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Story time: Wilt Chamberlain feared death by soda poisoning, a tape of the 100-point game exists, and one man did actually die in his seat at the Vet

Jan 12, 2014, 10:59 AM EDT


Wilt trusted milk. Soda, not so much. (AP)

A reel-to-reel tape of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game exists. But like so much else about Wilt’s career, no one’s sure where the damn thing is.

You may not be familiar with him, but Josh Pastner is the head coach of the Memphis University basketball team. His No. 24 Tigers — who will be ranked higher come Monday — came away with a 79-69 win over Temple Saturday at the Apollo.

Pastner was born in West Virginia and grew up in Texas but his parents are locals, and he ended up needing 40 tickets for all his friends and family yesterday. After the game, a reporter asked him about his ties to the area. I’m going to get out of the way and let you read. The bolded emphasis is our own:

My father was the ball boy for the 76ers for many, many years, and he and Wilt Chamberlain were very close. … And Wilt Chamberlain always felt somebody was trying to get him on timeouts with assassination through drinking. And he drank 7-Up or Sprite, one of the two. And my dad always had to taste it before Wilt– He made my father drink it before [he] would taste it to make sure my dad didn’t conk out.But Wilt took care of my father. They always went around. Like my dad said, he never had a front seat; Wilt sat in the back when he was driving because his legs were so long.

And in fact, my father and his father taped the game reel-to-reel in the second quarter when it was in Hershey, Pennsylvania in the 100-point game. They started when he had like 30-something; they thought it was going to be a special night. They gave it to Wilt — the 100-point game — and Wilt gave it back to my dad and my dad’s dad. He gave it back to them, they boxed it up, and he’s still trying to find it. He’s got all kinds of boxes, and he doesn’t know if he lost it. He’s trying to find the sucker. … I mean he’s got jerseys of Wilt, pictures.

In fact, my grandfather, he’s deceased now. The one that’s out there now got remarried. But the deceased one, my dad’s official dad, he was a season ticket holder for the Eagles, and he actually died in his seat. He didn’t miss a game but for two times, one time he was in the army and one time he was sick. But he died in his seat, had a heart attack. My dad and I were watching the game, the Eagles vs. the Cowboys. We were at home watching the game and he got a call — I was sitting next to him — that his dad had died, heart attack in his seat. And the Eagles actually have a name on that seat, because he was a 40-some-odd-year season-ticket holder and only missed two games in his career.

So our roots go way back. I mean, Mike Schmidt. I could go on and on …

It was at this point that everyone in the room started laughing because there just hadn’t been an opportunity to get a word in otherwise. Pastner was just going. Dennis Deitch of the Delco Daily Times asked him when the grandfather died.

That was in the late 90s, yeah, the late 90s. So I could go on and on about Philly sports. Philly fans are great. Sports here are great. Temple basketball, I know the history and tradition here, we were just very fortunate to get a win.

In summation:

  • Wilt Chamberlain was convinced someone was trying to kill mid-game with poisoned soda
  • A reel-to-reel tape of Wilt’s 100-point game may or may not exist in a box somewhere
  • And somebody, Pastner’s grandfather, did actually die in their seat in the Vet. That’s not just something people joke about — “Oh that guy will be here for forever. He’ll die in his seat!” — that actually happened.

Tweets from amused reporters:

Also, a good point here from our own Dave Zeitlin:

  1. Mostel - Jan 12, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    Wilt Chamberlin is the greatest athlete in the history of the concept of athletics. Wilt’s dominance, in spite of the loser fans of Michael Jordan trying to say otherwise, cements him as the greatest of all time. This video, if it exists, will truly show all of the doubters Wilt’s excellence.

    • Klint - Jan 13, 2014 at 1:36 AM

      Donald Bradman mate. Statistically far greater than any other ball sportsman

  2. hitnrun - Jan 12, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    Wow. Is there is some way we can get this guy a job in this town? I don’t even care how much of that is true.

    • weaveman38 - Jan 12, 2014 at 6:19 PM

      Yes! Hire him to replace the clown on the PM shift at 94WIP (Innes the Clown). THAT guy…. What college did you graduate from son? Oh that’s right, CLOWN COLLEGE! Back to the south with you. Maybe you could find someone to take you back by strapping you to the bumper of their car ala Nat’l Lampoon ‘ s Vacation!!!! Bozo. …

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  4. BenE. - Jan 13, 2014 at 1:09 AM

    This could be the premise of a Dos Equis commercial. Unreal.

  5. Neal Wright - Jan 13, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    This is a great story but ALL FAKE!!! First Josh calls the Philadelphia team the 76ers like 5 time when at that time they were the Warriors, secondly, Wilt always only drink 1 quart of 7-UP and 1 quart milk at games. Third, Sprite wasn’t even around until 1963, Josh claims all this up to 1962. Fourth, ever heard of a man by the name of Jeffrey Millman? Oh no? well he was the ball boy for the Philadelphia Warriors and then the 76ers until the 70′s when he became the equipment manager. Well th 76ers locker room is currently dedicated to him and named after him. He has already made most of these exact same claims years ago. Including the 7-UP and milk and tasting them and being really close to Wilt and friends. Josh Pastner should be absolutely ashamed for making such outrageous claims and waiting until Jeff Millman dies (Nov. of 2013) to steal his stories!


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