My basketball career spanned 2 years, one on the junior high team and another for the sophomore team. I was an average player, but not a starter. Back issues forced me to decide between baseball and basketball (baseball won easily), so I’m always able to say that health issues held me back (which is true) while simultaneously downplaying my basketball mediocrity (which is also true).
I had some bright moments, like when I scored 8 (or maybe 10) points in a blowout game against a smaller school. But that was about the extent of my highlight reel.
Even so, it’s still hard to believe that on March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain scored more points in the first quarter of his game against the New York Knicks than I did in my 2-years of basketball. But the entire 1961-62 season was pretty special for the 7′-1″ center. In a season when he led every meaningful offensive and defensive category (except maybe free-throw percentage), averaging more than 50 points and 25 rebounds per game, there were bound to be some incredible evenings of basketball.
But this night was special even by Chamberlain standards, as he scored 100 points…the only triple-digit scoring effort in professional basketball history. He was triple-teamed, quadruple-teamed, and surrounded by all 5 opposing players. As the century mark approached, the Knicks even began fouling the other players in an effort to keep Chamberlain’s huge hands off the ball. But it was a night of destiny, and Wilt’s 99th and 100th points went through the hoop in the game’s final minute.
And then a bunch of fans stormed the court and the game was actually never finished. But basketball history had been made. In the annals of NBA basketball, the 70-point planteau has only been reached 10 times. Six of those belong to Wilt Chamberlain. In early 2006, the record-writers got out their pens in anticipation as Kobe Bryant approached the record for the LA Lakers, but then fell short with a mere 81 points.
Someday, someone might break Wilt’s one-game scoring record. But I don’t know who would do it. The “man-among-boys” scenario that Wilt enjoyed is less prevalent in the game today than it was in the 1960s. Still, there are some players that are capable of putting up huge numbers when they get hot. But if it does happen, at least we’ll have a video record. Wilt’s 100-point night was not televised, so no video exists.
Recommended Reading: Wilt 1962: The Night of 100 Points and the Dawn of a New Era