Of all his memories of Wilt Chamberlain, the one that stood out for Larry Brown happened long after Chamberlain's professional career had ended.
On a summer day in the early 1980s, when Brown was coaching at UCLA, Chamberlain showed up at Pauley Pavilion to take part in one of the high-octane pickup games that the arena attracted.
"Magic Johnson used to run the games," Brown recalled Tuesday after hearing that Chamberlain, his friend, had died at 63, "and he called a couple of chintzy fouls and a goaltending on Wilt.
"So Wilt said: 'There will be no more layups in this gym,' and he blocked every shot after that. That's the truth, I saw it. He didn't let one [of Johnson's] shots get to the rim."
Chamberlain would have been in his mid-40s at the time, and he remained in top physical shape until recently.
Brown said he was playing golf two weeks ago with Billy Cunningham, Chamberlain's teammate with the Philadelphia 76ers for several seasons in the 1960s, when he heard Chamberlain was ill.
When word came that Chamberlain had died, Brown passed along the news to the current 76ers and told them a story that tried to put one of Chamberlain's greatest accomplishments--averaging more than 50 points in a season--into perspective.
"It was a night when someone, Bernard King or Adrian Dantley, scored 50 points," Brown said. "It was the 257th time a player other than Wilt had scored 50 or more, but all that did was tie the number of times Wilt did it," meaning Wilt had half of the NBA's 50-point games.
Darrall Imhoff, who as a 6-foot-10 rookie center for the New York Knicks had the misfortune of guarding Chamberlain during his 100-point game in 1962, said, "He was an amazing, strong man. I always said the greatest record he ever held wasn't 100 points, but his 55 rebounds against Bill Russell. Those two players changed the whole game of basketball. The game just took an entire step up to the next level."
Russell was asked about Chamberlain during a recent Internet chat session for www.NBA.com.
"I tried to make him less efficient," Russell said. "I couldn't stop him; no one could. I tried to neutralize him as much as possible, but mostly make him inefficient. If he got 40 points, it wouldn't hurt us as much if he had to take 42 shots. I wanted to make sure that he didn't get those 40 points with 20 shots."
Red Auerbach, the longtime Celtic coach and general manager, said, "Wilt Chamberlain had a great deal to do with the success of the NBA. His dominance, power, demeanor and the rivalry with Bill Russell says it all. He will be sorely missed by myself and everyone in the basketball community."
Former Celtic Tom Heinsohn said, "He was a terrific guy. It is a great loss to the sports world. . . . We had many battles with Wilt. He was a fun guy to be around; he was a gentle giant."
Cunningham said, "He was just a loving, caring man who probably was ahead of his time in terms of speaking his mind to the media, whereas most players just gave the usual answers."
"I don't think he ever lost his roots," said Cecil Mosenson, his coach at Philadelphia's Overbrook High in 1953-54. "Wherever he went, he wore the Overbrook jacket. His fondest memories, his greatest memories, were not all the games he played with the NBA, but the ones he played at Overbrook High School."
But David Ward, an assistant football coach who has worked at the school since 1967, said: "I don't hear the kids refer to him a lot. He's had little to do with us. . . . He's only come that one time."
Said Al Attles, a former teammate of Chamberlain's with the Warriors and now the team's vice president and assistant general manager: "He was always a person that I viewed as being bigger than life in more ways than one. I had recently heard through friends and associates that he hadn't been feeling well, but again, I felt Wilt was a person who was able to overcome anything, so I was totally shocked to hear of his death."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.