Wilt Chamberlain was the greatest American athlete in the second half of the twentieth century.
At the University of Kansas, he was a great track & field athlete.
The 7’2″ goliath ran a sub 11 second 100 yard dash and also threw the shot put 56 feet. Despite competing and excelling in both sprinting and throwing his best events were not surprisingly the jumping events as Chamberlain triple jumped in excess of 50 feet and successfully won the Big 8 Conference high jumping competition three years in a row. In the world of track and field it is an extraordinarily rare athlete that can compete at the highest level in the shortest sprints, all the jumping events, and the throwing events. This dynamic collection of talents is so rare in fact that Wilt might be the only man ever to possess this unique skill set.
He ran the 880 in under two minutes.
If he had trained in the decathlon, his only weakness would have been the pole vault. Maybe. (They used fixed metal poles until 1960. The world record was 15 feet, 9.25 inches.)
Could he have played wide receiver in football? I think so.
Think of boxing. Think of his reach. Ali did. They almost staged an exhibition match.
But he chose basketball. He holds 72 NBA records.
He never got tired. For his career, he averaged 45.8 minutes per game.
Then there was his 1962 season. He averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game. He averaged 48.5 minutes per night. This was impressive since there are only 48 minutes in a regular NBA game. How? He played every second of every overtime period. He scored 100 points in one game. No two NBA players on one team have ever scored 100 in a game. [Kiki Vandeweghe (51), Alex English (47) totaled 98.]
In that year, Oscar Roberson averaged a triple double: 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists. When asked decades later if Chamberlain was the greatest basketball player, he replied: “The record book does not lie.”
He never fouled out of a game in the NBA — not in 1205 games. While this statistic is not recorded in high school and college, there is no record that I can find that he ever fouled out. This is one of the great sports records in history. It indicates of complete control over your body.