“Chamberlain Will Score Ninety Points Some Night in This League,” 1959

“Chamberlain Will Score Ninety Points Some Night in This League,” 1959

At Boston Garden on Saturday night, the reigning NBA rebound king, Bill Russell of the Celtics, takes on Wilt the Stilt Chamberlain in the first of many games that will undoubtedly go down in basketball history.

Their combined height is fourteen feet, or roughly the height of a very skilled collegiate pole vaulter. All seven feet two inches of it was Chamberlain’s. “That’s because he’s standing up straight for the first time in his life, now that he’s surrounded by big guys in the pro game,” a reporter from Philadelphia says.

The young man’s evident embarrassment at being so tall that six-footers appeared dwarfed in his company led to the nickname “Chamberlain Slouch.” When he and the Globetrotters visited here a year ago, he was questioned regarding his actual height. The Stilt pushed back. He dodged, saying, “I’m about seven feet tall.”

For the past four years, Chamberlain’s exceptional height has received so much attention that his exceptional playing ability has been underappreciated. For example, he moves with incredible speed, making it impossible for any of the immobile giants from the “goon” era of basketball to contain him.

In contrast to Russell, who’s primary strength as a rookie three years ago was his defensive prowess, Stilt is a scorer. “Within two seasons, Chamberlain will break Joe Fulks’ old one-game scoring record of 63 points,” declared one jealous NBA owner.

The NY Knicks’ coach, Fuzzy Levane, is less traditional. “Some night in this league, Chamberlain is going to score ninety points,” he declared.

The greatest wager in the world, though, according to Red Auerbach of the Celtics, is that he will never succeed against Bill Russell.

“Let me say this: anytime Bill Russell plays Wilt Chamberlain, you sportswriters will witness some of the most memorable man-to-man encounters you have ever witnessed.”

They have only ever met once, at a Minneapolis exhibition. Russell, who was sidelined for half the game due to a persistent cold, didn’t put in a full effort.

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