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They said it





"We'd go into a dressing room and see a box score from the night before where Wilt had 55 or 60 points.  No one would think twice about it.  Getting 50-some points, or even 60-some, wasn't news when Wilt did it."

--Kevin Loughery, Tall Tales (by Terry Pluto)  p. 326


"Wilt is playing better than I used to -- passing off, coming out to set up screens, picking up guys outside, and sacrificing himself for team play."

-- Bill Russell, Great Moments in Pro Basketball, (by Sam Goldaper) p.24



"The first time I guarded Wilt, I stood behind him and he was so wide that I couldn't  see the rest of the game.  Then I saw him dunk a ball so hard that it hit the court and bounced straight up back through the rim again."

--Bob Ferry, Tall Tales (by Terry Pluto)  p. 326


"One-on-one he [Wilt] would've murdered Russell and everyone.  But playing five-on-five, Wilt was consigned to a specific role because of his ability to score so easily, whereas the Celtics fit Russell into their team concept better."

--Red Holzman, A View form the Bench, p. 78


"The greatest play I've ever seen was one of the last games of the 1966-67 season and were playing Baltimore.  We [Philadelphia] were going for the best record in NBA history.  There was a play earlier in the game where Gus Johnson had dunked one over Wilt. Gus was a very strong player.  I weighed 220 pounds, and with one hand Gus could push me out of the lane.  The man was a physical specimen [6-foot-6, 230 pounds], all muscle.  He loved to dunk and was a very colorful player.  When he slammed it on Wilt, he really threw it down, and you could tell that Wilt didn't like it one bit.
        Later in the game, Gus was out on the fast break, and the only man between him and the basket was Wilt.  He was goin to dunk on Wilt--again.  Gus cupped the ball and took off--he had a perfect angle for a slam.  Wilt went up and with one hand he grabbed the ball--cleanly!  Then he took the ball and shoved it right back into Gus, drilling Gus into the floor with the basketball.
        Gus was flattened and they carried him out.  It turned out that
Gus Johnson was the only player in NBA history to suffer a dislocated shoulder from a blocked shot."

--Billy Cunningham, Tall Tales (by Terry Pluto)  p. 236



"I still remember the time when one of our strongest men, Gene Conley, decided to fight Chamberlain for the ball.  He grabbed it and hung on and Chamberlain just lifted him and ball right up towards the rim."

-- Bill Russell Go up For Glory, p.126.


"I have great respect for Wilt.  When I was with the Lakers, he never missed a practice or a game, or was late for a plane.  If I asked him to make an appearance, he did it.  This man has gone through life with a bad rap.  We are talking about a very good person."

--Fred Schaus, Tall Tales (by Terry Pluto)  p. 334

"People lose sight of the fact that Wilt was a 440 champion, a guy with great coordination.  He also was so strong that the double-teaming defenses used today wouldn't bother him."

--Wayne Embry (GM for the Cleveland Cavaliers), Tall Tales (by Terry Pluto)  p. 327


[Carl Braun said] "He [Wilt] disorganizes you under the basket the same way [as Bill Russell, on defense].  With Wilt, of course, there's that offense on top of it, which is better than Russell's.  He hit on all those jumpers."
        "Yes, Wilt hit on those jumpers...Wilt did come into the league with a good touch from the outside, which made his early scoring that much more significant.  He wasn't just dunking the ball then."

--Red Holzman.  A View from the Bench.  P.70

"Wilt was one of the greatest ever, and we will never see another one like him/" -- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
"If [the referee] is calling [the game] loose then everyone gets away with more.  So, you have to handle your own man accordingly, unless it's Wilt Chamberlain.  Him, you just don't handle.  He's too strong.  The best you can do is make him work hard."

-- Bill Russell, Go up For Glory  p.100.


"I had a habit of getting a running start toward the boards on every shot.  Wilt used to zone it up and he'd be standing under the basket on most possessions.  After I had run up his back a couple of times on made shots, Wilt gave me an ultimatum with that deep, deep voice.
        'Tamjanovich, don't come in here anymore.'
        'Wilt, I've got to do my job,' I responded.
        Let me just say that I didn't make that statement with a lot of conviction.  After all, I happened to be talking to one of the strongest men in the world.  Late in the game, I went barreling in to grab a loose ball.  Wilt grabbed my arm and was called for a foul.  As I was starting downcourt, Wilt wouldn't let my arm go.  He spun me around and said, 'I told you not to come in here anymore.'
        At that tenuous juncture, I threw a finger up into Wilt's face and he let me go.  When I got back to the bench, everybody was saying how great it was that I had stood up to Wilt.
        But what I was really saying--and I never told my teammates this--was, "Please give me one more chance."

--Rudy Tomjanovich, A Rocket at Heart, p. 77



"The best players I ever saw.  The best players I can ever imagine.   Oscar Robertson and Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar...These were all players who could dominate the game from their positions, whatever positions they played.  At any point, these six could simply take the game over, and change its direction.  They could all do many different things...These guys were supermen, and they would have been the best no matter when they played.  They not only had incredible natural talent, they worked at it too."

--Walt Frazier (Knicks broadcaster and hall of fame player), Walt Frazer:  One Magical Season and a Basketball Life.  (written in 1988),  pp. 162-63.


"Once Wilt got upset with me and dunked the ball so hard it went through the rim with such force that it broke my toe as it hit the floor."

--Johnny Kerr, Tall Tales (by Terry Pluto)  p. 237


"I call Wilt Chamberlain a very honest workman.  By that, I mean he always did what his employer wanted.  No star athlete has ever given his boss more for the money than Wilt did during his career.  Eddie Gottlieb [owner of the Warriors] wanted Wilt to score like no man ever had, so Wilt did.  [Alex] Hannum and some of his other coaches wantedhim to pass and play defense, so he did that and he played 48 minutes a night.  Those who criticized Wilt -- first for his scoring, then for not scoring more -- really should have criticized his employer."

--Leonard Koppett, Tall Tales (by Terry Pluto)  p. 329


"I said, 'Wilt isn't such a tough guy.  I can guard him.'  He backed me down and dunked the ball.  And I was so far under the basket, and he dunked it so hard, that the ball came through the net and hit me in the forehead twice!  Bang!  So I said, 'You know, I think he is that great.'

--Spencer Haywood, The NBA at 50  p.169


"When I coached the San Francisco Warriors, I thought Al Attles was the fastest guy on our team--by far.  We used to gamble a lot--which player could jump the highest and run the fastest.  So I set up a series of races, baseline to baseline.   In the finals, it was Wilt and Al Attles and Wilt just blew past him.  I'm convinced that Wilt Chamberlain is one of the greatest all-around athletes the world has ever seen."

--Alex Hannum, Tall Tales (by Terry Pluto)  p. 327




"I can't have a nightmare tonight.  I've just lived through one."

--Darrell Imhoff, the starting opposing center the night Wilt scored 100 points.

"He can score anything he wants.  There is no way to stop him.  How can you defense him?  The only way I know is to lock the door to the dressing room before he comes out."

--'Easy' Ed MacAuley



"I would talk to Wilt about all the players pounding on him.  Sometimes, he said he didn't notice it--he was so strong.  But I also believe that there were two sets of rules.  By that, I mean because Wilt was so strong, the officials let the man guarding him get away with more--almost trying to equalize the game.  I also believe that Wilt just took it because he didn't want to get thrown out, and because ithad always been like that with him.  But I'd watch it and I'd get mad.  It takes me a while to get my temper going, but when it does--look out.  I'd see what the other players were doing to Wilt and what the officials were allowing, and I'd get more upset than if it were happening to me.  So I jumped in there.  It wasn't that Wilt couldn't defend himself.  If he ever got really hot, he'd kill people, so he let things pass.  But I didn't have to worry about that.  I was strong for my size, but I was not about to do anything like the kind of damage would."

--Al Attles, Tall Tales (by Terry Pluto)  p. 242

[Think about that the next time you see opponents get whistled for breathing on Michael Jordan]



"As I grew up, Wilt the Stilt was the player. Just the things he was able to do. I guess one year they told him he couldn't make as much money as he wanted because he couldn't pass the ball, so he went out and led the
league in assists. Watching Wilt, you always kind of got the idea he was just playing with people. That he was on cruise control and still 10 times better than anybody else that was playing at that time.""

--Dan Issel



"Obviously, he was both literally and figuratively a larger-than-life sports figure of the 20th century. He dominated his sport like almost no one else."

-- Atlanta Hawks president Stan Kasten


"He was the NBA. He was the guy on the top. Wilt was the guy you
talked about -- he and Bill Russell. He was the most dominating center -- the best center to ever play in the NBA."

-- Johnny Kerr



"One time, when I was with Boston and he was with the Lakers, Happy Hairston and I were about to get in a scrape.   All of a sudden, I felt an enormous vise around me. I was 6-7, 235, and Wilt had picked me up and turned me around. He said, 'We're not going to have that stuff.' I said, 'Yes sir.'  -- Paul Silas "He [Wilt] stopped me dead in my tracks with his arm, hugged me and lifted me off the floor with my feet dangling.  It scared the hell out of me. When I went to the free-throw line, my legs were still shaking. Wilt was the strongest guy and best athlete ever to play the game."  -- KC Jones


"I don't think it's fair to compare players in different eras, but he was about as dominant as any one player could be in any sportd. I looked at him like he was invincible." -- Larry Brown



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