Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wilt Chamberlain Was Bellhop at Kutshers Kosher Resort

WHO WOULD HAVE EVER known that Wilt Chamberlain worked a summer as a bellboy at the famous Catskills hotel, Kutsher's, in the Borscht Belt. 

A recent episode of ESPN 30 for 30 revealed that the 7'1" Chamberlain not only carried hotel guests' luggage but also put on quite a show on the resort's basketball court for visitors to the Catskills while he was a high school senior. 

In 1954, before his senior year of high school, Wilt Chamberlain took a summer job that would change his life, working as a bellhop at Kutsher's Country Club, a Jewish resort in the Catskill Mountains. At the time Kutsher's was the most popular of the kosher resorts for Jewish families in the Borscht Belt.

By day Wilt Chamberlain was making $2 an hour and getting great tips from the awestruck guests as he lifted their luggage through a second-floor window... while standing outside on the ground. At night, he played on the Kutsher's basketball team and was coached by the resort's athletic director, Celtics coach Red Auerbach. Mixing rarely seen archival video and interviews with people who lived and worked with Wilt, this short chronicles a pivotal chapter in the life of one of the game's greatest players, and gives a fascinating glimpse into a time when basketball met the Borscht Belt in its heyday.

In addition to Wilt Chamberlain, former Detroit Pistons great Ray Scott also worked as a bellhop at Kutsher's. I don't think any famous NBA stars today, like Amare Stoudemire or Lebron James could list hotel work on their resume.

Former Detroit Pistons Star Ray Scott with Rabbi Jason Miller

The entire ESPN 30 For 30 documentary video can be seen here.

Rabbi Jason Miller is a blogger, entrepreneur and educator. He often writes about sports for his popular blog and the Huffington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @RabbiJason.