Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Scores On This Historic Day: March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain Scores 100 Points

Note the time of this post: 1:00 AM, or "100 hours."

March 2, 1962: The Philadelphia Warriors beat the New York Knicks, 169-147, in a "home game" for the Warriors at the Hershey Sports Arena.

It was not unusual for such games to be played by NBA teams in those days, in the hopes of building a regional fanbase. It might have worked better if the games had been on television. But there is no surviving TV broadcast of this game, and it might not have been on TV at all. There is no surviving film, either. Just a radio broadcast, with Bill Campbell on the microphone, and a few photographs.

Which is too bad, because this was the game in which the Warriors' Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points. He shot 28-of-32 from the foul line; those shots and attempts also remain records.

Think about that: Wilt scored 100 despite being fouled 16 times, an average of once every 3 minutes. He also scored 100 without the 3-point field goal being available to him: The NBA would not adopt it until 1979, 6 years after his last game.

Everybody else on the Warriors: Al Attles scored 17, Paul Arizin 16, Tom Meschery 16, Guy Rodgers 11, York Larese 9; and, playing but not scoring, Ed Conlin, Joe Ruklick and Ted Luckenbill. For the Knicks: Richie Guerin 39, Cleveland Buckner 33, Willie Naulls 31, Dave Budd 13, Donnie Butcher 10, Al Butler 8, Darrall Imhoff 7 and Johnny Green 6. The 169-147 final score was then the highest in NBA history, and the combined total of 316 points would remain an NBA record for 21 years.

That season, Wilt scored more points than any player ever has, over 1,000 more than the next-best total, by Michael Jordan. He averaged 50.4 points per game. Today, when a player has a single 50-point game, it's a big deal. Wilt averaged 50 a game that season. (It was also the 1st season in which a player averaged a triple-double: Oscar Robertson of the Cincinnati Royals. That feat wouldn't be matched until 2018.)

Wilt had games of 78 and 73 points that season. The previous record was 71. The highest total since has been 81 by Kobe Bryant in 2006, and that included 7 treys. So, under the old rules, it would have been 74, still the 3rd-highest ever, behind Wilt and... Wilt.

Don't say Kobe. Don't say LeBron. Don't say Jordan. Wilt Chamberlain is the greatest basketball player of all time. He not only did to offensive stats in basketball what Babe Ruth did to them in baseball and Wayne Gretzky in hockey, he was the best defensive player, too. At the absolute least, 2nd in his time to Bill Russell. The most rebounds in a game? Wilt. Same season. 55. Fifty-five rebounds in one game. Against Russell. (But the Celtics won, and that sums up the rivalry between the men: Wilt outplayed Russ, but Russ led his team to victory over Wilt's team.)

Despite Wilt's achievements, at the end of the 1961-62 season, the Warriors were sold, and moved across the continent. They would play from 1962 to 1971 as the San Francisco Warriors, then move across the Bay to Oakland, using the name Golden State Warriors. They returned to San Francisco in 2019, but have kept the Golden State name.

After 1 season without an NBA team, 1962-63, Philadelphia got the Syracuse Nationals to move into the Warriors' former home, the Convention Hall of the Philadelphia Civic Center. They were renamed the Philadelphia 76ers. They moved into The Spectrum in 1967, and the arena now named the Wells Fargo Center in 1996. Wilt died in 1999, and a statue of him now stands outside the Wells Fargo Center.

The arena in question, built in 1936, still stands, under the name of the Hersheypark Arena. It was long the home of the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, until 2002, when a new arena was built adjacent, now named the Giant Center after a supermarket chain.

There were 2 other NBA games played that day. Robertson's Royals beat the Detroit Pistons, 120-112 at the Cincinnati Gardens. And Russell's Celtics lost to the St. Louis Hawks, 138-120 at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis. The Royals became the Kansas City Kings in 1972, and the Sacramento Kings in 1985. The Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968.

There were no NHL games scheduled for that day. Baseball was just starting Spring Training. And the NFL and the AFL were in their off-seasons.

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