On the 15th Anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain's Passing - OZY | A Modern Media Company


Because when you do the unbelievable, people tend not to believe it. Fifteen years later? They really should.

By Eugene S. Robinson

At some point, the mind just shuts down when trying to make sense of the fantabulous.

With the 7-foot-1-inch basketball great Wilt Chamberlain, if only it were just his height. If only it were the 100-point game, which, to be specific, was a game wherein Chamberlain, himself, scored that 100 points. If it were only the purported 20,000 women he bedded (to which a sportswriter friend once said, “Those just sound like bad odds to me,” except for the childless Chamberlain it didn’t seem to be). All of that would be the stuff of near myth. 


But it was all of that, and the fact that the game had to change to make room for the guy they called The Big Dipper (a name he liked) or Wilt the Stilt (a name he did not). And not just the game but track and field, TV, film and just about anything he touched, up to and including being a lifelong Republican.

Dead 15 years ago yesterday, Chamberlain’s shadow and his long and lasting legacy extend well beyond the 4,029 regular season points he scored or the 31,419 career points he scored, and into legend. And if that weren’t enough, the fact that we got to see him play at all will have to be.

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