the 7-foot 1-inch giant who is paid more than $1,000 per game (over a 75-game
season) to dunk a basketball through a hoop, stood on the foul line at Penn's
Palestra the other day. The superstar of the Philadelphia Warriors was
practicing foul shots after a team workout.
Wilt, who has set
National Basketball Association records in scoring, rebounding and salary,
moved to the left of the foul line, palmed the ball in his huge right hand and
shot. The ball hit the rim, 15 feet away, and bounced off.
"See what I
mean," he said, shaking his head disgustedly. "I got so much English on
my shot that all I have to do is touch that rim and the blankety-blank ball
The records show
that Chamberlain has been hitting the rim all season—missing about 60% of his
foul shots. Remarkably, he has a better shooting percentage on field goals than
school kid could do better," Syracuse's Dolph Schayes said recently after
Chamberlain missed 18 of 27 fouls as Philadelphia lost a game by one point.
"It's ridiculous," claimed Schayes, who normally hits on 90% of his
fouls. Chamberlain's free-throw average is .384. The average for all
professional players last year was .734. A good high school player should
says doesn't bother me," snapped Wilt in a tone that indicated it does.
"I don't think it's wise for one athlete to knock another. But that's his
business—freedom of speech and that sort of thing, you know."
earns his $80,000-plus salary by playing the full 48 minutes of almost every
game, has become thoroughly confused on the foul line. "Over the
years," he conceded, "I've been getting consistently worse. I used to
be pretty good in high school, but I haven't had a good night that I can
remember in the pros. It must be mental." His latest gimmick has been to
shoot from the left of the foul line, at an angle, "because I take most of
my floor shots from that side. I've been using my thumb more to get English on
my floor shots, banking them off the board," he explained. "That's why,
subconsciously, I've been stressing my thumb on the foul line, too. It gives
the ball too much English for foul shots. But why should I change and louse up
my floor shots?
me, all right," he said, heading for the dressing room at the end of his
drill. "I keep saying I don't let it bother me. But whenever you find
yourself saying that, then you know it is bothering you."
The margin of
Wilt's coach, is bothered too. He figures his star would add "about six
points per game" to his average by learning to shoot fouls. And six points
is often the difference between victory and defeat.