Wilt Chamberlain, the most prolific scorer in the history of basketball. His prowess on the court is legendary. Though he never played a single minute of college ball, Wilt Chamberlain became an All-American during his third season with the University of Kansas Jayhawks. After one year at Kansas, Chamberlain left school to join the Harlem Globetrotters. He was only nineteen years old when he left KU, but on March 2, 1959, Chamberlain scored 53 points in a game against the University of Minnesota. After one year with the Globetrotters, Chamberlain jumped to the NBA and became a Philadelphia 76er in what would be professional basketball’s biggest bargain: $25,000 for the season.
about wilt chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain was a seven-time NBA scoring champion, a four-time Most Valuable Player, and a two-time NBA Champion. He holds more than thirty NBA records, both single season and career statistics. In addition to his amazing athletic abilities on the court, Wilt Chamberlain had a life full of interesting and sometimes strange events.
Early Years (1936-1959)
Wilton Norman “Wilt” Chamberlain was born on August 21, 1936, to a teenage single mom named Fanny Chamberlain in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Wilt had a difficult childhood with little supervision or nurturing from his mother. The first few years of Wilt’s life were spent with his maternal grandmother in the rural town of Petersburg, Virginia. At age four Chamberlain was reunited with his mother and moved back to Philadelphia. The absence of a father figure had a huge impact on Chamberlain’s development as a man and athlete. His childhood experiences inspired him to always be there for those he cared about. Wilt Chamberlain was a kind and generous man willing to give help and support when needed. .
Chamberlain’s childhood in Philadelphia provided him with a rich history in African American literature, music, and culture. He would later become an avid jazz saxophone player. In high school Chamberlain became known for his basketball skills at Overbrook High School. He was a six-foot, nine-inch tall center on the basketball team, and Chamberlain quickly made a name for himself in Philadelphia’s playground basketball scene. In 1955 he led his high school to a city championship.
In addition to being an outstanding athlete, Chamberlain possessed superior intelligence that allowed him to excel both academically and socially. His grades at Overbrook High were good enough to earn him an athletic scholarship to the University of Kansas. Even though he was only a high school junior, Chamberlain left Philadelphia for Lawrence, Kansas. He arrived on campus in the fall of 1955 as a six-foot-eleven inch freshman weighing 220 pounds.
Chamberlain’s basketball skills developed quickly and he was soon outpacing the competition in the NCAA. During his sophomore season, Chamberlain averaged 29.9 points per game and grabbed an amazing 3,033 rebounds for his career. His rebounding numbers led to a new term called “boarding” that described someone who could control the boards on both ends of the floor. In the 1957 NCAA tournament, Chamberlain was hampered by a severe ankle sprain he suffered during their semi-final game against the University of North Carolina. His injury forced him to miss the championship game and Kansas finished runner-up to North Carolina.
Chamberlain continued his stellar play as a junior and senior leading Kansas to consecutive conference titles. In his senior season, Chamberlain averaged 38.9 points and 27.0 rebounds while shooting an amazing 64% from the field. He won the 1958-59 Heisman trophy and was named college basketball Player of the Year by The Associated Press and United Press International among other awards and honors .
Professional Career (1959-1965)
Wilt Chamberlain began his professional career with the Harlem Globetrotters in 1959. He was paid $50,000 and toured Europe with the team for two seasons. In September of 1960 he signed a contract to play with the Philadelphia Warriors as the first overall pick in the NBA Draft. After multiple trades Wilt played for the Philadelphia (1960-1967), San Francisco (1968-1972) and Los Angeles Lakers (1972-1973). Chamberlain holds the record for points scored in a career, was named one of the top 50 Greatest Players in NBA History and won two NBA championships.