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Wednesday, October 13, 1999 Published at 08:18 GMT 09:18 UK


Basketball legend Chamberlain dies

Chamberlain's 1962 100-point one-game haul is still a record

Basketball great Wilt Chamberlain has died at the age of 63.

The NBA legend was a dominant figure in the sport during the 1960s and early 1970s.

In 1962 he scored more than 100 points in a game, a single player record which still stands.

This decade he caused controversy with boasts of his sexual exploits, claiming to have had sex with 20,000 women.

The giant centre, who was seven feet one inch tall, was known as "Wilt the Stilt" and "The Big Dipper".

He was found dead at his Los Angeles home on Tuesday, and is believed to have suffered a heart attack.

Chamberlain's 14-year career featured a series of record-breaking exploits:

  • He is the NBA's second-highest scorer with 31,419 points
  • One of only two men named MVP and rookie of the year in the same season (1959)
  • He led the NBA in scoring seven straight seasons, 1960 to 1966
  • Chamblerlain was also MVP for three seasons between 1966 and 1968
  • His 100-point record was scored in the Philadelphia Warriors' 169-147 defeat of the New York Knicks in 1962
  • Member of the LA Lakers' championship team in 1971-72, which set an NBA record of 33 straight wins that still stands.

Chamberlain began his career with the Philadelphia Warriors, remained with the team when it moved to San Francisco.

[ image: 'Wilt the Stilt' was over seven feet tall]
'Wilt the Stilt' was over seven feet tall
He moved to the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1964-65 season and finished his career with the Lakers in 1973, after joining them in 1968.

"We truly lost one of the icons of professional basketball and, more importantly for myself, someone who I've known for almost 40 years," said former team-mate Jerry West, now the Lakers vice president.

The NBA actually changed some of its rules during Chamberlain's career, including widening the lane to try to keep him farther from the basket.

"Wilt Chamberlain had a great deal to do with the success of the NBA," added Red Auerbach, coach of Chamberlain's great rivals the Boston Celtics.

Sexual controversy

A lifelong bachelor, he made news after his basketball career by claiming in an autobiography that he had made love to 20,000 women.

"The women who I have been the most attracted to, the most in love with, I've pushed away the strongest," Chamberlain said in a 1991 interview.

[ image: Chamberlain explains himself in 1991]
Chamberlain explains himself in 1991
"There are about five women I can think of I could have married. I cared for them a lot, but not enough to make a commitment."

The details of his sexual exploits attracted the attention of comedians and critics, appalled at the claims which came at the height of public fears about Aids and HIV infection.

They came in his autobiography A View from Above, which devoted an entire chapter to sex.

Chamberlain denied it was all an idle boast: "I was just doing what was natural - chasing good-looking ladies, whoever they were and wherever they were available."

The book was published months before Lakers star Magic Johnson revealed that he had contracted Aids.

But Johnson's high regard for Chamberlain was unaffacted by the controversy.

"Wilt was my idol, and definitely changed the game of basketball," said Johnson after hearing news of his hero's death.

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