The late great Wilt Chamberlain was one of the most dominant players in NBA history and a polarizing figure that transcended the game of basketball with his fame and off-the-court impact. Wilt always did things his way, and there are numerous incredible stories about him and all of his endeavors, but the one that stands out is when Wilt decided to be a coach while still playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. That isn't so surprising, but in Wilt's case, his "long-distance" coaching method struck the attention alongside the fact that he ended up insulting the starting center on the team by calling him a fat pig.
Wilt wanted to be a player/coach for the Conquistadors
A lot can be said about Wilt Chamberlain and his legendary NBA career, but this time we'll look at his short coaching stint with the San Diego Conquistadors. In 1973, at the tail end of his illustrious career as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, Wilt decided to try out something new in his life, so he accepted a job with the ABA team Conquistadors. That sole decision caused a lot of drama, and it was undoubtedly one of the worst coaching gigs in NBA/ABA history.
Wilt signed a $600k contract to become the new player/coach for the Conquistadors but never suited for a single game and never actually moved to San Diego to be with the team. It didn't take long for the Lakers to take Wilt to court for his reckless behavior, and it even went so far that in an interview with the press about his new coaching position, he said Jerry West was also interested in joining the team. According to Wilt, the reason for that was some contractual issues West was experiencing with the Lakers, and you could say that was the tipping point for the Lakers to decide to take legal action against Wilt.
Interestingly enough, the court ruled in the Lakers' favor stating Wilt can't play basketball for any other team other than the Lakers; however, they also ruled he could coach The Conquistadors. Wilt then decided to give most of the coaching duties to his assistant Stan Albeck who said Wilt had an excellent feel for the game but was impatient with the daily working hours a coach has to put in to be great at his job. On top of that, Albeck remembers Wilt was sometimes more focused on his own personal things rather than actually coaching the team.
"Chamberlain ... has a great feel for pro basketball ... [but] the day-to-day things that are an important part of basketball ... just bored him. He did not have the patience." The players were split on Chamberlain, who was seen as competent, but often indifferent and more occupied with the promotion of his autobiography Wilt: Just Like Any Other 7-Foot Black Millionaire Who Lives Next Door than with coaching. He once skipped a game to sign autographs for the book."
Wilt insulted the starting center calling him a fat pig
Wilt never even bothered to move to San Diego and did long-distance coaching from his mansion in Bel-Air. Prioritizing women, autograph sessions, and a celebrity lifestyle was the main focus for Wilt, and coaching happened to be something he wanted to do passively on the side.
There were games where Wilt would actually show up to the coach; however, he would often be accompanied by women who would sit by the sidelines. That didn't sit well with the team's starting center Genee Moore, who told the press about it and said he heard Wilt respond "The dollar sign" to a woman who asked him what his astrological sign was.
Wilt never coached basketball after that stint
Most coaches would try to calm down the situation with their player after such remarks but not Wilt, who called Moore a fat pig and cut him from the team pretty much the same day. Despite all the drama surrounding their famous head coach, the Conquistadors finished the season with a 37-47 record, tied for fourth place in the ABA's Western Division. They defeated the Denver Rockets in a one-game playoff and then lost to the Utah Stars 4 games to 2 in the Western Division Semifinals.
This was also Wilt's last attempt at being a head coach in professional basketball, even though he tried to make a comeback in the 80s as a player, and teams showed interest in having him on the squad even at the age of 50. When it comes to coaching, Wilt later tried and coached a volleyball team, but his list of priorities was much different when it came to coaching the Conquistadors.
Luckily for him, social media was non-existent back then because if something similar happened in today's NBA, there would be constant coverage of this story. That also shows how powerful and influential Wilt was back in the day to negotiate something that would be completely unheard of today, and it's hard to imagine any NBA player right now doing something similar.