Periodically throughout the quarantine, I have received visits from basketball expert and magical creature (or figment of my imagination) Dr. Funkadelic. This is the story of my first encounter with him, and the first question I got to ask him. As you will see, I decided to ask about basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain. Specifically, I wanted to know, regardless of all the possibly exaggerated stories, just how good was he?
Meeting Dr. Funkadelic
This morning I wandered from my bedroom, crusty-eyed and needing caffeine. Stretching and howling out a waking yawn, I turned the corner to my living room and was greeted with some dude on my couch. I stood there for a few seconds, still lazily scratching my left eye, trying to register through the fog of the waking world what I was seeing, as this stranger just sat with a goofy smile, waiting for a greeting. After everything clicked, I gave him one- “Whafawhoda?” before my heels slid out from under me and I landed, tailbone first, on the hardwood floor.
“Well, hello there, sonny!” he said, most polite. “I am sorry to have given you such a fright! I was just looking for a friend since we’ve all got so much idle time to spend. Perhaps, I thought, since I’ve nowhere to laze, I’d lend my knowledge to help clear up your haze! You see, I’m something of a basketball savant, so I can answer any question you want! From Luka and LeBron to any old relic, look no further, ask Dr. Funkadelic!”
Somewhere around the middle of this, I jello-rolled myself into the bathroom and locked the door. I had begun to call 911 in a dead panic when I realized there was no way this guy was an intruder. Instead, I started scheduling the earliest available video conference with a therapist I could while Dr. Funkadelic kept rattling off hardwood rhymes. Great, four hours from now. I resigned myself to cowering against the bathtub while this quarantine hallucination wandered my apartment. I’m pretty sure he started making pancakes.
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Testing the Waters
About twenty minutes in I started considering having a conversation with him through the door. After I heard a muffled, “Ben Simmons is the best point guard, it’s a breeze! When you can dunk over centers, who needs to shoot threes?” I realized what a terrible host I had been, and walked out. There he was, sitting on my couch, watching Bill Laimbeer highlights on YouTube.
Dr. Funkadelic looked like a Harlem Globetrotters hype man or something. He had a rainbow-colored wig and comically oversized sunglasses on, so I couldn’t get a good look at his face. I did notice the clean pair of Starbury Ones he had on though, and I’m pretty sure he was wearing a Robert Horry Phoenix Suns jersey. “Well,” he said with excitement and glee, “Have you thought of a question you’d like to ask me?”
I hadn’t. I didn’t say that, but I guess he could see it on my face. “How about the best shooter in the history of the sport? Or which big man caused the most terror on the court? You could learn if Michael retired from guilt, or even something about the legend Wilt!” That was it, obviously. Why start anywhere but Wilt?
Asking Dr. Funkadelic About Wilt
“Okay,” I said, “let me think of something good. So much about Wilt is misunderstood. We all know the fables, feats no one could seem to accomplish unless they were inside a dream.” I had no idea why I was talking like this. “I guess, then, the question easiest to explain would be which areas of basketball didn’t fall under his reign? I don’t care about records or salacious trysts, where doesn’t Wilt appear on the All-Time lists?”
“That’s simple,” he said with a hint of joy, “Nowhere, he’s at the top of them all, my boy! Best point guard, and center, and forward, and swing, Wilt was a man that could do anything! Best passer, and rebounder, and defender, to boot. He even once got six steals while wearing a suit! Best under six foot? Don’t check your computer, Wilt once scored 40 while on a floor scooter! It doesn’t matter the criteria or call, Wilt was simply the best of them all!”
Well, there it was, Wilt is the man and always will be, I guess. Dr. Funkadelic said so, anyway, and I don’t know why, but I’m starting to trust him. Probably just the Simmons hype. “What about the Michael thing, did he really retire because of gambling?”
“While answering your query was no big bother, I’m afraid I just don’t have time for another. Don’t worry yourself, though, this isn’t goodbye. I’ll come back another day and give you a try. I’ll see you next time I have knowledge to impart, just remember to keep the NBA in your heart!”