“He was trying to sleep in the back, and he could overhear them talking about dropping him off by the side of the highway,” Meschery said, laughing.
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The game was, in many ways, unremarkable. It was staged at Hershey Sports Arena, an impersonal concrete shell where the Warriors played a few games each season. For their game against the Knicks, the building was only half full. The wooden court was originally designed for roller skating. The game was not televised, and only a couple of newspaper reporters made the two-hour trip from Philadelphia.
Even now, the radio broadcast is not made available for public consumption without prior approval by the league. (The Warriors provided Attles and Meschery with a copy of the fourth quarter so they could listen to it.)
But the game produced unexpected magic, and it has continued to be mythologized — fitting for a figure like Chamberlain, who did little to dispel the stories, real or imagined, about his life. Even to teammates, Pomerantz wrote, Chamberlain could seem detached and “beyond their reach,” though Attles was closer to him than most.
“Just a terrific person once you got to know him,” Attles said.
To Meschery, Chamberlain was more of a looming presence — at least at first. In 1957, as a high school senior in San Francisco, Meschery appeared on NBC’s “The Steve Allen Show,” along with the rest of the country’s high school and college all-American selections. As they gathered onstage, Meschery glanced over his shoulder.
“And Wilt is standing right above me,” Meschery recalled.
Chamberlain, who was dominating college defenders for Kansas, eventually left school early to play for the Harlem Globetrotters, then joined the Warriors in 1959. Attles, who thought he was bound for a teaching job at a junior high school in Newark, made the Warriors as a fifth-round pick in 1960, crafting a reputation as a defense-minded guard. (His nickname? The Destroyer.) A scrappy forward, Meschery joined the Warriors the following season.
“I was in Wonderland,” he said. “I was just this kid from the West Coast, and there I was, playing with Wilt Chamberlain for God’s sake.”