Most NBA fans consider Michael Jordan to be the greatest basketball player who ever lived. There are other observers who think the honor should go to LeBron James or Kobe Bryant or Magic Johnson. It’s hard to imagine a 7-foot-1, 275-lb. giant being overlooked, but there’s a case to be for the late, great Wilt Chamberlain.
Nicknamed “The Stilt” and “The Big Dipper,” Chamberlain starred for the Kansas Jayhawks – in his varsity debut, he scored 52 points and grabbed 31 rebounds. It was a sign of things to come.
Chamberlain played for the Harlem Globetrotters before signing with the NBA’s Philadelphia Warriors in 1959.
Here are just some of the startling numbers – all still-standing NBA records – that Chamberlain put up in the league:
◊ On March 2, 1964, Chamberlain scored 100 points against the New York Knicks. Legend has it that he didn’t even sleep the night before.
◊ For the 1961-62 season, Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points per game. (He played in 80 games.) During that season, he had 45 games of 50 points or more. At one point in December, he had seven consecutive games of 50 points or more.
◊ He averaged 37.6 points per game as a rookie.
◊ In the 1960-61 season, Chamberlain pulled down an average of 27.2 rebounds per game.
◊ On November 24, 1960, Chamberlain grabbed 55 rebounds against the Boston Celtics.
◊ Chamberlain had 968 double-doubles in his career.
◊ He is the only player to lead the league in scoring and rebounding in the same season. He accomplished this feat six times.
◊ In the 1967-68 season, Chamberlain became the only player in NBA history to lead the league in both rebounding and assists. He is also the only player to lead the league in scoring, rebounding and assists in any season.
◊ He is the only player to record a double-quadruple – 40-plus in two different categories. He accomplished this feat eight times, including a 78-point, 43-rebound performance against the Los Angeles Lakers.
◊ For the 1961-62 season, Chamberlain averaged 48.5 minutes of play per game. (An NBA game is only 48 minutes.)
◊ In 14 NBA seasons, Chamberlain never fouled out of a regular season or playoff game.
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