Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain did not have the ability to use the “100” emoji on March 2, 1962, so he had to sit that night on a simple piece of paper to describe his level of dominance.
“The Big Dipper” dropped 100 points in 48 minutes of work as the Philadelphia Warriors defeated the New York Knicks 169-147. In leading the Warriors to victory, Chamberlain broke his single-game scoring record of 78 points set against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 8, 1961, including multiple overtime. Only one player has eclipsed the 80-point limit since Chamberlain’s historic night – the late Kobe Bryant inserted 81 against the Raptors on 22 January 2006.
MORE: Classic photos of Wilt Chamberlain, an unstoppable giant
Apart from the fact that Chamberlain hit triple digits, what do you really know about the game? Let’s go back 59 years to learn more about Chamberlain’s iconic performance.
1. Wilt Chamberlain’s state line was crazy even beyond 100 points.
Chamberlain finished with 100 points in 36–63 shooting from the field (57.1 percent) and 28–32 shooting from the free-throw line (87.5 percent). Keep in mind that Chamberlain took 51.1 percent shots from the line for his career, so hitting almost 90 percent of the free throws in a game is some kind of anomaly. Missed only one extra free throw, and he was stuck at 99. (Not impressive at all!)
Along with all the buckets, Chamberlain also captured 25 rebels and found time to drive out the two assassins. The NBA did not record blocks until the 1973–74 season, so it is possible that there were some of them as well. Heck, Chamberlain probably posted a 100-point triple-double.
2. For Wilt Chamberlain it was the perfect matchup for 100 points.
All the pieces fell into place completely. The Nucks finished as the worst team in the Eastern Division that year, and they did not have their full frontcourt to challenge Chamberlain in the paint. New York’s starting center, Phil Jordan, was out with the flu, though it could have been something else to keep him on the sidelines.
“Scoop in. He was hungry,” said Darral Imhoff (via) Los angeles times), The man who replaced Jordan in the starting lineup. Imhoff struggled foul throughout the game, leaving the 6-9 rogue Cleveland Buckner to fight Chamberlain, and as everyone now knows, it did not go well.
But hey, let’s credit Buckner for scoring at least 33 points of his own. He just happened to score 67 points less than his opponent.
3. The warriors forcefully feed Wilt Chamberlain, when they find out that 100 points are possible.
Chamberlain scored 41 points in the first half, not surprisingly thinking he averaged 50.4 points per game throughout the season. Chamberlain regularly went for 50 or 60 points throughout his career, but it was a different feeling, especially when the crowd was back from chasing for 100.
He scored 23 points in the first quarter and 41 points by halftime, then scored 28 in the third quarter, when fans started shouting, “Get it to wilt! It to wilt!”
The Warriors did the same by feeding Chamberlain on every occasion in the fourth quarter. The Knicks tried to get the other Philadelphia players to keep the ball away from Chamberlain, but the Warriors did their own dishonesty to get the ball back.
Chamberlain took a pass from Warriors guard Joe Rucklik, who played just eight minutes off the bench, scoring his final two points with 46 seconds left to the delight of the fans. (And you guys complain about Russell Westbrook chasing triple-doubles.)
4. The 100-point game was played in Hershey, Pa, and not in Philadelphia or New York.
The Warriors were playing a “home” game, but the team had to travel to Harshipark Arena. Oh what?
In those days, the NBA was working to gain a larger audience, and without the benefit of a big TV deal, teams had to reach fans directly. Neutral site games were not at all uncommon, but the schedule presented a challenge for players.
Chamberlain said, “There was no hotel for us, because we were not there to do or stay in these days for things like that.” “We went straight into the arena where we had to wait for five or six hours for the game. But it happened that in this arena they had a shooting gallery, old penny arcade, so some people went there, and I went to the rifle and Started shooting ahead.
“And I can’t remember anything. So if there was a clue that I was going to be a hot day, it was definitely a clue.”
5. The only thing more absurd than Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game was his state line for the entire 1961–62 season.
Seriously, just take a moment and think about this: 25.7 rebounds per game on 50.6 points and 50.6 percent shooting from the field and 61.3 percent from the line (a career high, by the way). Chamberlain attempted nearly 40 field goals and shot 17 free throws per game.
But this is not the best part. Chamberlain averages 48.5 minutes per game. If you’re scratching your head right now, yes, the NBA game is only 48 minutes long. However, the Warriors also played 10 overtime periods that season, and Chamberlain logged 3,882 in a possible 3,890 minutes.
It is safe to say that we will not see any NBA players taking those season numbers or the famous 100-point total any time soon.