Back to the Feature: Breaking down Wilt Chamberlain’s college exploits (Part 2).

I believe most spectators and sportswriters despised my abilities to shoot, rebound, pass, run, and block shots. “That made me appear almost inhuman.” Wilt Chamberlain in 1973. Is there a more despised athlete in team sports than the big man? Go to any pickup game in America and listen to his friends complain about the big who attempts to play like the guards on the posters in his boyhood room. ‘Stop shooting!’ You are bigger than everyone else! “Play inside!” their teammates mutter.

However, even if that same guy pounds the boards, swats away every shot, and converts every lightly contested layup over lilliputian opponents, people watching will be dissatisfied. “Of course he kicks ass. He is taller than everyone else, so he does not require any expertise! “If I could touch the rim without jumping, I’d be a lot better than that scrub!” Regardless of what he does, the gifted skyscraper will be invalidated by others who are smaller and/or less capable.

Such was the life of Kansas star Wilt Chamberlain, who was despised by the public off the court while dominating them on it. In the 50 years since his retirement and a quarter-century after his death, the legend surrounding the 7-foot-1 wonder from Philadelphia has grown into a book of fantastic tales about the man’s physical abilities. Chamberlain could have 50 rebounds in a game, 60 points in a quarter, ten shots blocked in overtime, and then sleep with as many supermodels as he wanted after the game. He was able to lift up an automobile with one hand while swimming across the Hudson River in mid-January. His leaping ability rivaled that of an Olympian, and his 40-yard sprint time was claimed to be faster than Jim Brown’s.

 

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