Philadelphia native and basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain makes history again by being the first NBA player to appear on a U.S. postage stamp.
The Postal Service officially released the two Wilt forever stamps last Friday at the 76ers game against Oklahoma City Thunder.
The subjects of commemorative stamps are picked by the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee, and they receive up to 40,000 public suggestions a year. USPS spokesman Ray Daiutolo said that the Committee had been planing a commemorative NBA stamp for several years, and Chamberlain was one of the first players to be considered.
“Wilt was chosen, it was a slam dunk,” said Daiutolo. “If you look at his records and lifetime achievements, there are many of them that are unmatched. He scored 100 points in a game — it hasn’t been done. He pulled down 55 rebounds in one game, there are some teams that don’t get 55 rebounds in a game all together.”
The Chamberlain stamps are twice the normal commemorative stamp length to portray all of him (he was 7 foot 1 inch) and reflect his commanding presence on the court.
Chamberlain first starting breaking records as a 6-foot-tall teenager at Overbrook High School in 1953. His reputation as a dominating force on the court grew steadily as he went on to play with the University of Kansas, Harlem Globe Trotters, Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, and Los Angeles Lakers. In 14 NBA seasons he set numerous records and won a NBA title with the 76ers and a league crown with the Lakers.
In 1996, the NBA identified Chamberlain as one of the greatest players in NBA history. Three years later he died from congestive heart failure at the age of 63.
“Normally for a commemorative stamp we will print about 25 million at one time,” said Daiutolo. “However, for Wilt we actually printed 50 million and the reason we did that was because we anticipate that that stamp will be very popular and in high demand.”
A second public dedication ceremony was hosted today by Overbrook High School where the legend of “The Big Dipper” was born.