Wilt Chamberlain’s career on the basketball court is well-documented. An unstoppable force, he brought a combination of size and athleticism to the court that the NBA had never before seen. Standing 7’1” and weighing 275 pounds, he literally stood ‘head and shoulders’ above opposing players. However, most impressive are the statistics that Chamberlain amassed over his playing career.
Wilt Chamberlain’s statistical resume is mind-boggling to those who follow the NBA today. Most are aware of Wilt’s 100 point outburst, but perhaps more impressive is his 50.4 point per game average over the 1961-1962 season. Like Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak in baseball, these records seem unfathomable to break.
Chamberlain holds dozens of all-time scoring records, most of them by an incredibly large margin. The most dramatic example is the single season points per game average. After this 50.4 points per game record, Wilt Chamberlain also owns the next three highest marks. The fifth highest ever was Michael Jordan’s 37.1 points per game average in 1986-1987, which isn’t even within 10 points of Chamberlain’s all-time record.
Wilt’s utter dominance was so obvious that the league actually changed a number of rules in an attempt to even the playing field. NBA officials widened the lane, put in a rule against offensive goaltending and altered free throw shooting regulations.
Off the court, Wilt was a larger-than-life figure, known for his sense of humor and gregarious personality. The superstar who played big also made sure to live big, and the stories about his off the court adventures are an integral part of Chamberlain lore. According to one of his acquaintances, Chamberlain made sure to have at least $10,000 in cash on him at all times.
Wilt’s appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show display both sides of the legendary hoops star. You can see him playing basketball on the show’s set against the Harlem Globetrotters, dunking the ball at will and leading the Washington Generals to victory in the five-minute exhibition. You can also seem him off the court, bantering with Ed Sullivan until a midget jumps onstage and bites Wilt on the thigh. Wilt responds with his trademark poise, chuckling while his attacker runs away.
Wilt Chamberlain was one the best basketball players of all time, but he also had one of the most engaging off the court personalities. Watching his appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show gives us a glimpse of the qualities that made Wilt the Stilt such an unforgettable star.