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A few words on Wilt Chamberlain's '20,000 women' claim from one who was not among them

Feb 25, 2010, 5:00 PM EDT

And now our own Jelisa Castrodale examines the life and times of Wilt Chamberlain, who claims to have conquered 20,000 women. Eat your heart out, Tiger Woods.
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By Jelisa Castrodale
There are a handful of individuals who, over the course of their lives, will transcend their competitors and colleagues to become the signature representatives of their field, whether it’s Carl Sagan and astronomy, Orville Redenbacher and popcorn or the cast of Jersey Shore and everyday douchery. When it comes to sex though, anything that takes place between the fitted and the flat sheets will be measured against Wilt Chamberlain, the late NBA player who famously claimed to have slept with more than 20,000 women.
Chamberlain died in 1999 — and was presumably buried face down — but his X-rated legacy lives on. Whenever an oversized font precedes a sexually-charged article — whether it’s about Tiger and his silicone-stuffed “indescretions” or the number of condoms being distributed to athletes in the Olympic village — Chamberlain’s name has been pasted into several paragraphs. Apparently in addition to hanging his jersey from the rafters, his Sleep Number should’ve been retired as well.


Chamberlain’s Caligula-style legacy began with his book A View From Above, a title that suggests that he liked to be on top. He dedicated an entire chapter to his sex life, bragging that that he’d been with an estimated 20,000 women, a figure that equates to something like eight horizontal workouts (or vertical or diagonal or that Chandelier thing that I haven’t figured out yet) every week or 416 a year or I’m getting chafed just thinking about it.
Wilt’s women were briefly in the news this week, loosely connected to Roland Lazenby’s upcoming biography of Lakers legend Jerry West. The book — creatively titled Jerry West — briefly addresses the unending sexual appetites of some of the players, going so far as to blame the Greater Los Angeles area for launching an endless supply of women toward the locker room. West himself admitted that The Lakers and Sexytime go together like the Clippers and Sucking. No, not *that* kind … that belongs to the Lakers too. “I did things for those guys,” West said. “If the public knew, they’d be outraged. It was a pretty crazy period for us.”
The buzz around Jerry West prompted Lazenby to write a widely-circulated blog post which contained excerpts from his previous book, The Show, unfortunately described as an “oral history” of the Lakers. The Show spent a cringe-inducing amount of time describing the off-court activities of the players’ overworked meat wands, including conflicting reports about Chamberlain and his rumored conquests. Former NBA-er Kelly Tripucka thanked him for “pav[ing] the way on and off the court”, while sportswriter Doug Krikorian called it “Complete hyperbole.”
So did he or didn’t he? That’s something only Wilt and roughly the population of Beckley, West Virginia know for sure. My problem with statistics like this, whether they’re from Wilt or Warren Beatty — who etched an alleged 13,000 bedposts of his own — is that I’m not sure who they’re supposed to appeal to or impress. Granted, there are people who should’ve spelunked thousands of different ladycaves, but they’re called gynecologists.
I tend to put the blame for this increasingly-popular style of oversharing on Chamberlain’s frequently scratched shoulders. I’m just not that interested in anyone’s bedroom box score, other than my own. (Confidential to My Parents, Who Both Read This Site: Not to worry. I’m as pure and unsullied as a spring lamb. A spring lamb who had braces and cystic acne during her formative years.) Additionally, I don’t see the appeal in being one in 20,000 — unless that means I’m the one who found the Boardwalk piece in McDonald’s Monopoly — and I’m not up for a one-nighter with a dude who does more, um, wood work than Bob Vila.
Unfortunately, we’ve been conditioned to expect all the sordid details, to anticipate each new sheet-tangling story. The dueling scandals from Tiger Woods and England captain John Terry have been constant reminders of that. Sometimes, though, I wish we could shut their bedroom doors and back away slowly and that — eleven years after his death — we’d just let Wilt Chamberlain rest in peace. If he did have 20,000 women, that’s not something he got to do very often.
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Jelisa Castrodale is a writer and comedian who has learned a lot about life by making a mess of her own. She chronicles her failures at The Typing Makes Me Sound Busy, covers music for London’s BitchBuzz and twitters while she waits at stoplights. Castrodale was featured in the book Twitter Wit and was named one of Mashable’s 10 Funniest Twitterers.
Also by Jelisa Castrodale

  1. Randy - Feb 25, 2010 at 9:55 PM

    why are we bringing up a man who has been dead. This story is about a decade late. No connection between Tiger and Wilt. To totally different cultures. Tiger was not even coming close to breaking Wilt’s record. Again why are we talking bad about the dead!

  2. jim from middle GA - Feb 26, 2010 at 8:42 PM

    maybe the difference is wilt wasnt married? Just like Derek Jeter is getting it on with all beautiful women and since he is single, he is a ladies man. Tiger betrayed his wife. Its not me he has to answer to, but his wife. the rest of the media needs to understand that. besides wilt had a sense of humor and seemed lkike a nice guy.