If you are into the NBA, then you know about the event many people within the organization consider to be one best individual achievement by an NBA player in a single game,” Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game”. All throughout my life, I’d hear from the sports media, and sports magazines, how incredible Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game was and how unreachable it is for the NBA players today. But I’ve always had questions that were difficult to answer because the game where Wilt scored 100 points was not recorded on film. So now that I have time, I decided to take a deeper look into the game in which Wilt made the first and only milestone of scoring 100 points in a single game on March 2, 1962.
(Philadelphia Warriors logo (Left) and New York Knickerbockers logo (Right))
Just in case you didn’t know, from 1946-1962 the Philadelphia NBA team was known as the Warriors ( Yes, the same Warriors team that is currently known as Golden State and are the greatest team of this era) and they were facing off against the New York Knickerbockers (But the people of our time call them the “Knicks”). If you have ever played in an organized sport, then you understand the comforts of playing at home, this was an advantage for the Warriors since they were playing at their home stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania (Just as a side note, the Warriors home stadium in Hershey was a secondary home court used as a way to attract more fans ). New York was also coming into this game with a horrific record of 27-45 and would end the season having the second worst record in the 1961-1962 season , so the Warriors were already expected to win the game. It also did not help that the Knicks line-up was not at it’s top form due to injury and illness.
Wilt Chamberlain vs the opposition
(Wilt Chamberlain with cup in hand)
Wilt Chamberlain was a 7-foot-plus tower who wasn’t just taller than the majority of the league by half a foot, but was also an all-around talented athlete, who according to NBA.com took pride in developing his overall skills to compete with the smaller players . He was leading in both points and rebounds and finished the season with over 50 points per game and 25 rebounds per game. His long stature, along with his unnatural ability to get to the basket and score, made him a difficult player to defend on a nightly basis. He was also on his way to breaking multiple scoring records this season ( Which I think would be added moivation for him to score as many points as possible)
Knicks Players to Defend Wilt
Since the Knicks’ starting center Phil Jordan was unable to play the game due to illness, (But according to Ben Bolch of Los Angeles Times, Darell Imhoff the player who replace Phil was quoted saying, “The inside scoop was he was hung over” ) so it was up to Darell Imhoff (Who was only in his second year as an NBA player) to take on the gargantuan scoring machine known as Wilt Chamberlain. According to Bleacher Report, Imhoff was averaging less than 20 minutes per game, 5.9 points and 6.2 rebound . Then if Imhoff was to be taken out, the Knicks would have to put in Cleveland Buckner (Who was their 6’9″ rookie Power Forward) to defend Wilt. With the lack of pro experience from both players, no one could have expected them to be able to stop the man who was on the verge of becoming the first player to score 4,000 points in a season.
The Game Begins!!!
The game started off as expected, with Wilt dominating the lower experienced Darell Imhoff. Imhoff was quickly accumulating fouls and ended up in foul trouble which led to him being taken out the game. After he fouled Wilt for the third time in the early parts of the game, according to Gary M. Pomerantz book “Wilt 1962″ Imhoff was quoted saying to a referee in frustration, ” Well, why don’t you just give the guy a hundred now and we’ll all go home! ” Imhoff only played for 20 minutes because of being in foul trouble and so Cleveland Buckner had to defend the “Towering Scoring Machine” for the majority of the remaining minutes. By the end of the first half Wilt Chamberlain had 41 points by halftime, and by the end of the third quarter Wilt had accumulated 69 points.
NBA.com explains that the crowd began to chant, “Give it to Wilt! Give it to Wilt!” and that was exactly what the Warriors did in the fourth quarter, as his teammates began to feed him the ball to help Wilt acquire the 100 points . (Understand that nowadays in the NBA it is frowned upon to keep scoring on the opposing team, when a team’s score is greatly higher than the other in the last minutes of the 4th quarter) Wilt Chamberlain was even quoted saying in his autobiographical, “They started feeding me the ball even when they were wide open. ” But the Knicks began to foul other players to put them on the free throw line and prevent the ball from going into Wilt’s hands, but the Warriors team started fouling back to put it back in Wilt’s hands. The 100th point was made by Wilt with 46 seconds left in the 4th quarter causing the fans to go into a frenzy, storming the courts and gameplay was halted as Wilt made his way into the locker room. Within the locker room was where a PR man wrote 100 on a piece of paper, gave it to Wilt, and he held it up for photographers .
Wilt Chamberlain’s game stats
(Scorecard for the 100 point Wilt Chamberlain game)
Just in case you were unsure, Wilt Chamberlain led the game with 100 points :). He made 36 of the 63 shots he attempted, giving him a field goal percentage of 57% (Which is pretty impressive for the amount of shots he attempted. He still holds the record for the most field goals made in a single game.) What was really impressive was his free throw percentage within that game. Of the 32 free throw shots attempted, he made an incredible 28 of them (This is an incredible feat for a player who has an average career free throw percentage of 51.1% ) and every point was needed for him to achieve his 100 point game.
Though the conditions for Chamberlain having a record-breaking game was in his favor, due to the team he was playing, the lower experienced players guarding him, home field advantage, his towering stature, and the extra feeds he was given by his teammates, it is hard to deny that this achievement is one that the NBA (Organization and fans) should remember.
4. Wilt, 1962: The Night of 100 Points and the Dawn of a New Era, By: Gary M. Pomerantz