Celebrity Encounters: Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain
Wikimedia Commons

In 1962, I became chairman and general partner of the San Francisco Warriors, later to become the Golden State Warriors. The team was awful, but it did have 7’1″ “Wilt the Stilt” Chamberlain, the greatest player of all time as far as I’m concerned. Wilt and I became good friends. I owned harness horses in those days, and he loved to gamble, so he became my partner on several horses. Once, while at Roosevelt Raceway in New York to watch one of our horses race, he pulled out a huge stack of $100 bills, peeled off five or six, and handed them to a friend with betting instructions.

I pointed to the roll. “Hey,” I said, “put that away.”

“Why?” he asked.

“Someone’s liable to hit you over the head and grab that,”

I joked.

“Anyone who wants to hit me over the head is gonna need a ladder,” he snapped back. “If I see someone coming at me with a ladder, I’ll yell for help.”

–Matty Simmons
In our March/April 2016 issue, Simmons wrote “The Day Cash Died” about being one of the three men who invented the credit card and formed The Diners Club, the first credit card company.

This article is featured in the March/April 2017 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.