When 2 Legends' World Was the Playground

When 2 Legends' World Was the Playground

In the summer of 1957, Wilt Chamberlain came to Washington, D.C., on the promise he'd get to play Elgin Baylor on the playground.

And they played. Over several weeks, Chamberlain, a Philadelphia kid and the first 7-footer who mattered, scrimmaged Baylor on his home blacktop, just as the local phenom was introducing playground flair to the hoops realm. Chamberlain would return to D.C. a year later for an encore of their pickup games, shortly after which both he and Baylor would turn pro and put up numbers that will be drooled over for as long as the game is played — 61,798 points, 41,024 rebounds, and 24 NBA All-Star Game appearances between them.

But, before any of that, there was this streetball series for the ages.

Chamberlain and Baylor went at it in five-on-five encounters on various D.C. playgrounds around town. The city's top young black ballplayers played alongside the headliners, making for an ungodly assemblage of future NBA first-round picks, NCAA tournament MVPs, and Hall of Famers. Flash mobs created entirely via analog social media appeared wherever Chamberlain and Baylor played.

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