Wilt Chamberlain was remembered with uproarious laughter and a few tears at a church just blocks from the high school where he first soared to basketball fame.
More than 500 people attended the lighthearted memorial service yesterday, telling stories about the tall, skinny kid who went on to become perhaps the sport's most dominant player.
"Wilt never really left Philadelphia even when he was geographically far away. He never forgot us, and we never really forgot him," Philadelphia Mayor Edward Rendell said.
Chamberlain died Oct. 12 in his Los Angeles area home at 63 of an apparent heart attack. A previous memorial service was held in Los Angeles.
Among those attending were former Warriors teammates Tom Gola and Paul Arizen, former 76ers teammates Bill Melchionni, Billy Cunningham and Matt Guokas, ex-Knicks star Earl Monroe and Temple Coach John Chaney.
Chamberlain led West Philadelphia's Overbrook High School to several championships before playing 14 dazzling seasons in the NBA.
Chaney played alongside Chamberlain while he was in high school, and Chamberlain was in junior high. Even then, Chaney said Chamberlain was dazzling.
"I would put the ball up, and Wilt would take the ball out of the air and while he was up there would put the ball in the basket, and then he would get credit for my basket," Chaney said. "I had to pull him aside and tell him to stop taking my shots."
Gola said he still has a crook in his nose from an elbow by Chamberlain. Gola noted Chamberlain's height, sometimes in question, was actually 7 feet 1 3/4. Gola said he measured Chamberlain using a ladder at training camp.
Several friends and former teammates likened Chamberlain to such greats as Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan. Chamberlain still holds the NBA record for most points in a game (100) and highest season average (50.4 points a game in 1962).
But Chaney said Chamberlain should be compared to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who was instrumental in the civil rights movement.
"He changed the game that we all know and love. So you can actually say, 'We're playing the game according to Wilt,' " Chaney said.
Hijacking Suspect Speaks
The suspect in the hijacking of an EgyptAir jet told a judge in Hamburg, Germany, he had been armed only with a pen and did it for Germany and German tennis ace Steffi Graf, prosecutors said.
Asked why he commandeered the jet after it left Turkey for Egypt, the suspect said he acted out of "love for Germany and Steffi Graf," prosecutor Ruediger Bagger quoted him as saying at a Wednesday court appearance.
The hijacker has not been identified by authorities, who described him as mentally disturbed. He was ordered to remain in jail on hijacking and other charges. . . .
Patrick Rafter's right shoulder rotator cuff injury is more serious than originally thought, and he will miss the Davis Cup final against France Dec. 3-5 and possibly the Australian Open in January.
D.C. Armory to Host Card
D.C. Armory hosts a football-boxing doubleheader Sunday. A full fight card will immediately follow the 1 p.m. Redskins-Cowboys game, which will be shown on a large-screen television. Washington middleweight Mo Adams (15-2-1) meets Philadelphia's Aaron Mitchell (14-1-1) in the main event. Other area fighters on the undercard include Washington junior welterweight Michael Tidline-El (9-6-1) and Capital Heights junior welterweight Vincent White (11-1-1). Doors open at noon. . . .
Saturday night's professional card in Northern Virginia has been moved. The card, which features Lamont Pearson of Capitol Heights in the main event, now will be held at the Fairfax Sportsplex, located at 6728 Commercial Drive in Annandale. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
FIA Weighs Appeal
The fate of the 1999 Formula One championship will be decided today in a setting far removed from the noise and excitement of a Grand Prix course.
A five-man panel of FIA, the sport's governing body, convenes in Paris's most exclusive hotel to judge Ferrari's appeal against its controversial disqualification from Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix.
The odds are against the Italian team since 12 of 15 appeals to FIA's International Court of Appeal over the past 25 years have been thrown out.
Ferraris driven by Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher finished first and second in Malaysia but were disqualified because their wind deflectors didn't comply with FIA regulations.
Armstrong Looks Ahead
Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong saw the route he'll have to take next summer to defend his crown in the world's toughest cycling race, and he said it won't be easy.
Organizers in Paris disclosed the course for the 87th edition of the three-week event, a 21-stage, 3,630-kilometer (2,269-mile) race that will interrupt its counter-clockwise journey around France by visiting neighboring Switzerland and Germany.
Armstrong, speaking via a video link from his home in Austin, said defending a title is more difficult than winning one for the first time.