| ||PHILADELPHIA -- In one of the last interviews of his life,
Wilt Chamberlain spoke of regrets, his history with women and the
man he thought was the best basketball player of all time.
Believe it or not, Meadowlark Lemon.
"Meadowlark was the most sensational, awesome, incredible
basketball player I've ever seen," Chamberlain said. "People
would say it would be Dr. J or even (Michael) Jordan. For me it
would be Meadowlark Lemon."
Chamberlain, who rarely did interviews in recent years, sat down
for a television piece produced by the Philadelphia 76ers last May.
Portions of the three-hour interview, conducted by longtime Philly
sports anchor Al Meltzer, aired last summer on local cable.
It was a revealing talk in which Chamberlain's bravado really
came through. He bragged about wanting to fight Muhammad Ali,
explained why he publicized the number of women he'd slept with and
lamented his teams' many failures against Bill Russell's Boston
"I guarantee you, if you could give me 10 points in all those
seventh games against the Boston Celtics, instead of Bill Russell
having 11 rings, I could've at least had nine or eight,"
Chamberlain, who died Tuesday in Los Angeles, said he was close to signing a contract to fight Ali while he was still playing
basketball. He said renowned trainer Cus D'Amato wanted to train
him for the fight.
"So sure enough they offer us $5 million each to fight in the
Houston Astrodome," Chamberlain said. "And I remember leaving my
place in L.A. and -- my father is a big fight fan -- and I said,
`Dad, I got a couple of days off and I'm getting ready to go to
Houston to sign to fight Muhammad Ali.' "
Chamberlain said his father told him he should work on his free
"And I looked at my Dad and said, 'Well, Dad, you're probably
right,' " said Chamberlain, who said the fight never happened
because of money.
Chamberlain said his on-and-off appearances with the Harlem
Globetrotters scared him, "because I liked them so well that I did
not want to come back and play in the NBA."
"You must understand as a kid of color in those days, the
Harlem Globetrotters were like being movie stars," Chamberlain
said. "You know, this was your dream."
Chamberlain, criticized for revealing in his autobiography that
he'd slept with 20,000 women, explained why he did so.
"We're all fascinated by the numbers, as we were about the 100
points," Chamberlain said. "... So I thought of a number that was
a round number that may be close and may be whatever, and I used
that number. Now according to the average person, that number is so
preposterous that I can understand them not believing it.
"But the point of using the number was to show that sex was a
great part of my life as basketball was a great part of my life.
That's the reason why I was single."
Chamberlain said he regretted not explaining the sexual climate
at the time of his escapades.
"It was a different sexual situation going on than it is in the
'80s and '90s, and I did a very poor job of describing that," said
Chamberlain, who offered a warning for any men who admired him for
"With all of you men out there who think that having a thousand
different ladies is pretty cool, I have learned in my life I've
found out that having one woman a thousand different times is much
more satisfying."|| |
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