It’s official: Chamberlain to be honored with commemorative stamps

Posted on Sep 23, 2014 in News

After years of campaigning by his sister, Barbara Lewis, and Philadelphia Tribune sportswriter Donald Hunt and others in his beloved hometown, basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain on Dec. 5 will finally be honored with two commemorative U.S. Postal Service postage stamps.

Wilt Chamberlain | www.kualumni.orgAccording to Linn’s Stamp News, the Chamberlain stamps will be “extra tall and not a standard commemorative stamp size,” which is fitting for the 7-foot-1 superstar.

When Chamberlain, ’59, announced that he would attend KU, coach Phog Allen deadpanned, “Well, that’s good news. I hope he comes out for basketball.” Chamberlain completed his two-year varsity career with averages of 29.9 points and 18.9 rebounds per game, both easily the best in school history, and he scored his career high, 52 points, along with 31 rebounds, in his varsity debut. His 30.1 points per game in 1958 is also the highest in school history.

He was the first NBA player to win both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season, and in 1962 he scored 100 points in a single game.

Chamberlain returned to Allen Field House for the Jan. 17, 1998, retirement of his No. 13 jersey; during the moving ceremony, Chamberlain, who died the following year, told the packed house that his long absence from Mount Oread was due only to the continuing pain he felt from KU’s triple-overtime loss to North Carolina in the 1957 NCAA championship game.

“It was a devastating thing to me,” he said, “because I thought I let the University of Kansas down.”

In announcing the Chamberlain stamps, U.S. Postal Service stamp services director Susan McGowan said the artwork will remain a secret until its Dec. 5 unveiling in Philadelphia. She teased stamp collectors with a mystery about which jersey Chamberlain will wear on the stamps, but indicated it will be one of his NBA teams: the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers or Los Angeles Lakers.

She did not mention a Kansas jersey as a possibility, although Jayhawks will no doubt hold out hope for an upset.

—Chris Lazzarino

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