How could one possibly describe Wilt Chamberlain to the generations to come? Born in 1936 in Philadelphia, Wilt is generally recognized as one of the greatest centers in the history of the NBA. His play on the court was legendary. Fellow league players described him as virtually unstoppable. His 100-point game in March of 1962 is one of sports’ most unbreakable records.
But did you know that on March 27, 1973, a healthy Wilt played 46 minutes and scored…zero points? It’s the only time in his entire career that he didn’t dent the scoreboard.
True, his career was winding down but Wilt was still effective. He snared 14 rebounds and dished out four assists in the one point loss to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Bucks that day and averaged more than 18 rebounds per game during the season. He scored only one point the following night in the regular season finale and with off-the-court interests increasing at age 36, his NBA career was essentially over.
And what a career it was.
Wilt was an NBA champ in 1967 and 1972 but his career involved many more individual accomplishments. He was constantly double or triple teamed under the rim but it rarely made a difference.
The statistics on the back of his basketball cards reflect a career scoring average unheard of in the modern era. During the season of his 100 point game Wilt averaged 50.4 points. For those who weren’t there, it’s hard to describe his dominance over a period of a dozen years. Still, what you’d see on any black and white reel is still fabulously impressive.
Wilt was not only a member of the Philadelphia Warriors for much of his career, he was a true warrior on the floor, averaging 45.8 minutes per contest. It’s hard to imagine many current NBA players matching it.
He was the center who changed the way basketball was played. Lanes were widened. Adjustments were made to try to cover the 7-1 center. None of which seemed to ever work during the course of his fabled career.
He eventually eclipsed the all time mark for points scored during an NBA career with 31,419. Unfortunately for Wilt, he was surpassed by several NBA legends in that column when Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan climbed atop the leaderboard for career points.
Wilt still holds the all time rebounding record, gathering 23,924 boards.
For collectors hoping to grab a Chamberlain card worth keeping, there are plenty of choices but his career checklist is relatively small because of the dearth of basketball cards produced during his 1960s prime.
His rookie card is in the 1961-62 Fleer set (there’s also an in-action card). Tough to find in high-grade because of centering, it’s among the most valuable basketball cards ever made. A PSA 9 sold for $38,240 in 2016. You can own a mid-grade example for $700-$1,000.
Wilt was the #1 card when Topps got back into the basketball card game in 1969, which once again means a limited supply of high-grade cards. Last year, a 9 sold for $9,560. You can still land a near mint example for under $200, though.
Wilt was back on Topps from 1970-1974, appearing on individual, leader and playoff cards. His final Topps card, issued two years after that odd finish to his Lakers career, shows him as a player-coach with the San Diego Conquistadors, but he never played a game in the ABA and coached the Qs only during the 1973-74 season.
Wilt continues to appear on current era cards fairly regularly and before his death in October 1999, he did sign for a couple of Upper Deck sets and outside of his 1961 rookie, those cards remain among his most popular.
You can see the 13 current ‘most watched’ Wilt Chamberlain cards via the list below.
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