Wilt’s Warriors vs. 5 Hall of Famers

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It’s playoff time for the Warriors in San Francisco, and even if you know Wilt Chamberlain, Al Attles and other legendary characters from the past, you might not realize how rare it is.

Saturday night, Game 1 of the series against Denver at the Chase Center will mark only the second time this has happened.

We’re talking strict city limit designations, and the Cow Palace – home to many classic Warriors moments, including the triumphant 1975 final – does not qualify. It’s right on the edge of the border, and while part of the parking lot is technically in San Francisco, the actual building is in Daly City.

And so, the distinction: The Warriors’ only other playoff game in San Francisco was Game 1 of the 1964 Western Conference Finals against the St. Louis Hawks. It was played at USF’s War Memorial Gymnasium, while the rest of that series – one of the franchise’s biggest, with Games 2, 5 and 7 leading to a trip to the Finals against Boston – went on. took place in the province of the cows.

San Francisco center Wilt Chamberlain’s shot is challenged by Zelmo Beatty of St. Louis in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals at the Cow Palace on April 3, 1964. The Warriors beat the Hawks 120-85 and won the series , which started with a loss to the Warriors at USF’s War Memorial Gymnasium, in seven games.

Art Frisch/The Chronicle

Maybe that sounds a bit fussy to you, but it resonates here. In my mind, Candlestick Park had

nothing

to do with San Francisco beyond a strong cool breeze. Once the 49ers left Kezar Stadium in the heart of Haight-Ashbury, they left town for good – and now they might as well be in Bakersfield.


Likewise, Chase Center is all about the city. On their way to the Cow Palace, fans left behind that downtown feel, the spectacular views and the sophistication. Chase Center is an urban masterpiece, and it must be a dream for Warriors executives to watch this series unfold after two years of a pandemic.breakup.

As for this USF gymnasium, it was built in 1958, which means the school’s greatest moments – on the way to winning the 1949 NIT at Madison Square Garden and back-to-back NCAA championships in the Bill Russell years ( 1955-56) – took place largely at the Kezar Pavilion. The end Pete Newell, who coached the team of 49, once recalled that he been a USF gym on Page Street, “but you could say it was a bit run down. There was a cathouse in the apartment complex above. Drunks came and went, walking right next to us for We were training. When it was raining, we couldn’t use a bit of it because the kids had thrown bricks through the windows.

Featuring a new facility, USF hosted occasional visits from the Warriors after they moved to San Francisco from Philadelphia in 1962. Such was the case on April 1, 1964, the Game 1 playoff loss to St. Louis that included eight future Hall of Famers: Chamberlain, Attles, Nate Thurmond (his rookie season, playing about 26 minutes per game as a power forward) and the entire Hawks starting lineup: Bob Pettit,
Cliff Hagan, Richie Guerin, Zelmo Beaty and Lenny Wilkens – plus former USF star Mike Farmer and a future Warrior, Bill Bridges (key member of the 1975 champions) coming off the bench.

San Francisco Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain battles for a rebound with the Hawks' Zelmo Beatty in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals April 3, 1964 at the Cow Palace.

San Francisco Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain battles for a rebound with the Hawks’ Zelmo Beatty in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals April 3, 1964 at the Cow Palace.

Art Frisch/The Chronicle

Chamberlain was a dominant figure in dispatching these Hawks, scoring 50 points in Game 5 and 39 in Game 7, before Russell’s Celtics prevailed in the Finals. It was something, the big Wilt. He left the Warriors, and this Earth, far too soon.

The great unusual

Denver Center Nikola Jokic doesn’t have to worry about a Chamberlain-like presence, that’s for sure, as he leans back and shoots those awkward (and often deadly) 3-pointers with his right foot. “It’s a playground hit,” Mark Jackson once said on ABC. “An old man with a cigarette in his mouth.” … Stories abound of Jokic’s two brothers, each a massive presence of his own. “I’m pretty calm,” Jokic told ESPN. “My brothers go crazy pretty quick. They look like serial killers, but they’re actually nice people when you meet them. … The Warriors have hit rock bottom as people reminisce about the 2020 draft: James Wiseman (does not play) in front LaMelo ball (spectacular, mark anywhere, feels like you own the land). You wonder, however, how the show-minded ball would fit into a backcourt of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole. You just don’t mess with that; at this exact moment, I’d take Poole over Ball, whose disappointing performance characterized Charlotte’s lifeless exit from the play-in tournament on Wednesday night. For the future, that may be another question. …So Philadelphia James Harden told Complex he had “nothing to prove” with Brooklyn set to begin its playoff run. To the right. Just forget how he ticked Kevin Durant by showing up out of shape for training camp. Just ignore his team’s 1-7 record in his team’s last eight playoff games, or his disgraceful boundary shots so often when it counted against the Warriors. He left zero impression on the playoff landscape and really needs to change that.

On the diamond: Manager of the Dodgers david roberts pitcher removed Clayton Kershaw after seven perfect innings (and just 80 pitches) against the Twins on Wednesday afternoon, and the soul of baseball took another crushing blow. Kershaw is such a good guy, he said he could understand the long term logic. “To what end?” Roberts responded to critics who wanted Kershaw to complete the job. ” At what price ? How about fans’ love for the game they remember, not the one dictated by a pile of data? How about immeasurable satisfaction for a well-deserved pitcher? Logic might work just fine in your standard office building, but for baseball’s paying customers – whether they’re in attendance or signing up for their cable packages – baseball is for dreams, for the imagination, for the unlikely bliss. And they speak up, disgusted by a decision so typical of an era defined by cowardice. … In 1965, at one time Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax was worried about the constant pain in his elbow, he had a perfect game in seven innings against the Cubs and nobody in the world thought about getting him out. He finished it, at 113 throws, one of the many reasons he is considered the greatest of all time. The key phrase in baseball today is “an abundance of caution.” You reluctantly expect a pitcher’s gem to disappear into the clubhouse. And each time, a bit of the romance dies.

Bruce Jenkins writes 3-Dot Lounge for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Bruce_Jenkins1

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