Fleer's 1961-62 Chamberlain Rookie card
in PSA MT9, is one of the three
most important cards among basketball collectibles.
Fleer's 1961-62 Chamberlain Rookie card in PSA MT9, is one of the three most important cards among basketball collectibles.
LOS ANGELES -- The Goliath of the NBA, Wilt Chamberlain died Tuesday in his Bel-Air home, leaving behind a legendary career of records that may endure forever. The outspoken basketball hero changed the sport forever, forcing the NBA to change its rules in a vain attempt to contain his seemingly superhuman abilities. Few athletes in any sport can claim as many records or a level of domination equal to "The Big Dipper." He was a player that relished his role as spoiler and villain against teams who attempted to stop him by "gang-guarding" him as he maneuvered ever nearer to the basket. No NBA players have ever matched his ability to get the job done, including his legendary rival, Bill Russell whose battles with Chamberlain are indelibly etched in NBA history. 'Wilt the Stilt's' records remain unchallenged:
  • Most Consecutive Seasons Leading the League - 7
    Philadelphia, 1959-62, San Francisco, 1962-64, San Francisco, Philadelphia, 1964-65, Philadelphia, 1965-66
  • Most Points in a Season - 4,029 - 1961-62
  • Higest Average Points Per Game in a Season (min. 70 games - 50.4 - 1961-62, Philadelphia
  • Most Points in Rookie Season - 2,707 - 1959-60, Philadelphia
  • Highest Average Points per game in Rookie Season - 37.6 - 1959-60
  • Most Points in a Game - 100 - Philadelphia vs. NY, Hershey, PA, March 22, 1962
  • Most Points in a Game as a Rookie - 58 - Philadelphia vs. Detroit, Bethlehem, PA, Jan. 25, 1960
  • Most Games Scoring 50 or More Points in Career - 118
  • Most Games Scoring 50 or More Points in a Season - 45, Philadelphia, 1961-62
  • Most Consecutive Games Scoring 50 or More Points - 7, Philadelphia, Dec. 16-29th, 1961
  • Most Games Scoring 40 or More Points in a Career - 271
  • Most Games Scoring 40 or More Points in a Season - 63, Philadelphia, 1961-62
  • Most Consecutive Games Scoring 40 or More Points - 14, Philadelphia, Dec. 8-30th, 1961
  • Most Consecutive Games Scoring 30 or More Points - 65, Philadelphia, Nov. 4, 1961-Feb. 22, 1962
  • Most Consecutive Games Scoring 20 or More Points - 126, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Oct. 19, 1961-Jan. 19, 1963
  • Most Points Scored in One Half - 59 - Philadelphia vs. NY, Hershey, PA, March 2, 1962
  • Most Rebounds in an NBA Career - 23,924
  • Most Rebounds in a Game - 55 - Against Bill Russell and the Celtics, 1960

The 'Chairman of the Boards' ruled the NBA for 14 straight seasons, retiring in 1973, and has been credited by some as the reason for the NBA's success. He was one of only two players ever to win the MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season (setting eight records that year alone), and one of only two players to score over 30,000 points in an NBA career (Kareem Abdul Jabbar is the other, breaking Chamberlain's record 31,419 in 1984).

The NBA tried to slow the unstoppable Chamberlain down by changing its rules, including widening the lane, penalize offensive goaltending, as well as revising rules regarding free throw shooting and inbounding the ball.

His most famous record was set on the evening of March 2, 1962, when the young Chamberlain led his team to victory, scoring 100 points against the New York Knicks.

"I spent 12 years in his armpits, and I always carried that 100-point game on my shoulders. After I got my third foul, I said to one of the officials, Willy Smith, 'Why don't you just give him 100 points and we'll all go home?' Well, we did." recalled Darrall Imhoff, the former Knicks center, when he learned of the news on Tuesday.

Chamberlain's record for rebounds, 55, was set against the Russell-led Celtics in a legendary match during the 1960 season. Although "Wilt the Stilt" was the winningest player ever, leading his team to 13 NBA playoffs, he only won two championships. The first, with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1966-67, and the second in 1971-72 with the Lakers, winning a record 33 straight games.

After his retirement in 1973, Chamberlain continued to make news, albeit in a controversial manner, after the publication of his autobiography, View From Above in which he claimed to have had sex with 20,000 women, averaging 1.2 a day from age 15.

His latest book, Who's Running the Asylum? Inside the Insane World of Sports Today proved to be no less sensational, revealing the less respectable side of professional sports.

"He was a smart guy, he was well-read. He was an authority on everything. He had this bluster about him," Jerry West told reporters on Tuesday, "...on the inside, he was a soft guy."

Long-time rival and close friend Bill Russell summed it up best, "Many have called our competition the greatest rivalry in the history of sports. We didn't have a rivalry; we had a genuinely fierce competition that was based on friendship and respect. We just loved playing against each other. The fierceness of the competition bonded us as friends for eternity. We loved competition. Wilt loved competition."

Wilt Chamberlain would enjoy his competitive status as one of the most collectible basketball heroes. Collectibles retailers reported an increase in requests for Chamberlain's trading cards and memorabilia within hours of the icon's passing. Items related to the legend however, have been garnering prices in the upper tiers for many years due to his extraordinary career, and will likely continue to soar.

According to PSA and the Collectors Universe Sports Price Guide, a collector can expect to pay the following prices for trading cards:

  • 1961-62 Fleer #8 Chamberlain Rookie -- PSA NM-MT8 - $1750
  • 1961-62 Fleer #8 Chamberlain Rookie - PSA MT9 - $4300 and above
  • 1961-62 Fleer #47 Chamberlain in Action - PSA NM-MT8 - $450
    (recent auction on the Internet listed a PSA NM-MT8 at $495)
  • 1961-62 Fleer #47 Chamberlain in Action - PSA MT9 - $1050
  • 1969-70 Topps #1 Chamberlain - PSA MT9 - $625 and above

Other noteworthy items to watch for include:

  • 1972-73 Topps Chamberlain #1 - $85-200 in NM-MT8 and above
  • 1972-73 Topps Chamberlain #168 All Star - $45-95 and up in NM-MT8 and above
  • 1973-74 Topps Chamberlain #80 - $45-110 and up in NM-MT8 and above
  • 1974-75 Topps #250 Chamberlain #250 - $55-115 in NM-MT8 and above
  • Autographed photo 8x10 - $89-200
  • Autographed jersey - $225 (not game used)
  • Autographed Basketball - $175-250 (not game used)
  • Sports Illustrated Cover 1969 or 1972 -- $90-125, autographed - $150 and up

For more information, check the Collectors Universe Price Guide and Sports Auctions.

Fleer produced a second card during the 1961-62 season,'Wilt Chamberlain in Action'.This example, a PSA NM-MT8, valued at over $450.
Fleer produced a second card during the 1961-62 season,
'Wilt Chamberlain in Action'.
This example, a PSA NM-MT8, valued at over $450.
Hot items other than the rookie card (center), include Chamberlain's autobiography, autographed photos,  and other collectible trading cards.
Hot items other than the rookie card (center), include Chamberlain's autobiography, autographed photos,
and other collectible trading cards.