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Tip-Off Timer: Wilt 'The Stilt' Chamberlain Finally Drafted in '59

Aug 29, 2009 – 9:00 AM
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Matt Watson

Matt Watson %BloggerTitle%

Wilt ChamberlainTip-Off Timer counts down the days until the first game of the 2009-10 season. On Saturday, there are 59 days remaining.

Without hyperbole or exaggeration, we may never see another individual dominate team sports that way Wilt Chamberlain did over his 14-year career.

And yet, as strange as it sounds, Chamberlain's career almost feels incomplete, at least when you consider he was robbed of two seasons before his NBA career even began. Just like how archaic NCAA rules kept him from joining Kansas' varsity team as a freshman in 1955-56, NBA rules prohibited him from being drafted immediately after he left college early in 1958, prompting the best basketball player in the world to spend his first year as a pro barnstorming with the Harlem Globetrotters.

In the video after the jump, a young Chamberlain is interviewed shortly after he was finally drafted by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959, explaining why he turned down more money to stay with the Globetrotters for the chance to play in the NBA.

The Globetrotter's loss was the NBA's gain: Chamberlain burst onto the scene as the league's most dominant player, averaging 37.6 points and 27 rebounds a game while capturing Most Valuable Player, All-Star Most Valuable Player and, of course, Rookie of the Year honors.

His career started with seven consecutive scoring crowns and finished with 11 rebounding titles and 13 All-Star game appearances. By the time he left the game, he was the NBA's all-time leader in points -- had he played in an era that allowed him to join the NBA immediately after high school, it's likely he'd still have a lead over Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan -- and he remains the league's all-time leader in rebounds.
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