Saturday, April 25, 2009

No stunts needed by ‘Dippy’



How could there be a more appropriate e-mail handle for the devoted sister of the late Wilt Chamberlain? She’s a basketball and track historian, a fine writer. There is no greater source for information about The Big Dipper, whom she chooses to call Dippy or Dip, his favorite nicknames, which came from having to dip his head in doorways. Wilt hated “The Stilt.” He also loved Uncle Dippy, a nephew’s concoction.

The subject is Barbara O. Lewis of Philadelphia and Las Vegas — Barb. Then there is the “dip” and the “13”, which was Wilton Norman’s jersey number. They were among nine children in the family household in Philly years ago. Barb’s now 71; Wilt would be 73 this August. He died at 63 in 1999 due to heart difficulties.

Recently, I noted that even though shot-block totals then were unofficial, KU stars B.H. Born (1953) and Uncle Dippy (1956-57) registered triple-doubles more than five decades before KU’s Cole Aldrich did in recent NCAA Tournament play. I also noted that it was the ’57 KU-North Carolina NCAA title game, 54-53 in triple overtime, that did far more to thrust college basketball into public consciousness than that over-hyped 1979 Michigan State-Indiana State bit of drabness.

Chamberlain teammate Monte Johnson sent the pieces to Barbara; she responded with some gems.

In ’62 with Philly, Wilt averaged 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds for a whole season and once scored 100 points. Nobody will top that trifecta. Dippy still holds some 50 NBA records.

Ever heard of a quadruple-double? Chamberlain got at least one, though, again, unofficially.

He scored 24 points, nabbed 32 rebounds, had 13 assists and 12 blocks as the Philly Sixers beat Boston in the division playoffs in ’67. The pros didn’t record blocks officially until ’73; colleges were much later, cheating both Born and Wilt. One season (’68) Chamberlain also led the NBA in assists, something no other center has ever done.

Sister Barbara jokes that Dippy told her if he’d known statistics were so important, he’d have put more of them so far beyond reach nobody would top them. He could have. And did. For starters, those 50-point, 25-rebound, 100-point feats in ’62 may be indelible.

Writes Barb: “How could anybody forget that KU-Carolina game? It changed the dynamics of college basketball from holding the ball, playing 4-on-1, and so many other things. … I think what I loved best about the old days was not having to watch the players beating on their chests when they score, the bumping and now jumping on the benches and expecting accolades from the fans. Are they not paid very well to make defensive plays and score points?

“The entertainment before the games, especially since it is encouraged by the analysts, might be something the fans like now. But can you imagine Wilt, Bill Russell, Paul Arizin, Bob Cousy, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson, etc., pulling those stunts? They would have been ridiculed. What will come next for the younger generation to copy? It’s scary.”

One of the most notable traits about truly great athletes is that they continue to do amazing things, yet tend to act as if they’ve “been there.” Just another reason for modern hot-dogs to view, and copy from, more of the old films.


fansincewilt 10 years, 9 months ago

I may have grown up in Wildcat country but Wilt won me over as a Jayhawk fan when I was a very little boy. It's a faint memory, but I still remember him going against Jack Parr. All we had in our house was one radio in the kitchen. I don't know when it was but some family members and I gathered around the radio and listened to the Wildcats and the Jayhawks. I was the only one rooting for the Jayhawks. We lost and I went to bed crying and the rest of the family angry with me for being a Jayhawk fan and wanting them to win so badly. My younger brother who now lives in Lawrence eventually would become a die-hard Jayhawk fan as well. I will never forget Wilt.

cklarock 10 years, 9 months ago

Bill Mayer found a fellow curmudgeon to derail an interest piece about a KU legend into a rant about the shocking antics of Today's Callow Youth (tm). Expected, but still coming in under par, because you got somebody else to say it. Nice one!

One of my favorite anecdotes about Wilt is that he would take it easy on teams so as not to embarrass them . . . of course he could have put all his statistics beyond mortal reach, but it's also a mark of his character that he didn't.

Wilt Chamberlain -- greatest KU player of all time.

imzcount 10 years, 9 months ago

Wilt is the reason I became a Jayhawk, and I've not forgotten my roots. The spirit of that era of basketball is something to which one cannot return, (except in memory). Although some would like to change todays world back to the spirit of fifty years or more ago, it cannot be done. Thus is important to make the best out of every generation.

hawksince51 10 years, 9 months ago

I was a freshman in 57/58 and went to the KSU game where not only Parr, but more importantly, Boozer beat us in Lawrence. We managed a win in Manhattan but we lost the conference (Big 7 then) due to losses we had while Wilt was off due to his so called groin injury. I must disagree that Wilt was the greatest KU player of all time. He certainly could have been but was not due to personal decisions he made. IMHO there were at least two who were greater than Wilt at KU--Clyde Lovellette and Danny Manning. I would agree that he was the greatest KU player ever in the NBA.

jaybate 10 years, 9 months ago

from the jaybate news service:

Dateline: 2030

"Future Past" by Bill Mayer 2.0

People think players today are such big deals.

Some of them even think yesterday's players, like Wilt, were such big deals.

They are both wrong. The players of the future--the ones that none of you have seen, or heard of--these are big deals.

People try to make out that Cole Aldrich, or Wilt Chamberlain were so great.

But what about Nephew Flippy in 2030? Nephew Flippy has already averaged 225 points, 92 rebounds, 28 assists, 14 threes, 21 blocks, 10 assaults, 11 nut kicks, 15 Adam's Apple chops, and most amazing of all, 12 spleen ruptures a game for an entire season in the future! That's an "enneauple," or a "nonuple," for you polygonally-predisposed statistiphilistines out there.

It is a rougher game in the future than today. Roller Ball seems as tame as curling, when compared with future basketball. Nephew Flippy really has to earn his enneauples in a time when the NCAA requires players to take steroids and chrystal meth just to suit up.

And Nephew Flippy is not one of those sawed-off, 6'11" to 7'1" centers from the past and present. No. Nephew Flippy is 8'2" tall and accelerates on the dribble like no one since Sherronatron Collins. Nephew Flippy weighs in at 420 pounds of steroid pocked, prison body cut, and Jack La Lane buff (yep, ol' Jack is still alive and swimming out to Alcatraz in 2020) gigacenter. Nephew Flippy is so unprecedentedly enormous that even my sports journalistic beta, Bill Mayer 1.0, would say, "Wow! Uncle Dippy was a cojones-challenged wimp in comparison to Nephew Flippy! B.H. Born? Why he couldn't carry the kevlar and carbon fiber reinforced cup of Nephew Flippy! Cole Aldrich? Incredible as the kid is, he could not carry the up-armored hockey mask that Nephew Dippy has to wear whenever his nose gets broken by opponents undergoing big pharma induced psychotic breaks in the paint against him. Face it, Nephew Dippy could set the records of the future anywhere he wants them. Nephew Dippy is great and all the players of the past and present are just pale imitations of what Nephew Dippy already is in the future."

Know what I mean?

And Nephew Flippy

Dan Pawlowski 10 years, 9 months ago

Jaybate, No one is wrong. We idolize who we want to for our own reasons. That makes everyone right.

Eurekahwk 10 years, 9 months ago

So chest thumping is wrong, but spreading your seed and maybe something else to 20,000 women is right?

tdomine 10 years, 9 months ago


Speak no ill of the dead. Wilt is the greatest. Wilt is a Jayhawk. These are the important things to remember. All our sins fade in the rear-view mirror of time.

Rock chalk.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 9 months ago

Bill, Thanks for another look back at the history and the tradition of KU. It is that much more interesting to have the perspective of others associated with KU, even if only second hand in this case.

The poster child IMO for the posers of today were some of the OSU/UT (?) players from the triple OT game of '07. (Sorry if some of those details aren't exactly correct.) It was widely proclaimed to be the greatest game of the year, and yet what stands out to me is the image of the OSU (?) player posing for the camera after dunking while UT took the ball down court for a basket against a 4-man OSU team. I am not into all the theatrics in the game or otherwise (I are an enginerd), but don't have a problem with celebrating as long as it isn't taking away from the game. It is part of what I appreciate about Coach Self's program, and the others before him as well.

hawksince51 says... Wilt ... could have been (the greatest) but was not due to personal decisions he made. IMHO there were at least two who were greater than Wilt at KU--Clyde Lovellette and Danny Manning. I would agree that he was the greatest KU player ever in the NBA.

Good Knowledge

Eurekahwk says... So chest thumping is wrong, but spreading your seed and maybe something else to 20,000 women is right?

Fortunately, Bill doesn't get into the moral of life, tho it is a valid observation. Don't we all love to villify the actions of others, and yet overlook our own errors.

Priest Fontaine 10 years, 9 months ago

Wilt would have been a great NBA player if he was playing today. But there is no way he would score 100 or average 50 points per game. I'm a huge fan of players getting excited and carismatic in sports. I think professional sports has become too much of a business. I love to see players out there having a good time playing a game. Besides, they are entertainers when it comes down to it. Could you imagine if everyone played ball showing as much emotion as Morningstar? If sports ever lacked chest thumping and trash talking and team mates celebrating from the bench then I see that as more of a problem then whatever this article was referencing. Think of world cup soccer or soccer in other countries. After each goal the player practically have an on field orgy. I think football made a mistake in making touchdown dances illegal. Hoping morningstar and reed come with a little swagger next t season. Maybe a little chest thumping of their own...

Eric Williams 10 years, 9 months ago


I agree with Eurekahwk. If Bill Mayer is going to right an article putting Wilt on a pedestal above all other players of past and present then this ought to be part of the argument.

His criticism of younger players is the theatrics and flaws in character, yet he makes no mention of Wilt's flaws. Wilt was a womanizer, period. He had no respect for females, he used them as though they were only created to please him.

Is it worse for a man to claim 20,000 women or pose for a camera after a dunk? Which one does harm to another human being, which one makes a person look completely foolish?

I'm not perfect, and never have claimed to be, but Bill Mayer seems to think nothing disparaging ever happened between the years of 1940-1973. However, he can't find a single positive character trait among today's athletes.

Wilt was a great player, but not a great person. And Mayer needs to make that distinction.

Bryan Summers 10 years, 9 months ago

The morre you learn about Wilt, the more you have to appreciate his athletic ability. If he were playing in the NBA today, he wouldn't be the same size he was during his career. You can't just move him forward in time without allowing for a compensation in his physical stature as well. He would be bigger, stronger, faster and have even greater basketball "smarts" becasue he would have grown up playing against better competition like all the current players.... that said,

take a look at this link and look closely at his College Career section.... look at his stats in Track and Field.... do some research and find the rule changes that were made because of Uncle Dippy... players of today are who they are, because of players like Wilt Chamberlain!

Bryan Summers 10 years, 9 months ago

Now... will X Henry be allowed to wear #13?

cklarock 10 years, 9 months ago

"spreading your seed and maybe something else to 20,000 women is right?"

I'm reserving a whole new category of right for those kind of numbers.

actorman 10 years, 9 months ago

It's sad that people can feel so morally superior as to condemn Wilt for one line in a book. If anyone remembers what he actually said, it was something to the effect of, "I must have slept with 20,000 women, but I would have given it all up to find that one special person." He was talking about the fact that he could be with any woman he wants but that it didn't mean anything to him because he never found someone he could share his life with. Perhaps he was using them or they were using him, but it still speaks to a pretty sad and lonely life. Rather than smugly judging him as if we're all so perfect, it might be nice to have a little compassion for him.

Eurekahwk 10 years, 9 months ago

Bill Mayer with his alzheimer like recall of 50 year old events is the one who passes judgement of all things new. I wonder if he submits his stories to the LJ World on one of those old typewriters that stick if you push the key too fast. Maybe, Wilt didn't find that special someone, but that doesn't justify the thousands of cheap someones he claims to have found.

Honestly, I could care less how many women he nailed. It always makes for a good punchline when citing this material. I'm not ashamed that Wilt represents Kansas. We have the true all-time great while UNC just has MJ the modern great. But I am very offended when a writer claims that all these young punks with their silly antics ruin the game that Wilt the God of men honored. Just because you get old, it doesn't mean you become saintly.

Dan Pawlowski 10 years, 9 months ago

If you idolize someone, you do it for your own reasons and in your mind it is right.

Priest Fontaine 10 years, 9 months ago

whoah Eurekahwk. I agree with you on everything you were saying but... what is up with your line about us having the true all time great while UNC just has MJ? are you serious? I mean, I am drunk so I could be reading this wrong. What are you trying to say? I dont get it. You make it sound like MJ was a joke compared to Dippy. Just has MJ...what?

rockchalk80 10 years, 8 months ago

Jaybate... LOL! thanks! that was entertaining...

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

"No one is wrong."--BoulderHawk

You have to get this printed on t-shirts and sell them in Sedona. :-)

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