one game by one of the NBAs true superheroes is a picture of Chamberlain holding a white piece of paper with the number 100 written on it.

                                         

    3. Wilt Chamberlains Dipper shot AKA Finger Roll is one of the “Most Unstoppable Shots In NBA History.”

    The only player in NBA history to score 100 points in a game also had mad moves. He dominated at a time when the post was king and impacted the game at 7-foot-1 with a grace and beauty befitting of a guard. Chamberlain wasn’t your typical plodding big man that welcomed physical contact and tried to prove how strong he was. Wilt was unduplicatable in how he combined strength, finesse, superior talent and basically made the finger roll a lit move.

    4. Wilt Chamberlain, a lifelong bachelor, did everything big, including indulging in a lifestyle that later revealed a more than healthy appetite for female companionship.

    Via theatlantic.com, In addition to his accomplishments on the court, Wilt also authored four books. None of the others created nearly the stir and controversy as his 1991 book, A View From Above.

    In it, Wilt claimed to have slept with 20,000 different women in his life.

    A media firestorm erupted, and Wilt was attacked from all sides. The country was at the height of the AIDS crisis, and activists criticized Wilt for his promiscuity. He also came under fire in African-American circles for promoting black racial stereotypes. And feminists resented his blatant sexism for using women in such a manner.

    To Wilt’s credit (I guess), he never backed down from his claim, never said he was just “bragging” or “stretching the truth.” He simply stated: “I was just laying it out there for people who were curious.”

    You do the math. 

    5. Chamberlain wasn’t just some basketball freak. He had a passion and excellence for sports beyond the hardwood.

    In high school, Wilt was killing track and field, and he continued when he went to college at Kansas. While at Kansas, Chamberlain won three straight Big Eight high jump championships, ran the 100-yard dash, and could hurl the shotput up to 56 feet.

                                                         

    Once his Hall of Fame hoops career ended, Wilt picked up volleyball as a hobby and became a board member of the International Volleyball Association, a pro coed volleyball league that only a short time, but during Wilts time with the Seattle Smashers front line, his celebrity presence brought significant attention to the league and his contributions to volleyball earned him a spot in the sport’s Hall of Fame.

    Happy Birthday, Wilt. Celebrating your greatness and remembering your life’s impactful journey. 

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.