Friday, February 05, 2016

Wilt And Work

Every day in class, I give a bonus question for our quizzes or memory verses. Yesterday, the question was Who was the first NBA player to score 50 points in a game? I listed eight Hall of Fame players and many took Wilt Chamberlain, while the right option was George Mikan. Several years ago, I read a biography of one of the most prolific basketball scorers ever. The following looks at what most consider his defining moment.....although there was much more to Wilt Chamberlain than just his height. This is from 12-30-05.

I wish I had more time to read. During the school year, there are few moments to sit down with a good book. There are also too few new John Grisham novels but that is a different issue. Christmas is my best reading holiday. Two weeks in St. Louis give me a chance to indulge myself, especially after my brothers and their families return to Kansas. Santa, by way of students and family members, supplied me with Borders gift cards so I stocked up on books. My reading tends to be of the non-stop variety so I finish books in two or three days. My first conquest was WILT 1962. Penned by Gary Pomerantz, this work chronicles the game many believe altered the direction of pro basketball. Late in the 1962 National Basketball Association campaign, Wilt Chamberlain set a record most feel will never be duplicated. On a freezing March evening in Hershey, Pennsylvania, the 7'1'', 260 pound Chamberlain scored an unheard of 100 points as his Philadelphia Warriors downed the New York Knicks by a 169-147 tally. The contest was not filmed and only parts of the radio broadcast survived. One photographer with limited film gave scant images of arguably the most famous game in NBA annals. Pomerantz exhaustively reproduces the game through interviews with fans, players, and team officials. Chamberlain's reaching the century mark reflected a shift to a more up-tempo and a more racially diverse sport. When he walked away from the game in 1973, Chamberlain possessed one hundred separate NBA records and is considered by some to be the greatest athlete to ever play basketball. In spite of tremendous accomplishments over his career, many fans simply define him by that one game. Like many celebrities, Chamberlain was very different from his public persona and Pomerantz seeks to uncover a more accurate version of this true athletic titan. The best insight gleaned from Wilt 1962 had nothing to do with the sport which immortalized him. It centered around the lifestyle he chose to embrace in the years following his retirement. In quotations from his autobiography, he categorized his days filled with leisure as 'nothingness.' In almost a Solomon-like reflection on his life, Wilt concluded, 
"Why did I ever think that I could fool myself into believing that doing nothing could have any redeeming value?" 
Wilt had it all; fame, talent, money, women, and a place in history. He worked all his life to achieve greatness but when the work was over, he had nothing left. Chamberlain died of a heart attack in 1999 at age 63, wealthy but alone and lonely.

I get antsy when not in school. Like most teachers/coaches, I love weekends and the occasional short (Labor Day) holidays but after a couple of days, I need to be doing something. I feel guilty if I'm not involved in a project/mission and if I sleep past 7:00 a.m. I can't envision retiring; I would be lost. Most wish they had the wealth of Wilt Chamberlain so they could take life easy but when he had it in his grasp, it was worthless. There is an energy in mankind that needs to be expended. When God put Adam in Eden, he gave him a job: Adam was responsible for taking care of the Garden. Many believe Eden symbolizes a paradise where one can lay around around the clock. The Bible does not back up that theory. There are times to rest but rest implies we have done something to rest from. Work makes us feel there is a reason for our existence. When my paternal grandparents would visit from Michigan, Grandma Hawley wanted to clean the kitchen after supper. As much as I despised washing and drying, I knew it was the kid's task so we declined her offer. To my surprise, Mom pulled us aside and insisted Grandma take over the chores, explaining that working made her feel needed. That was good enough for me! Now I see it in my mother. Alzheimer's has left her incapable of making the tiniest decision but she spends almost every waking moment trying to be helpful in the kitchen or cleaning up in the living room. You never know the final resting place of any object Mom tries to put away but her innate compulsion to be useful will not die until she does. Men define ourselves by work. When that is gone, what is left when we look in the mirror? Wilt had a recognizable face but by his own admission, it brought him little comfort. Next week, I return to sixteen hour days with too little sleep. There will still be too many tests and memory verses to grade and too many quizzes to log into the computer but I'll be happy. To me, my job matters. I couldn't keep it up if it didn't. But there has to be something to fill the void when the career is concluded. The best void-filler is Jesus. No life is empty of meaning when the Lord is at the center. Our nine-to-five existence may have clocked out but eternity is on the horizon. It's not the cash in the IRA or the everyday tee time at the country club that determines our joy. Meaningless is meaningless in any language, ethnic group, or socioeconomic strata. Let God use you. Let him use you regardless of your talent or gender or AARP membership. Our professions will last forty years- or in Wilt's case, fourteen- but our work can endure when there is no time on the earth's game clock. And it may be late in our fourth quarter!

Applicable quote of the day:
"Everybody pulls for David. Nobody roots for Goliath." 

Wilt Chamberlain

God bless,
Steve (6'1" 185)
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at


Jon said...

Reading cane sometimes be fun.....

JKC said...

Since I haven't read your blogs for a few weeks now, I will be reading them from the latest back -what wonderful lessons you portray in your blogs. This one is no exception.

At 61, I work every day and cannot imagine not working. My work is fulfilling; my life is fulfilling; I can't imagine not doing what I am doing. I pray that I can work one day and die the next - but not for many years yet!

As I have said so often - God put me here to accomplish a certain number of things and I am so far behind, I might not ever die! Of course, I know that isn't true, but I do keep busy - doing the Lord's work.

May God bless you in the upcoming New Year!

Devin Turner said...

yes the Hawks won the game this weekend GA rules

astrosfreak09 said...

I know I feel the same way. I can't wait til summer break comes in between school years, but about a week after it gets there, I get antsy and bored, and just want school to start again. I need work to do. I can understand being like that. I dont' know that I would ever want to retire. We were given hands to work with, may as well do it for as long as physically possible.
I think that if people are going to retire, they should make sure they are fine with a completely different life style. Otherwise, people should find something else to do for a living after retiring from one job. If nothing else, teach yourself to play an instrument you've wanted to play. I did that this summer with the piano....the only summer I haven't been bored every day!

God Bless
Downtown Brown