He has never been one to shrink at expressing his opinion, and at age 53, Wilt the Stilt appears more outspoken than ever. When Philadelphia writer Stan Hochman caught up with Wilt Chamberlain recently, the Big Dipper was in a generally expansive mood about the condition of things.
Among the subjects Chamberlain covered was why he wore his high school jacket to the Magic Johnson retirement ceremony ("I wasn't going to wear a jacket that advertised Nike, or Adidas, or some product."); the Chicago Bulls ("I'm not rooting for the Bulls to break the 76ers' and Lakers' won-lost record."); and parity in the NBA ("Until [ChicagoT faltered on the recent road trip, I didn't see how they were not gonna smash [the single-season winning recordT. Not when you don't have to worry about New Jersey, Miami, Orlando, [CharlotteT, the Bullets, Sacramento, even Dallas. They're just gimme's. Not almost, but automatic wins.").And then there was Wilt's book and the infamous remarks about his, ahem, 20,000 women. "I didn't see any articles that Wilt was a great humanitarian and a role model because he gave money to Sonny Hill's summer basketball program," said Chamberlain.
"But when they got a chance to knock Wilt they did. Not just because of the 20,000 women, but because a lot of 'em were white women."
Speaking of Wilt, a recent Hoop magazine article details the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers, considered by many the best team in NBA history.
The team also included Luke Jackson, Billy Cunningham, Chet Walker, Hal Greer and Matt Guokas.
Guokas, who now coaches the Orlando Magic, puts Chamberlain's accomplishments in perspective by talking about his rebounding. "I think Wilt was the greatest force in basketball. Today, when a guy gets 19 rebounds a game, they make a big deal about it," said Guokas. "Remember, Wilt averaged 24 that season. It seemed he just got every rebound. They didn't keep track of blocked shots in those days, but we directed everything to him and he'd block shots and that got us running and some easy layups."
The Sixers were so good that Boston won 60 games that season - now a standard for a great year - and finished eight games back of Philadelphia.
They may have Mark Eaton, but the Utah Jazz aren't giants when it comes to comparative size in the NBA. In fact, the Jazz opening-day roster ranked only 19th of 27 teams in average height. Utah's average height is 78.83 inches, or just over 6-foot-5. Last year the Jazz were fifth in the NBA in average height.
Meanwhile, Indiana was the largest, with an average of almost 6-foot-7 per player.
However, weight is another matter. The Jazz ranked as the heaviest team in the league, totaling 2,702 pounds, or an average of 225 pounds per man. Last year the Jazz were second in weight. The Jazz have four players who weight over 250: Karl Malone, Ike Austin, Mike Brown and Eaton.
And in the all-important average age category, the Jazz - as Larry Miller keeps telling us - aren't getting any younger. They are 10th in average age, at 27.37 years per player.
Milwaukee, at 29.22 years per player, is the oldest NBA team.
AND THEN SOME: Jazz President Frank Layden on signing four autographs for the same woman: "She told me when she gets 700 of mine she can trade them all for one John Stockton." . . . Detroit Coach Chuck Daly on the Bulls: "I use a line about Cindy Crawford. There are a lot of models around 40 who look at her and say, `She'll get old, too.' It happens to all of us. Right now, Chicago is Cindy Crawford. But things change." . . . Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon on a teammate Otis Thorpe's 500th consecutive NBA game: "That's amazing. I'd just like to get through one season." . . . Through Feb. 18, Jazz players had missed fewer games (six) than any in the league. The next-closest in player-games missed was Phoenix with 17. The team with the most missed games was Washington with 152 . . . Seattle Coach George Karl on the Jazz: "Stockton is probably the best to touch the floor in 10 years at the point. And Malone is probably the best at the power position. Their other players are getting better. Their bench is stronger and so they've made some good improvements." . . . Jazz guard Jeff Malone on shooting his moving jumper: "Jeff Hornacek is one of the best open shooters in the league. You can't give him the open jumpers. You can, though, give them to me. I need to have someone running at me."