Wilt Chamberlain postage stamp signals a shift

Tim Fitzsimons Dec 5, 2014
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Wilt Chamberlain postage stamp signals a shift

Tim Fitzsimons Dec 5, 2014
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When you think of stamps, you might picture paintings of ducks, and dead, nearly forgotten presidents. But Friday in Philadelphia, two new stamps will be released, the first to feature a pro basketball player.

You could say he’s the basketball equivalent of Madonna or Elvis because the new stamps dispense with his last name and only say “Wilt,” stretched out as if to emphasize his 7-foot-1 stature.

“Wilt is the greatest player to ever play,” said Donald Hunt, a Phildelphia Tribune sportswriter who headed the effort to get Chamberlain his own stamp“He scored 100 points in a game, averaged 50 points in a game … at one point in his career he grabbed 55 rebounds in a game.”

But Chamberlain is also well known for other things, including claiming that he slept with 20,000 women. The NBA star joins recent postal honorees like Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, who died of drug overdoses. But that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve stamps, according to Chad Snee, editor of the weekly Linn’s Stamp News.

“If the committee had to weigh personal imperfections when determining whether or not someone could be honored with a postage stamp … we wouldn’t see too many people on our stamps anymore,” he said.

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