Mar. 2, 1962
On March 2, 1962, the weather was cold and slushy
a stay-at-home winter Friday night. Neither the Philadelphia
Warriors or the New York Knicks were especially
thrilled with a bus ride to Hershey, PA for a meaningless
NBA game. The season was almost over, and the outcome would
have no effect on the standings.
That night, however, Wilton
Norman Chamberlain would score 100 points, a record
that celebrates its 40th anniversary this month, and one
that hasn't been touched. The reason? Chamberlain also owns
the second and third highest scoring marks in league history
at 78 and 73 points twice. David
Thompson also scored 78 points in the 1978 scoring race
against George Gervin.
From the opening tap, the
Warriors assumed command over the last place and outmanned
Knicks. Philadelphia piled up a 42-26 advantage by the end
of the first period. Chamberlai, who was in his third NBA
season, scored 23 of his teams 42 points. New York's regular
center, 6-foot-10 Phil Jordon, was sidelined due to injury,
and his replacement, Darrall Imhoff, had a difficult time
guarding Chamberlain and eventually fouled out. He was one
of five New York players to foul out. (see
By halftime, many of Chamberlain's teammates knew something
special was in the air (23 first quarter points, 18 second
quarter points). They kept feeding him for an assortment
of thunderous dunks, finger rolls, a few jumpers and his
favorite shot, the one-handed bank shot off the glass.
the third quarter, Chamberlain made 10 baskets and a perfect
8-for-8 from the free throw line. At the start of the fourth
quarter he popped in three quick baskets to reach 75 points.
Fans in the arena began a constant chant, "Give it
to Wilt! Give it to Wilt."
With five minutes
remaining, Chamberlain had 89 points. He scored five points
quickly; points 93 and 94 on a 12-foot bank shot. Points
95 and 96 came on a lob pass from Rodgers. Points 97 and
98 came on an easy layup feed from York Larese. Nearing
the century mark, Chamberlain stole New York's inbound pass
but his shot went in and spun out. The chaotic last minute
went like this:
missed a shot.
Ted Luckenbill rebounded and fed Chamberlain who missed
grabbed the rebound again and passed to Joe Rutlick.
fed Chamberlain underneath the basket.
dunked home points 99 and 100.
The 100 point night never
ended officially. The final 46 seconds weren't played, because
as soon as Chamberlain scored 100, fans stormed the court
and no one had interest in continuing. Joe Rutlick claims
that the game did end officially and that he missed two
free throws during the last 46 seconds, and the boxscore
confirms Rutlick's statement.
"It would have been impossible to score this many points
if my teammates hadn't kept feeding me, especially Guy,"
Chamberlain said after the game.
Final: Philadelphia 169 New York 147
"A lot of people asked
me if it was pre-planned," Chamberlain said. "No,
it wasn't. We didn't have a team meeting or anything to
purposely go out and doing something like this. It just
happened as the game progressed."
radio by-by-play was done that night by Bill Campbell,
a veteran broadcaster. Twenty-five years after the game
Campbell told the Philadelphia Daily News, "This
might sound strange, but I never had that game in my
list of top personal memories. In all honesty, I was
more excited the night I did the game when Joe
Fulks scored 63. He was the first of the jump shooters,
and the shot was such a curiosity then and Joe was hitting
from deep in the corners and out on the wings. I just
have a clearer recollection of that game. On this historic
night, no New York papers were covering the Knicks,
and Philadelphia's public relations man Harvey Pollack
was covering for the wires and Philadelphia media.
in the day, many of Chamberlain's teammates knew that
he was in for a big day. In a pinochle game, "he
was getting fantastic cards," said teammate Guy
Rodgers, who later that night fed most of his 20 assists
to Chamberlain. After cards, Chamberlain led teammates
to a penny arcade where he broke the shooting gallery's
record score. "Wilt didn't miss a shot at the shooting
gallery. He was on all day. The man was just hot,"
The Basketball Hall of Fame called for a tape of the
game, but it wasn't on television. The Hall then asked
Campbell for a copy of the tape, but he didn't tape
any of his broadcasts. After Campbell mentioned that
oddity on the air, about a dozen people sent him tapes
of the last few minutes of the game.
On the tape, Campbell shouts: "It's good! He made
it! That's 100! Oh, the fans are all over the floor
now ..." Campbell's voice broke off and pandemonium
let loose on the court.
empty or half full?
Philadelphia's Director of Press
Relations was Harvey Pollack, who also served as the
official statistician. The official crowd was listed
at 4,124. "I guess I've heard 40,000 people claim
to have been there that night," Pollack says wryly.
"But the building was only about half full."
In the 1960s, the Warriors, coached by Hall of Famer
McGuire, trained in Hershey and played a few league
games there each season. So, Philadelphia's appearance
in Hershey was not entirely unusual.
There's no denying it: Hershey is the chocolate-coated
candy Kingdom of the world. It is located in the Harrisburg-Hershey
area of Pennsylvania. Milton S. Hershey built this small
community into an internationally known piece of history.
Chocolate and Cocoa Avenues are lined with Hershey's
Kisses street lights. Beyond the chocolate, adventures
await. Each year, more than 2 million visitors find
their thrills at Hershey Park, a world-famous attraction.
Adjacent to the park lies ZooAmerica, an 11-acre, year-round
North American wildlife park featuring more than 200
animals of 75 species.
the best trivia line in the Chamberlain box score belongs
to Al Attles, the Warriors starting guard. He never
missed a shot that night, going 8 for 8 from the floor
and making his only free throw. "I was a defensive
specialist," Attles said. "No one ever accused
me of being a great shooter. But the only time in my
life when I was perfect, when I had the hot hand and
literally couldn't miss, Wilt had to go out and get