In 1959, a 7-foot-1 kid from Philadelphia joined an NBA team known as the Philadelphia Warriors. This young athlete was none other than 13-time MVP Wilt Chamberlain. Over his 15-year career, he was an unstoppable force. Whether he was setting NBA records or scoring zero points in a game — we’ll get to that — he was one of the best NBA players ever.
Wilt Chamberlain’s biggest NBA successes
Wilton Norman Chamberlain, known as “The Big Dipper,” was a legend in his own time. Currently holding 72 NBA records, the previous Harlem Globetrotter is best known for being the only NBA player to score 100 points in a game (against the Knicks in 1962).
The two-time NBA champion had an incredible wingspan of 7-feet-8-inches and still holds the NBA record for obtaining the highest vertical reach of 48 inches. Chamberlain’s size allowed him to touch the top of the backboard with his fingertips, snagging the record for averaging 20 rebounds per game.
In 1960, against the Boston Celtics, he earned the NBA record for the most rebounds in a single game with 55. Free-throw rules were changed because of Chamberlain’s dominance in the field as he made more than 50% of his shots there. In the 1972-73 season, he shot an astounding 72.7% to earn another record. Chamberlain scored 31,419 points during his iconic career.
Why Chamberlain scored zero points in a game
As Chamberlain’s NBA career began winding down, the days of scoring 40 points a game were over. In 1973, he played the worst game of his life against the Milwaukee Bucks — 46 minutes without scoring, according to the Basketball Network.
To this day, no one knows why he didn’t throw a single free throw. He still managed to get four assists and 14 rebounds. But to watch him score zero points was unheard of for a player of his magnitude. As Chamberlain’s offensive game dwindled, he still managed to be nominated to the NBA All-Defensive Team for the final two seasons of his career.
The last game Chamberlain played was against the Golden State Warriors. He only managed to throw one field goal to end his NBA reign.
The passing of a legend
Chamberlain played his last NBA game in 1973. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978, holding several records that have yet to be beaten. Chamberlain was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.
Upon his retirement, he tried his hand at many things, becoming the first of many NBA personalities. Chamberlain was interested in horse breeding and even tried his hand at acting, starring in Conan the Destroyer featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. He owned nightclubs and built himself a Bel-Air mansion Hugh Heffner would envy.
Chamberlain also wrote a book, A View From Above, which described his numerous sexual exploits. He never married and did not have any children. In 1999, he died of heart failure at 63 years old. Chamberlain was a dominant force on and off the courts, and his legacy will forever be imprinted in the game of basketball.