Dipper Debut: A Rookie Season for the Ages


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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 6/18/2023

NEW UPDATES: Resolution Photomatching has confirmed photomatches to games on 1/19/1960 and 2/6/1960. MEARS has upgraded its grade from A9 to A10.

Before Wilt Chamberlain even set foot on the Kansas University campus to play for legendary coach Phog Allen, he had already established himself as the most unstoppable force anyone had ever seen at the high school level. Standing 6' 11" when he entered Overbrook H.S. in west Philadelphia, Wilt exhibited exceptional size, strength, power and athleticism that made him an instant blue-chip superstar. He tallied 74, 78 and 90 points in three straight games as a senior, earning Mr. Basketball USA in 1955. After three college seasons at KU followed by a year with the Harlem Globetrotters, the time had finally come for the 23-year-old Philly native to suit up for his hometown Warriors in the fall of 1959. The Big Dipper not only proved himself to be the game’s prototypical center; he was again a man among boys just like in high school – only now at the highest level of competition – swatting opponents’ shots into the stands, snatching every board in his vicinity, and dunking the ball seemingly at will.

SCP is proud to present one of the most significant basketball offerings in the history of the hobby: Wilt’s home uniform from his rookie season with the Philadelphia Warriors. Chamberlain wore this important jersey and trunks set in every home game during his magnificent 1959-60 rookie campaign, as well as additional contests at neutral venues and even five playoff games, according to the included photo-matching analysis.

Wilt began his NBA career with the most dominant debut season not only in basketball history, but in any sport period! The 7’ 1” center won his first of four league MVP awards as a rookie, averaging an unprecedented 37.6 points and 27 rebounds per game – both NBA records (for any season, rookie or not) that likely will never be touched. He also broke Bob Petit’s single-season scoring record of 2,101 points; only The Dipper did it just 56 games into his rookie campaign. Wilt earned, without question, the most obvious NBA Rookie of the Year award ever given out, setting eight individual records along the way.

Because Chamberlain opted to leave KU after his junior year to pursue a paid professional gig with the Globetrotters, his courting and draft selection by the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959 became a complicated issue that remains controversial to this day. Despite spending his college years in the state of Kansas, Wilt was a so-called "territorial pick” (this classification was eliminated in 1966 when the NBA updated its draft system). Warriors owner Eddie Gottlieb, one of the NBA's founding fathers, argued that Chamberlain had grown up in Philly and become popular there as a high school player, and since there were no NBA teams in Kansas, the Warriors should still own Wilt’s territorial rights and have priority to draft him. The NBA surprisingly agreed, marking the only time in NBA history that a player was made a territorial selection based on his pre-college roots.

By the time Chamberlain concluded his 14-year NBA career (five and a half seasons with the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, three and a half with the Philadelphia 76ers, and five with the L.A. Lakers), he essentially rewrote the record books. The two-time NBA champion won seven NBA scoring titles, eleven rebounding titles, and he even led the league in assists one year. Overall, he still holds 72 NBA records to this day. Said former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer, Billy Cunningham, “The NBA Guide reads like Wilt's personal diary." While his 100-point performance on March 2, 1962, stands out as the highlight of his Herculean feats, the Dipper averaged 50.4 points per game that entire 1961-62 campaign and once corralled 55 rebounds in a single game! He remains the only player to average 30 points and 20 boards in a season, and he did it seven times! Amazingly, especially for a post player, Chamberlain never fouled out – not one game in his entire career!

"Wilt was one of the greatest ever, and we will never see another one like him," said Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who broke Chamberlain's all-time scoring record in 1984. Wilt's combination of charisma and charm off the court made him basketball's version of Babe Ruth. Longtime sports executive Stan Kasten summed him up perfectly: "He was both literally and figuratively a larger-than-life sports figure of the 20th century, dominating his sport like no one else."

The white durene pullover jersey shows outstanding game use with noticeable spot staining (presumably blood) on the front and right torso. The letters and numbers on the front indicating "PHILA" and his iconic No. "13" are sewn on in red tackle twill outlined in blue, with evident puckering from being repeated wash and frayed threads from excessive wear. The larger "13" on the back in the same format exhibits significant abrasions from on-court contact. The neck and armpit openings are trimmed with blue and red elastic piping that remains well-preserved despite ample stretching. A horizontal stripe in the same red and blue color scheme surrounds the entire mid-section, giving these rare '59-60 Warriors home shirts a truly patriotic look. Properly tagged by Pearson Sporting Goods (1010 Chestnut St. Philadelphia) inside the left front tail, the shirt holds a size 40 flag tag from Coane Athletic & Knit Clothing as well. Inside the back left tail is a white strip tag with "40 4L 59" chain-stitched in blue to identify the size, extra length and year. The size matches Chamberlain's documented fit during the era and the tagging style matches other Warriors period exemplars.

The included Wilt rookie trunks display an equally impressive amount of game wear with similar spot staining (we're guessing from blood) on the rear and upper left leg. A large perspiration stain can be found on the back left leg, giving the silk material slight discoloration. The shorts have a thick blue waistband trimmed in red and gold with a white drawstring on the interior. Two internal hips pads are present, the right one holding a red Pearson label and a strip tag with "13-36L-58" to indicate uniform number, size and year manufactured. Red, gold and blue piping runs down both sides and surrounds the leg openings, completing this eye-catching design.

The matching jersey and shorts set was originally procured directly from Wilt Chamberlain decades ago by his close friend who would become a trusted collector in the hobby. A letter of provenance from this gentleman is included. In 2015, this uniform was displayed at the National Sports Collectors Convention, and more recently it was featured on Collectable's fractional shares platform where shareholders turned down offers up to $3 million. The jersey has been photo-matched and authenticated by MeiGray Group, Resolution Photomatching (ResMatch) and Sports Investors Authentication (SIA), with an additional letter from MEARS graded a perfect A10. Among the matching images is a timely color shot snapped by famous photographer Neil Leifer on January 5, 1960, at Madison Square Garden (neutral venue), showing young Wilt exiting the court after dropping 52 points in a victory over the Minneapolis Lakers: https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/philadelphia-warriors-wilt-chamberlain-during-game-vs-news-photo/451090939.

Conclusive photo-matches from Sports Investors Authentication and Resolution Photomatching were made to both 1/19/60 vs. Knicks (30 pts. & 23 rebs. in win) and 2/6/60 vs. Syracuse (44 pts. & 45 rebs. in win). SIA made conclusive matches to four more games: 1/2/1960 vs. Celtics (47 points & 36 rebounds in win); 1/5/60 vs. Lakers (52 pts. & 20 rebs. in win); 1/15/60 vs. Celtics (44 pts. & 42 rebs. in loss); and 3/24/1960 vs. Celtics (26 pts. & 24 rebs. in loss). That last contest against Boston happened to be Game 6 of the Eastern Division Finals. The Celtics squeaked by with a 119-117 win, knocking Philly out of the playoffs. So, it was Wilt wore this uniform in the final game he played as a rookie! In addition, SIA made an "apparent" match to Game 4 of the Eastern Division Finals on 3/20/60 vs. Boston (24 pts. & 34 rebs.). Furthermore, images provided by SIA and ResMatch show plenty of evidence to conclude that the blood staining in the jersey dates to the period Chamberlain wore it, and cannot be attributed to post-career storage. (This evidence was used to elevate the MEARS grade from A9 to A10.)

Game worn jerseys from other NBA legends have fetched huge numbers in the past year. A jersey worn by Michael Jordan in Game 1 of the 1998 NBA Finals sold for a record $10.1 million in September 2022. In February, a jersey from Kobe Bryant’s lone MVP season brought over $5.8 million at auction. And just last month, a Michael Jordan 1992 Olympic Dream Team jersey (not from Gold Medal Game) went for over $3 million. This monumental Wilt uniform is expected to set a new world record for any vintage game-used basketball piece, and it certainly deserves to be among the highest-selling sports memorabilia items ever.

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $200,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $1,792,289
Number Bids:16
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