No NBA player has set as many individual records as the late great Wilt Chamberlain. The most notable record Chamberlain attained was his 100-point outburst.
Most NBA fans know Wilt holds the record for most points in a game, but do they know the story of the game? It's okay if you don't because you've come to the right place.
In this article, we'll be discussing the truth of Wilt's historic 100-point game. After reading this, you'll have more of an understanding of how the legendary Wilt Chamberlain managed to reach triple digits in scoring.
1961-62 NBA Season: Wilt Sets Scoring And Minutes Record
The Philadelphia Warriors were the third-best team in the league during the 1961-62 NBA season. They finished the year with a 49-31 record.
The team Wilt dropped 100 points on was the New York Knicks, and they were tied as the second-worst team in the league. The Knicks finished the season with a 29-51 record.
Wilt finished the season with a historic 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds per game in an outstanding 48.5 minutes per game! This scoring and minutes average by Wilt will clearly never be topped by another player.
Even with these incredible stats, Wilt did not win the MVP. This award went to his rival, Bill Russell, who finished with averages of 18.9 points and 23.6 rebounds per game.
To make things worse for Wilt, his Warriors lost 4-3 to Russell's Celtics in the Eastern Division Finals. Despite this failure, Wilt's season is still one to tip your hat at.
March 2, 1962: Philadelphia Warriors vs. New York Knicks
The Philadelphia Warriors were battling for a playoff spot when they took on the struggling New York Knicks on March 2, 1962. The game wasn't played in Philadelphia or New York. Instead, the game was played in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
This legendary game wasn't broadcasted on television, which is unfortunate. But there is a short radio broadcast recording of the game. It's only around three minutes long, but it's a good insight into Wilt's historic game.
So, how did Wilt manage to score 100 points? Let's first look at the stats. Wilt shot 36-63 from the field. This wasn't too crazy, well, other than the fact one man shot 63 times.
The real crazy stat was Wilt's free throws. For the 1961-62 season, Wilt shot 61.3% from the free-throw line. For his career, Wilt shot 51.1% from the line.
In the March 2 game against the Knicks, Wilt shot 28-32 from the line, which is 87.5%. This was something nobody saw coming.
What is even more impressive for Wilt is his 28 free throw makes were tied (Adrian Dantley, 1984) for the most made in NBA history. Even Wilt was shocked by his free-throw shooting, and he wrote about it in his autobiography rightfully titled Wilt:
“Hell, I'm the world's worst foul-shooter, and I hit 28 of 32 free throws that night—87.5 percent. That just shows that anyone can get lucky. Just check the box scores over a few months; some really weak players will have fantastic games.”
The Knicks had no answer for Wilt, which was normal for teams. But on this evening, it would be worse for the Knicks.
The starting center for the Knicks, 6′10″ Phil Jordon, was out for the game for what was reported as him having the flu. Jordon's teammate, Darrall Imhoff, had another reason for Jordon's absence:
“The official story was that he was suffering from the flu, though his teammates knew better,” Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times wrote. “'The inside scoop was he was hung over,' said Darrall Imhoff, the 6'10” center who took Jordon's spot.”
Bolch went on to add this about Wilt's matchup on that historic night in Hershey, Pennsylvania:
“Imhoff started but played only 20 minutes because of foul trouble. That left Cleveland Buckner, a 6'9" rookie from Jackson State, and a host of other undersized defenders to contend with Chamberlain, the irrepressible giant who was then in his third NBA season.”
This is the first part of how Wilt reached 100 points. The matchup was extremely favorable for Wilt, as the Knicks had no one who could remotely stop him.
On top of the Knicks' bad defense, Wilt's teammates knew he was having a special night, and they wanted to see “The Big Dipper” reach triple digits. After three quarters, the Warriors held a comfortable 125-106 lead.
Usually, when a team has been dominating this much after three quarters, the star player would either sit out the entire fourth quarter, or they'd play only a little before being pulled to let the bench riders get a chance to shine.
The Warriors didn't apply this method in this game. Wilt played the entire 48 minutes, and he would be the focus on offense during the fourth quarter.
Wilt's teammates would pass up open shots to find Wilt, egging him on to shoot the ball. You'd think Wilt would be ecstatic about getting the ball so many times, but in reality, he wasn't.
In his autobiography, Wilt, “The Big Dipper” wrote this about his teammates feeding him the ball in the fourth quarter:
“I really think I shot too often in that 100-point game—particularly in the fourth quarter, when everyone was egging me on toward 100.”
To help Wilt reach 100 points, Warriors head coach, Frank McGuire, subbed in backup players toward the end of the game for the sole purpose of fouling the Knicks players. The reason behind this was to stop the clock and give Wilt more chances to score.
There's some people who will point to this and say Wilt stat padded. There's also people who point to the pace of play being higher in Wilt's era compared to today's game and much higher than the pace of play during the 1990s when another scorer, Michael Jordan, reigned supreme.
Despite these claims, facts or not, what Wilt Chamberlain achieved in his career is nothing but spectacular. To score 100 points in a single game is the craziest accomplishment ever.
No matter what schemes and ploys teams try to use, I don't think we'll ever see another player reach triple digits as the dominant Wilt Chamberlain reached in 1962.
The Most Points Scored In A Regular Season Game By Tiers: Wilt Chamberlain And Kobe Bryant Are Untouchable