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 Wednesday, October 13
Wilt spoke of regrets, women and Meadowlark
Associated Press

 PHILADELPHIA -- In one of the last interviews of his life, Wilt Chamberlain spoke of regrets, his history with women and the man he thought was the best basketball player of all time.

Believe it or not, Meadowlark Lemon.

"Meadowlark was the most sensational, awesome, incredible basketball player I've ever seen," Chamberlain said. "People would say it would be Dr. J or even (Michael) Jordan. For me it would be Meadowlark Lemon."

Chamberlain, who rarely did interviews in recent years, sat down for a television piece produced by the Philadelphia 76ers last May. Portions of the three-hour interview, conducted by longtime Philly sports anchor Al Meltzer, aired last summer on local cable.

It was a revealing talk in which Chamberlain's bravado really came through. He bragged about wanting to fight Muhammad Ali, explained why he publicized the number of women he'd slept with and lamented his teams' many failures against Bill Russell's Boston Celtics.

"I guarantee you, if you could give me 10 points in all those seventh games against the Boston Celtics, instead of Bill Russell having 11 rings, I could've at least had nine or eight," Chamberlain said.

Chamberlain, who died Tuesday in Los Angeles, said he was close to signing a contract to fight Ali while he was still playing basketball. He said renowned trainer Cus D'Amato wanted to train him for the fight.

"So sure enough they offer us $5 million each to fight in the Houston Astrodome," Chamberlain said. "And I remember leaving my place in L.A. and -- my father is a big fight fan -- and I said, `Dad, I got a couple of days off and I'm getting ready to go to Houston to sign to fight Muhammad Ali.' "

Chamberlain said his father told him he should work on his free throws instead.

"And I looked at my Dad and said, 'Well, Dad, you're probably right,' " said Chamberlain, who said the fight never happened because of money.

Chamberlain said his on-and-off appearances with the Harlem Globetrotters scared him, "because I liked them so well that I did not want to come back and play in the NBA."

"You must understand as a kid of color in those days, the Harlem Globetrotters were like being movie stars," Chamberlain said. "You know, this was your dream."

Chamberlain, criticized for revealing in his autobiography that he'd slept with 20,000 women, explained why he did so.

"We're all fascinated by the numbers, as we were about the 100 points," Chamberlain said. "... So I thought of a number that was a round number that may be close and may be whatever, and I used that number. Now according to the average person, that number is so preposterous that I can understand them not believing it.

"But the point of using the number was to show that sex was a great part of my life as basketball was a great part of my life. That's the reason why I was single."

Chamberlain said he regretted not explaining the sexual climate at the time of his escapades.

"It was a different sexual situation going on than it is in the '80s and '90s, and I did a very poor job of describing that," said Chamberlain, who offered a warning for any men who admired him for it.

"With all of you men out there who think that having a thousand different ladies is pretty cool, I have learned in my life I've found out that having one woman a thousand different times is much more satisfying."

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