The late NBA great Wilt Chamberlain -- the only pro player to score 100 points in a game -- will appear on a commemorative U.S. postage stamp.
Wilt Chamberlain will appear on a commemorative U.S. postage stamp.
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According to an Oct. 2 update by Ball Don't Lie's Dan Devine, the stamp is "the first of its kind ever to feature an NBA player":
"It's been a long time coming, and now the honor's here -- the legendary Wilt Chamberlain will appear on a commemorative postage stamp issued by the United States Postal Service, the first of its kind ever to feature an NBA player.
"The movement to feature the Hall of Fame big man on a stamp began some six years ago. Donald Hunt of The Philadelphia Tribune started a campaign to earn the iconic Chamberlain, who died of congestive heart failure in October 1999, the same sort of recognition afforded baseball greats like Ted Williams, Larry Doby, Joe DiMaggio, and Willie Stargell, as well as the pivotal African American figures included in the USPS 'Black Heritage' stamp collection, such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Jackie Robinson, Oscar Micheaux and Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan.
"Now, three years after confirmation that the idea to put the 'Big Dipper' on a stamp was 'under consideration,' the Wilt stamp became reality, appearing in the USPS' Philatelic Catalog released Wednesday.
"One of two commemorative stamps features Chamberlain in the Philadelphia Warriors uniform in which he scored 100 points against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962, a single-game record that still stands to this day. The other depicts him the purple and gold of the Los Angeles Lakers, for whom he starred during the final five seasons of his illustrious career. In a fitting tribute to the 7-foot-1 Goliath, the stamps measure just over two inches tall each -- about a third taller than a typical commemorative stamp height of approximately 1.5 inches, according to the USPS.
"The Chamberlain Forver stamps' official commemoration will come on Dec. 5 in Wilt's hometown of Philadelphia in a ceremony held during halftime of the Philadelphia 76ers' home game against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Wells Fargo Center. The ceremony will feature 'a special three-dimensional tribute video using the team's state-of-the-art court projection system,' according to a Sixers statement shared by NBA.com's Steve Aschburner, and the team will 'celebrate the life and legacy of the legendary Chamberlain with videos during breaks in play.'
"They're going to need an awful lot of breaks in play to properly fete the 13-time All-Star, four-time Most Valuable Player and two-time champion, who still ranks fifth in NBA history in career points scored, sixth in total minutes played, and tops in total rebounds, more than four decades after his final game."
ESPN.com's Ethan Sherwood Strauss weighed in on the new Chamberlain postage stamps in his Oct. 1 blog:
"Wilt Chamberlain needed a stamp and he's getting a stamp. Of all the NBA players, Wilt's the first to receive such a blessing from the U.S. postal service. The Philadelphia 76ers also needed something to celebrate nowadays, and they'll do so with a 3D tribute video on Oct. 8, in commemoration of the stamp's unveiling.
"Chamberlain is almost a mythic figure, in part because we've collectively seen so little of his astounding play. There's no footage of Wilt's 100-point night, even though it's one of the most famous games in sports history. the downside is that people lack a way to actively appreciate what the since-passed legend meant to the game.
"Few of his games are replayed on television. His YouTube highlights are sparse and blurry, logged mostly from the back nine of his career. At this point it's difficult to suss out how much of his legend (on and off the court) is apocryphal.
"Because of his odd combination of fame sans-video evidence, this unique honor makes sense. It's an old technology in service of burnishing the legend of a bygone era's dominant force. The hope is that it keeps a great player's legacy alive, even if we can see but a sliver of what formed his career."
Chamberlain averaged 30.1 points, 22.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 1,045 career regular-season games for the Philadelphia / San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979, per Basketball-Reference.com.
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