Wilt Chamberlain Scores Two Stamps of Approval

Wilt Chamberlain

The icon whose dominance literally changed the rules of basketball returns to center court today to receive a stamping ovation when he becomes the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) first player to be immortalized on a U.S. postage stamp.

NBA players Julius Erving and Wali Jones will be among those dedicating the Wilt Chamberlain Forever stamps today at halftime when the Philadelphia 76ers host the Oklahoma City Thunder (tip-off at 7 p.m.). A video of Chamberlain’s accomplishments will highlight the ceremony. All 50 million stamps are available nationwide by clicking here.

“When it came to determining the first NBA player to be honored on a stamp, Wilt Chamberlain was a slam dunk,” said U.S. Postal Service General Counsel and Executive Vice President Tom Marshall. At 7ft. 1 in., ‘the Big Dipper’s’ physical stature, athleticism and talent helped him to dominate the NBA and to put an indelible mark on the NBA record books. We decided to portray his dominance on the court with two towering Forever stamps depicting Wilt in the uniforms of two of the NBA teams for which he played. Each are twice the size of the original Forever Stamp — the Liberty Bell. And what better place to dedicate Wilt’s stamps than his hometown — the City of Brotherly Love.”

Wilt’s Stamps in a League of His Own

The stamps, just over 2 inches tall each, are a third to twice the size of a typical commemorative stamp height. Kadir Nelson, of San Diego, CA, created the two stamp image portraits of the NBA superstar. One is based on a photograph of Chamberlain in a Philadelphia Warriors uniform; the other is based on an image of Chamberlain in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform. The word “Wilt” is featured in either the top right or left corner of each stamp. Art director Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, VA, designed the stamps.

As a center, Chamberlain dominated the NBA for more than a decade, setting a plethora of individual records. He led his teams to two NBA championships and in 1962, scored an NBA record 100 points in a single game.

The Big Dipper’s Legacy

Born Aug. 21, 1936, in Philadelphia, Chamberlain excelled in track and field, but basketball eventually became his sport of choice. By the time he was 10, Chamberlain was six feet tall. He was nearly unstoppable at Philadelphia’s Overbrook High School, scoring more than 2,200 total points, a Pennsylvania record. People began calling him “Wilt the Stilt,” and “The Big Dipper,” possibly because his height sometimes forced him to dip under doorways. He preferred the latter nickname.

He attended the University of Kansas where he averaged 29.9 points and 18.3 rebounds per game before turning pro in 1958. Chamberlain spent a season with the Harlem Globetrotters before joining the Philadelphia Warriors.

During his rookie season with the Philadelphia Warriors, he averaged 37.6 points and 27.0 rebounds per game to win both the league’s Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player Awards. Chamberlain led the NBA in scoring his first seven seasons, and on March 2, 1962, during a game against the New York Knicks in Hershey, PA, scored an NBA record 100 points — a monumental feat that has not been matched since.

The Warriors moved to San Francisco in 1962, and in 1965 Chamberlain was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. In 1966–67, Chamberlain led the 76ers to an NBA record 68 regular-season wins and an NBA title.

In 1968, Philadelphia traded Chamberlain to the Los Angeles Lakers. His winning ways continued in L.A. In 1971–72, he led the Lakers to a stellar 69–13 regular-season record — the best regular-season mark in NBA history — and an NBA title. L.A. won the championship that year, defeating the Knicks in five games in the NBA finals. Chamberlain, who was nursing a broken bone in his hand, captured the series MVP Award. Like the ’66–’67 76ers, the ’71–’72 Lakers are still considered one of the best NBA teams of all time.

When the 13-time NBA All-Star retired in 1973, he held a record number of NBA records, including most total points (31,419), average points per game (30.1), total rebounds (23,924) and rebounds per game (22.9). He won the NBA MVP Award four times (1960, 1966–68), and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979.

In 1996, as part of the NBA’s 50th anniversary season, Chamberlain was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA History.

The Wilt Chamberlain Limited Edition Forever stamps, available in sheets of 18 stamps, will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price. Customers may purchase the stamps at usps.com/stamps, the Postal Store, at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724) and at Post Offices nationwide or visit ebay.com/stamps to shop for a wide variety of postage stamps and collectibles.

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