3 Things You May Not Have Known About Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain has been gone for over two decades, but his legacy will never be forgotten. The Big Dipper (as he’s often called) was one of the greatest basketball players of all time, holding countless records and achievements that other NBA players could only dream of. Chamberlain is the only player in history to ever score 100 points in a single NBA game, as well as the only one to average at least 30 points and 20 rebounds per game in a season. He also played volleyball, ran track and field, and nearly fought one of the greatest boxers of all time.
Chamberlain was one of those people who just seemed too good to be true. How can one individual be great at so many things? Read on to discover a few amazing facts you may not have known about the NBA legend.
He was Extremely Athletic
Chamberlain wasn’t just a basketball prodigy; he showed his talent in a variety of other sports and activities. He participated in track and field all through high school, and he (literally) hit the ground running when he graduated and began classes at Kansas University. While in college, he won three straight Big Eight high jump championships, hurled the shotput nearly 60 feet, and completed the 100-yard dash, among other achievements.
Some athletes want to relax after they retire, but not Chamberlain. His basketball career came to a close in 1974, and he immediately became a star volleyball player. Chamberlain played with the Seattle Smashers’ volleyball team in the late 1970s, with his name recognition prompting the All-Star game to be televised. His volleyball career, while short-lived, even earned him a place in the volleyball Hall of Fame!
He Almost Fought Muhammad Ali
Chamberlain was the type of guy who got bored easily and was always looking for a new sport or activity (which he usually excelled in). But would he have been successful fighting one of the greatest boxers of all time? The world will sadly never know. In Don Cherry’s 2004 biography Wilt: Larger than Life, he claims that Chamberlain was approached by iconic boxing trainer Cus D’Amato in 1965, asking if he would be interested in boxing with heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali. Chamberlain was talked out of doing the match by those close to him, but that definitely wasn’t the end of it.
Chamberlain was approached by D’Amato yet again in 1967, offering to train him for a fight against Ali, and Chamberlain was again told to decline the offer – this time by his own father, an avid boxing fan who knew that just because Chamberlain was much larger than Ali, it didn’t mean he would be an immediate victor.
The fight almost came to fruition in 1971, with Chamberlain signing a contract to fight Ali in Houston that year. Unfortunately, they both backed out, and the fight that never happened remains one of the biggest mysteries in sports history.
He Was a Car Guy
Chamberlain didn’t let his NBA money go to waste. He splurged on a variety of luxury cars, including a Cadillac convertible and custom lavender Bentley. The only issue? He was too large to fit behind the wheel of any of his sports cars!
But Chamberlain was resourceful. He replaced the seat in his Lamborghini with a padded mat, so he would be able to fit comfortably, and in truly over-the-top fashion, he had his own Le Mans-style race car custom built and designed for a cool $750,000. Built in 1996, just three years before his death, the yellow Searcher One was every bit as cool as it sounds.
Wilt The Stilt definitely knew how to live it up. He’s undoubtedly a basketball player and human being who will never be forgotten.