The U.S. Postal Service’s Wilt Chamberlain stamps. (Images via USPS)
It’s been a long time coming, and now the honor’s here — the legendary Wilt Chamberlain will appear on a commemorative postage stamp issued by the United States Postal Service, the first of its kind ever to feature an NBA player.
The movement to feature the Hall of Fame big man on a stamp began some six years ago. Donald Hunt of the Philadelphia Tribune started a campaign to earn the iconic Chamberlain, who died of congestive heart failure in October 1999, the same sort of recognition afforded baseball greats like Ted Williams, Larry Doby, Joe DiMaggio and Willie Stargell, as well as the pivotal African American figures included in the USPS’ “Black Heritage” stamp collection, such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Jackie Robinson, Oscar Micheaux and Texas congresswoman Barbara Jordan. Now, three years after confirmation that the idea to put the “Big Dipper” on a stamp was “under consideration,” the Wilt stamp became reality, appearing in the USPS’ Philatelic Catalog released Wednesday.
One of the two commemorative stamps features Chamberlain in the Philadelphia Warriors uniform in which he scored 100 points against the New York Knicks on March 2, 1962, a single-game record that still stands to this day. The other depicts him the purple and gold of the Los Angeles Lakers, for whom he starred during the final five seasons of his illustrious career. In a fitting tribute to the 7-foot-1 Goliath, the stamps measure just over two inches tall each — about a third taller than a typical commemorative stamp height of approximately 1.5 inches, according to the USPS.
The Chamberlain Forever stamps’ official commemoration will come on Dec. 5 in Wilt’s hometown of Philadelphia in a ceremony held during halftime of the Philadelphia 76ers’ home game against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Wells Fargo Center. The ceremony will feature “a special three-dimensional tribute video using the team’s state-of-the-art court projection system,” according to a Sixers statement shared by NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner, and the team will “celebrate the life and legacy of the legendary Chamberlain with videos during breaks in play.” They’re going to need an awful lot of breaks in play to properly fete the 13-time All-Star, four-time Most Valuable Player and two-time champion, who still ranks fifth in NBA history in career points scored, sixth in total minutes played, and tops in total rebounds, more than four decades after his final game.