Ham-faced and pig-jowled, with the complexion of artificial food flavoring, Donald Trump is not a sex symbol. Trump is many things — a failure in the eyes of his father; the USFL’s cause of death; a sub-par beach volleyball player; a shyster — but certainly not a sex symbol.

Wilt Chamberlin is, or that is to say was, a sex symbol; the personification of both physical and professional perfection.

Chamberlain was a man who, if American culture was scrubbed from the earth by way of a Trump presidency, would be remembered centuries from now as if he were a figure from Greek mythology – 100 points in a game; free throw dunks; 55 rebounds with Bill Russell on his back. 

It is nearly impossible to draw parallels between the two.


The son of a slumlord and Klansman, Trump was born into wealth so extreme that the only way to describe his childhood is through an episode of the Simpsons: $pringfield (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling).

In the episode, we see a flashback of Mr. Burns’ childhood.

Per IMDB the scene plays out as follows:

As a little boy riding the bumper cars, Burns ignores the other cars and heads straight for the legs of an Irish immigrant worker painting the rail]

Irishman: AH! Why, you little-!

[turns around and gasps]

Irishman: Master Burns! I mean, carry on.

[laughing, Burns ploughs repeatedly into his legs]

Irishman: AH! OOH! OW! Oh, me leg’s gone gammy! Who’ll provide for me little ones?

Black in the 1930s, Wilt was one of nine children; the son of a homemaker and welder/custodian.

Trump was given a million dollar loan and a company with an infrastructure already in place as the impetus to his “business” career.

Wilt came into the NBA at a time when a racial quota system dictated roster makeup, while also contending with the entirety of the basketball establishment against the future he represented. Hard to imagine in 2016 that at one point a healthy segment of the media were penning weekly stories about how Chamberlin’s unstoppable dunk-shot was going to put the NBA out of business.

Despite the enormity of difference between the two, there is one undeniable trait that Wilt and Trump share(d): self-aggrandizement resulting from the coupling of thin skin with massive ego.

Wilt liked to say he could out shoot Gail Goodrich. He claimed to have set the record for longest continual time driving a car – 36 hours straight behind the wheel. He spoke of killing a mountain lion with his bare hands. Most famously, of course, was his estimate of 20,000 women bedded in the 48 years he was sexually active.

Trump speaks in platitudes: I have the best words; I will be so presidential you will be bored; I have a great relationship with the blacks. His less insidious fibs – I was opposed to the war in Iraq; I’m a self-made man; I’m worth $10 billion – are in nature similar to Wilt’s.

The difference is, Wilt set the bar for greatness in his field: Statistically, he will never be matched. The insecurities that created self-affirmation were a defense mechanism. Unrelenting criticism about championship wins, Russell, brawn over skill, impacted his entire adult life – summed up perfectly with his words, “nobody roots for Goliath.”

Trump is not a great businessman, or a good businessman, or even a mediocre businessman. He is a businessman that has filed six separate bankruptcies – a fraud who survives off of his father’s money and the willingness of other companies to pay for the use of his name on their shitty products – mattresses, weight loss programs, reality T.V.

I have long said the measure of a man can best be determined in a pick-up basketball game.

Take Obama for example: A smooth lefty who can knock down jump shots in a suit.

Tucker Max gave a scouting report on Obama’s game in the 90s, saying:

“I do remember that he had a good understanding of the game. He knew when to backdoor cut, how to pick and roll, when to take his man away so you could drive, how to block out for rebounds, etc. And he would hit open jump shots if left alone. He was not some doofus out there trying to get exercise. He understood the basics of basketball very well, which is better than most people who play pick-up. Just this knowledge of the game made him fun to play with.”

Basketball is a game of problem solving. A basic prerequisite for the President should be the know-how of a backdoor cut and pick-and-roll.

Earlier in the year, when Ted Cruz referred to the hoop as the basketball ring, whatever seedlings of credibility he clung to were flushed straight down the Hoosier Community Center toilet.  

In a 1998 interview with Ira Berkow for his book Court Vision Unexpected Views On The Lure Of Basketball, Trump said of hooping, “basketball is a jumping sport, and I don’t like to jump.”

Since no anecdotal evidence exists of him playing, the next best thing is gauging what he said about the game in his interview with Berkow.

Like everything Trump has said publicly since 1973, the interview is rich in name-dropping and light on substance. Most of what he said was quantified with words like tremendous, huge and impressive.

Sweet Name Drops, Bro

Trump claims to be friends with Karl Malone, says that his wife told him that Malone is “his biggest fan” and that he discussed/helped Malone determine his best course of action in renegotiating his salary.

“So I told Karl, You can play out your contract but when it’s terminated you’ll be thirty-eight years old. Not a great bargaining position. Or you could say, “Fuck you! I have a contract but I want more money.”

He goes on to intimate that Malone is woefully underpaid in comparison to Juwan Howard, insinuating that Howard “couldn’t carry his jock.”

Considering Trump is a sociopathic monster and Malone is the dick-head who refused to play against Magic Johnson; made a pass at his then teammate Kobe Bryant’s wife; knocked up a teenage girl; refuses to acknowledge the existence of one of his sons; the two of them paling around seems quasi-realistic. 

The Donald Knows Business

Trump says NBA players ask him for investment advice.

“I’ve seen a lot of them lose money because they’ve gone into these harebrained ventures with these fast talkers who just take their money away like taking candy from a baby.”

Funny considering Trump University is literally a harebrained venture that prayed upon unsuspecting people.

“I told him, look if you make that investment I will never speak to you again. You will lose all of your money…..That was four years ago, recently the company announced it was filling Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The investors lost all their money. So the player called me and said you saved me my money.”

Making audacious, self-aggrandizing claims that can’t be confirmed by anyone: just Donald being Donald.

Charles Oakley is the GOAT

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the interview is how effusive Trump is about Charles Oakley.

“What I liked about Oakley was his attitude. The guy was a workhorse, getting rebounds, setting hard picks, diving into the stands for loose balls. He’s not going to be Michael Jordan, but he was just a tremendous worker. I loved his work ethic.”

As much as I want to bash Trump, the truth is Charles Oakley was the man.

Interestingly enough though, a page later he is shitting all over John Starks: “I also think he loses games for them that they should have won.”

Don’t salute Oakley for his work ethic and then shit on Starks. Starks had the exact same fiery temperament and work ethic as Oakley. It’s damn hard to get to the NBA at 6’1” and then stick for 12 years.

Being an NBA Player is a lot like being a super model

“But making the NBA is impressive…its like supermodels…But they are very smart. You don’t just make it because of your looks. There are a lot of beautiful people. You make it because you have something else. You have to have a head.”

Well played Donald, well played.

I’m guessing the names Koreleone Young, Kwame Brown, Darius Miles and Sebastian Telfair don’t resonate with Trump. In fairness the interview was in 1998, so to keep it pre 98, I’m guessing the names LaBradford Smith, Sweede Hollbrook and Reggie Harding don’t resonate with Trump. 

Also, not to be an asshole, but I’ve never heard anything from the stage of a Miss Universe contest that really knocked my socks off.

Noah Perkins
Noah has had articles published by a variety of publications including The Bangor Daily News; The NENPA Bulletin; and Monthly Basketball (Japan). His column ‘Heaven is a Playground’ has been featured on ESPN Radio. Noah was also called a "thirst troll" by Tom Arnold once.