76ers honor Wilt Chamberlain with a sculpture

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The 76ers honored the late, great Wilt Chamberlin today unveiling a statue of Wilt at the team's Camden training complex. Here, Members of Wilt Chamberlain's family, along with Sixers management, and invited guests gather in front of Wilt's statue after the unveiling on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

Wilt Chamberlain became the latest 76ers Hall of Famer to be honored with a sculpture at the team's practice facility in Camden.

The Sixers unveiled the sculpture of Chamberlain on Saturday, and it is situated with those of Hal Greer and Billy Cunningham.

The 7-foot-1 Chamberlain, a product of Philadelphia's Overbrook High, was always a larger-than-life figure. Whether it was his 100-point game while with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1962 or his other legendary feats - such as averaging more than 50 points, 25 rebounds, and 48 minutes per game in that 1961-62 season or grabbing an NBA career-record 23,924 rebounds - Chamberlain's accomplishments seemed so much bigger than everyone else's.

"If there is a Mount Rushmore [of basketball] he is the cornerstone of it, and it is not even close," Sixers CEO Scott O'Neill said during the dedication ceremony.

Sixers coach Brett Brown, executive adviser and close Chamberlain friend Sonny Hill, and Amy Hever, the team's executive director of community engagement and the Sixers Youth Foundation, all spoke glowingly about Chamberlain.

A four-time NBA MVP and 13-time all-star, Chamberlain began his career with the Warriors in 1959-60. The Warriors moved to San Francisco after the 1961-1962 season. Chamberlain was eventually traded to the Sixers from San Francisco on Jan. 15, 1965 for Connie Dierking, Paul Neumann, Lee Shaffer, and cash.

Chamberlain then led the Sixers to the 1967 NBA championship. That team, which also included Greer and Cunningham, has been considered among the best in NBA history.

Another key member of that championship team was Overbrook High and Villanova standout Wali Jones, who attended Saturday's ceremony.

"He was a man who not only helped me on the court, but with Wilt it was intellectual," said Jones, who averaged 13.2 points and 3.7 assists during the championship season. "When I went to high school at Overbrook, he talked to Walt Hazzard and I [about being a] scholar-athlete. I think a lot of people don't [recognize] him as a renaissance man, but his intellect was so much more than his physical aspect."

After the '67-68 season, Chamberlain was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, and he won a second championship in 1972. Chamberlain retired after the 1972-73 season. He died in 1999 at the age of 63.

This was a day to also recognize Chamblerlain for his work off the court. In 2001, the Wilt Chamberlain Memorial Fund was established, and more than $1 million has been donated to youth organizations across the area, including 50 scholarships to local high school seniors.

"I like the statue very much," said Chamberlain's sister, Selina Gross. "We hope this attention . . . can also bring attention to the foundation and helping the youngsters."

mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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