On November 24, 1960, Philadelphia Warrior Wilt Chamberlain snags 55 rebounds in a game against the Boston Celtics and sets an NBA record for the most rebounds in a single game.
The seven-foot-one-inch Chamberlain–often called “Wilt the Stilt,” a nickname he detested, or “The Big Dipper,” because he was so tall that he had to dip his head to get through the doorway–was, sportswriters and fans agree, one of the best offensive basketball players of his era. He broke more than 70 NBA records. In his 14-year career in the NBA, he scored 31,419 points. (The only player with a higher tally is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who played six seasons–514 games–longer than Chamberlain did.) He was the highest scorer in the NBA from 1960-1966, and led the league in rebounding for 11 of his 14 seasons. And during the 1966-67 season, when his coach asked him to shoot less and pass more, Chamberlain had more assists than anyone else in the league.
The single-game rebound record that he set on November 24 isn’t even his most impressive. In March 1962, he scored 100 of his team’s 169 points in a game against the New York Knicks–more than any NBA player had (or has) ever scored in one game. Chamberlain also holds the second-place spot on the points-in-a-single-game list–78–and 15 of the top 20.
The Big Dipper was so commanding that the league had to change its rules to keep him away from the basket. It widened the lane to 16 feet; prohibited offensive goaltending; and stipulated that a free-throw shooter can’t cross the line until his shot hits the rim of the basket. (Authorities meant this last rule to prevent Chamberlain from taking off at the free-throw line and dunking his foul shots.)
Chamberlain was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978, the first year he was eligible, and in 1997 he was elected to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Star Team. He died in 1999.