Wilt Chamberlain plays first Laker home game
October 1, 2008 | 6:45 am
Above, Twiggy begins a U.S. tour.
By Keith Thursby
Times Staff Writer
One game in L.A. and Wilt Chamberlain already felt like a hero in his new home.
"I guess it is mainly because of my size and strength but to most basketball fans I have been mostly a villain," Chamberlain told The Times' Dan Hafner. "It would appear that things here in Los Angeles are going to be different."
Chamberlain led the Lakers to a 117-95 victory over the San Francisco Warriors at the Forum. It was only an exhibition, but the early reviews were very positive.
"The fans really enjoyed watching the big man," Hafner wrote. "They cheered wildly when he made a free throw. But they received their biggest kick when Chamberlain grabbed a rebound and started dribbling up court."
Wilt would average 21 rebounds and 20.5 points per game during the regular season, which on the powerful Lakers would make him only the third scorer behind Jerry West and Elgin Baylor.
Hafner made an interesting point in his game story: "Instant hero worship is a malady native to Los Angeles sports fans. For many years in just about every sport L.A. fans have had their heroes and they have been treated in the manner of kings." Manny Ramirez, meet Wilt Chamberlain.
Hafner predicted stardom for another Laker, former USC standout Bill Hewitt.
"He has the moves of Baylor and combines quickness and jumping ability, two essentials for a pro star," Hafner wrote. Hewitt averaged only 7.2 points a game in 1968-69 and the next year was traded to Detroit for forward Happy Hairston, who became a starter on the Lakers' 1971-72 championship team.