On that fateful night 50 years ago, Chamberlain was 26-years-old and a Philadelphia Warrior. The New York Knicks were the opponents and the game was held at the Hershey Sports Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Chamberlain, whose game average that year was about 50.4, was in his third season with the NBA.
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Sadly, at the time there was no televised coverage or video recordings of the 100 points event. Audio recordings of the games fourth quarter, though, are available. There were no members of the New York press present and two photographers were there to cover the game. Fifty years ago, the NBA did not have the prestige, fame, or respect that it commands now; college ball received more coverage and had more of a following than the NBA. In 1950, the league began including Black players and Chamberlain was one of 37 Black ballers. By the time 1962 came around, there was a quota of four Black players per team.
The 7’1″ giant was known at the time as a slam dunker, who had been nicknamed (among others) “Dipper Dunk.” Dunking was frowned upon, and Chamberlain, who was the second-tallest player in the league, began doing it more frequently. Chamberlain was still considered to be a finesse player with a preference for finger rolls (where the ball is rolled off the tips of the player’s fingers) and fadeaways (a jump shot taken while jumping backward, away from the basket).
The night before the grand event, Chamberlain, who had a suave rep with the ladies and claimed years later that he had slept with more than 10,000 women, had been reportedly partying all night with a female and dropped her home at the crack of dawn. Chamberlain had a hangover and was tired from lack of sleep, yet he had a game to attend.
He hopped a train from New York City to Philly, then boarded a bus to Hershey for the history-making game that would change his life. The Hershey arena had been a gym and was drafty, old, and reportedly smelled like chocolate, which was sickening to the players. At the time, the town had been built around a massive chocolate factory, so the smell of chocolate permeated the air.
The night of the game, Chamberlain scored 23 points in the first quarter, pushing the Warriors ahead by 42-26. By the third quarter, Chamberlain scored 69 points, pushing his team to a 125-106 lead.
“Wilt-the-Stilt” reached the 100 point mark on a dunk with 46 seconds left on the clock.
Although Chamberlain created basketball history on March 2, 1962, he never fully embraced the moment and had actually been embarrassed by the entire event.
Chamberlain died at October 12, 1999, at age 63 and no one has ever been able to beat his 100-point single game score. L.A. Laker Kobe Bryant did score 81 points in 2006 against the Toronto Raptors, which is close, but no cigar!