Philadelphia native Wilt Chamberlain was the biggest, strongest, most dominant player in the history of basketball. From his early days at Overbrook High School to his college career at Kansas, Wilt was unlike anyone who had ever come before him. When he entered the league in 1959 he immediately dominated, demolishing every scoring and rebounding record and doing things on the court no none had ever seen before. I mean the man scored 100 points in a game and averaged over 50 points for an entire season! That is virtually 100% guaranteed to never happen again.
Chamberlain was so dominant that the NBA even instituted several rule changes to lessen his impact: widening the lane, instituting offensive goaltending and revising the rules around inbounding and free throws. Wilt used to jump from behind the foul line and dunk the ball, until the league decreed that the ball must touch the rim before anyone can enter the lane. Is there any greater measure of a player's effect on the league than the fact that the rules had to be changed to give the rest of the players a chance to compete? He brought the Sixers their first ever championship in 1967, ensuring his immortality in his own hometown. There will never be another player who had a bigger impact on the way the game is played than Wilt Chamberlain.
The fast paced, above the rim style that characterized the NBA in the '80s and laid the foundation for the game we know today is a direct result of Julius Erving. When Dr. J joined the 76ers in 1976 from the recently defunct ABA, he brought the dunk with him. Not to say that players weren't dunking in the NBA, they were, but they were mostly big men like Elgin Baylor or Connie Hawkins who did it as a show of strength under the basket. The Doctor brought artistry and elegance to the move, using it to punctuate drives from the wing in often spectacular fashion. He set the template that Michael Jordan followed, both on and off the court. From his breathtaking feats of high flying grandeur to his plethora of endorsement deals and business endeavors, he set the tone for what a modern NBA superstar should be.
In 1983 Doc led the Sixers to their second NBA title, cementing his legend status in the city. His legacy includes MVP awards, All Star games, first team All NBA selections and countless all time great plays. It is these plays that imprinted the greatness of Dr. J onto the consciousness of a generation of future NBA stars. From the foul line dunk in the 1976 ABA Slam Dunk contest to the vicious dunk over Bill Walton in the '77 Finals, the iconic baseline scoop against Kareem and Lakers in the '80 Finals and the "Rock the Baby" windmill dunk over Michael Cooper in '83. These iconic moments are the building blocks for the future of the league and for players like Allen Iverson.
The genesis of our contribution to the Mitchell & Ness Homecourt collection was AI. He was the brightest star in our favorite era of Sixers basketball. His MVP season in 2000-2001 season while leading the Sixers on their magical run to the NBA Finals was a masterclass in grit and determination, and how the size of a man's heart can overcome his lack of size on the court. The barely 6 foot guard's fearless drives to the basket through packed with 7 foot behemoths earned him the undying affection of the Philly faithful who demand their athletes possess the same passion as they do. In a career full of highlights there are two that stand out above the rest; his crossover on Michael Jordan in his rookie year, in which the Virginia native was able to get the best of his childhood idol, and the iconic "Stepover" play in the 2001 NBA Finals where he nailed a three in front of Lakers' guard Ty Lue then emphatically stepped over his fallen body on his way back up court.
Arguably even more influential than Iverson's play on the court is his presence off the court. In a recent list compiled by HoopsHype, AI was ranked as the third most influential player in NBA history behind Michael Jordan and LeBron James, a testament to the sway he still holds among todays players. Let's start with his look; the cornrows, tattoos, and clothes he wore brought the hip hop culture front and center to the NBA. The signature sleeve on his right arm became a must-have accessory for everyone from NBA All Stars to rec league rejects. The league instituted a dress code in large part due to his penchant for oversized apparel and sweatsuits. He made a rap album, Jewelz, that he was forced to shelve after controversy over some of the lyrics, adding to his outlaw hip hop image. He was extremely candid, almost to a fault, always speaking from the heart and wearing his emotions on his sleeve. There is not another player who's mere existence was as culturally important as Iverson to both the fans and other players as well.
The pieces in our capsule contain elements related to the players and the eras in which they played. The jersey and short design was inspired by vintage photo collage tees from the '80s and '90s. We secured the rights to many well known photographs of the three stars to create a black and white sublimated allover motif on both pieces that does not duplicate any images. The jersey itself is a '70s silhouette like Doc would've worn but with the shoulders widened a bit more to give it a '90s vibe, Wilt's '60s "PHILA" logo stitched on the front and AI's number 3 representing both himself and the three icons. The shorts are a '90s silhouette that we shortened a couple inches to give them more of a contemporary fit. The hoodie and hat use three different washes of denim in reference to the three hall of famers that inspired the collection. The three patchwork stars on the hoodie also nod to the three legends as well as Iverson's number 3, while the 76ers "star logo" used on the hoodie and tee is the alternate Iverson-era logo, chosen because it was our favorite logo from the time that cemented our lifelong fandom.
Lapstone x M&N Icon Collage Jersey - $180 (XS-4XL)
Lapstone x M&N Icon Collage Short - $130 (XS-4X)L
Lapstone x M&N Icon Collage Bucket - $35 (S/M & L/XL)
Lapstone x M&N Denim Patchwork Hoodie - $155 (XS-4XL)
Lapstone x M&N Vintage Star Tee - $50 (XS-3XL)
Lapstone x M&N Denim Dad Hat - $30 (One Size Fits Most)
The Lapstone x Mitchell & Ness Homecourt Collection will be available on Friday, April 15th at 10:00am both in-store and online.
Photos: Daquan Harris @lost.96er
Stylist: Shamaira Atkinson @bbygirl.sham
Art Director: Evan Kaucher @evan.kaucher