Wilt Chamberlain’s return to Kansas 20 years later still gives me the chills…

Wilt Chamberlain’s return to Kansas 20 years later still gives me the chills…

On Wednesday, twenty years ago, a giant made a comeback to Allen Fieldhouse.

Wilt Chamberlain was his name. For the first time in over two decades, he was in Lawrence and somehow still fit into his old letter jacket.

It didn’t seem right to ignore the 20th anniversary of the return of one of the true giants of the game during a season that the Kansas basketball program will commemorate the 10-year anniversary of its 2008 national title and the 30-year anniversary of its 1988 championship.

The story goes that Chamberlain was prevented from going back to the location where he rose to fame in basketball because of his negative emotions regarding the racism he had experienced decades earlier, as well as his intense disappointment and shame over losing to North Carolina in triple overtime in the 1957 national championship game.

However, Chamberlain returned on January 17, 1998, to witness his No. 13 jersey being hoisted into the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse and receive official recognition from KU.

Longtime KU radio host Max Falkenstien was cut short after introducing Chamberlain—or Wilt “The Stilt,” as the basketball legend was lovingly known—by a thunderous cheer from the adoring audience that evening, no more than eighteen words in.

But Chamberlain was not nearly so fortunate. He managed only three words before another, similar, but even louder, more deafening roar cut him off.

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