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You Tube Gold: Wilt Chamberlain Blocking A Shot At 17

It’s also a useful tutorial

Wilt Chamberlain’s Hand
Close-up of the hand of American basketball player Wilt Chamberlain (1936 - 1999) as he holds a ball with two fingers, February 1956.
Photo by Frank Scherschel/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Wilt Chamberlain is a singular figure in basketball. At 7-1 he could run as fast anyone, was a strong as anyone, and while at Kansas also was on the track and gymnastics team.

There has never been anyone like him.

Bill Russell became famous about the time this video was made for shot blocking. Russell might have read about it but in 1956 he certainly didn’t see San Francisco on TV so you have to assume he just figured out on his own that at 7-1 and with a reported 50” vertical he could block shots.

It was very uncommon at the time.

Still uncommon is what he does here: Chamberlain caught the shot and led a fast break. It’s pretty stunning to see even today.

And blocking a shot out of bounds is a pet peeve around here. Essentially it’s just a turnover. What’s the point? You’re just giving it back.

Of course not many people can do this. Still, the most deflating play in all of college basketball last season was when Zion Williamson simply mugged a UK player in mid-air, stripped him of the ball and then headed downcourt, hitting RJ Barrett with a flawless bounce pass for a lay-up.

The best shot blocker in the modern era, hands down, was Tim Duncan. If you look at this compilation, it’s striking how often the ball stays in bounds - and how often he ends up controlling it.

That’s so much better than a hard block out of bounds that just gives the ball right back to your opponent.