This week Joel Embid dropped 70 points on the San Antonio Spurs, surpassing the On March 2, 1962, Chamberlain threw down 100 points and grabbed 25 rebounds in a 169-147 victory over the New York Knicks, surpassing his previous record of 68 set three months earlier. That season, Wilt averaged 50 points, 25 rebounds and more than 48 minutes a game due to 10 overtime periods that year.
Wilt holds records for most points in a season (4,000) most rebounds in a game (55), and he remains the NBA’s all-time leading rebounder with 23,924 boards. Chamberlain led the NBA in scoring seven years in a row and in 1967-68 led the league in assists. Wilt scored 60 or more 32 times and in 118 games dropped 50 or more points. His career total of 31,419 has been surpassed by several players and the closest anybody has come to his 100 is Kobe Bryant with 81 in 2006.
Wilt won NBA championships with Philadelphia in 1967 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 1972.
Joel Embid has yet to lead his team to a title and fans have a right to wonder how Wilt would fare against the current MVP. Check out Chamberlain in his mid-30s against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, taller and a decade younger. One doubts that Embid would put up 70 on Chamberlain, who was more than a basketball player.
At the University of Kansas, the seven-footer won the Big 8 high-jump competition three years in a row. His 100-yard dash times were in the 10-second range, his shot-put sailed 56 feet and his triple-jump topped 50 feet. After retiring from the NBA Wilt took up volleyball, becoming in one account “the best spiker in the world.”
One of the great athletes of all time, Wilt Chamberlain died on October 12, 1999, at the age of 63. In sports as in life, it’s all about memory against forgetting.
STEVE adds: I got to meet Wilt once, very briefly, at a Nike event more than 40 years ago when I was still a college athlete and used to get free Nike shoes and invitations to Nike events. (It probably helped that my girlfriend at the time, an all-American in track & field, was a rep for Nike.) Shaking Wilt’s hand was unforgettable, because my hand, which is not tiny, vanished inside his enormous paw.