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A Wilt Chamberlain uniform from his rookie season with the Philadelphia Warriors from the 1959-60 season sold at auction for $1.79 million, according to TMZ Sports.
SCP Auctions said the sale set a record for vintage basketball memorabilia.
Per that report, “The uniform was photo matched by three of the leading authenticators in the sports memorabilia business, all confirming Wilt wore the shorts and jersey numerous times starting in ’59.”
Wilt Chamberlain was a Harlem Globetrotter before he was an NBA rookie
Chamberlain grew up in Philadelphia, was recruited like few before or since out of Overbrook High there and landed at Kansas for two seasons.
He left after the 1957-58 school year but NBA rules at the time allowed a player entry only after his college class had graduated. So Chamberlain traveled with the world with the Harlem Globetrotters for a year before reaching the NBA at age 23.
Chamberlain hit the ground running in the NBA, averaging an incredible 37.6 points and 27 rebounds. He led the Warriors to a 49-26 record and a trip to the Eastern Division Finals, where they lost in six games to Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics. He did his part, averaging 30.5 points and 27.5 rebounds in the series.
His first contract (with incentives) reportedly approached a league-high $50,000. Seven years earlier, Warriors owner Eddie Gottlieb had paid $25,000 for the franchise.
Chamberlain broke eight NBA records in his first season. He was the first player to average more than 30 points per game and his 2,707 points in a season shattered Bob Pettit’s mark of 2,105. And Wilt needed only 56 games to do it.
In his first NBA game, a 118-109 victory at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 24, 1959, Chamberlain had 43 points and 28 rebounds. He reportedly blocked a dozen or so shots, though those weren’t tracked as an official category until the season after Wilt retired.
Over time, he played for eight coaches and three franchises, won two championships, four MVP awards and 13 All-Star invitations, led the league in points seven times, rebounds 11 times and assists in 1967-68 just to prove some critics wrong.
Winning Rookie of the Year was nice, but Chamberlain also was named NBA Most Valuable Player that season, the first and only man to claim both until Baltimore’s Wes Unseld matched it in 1968.