Philly Sports Live

Wilt Chamberlain Clothing Line at Pro League Authentics


Wilt_Silhouette_gold_largevia World Sports Show

One of the greatest basketball players to walk the earth is known to many as just WILT. Most people know and assume you are speaking about Wilt Chamberlain, the Philadelphia native that holds the NBA single game scoring record of 100 points. A feet that has stood for over 50 years now; Kobe Bryant came the closet when he put up 81 points for the Lakers in 2006. Chamberlain’s record night in 1962 is one the greatest single game performances in NBA history and on top of that he averaged over 50 points a game that season.

Last season the Philadelphia 76ers honored the late great Chamberlain for his 100-point outburst. The Sixers gave the fans in attendance on March 2, 2012 a 2”x 2” section of the hardwood court that Chamberlain played on at Hershey Sports Arena. I remember hearing about that and thought it was great idea but I am a t-shirt kind of guy. I wanted something to wear to honor his legacy. Besides finding some throwback jerseys online, there wasn’t really any other options. As the winter turned into spring and summer, I just kind of forgot it and move on.

Mid-summer 2012 I came across Pro League Authentics at 13th & Walnut in Center City Philadelphia. The shop was full of old school jerseys and retro t-shirts. It was like I had died and gone to throw-back heaven. I instantly connected with one of the co-owners Ray Jannelli, former manager, buyer and sales trainer at the “Original” Mitchell & Ness. We traded stories about old sports teams, jerseys and items that might sell well. He shared some ideas about lines they were thinking about making. During one of our conversations, as I became a regular at PLA, Jannelli brought up that they were in the process of making a WILT line. It would feature graphic throw-back style shirts and an Overbrook High School letter-man jacket. I loved the idea since I personally I am not a fan of wearing basketball jerseys but love retro tees.

In one of my trips to the store in the fall, Jannelli shared with me that PLA had the exclusive rights to the WILT line of clothes and he shared some of his prototype shirts with me. The one that instantly grabbed my eye was a yellow shirt with just Chamberlain’s beard and a head-band printed on it. Jannelli also shared with me the throw-back 50s letter-man jacket Chamberlain wore at Overbrook High School in West Philadelphia. It was sharp looking black and orange jacket that took me back to my high school days.

I recently caught up with Jannelli to see how the sales with the WILT line were going and they are going great. It is one of their hottest lines right now. I spoke with Jannelli about he WILT line and asked him to comment on it.

“I was intrigued by the process of the licensing and it’s no particular league, MLB, NFL, or NBA …it was a person and as far sports there wasn’t anyone as big (at the time) besides Mohammad Ali, so that was intrigued. Plus the Philadelphia connection, playing for Philadelphia and going to high school in Overbrook, playing for the 76ers.”

Charlie Flowe, “You can say he was true local hero.”

RJ, “yes, a true local hero as well, also the thing about Wilt which is kind of interesting, is the cross cultural interest. Our customers for our Wilt products over the last two months since we had the license is crossing cultures, demographics and physico graphics…old, young, male and female, which is kind of interesting because we really didn’t know what to expect. At Mitchell & Ness we sold the Wilt jerseys. And that catered to curtain demographics, sports fans usually male, WILT is a totally different thing.”

CF, “How many different WILT shirts do you all carry here at PLA?

RJ, “We have nine different t-shirts right now. We designed them ourselves. It’s all private label, 100% cotton and soft hand style t-shirt.

CF, “You also have a WILT jacket”

RJ, “The jacket is from 1954-55, it is an all wool quilt lined jacket with varsity letters. What’s interesting about the jacket is that it’s number five, That was his number in high school and he wore number 13 when he went to Kansas.”

I find this WILT line to be one of kind and well done. A line of clothing like this is well deserved for the Philadelphia legend. Chamberlain to me is the greatest basketball player of all-time. Some say it was Michael Jordan and Chamberlain had an edge with his 7’01” frame. Regardless of that debate the closest an NBA center got to scoring 100 points in a game was David Robinson in 1994 when he 71 points. Chamberlain alone has six of the ten highest points in a single game.

The full collection can be found at Pro League Authenics at 137 South 13th Street in Center City Philadelphia. Also the line is available online here