On March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain had a game that might go down as the greatest individual accomplishment in the history of team sports.
Against the New York Knicks, in front of a sparse crowd of 4,124 at Hershey Sports Arena in southern Pennsylvania, Chamberlain scored 100 points to lead the Philadelphia Warriors to a 169-147 win.
That's 100 points. In one game.
Chamberlain's sports feats seem like fish stories, but they are true. That season, Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points per game. While superstar players dream of scoring 50 points in a game, it was a typical night for Chamberlain in the 1961-62 season.
What was amazing about that night in Hershey was that Chamberlain didn't want to embarrass the Knicks so he held back, and New York did everything it could to prevent him from scoring. It was head coach Frank McGuire who kept Chamberlain in the game so he could reach the milestone.
Darrall Imhoff, a 6-foot-10 center known for being a tough defender and shot-blocker, couldn't contain Chamberlain, and fouled out after 20 minutes.
The Knicks fouled him every chance they could, but he couldn't be stopped, said Guy Rodgers, the point guard for the Warriors.
Rodgers finished with 20 assists, but that is misleading. Many NBA experts believe that in the modern game an assist is easier to record as players take a dribble before shooting, while in the 1960s, an assist required the scorer to immediately hit the shot after receiving a pass. It's possible Rodgers' wizardry would have led to twice as many assists that night, as the Warriors hit 63 field goals, with 36 coming from Chamberlain.
The box score showed that several players had a put up some solid statistics, but Chamberlain's numbers were off the charts. His 36 field goals came on 63 attempts, and the normally poor free-throw shooter hit 28 of 32 shots from the line, and he also had 25 rebounds.
In the fourth quarter, Chamberlain scored 31 points on 12-of-21 shooting. Chamberlain was able to overpower Cleveland Buckner, who had a fine game on the offensive end by knocking 16 shots on 26 attempts for 33 points, but even with double and triple-teams, Chamberlain was able to score at will.
Because of a lack of media coverage at the time, the lasting image of the incredible performance of Chamberlain dropping 100 points is a picture with a 100 on it.
In today's oversaturated media environment, such an accomplishment would be replayed countless times on multiple outlets. Gary Pomerantz, author of Wilt, 1962: The Night of 100 Points and the Dawn of a New Era, shed light on how Chamberlain's performance impacted the game
It's really something when you think about it, Pomerantz said, according to ESPN. There's no television coverage of the game. There are only a few photos. Wilt had this sensational game that only a few people saw that night. When Kobe [Bryant] scored 81 points, there was television coverage of that game. You can get a DVD of his game.
Wilt's 100-point game really helped the NBA. He was such a gifted athlete. After he scored 100 points, people around the league wanted to come out and see this guy play the game.