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Chamberlain puts stamp on history

Posted by Eric Fisher On December 10

Wilt stamp cropped (2)Wilt Chamberlain became a legend with the Philadelphia Warriors, 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers, but the roots of the legend can be found at Overbrook High School.

On Wednesday afternoon, family, former teammates and friends joined with the United States Postal Service for a ceremony at Overbrook commemorating Chamberlain’s status as the first NBA player ever to get his own postage stamp. An earlier dedication ceremony was held last Friday during halftime of the Sixers’ game with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Speakers included Philly basketball fixture Sonny Hill, Overbrook students Kalena Cooper and Akeem Williamson, and Chamberlain’s sister, Barbara Lewis. Donald Hunt, whose column in the Philadelphia Tribune sparked the drive to get Chamberlain honored with a postage stamp, also spoke at the ceremony. City Councilmen Curtis Jones Jr., who represents Overbrook’s district, and David Oh read proclamations introduced in Chamberlain’s honor in City Council.

Chamberlain’s basketball accomplishments were the center of attention — athletic director Robert Miller announced the school will retire Chamberlain’s No. 5 (he didn’t wear No. 13 until he enrolled at the University of Kansas) — but the speakers provided a personal touch as well. It was revealed that Chamberlain made the honor roll at Overbrook. Hill spoke about Chamberlain’s financial security and his philanthropic work. His sister told stories of “Dip” — she says she never called him Wilt; always Dip or Dipper — as a skinny kid who sucked his thumb and how their mother had worried that if something happened to her, nobody would want to take in Wilt.

As for basketball, after a year with the Harlem Globetrotters, Chamberlain made a huge splash with averages of 37.6 points and 27 rebounds during his rookie season. Chamberlain’s legend grew when he scored 100 points against the Knicks on March 2, 1962, in Hershey as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors. Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points per game during the 1961-62 season. Both of those records still stand.

Chamberlain won the NBA title with the 76ers in 1966-67, leading his team to 68 regular-season wins. Chamberlain topped that win total after being traded to the Lakers, leading the 1971-72 Lakers to a 69-13 record, the best in NBA history, en route to a championship. Stamps depict Chamberlain in uniforms of both Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Chamberlain enjoyed an incredible NBA career, making the All-Star Game 13 times. His career was commemorated with a stamp Wednesday at the place where his basketball career took off: Overbrook High School.

(Photo by Eric Fisher. Please credit Eric Fisher and PhillyPhanatics.com if you use this photo.)


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