A View From Above

By Wilt Chamberlain


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        I can say THIS much:  the book certainly has one of the coolest covers I have seen in this genre.

        As for the book, well, initially I had a sour taste in my mouth.   I read this book not knowing that Wilt had written his autobiography in 1974 (Wilt) so I read this book figuring I would learn all about Wilt's playing career and accomplishments.  This is NOT what this book is.  So, in that sense, I was disappointed.

        Contrary to popular belief the book isn't "My Name is Wilt Chamberlain and I've made love with nearly every woman on the planet."  Instead, the premise of the book is "My name is Wilt Chamberlain and this is my opinion about everything." Don't get me wrong, it's not bad.  Wilt is very intelligent and witty.  He has a strong opinion about everything, and I'd rather read about a strong opinion than a corporate kiss-butt like Michael Jordan who doesn't have an opinion about anything, fearing it might hurt his marketing.  The chapters pretty much sum up the content:

On Height:  A View from Above
On Myself:  Where there's a Wilt, There's a Way.
On Athletes:  Jockularity.
On Basketball:  Hoops du Jour
On Other Sports:  Games People Play.
On Others:  Ordinary People.
On Life:  Things that Piss Me Off
On Celebrity:  Tin Gods
On Hollywood:  A View from Tinsel Town
On Common Sense:  Maybe You Can Help Me Here
On Sex and Love:  What Rules the World
On the Issues of the Day:  Wilt's World

        Each chapter has it's shares of "Wiltisms"--witty sayings, sometimes wise.  Such as:

"No one seems to equate
Inquiries regarding size and weight.
The questions on weight are not so polite
But asking how tall you are seems quite all right."

(and notice that it rhymes).  Wilt makes some keen basketball insights:  Such as Bill Bradley being inducted to the Hall of Fame on the FIRST ballot (that surpassed me to learn), when his numbers are only moderate.  Personally, I believe he deserves the Hall, since it is also based on college numbers, but first ballot?  Wilt believes it was because they wanted to have a guy speak who many thought would go on to become the President.  He points out that Walt Bellamy scored over 20,000 points in his career, yet receives little respect (think about it:  modern players, like Dominique Wilkins, who score over that many, had many people saying he was robbed for not making the top 50 of all time).  He will also surpass you with his choices for top centers and greatest athletes.

        Wilt has other witty observations, such as celebrities shouldn't endorse products they know nothing about, like Lindsay Wagner and Tina Turner doing car commercials.  He also believes the greatest asset a person can have is a great head of hair (don't ask...just read it, it's pretty funny).

        Now, as to the famous "20,000" number.  Wilt later said it was hyperbole and compared it to saying, "I've seen 'Casablanca' a hundred times."

        He also goes into his many off-court interests, like volleyball, racquetball, women's sports, fine dining, and travelling.  He seems like a well-versed person who would be interesting to talk to, even if he never played basketball.  If I were to read this book after I had read his autobiography, I would have really enjoyed it.  When I went through it after reading Wilt's autobiography, I found it witty.  If you are a fan of Wilt, or are interested in reading his opinion, it's a worthwhile grab.  If you want a lot of basketball insight, it's not nearly as insightful as his other book.    Whatever you want to say about it, give Wilt this much credit:  he didn't use a ghost writer or a co-author, which is quite an amazing feat on it's own. It didn't get a higher rating, simply because it's not a pure "basketball" book, though it is written by a basketball player.  If you like Wilt, it's a must-buy.
Introspection:  5
Insight:  3
History:  various-1991
Readability:  5

A View from Above. Wilt Chamberlain. Publishing CoVillard Books.  1991.    

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