Chamberlain Scores 100 Points in a Professional Basketball Game Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

For the first and only time in professional basketball history, a player scored 100 points in a National Basketball Association game. Wilt Chamberlain’s feat led the Philadelphia Warriors over the New York Knicks in one of the all-time great accomplishments in American sports.

Summary of Event

Basketball stars Elgin Baylor Baylor, Elgin , Oscar Robertson, and Ed Macauley were right when they predicted that Wilt Chamberlain would score 100 points in a game. Chamberlain, a center with the Philadelphia Warriors Philadelphia Warriors , became the first player in professional basketball history to score 100 points in a 169-147 triumph over the New York Knicks New York Knicks before a crowd of more than four thousand at Hershey Sports Arena in Pennsylvania. (The nine National Basketball Association teams often played games in neutral cities.) Basketball Athle tes;Wilt Chamberlain[Chamberlain] [kw]Chamberlain Scores 100 Points in a Professional Basketball Game (Mar. 2, 1962) [kw]Basketball Game, Chamberlain Scores 100 Points in a Professional (Mar. 2, 1962) Basketball Athletes;Wilt Chamberlain[Chamberlain] [g]North America;Mar. 2, 1962: Chamberlain Scores 100 Points in a Professional Basketball Game[07240] [g]United States;Mar. 2, 1962: Chamberlain Scores 100 Points in a Professional Basketball Game[07240] [c]Sports;Mar. 2, 1962: Chamberlain Scores 100 Points in a Professional Basketball Game[07240] Chamberlain, Wilt Attles, Al Donovan, Eddie Imhoff, Darrall McGuire, Frank Rodgers, Guy

The 7-foot, 1-inch, 275-pound Chamberlain, a University of Kansas star who had joined the Warriors in 1959, already had begun shattering National Basketball Association National Basketball Association (NBA) records. On December 8, 1961, he broke the all-time single-game scoring record with 78 points in triple overtime against the Los Angeles Lakers. On January 13, 1962, Chamberlain set a mark for a regulation game with 73 points against the Chicago Zephyrs, surpassing the record of 71 points by Baylor.

At the outset of the record-breaking game, Chamberlain outjumped 6-foot, 10-inch, 220-pound New York center Darrall Imhoff and tipped the ball to guard Guy Rodgers. Rodgers passed it to Paul Arizin Arizin, Paul , who missed a shot from the corner. Chamberlain rebounded the ball and dunked it for his first basket. His 13 points, including seven consecutive free throws, gave Philadelphia a 19-3 advantage. The Warriors led 42-26 after the first quarter, as Chamberlain made seven of fourteen shots and nine free throws for 23 points.

In the second quarter, Chamberlain made seven of twelve baskets and four free throws, giving him 41 points and helping Philadelphia to a 79-68 halftime lead. He banked in shots over Imhoff’s strained hand and ran through the Knicks defense to stuff rebounds with his “fall-away” jump shot. “We tried collapsing three men around him,” Imhoff had noted, “but it didn’t help. He was getting down court so fast that night, I couldn’t keep up with him.” At halftime, Warriors coach Frank McGuire told the Warriors, “Wilt is getting free underneath, let’s keep getting the ball to him.” New York Knicks coach Eddie Donovan tried to deny Chamberlain the ball, but Imhoff had too many personal fouls, forcing 6-foot, 7-inch Cleveland Buckner Buckner, Cleveland into action at center.

After Chamberlain made three quick baskets to start the second half, Rodgers passed the ball to him underneath the basket. Chamberlain turned, dunked the ball, and was fouled by Imhoff. When Chamberlain made the free throw, the announcer yelled that the free throw “was Chamberlain’s fiftieth point.” The crowd roared. During the third period, Chamberlain would go on to make ten of sixteen shots and make eight foul shots to give him 69 points.

Warrior players, even when unguarded, deliberately passed the ball to Chamberlain, who followed with more dunk shots and more fall-away jumpers. With 10 minutes and 10 seconds left in the game, he slammed in a rebound, giving him 75 points. After Imhoff fouled out, Buckner could not contain Chamberlain. Chamberlain scored a one-hand basket at the 7:51 mark on a pass from Rodgers, raising his total to 79 points. The crowd began screaming, “100! 100! 100!” Guard Al Attles passed up an easy shot at the 5-minute mark and passed the ball to Chamberlain, who then, once again, dunked the ball, giving him his eighty-ninth point.

To avoid further embarrassment to his team, Knicks coach Donovan ordered his players to use most of the 24-second clock before shooting and to foul other Warriors to keep the ball from Chamberlain. Warriors coach McGuire had substitutes York Larese Larese, York , Joe Rucklick Rucklick, Joe , and Ted Luckenbill Luckenbill, Ted foul Knicks players when they got the ball. In the final three minutes, Chamberlain made three free throws and a jumper for 94 points. Rodgers sharply passed the ball to Chamberlain, who made a jump shot to give him 96 points. Larese retrieved a loose ball and passed it to Chamberlain, who recorded his ninety-eighth point with 1:19 left in the game. Chamberlain then intercepted a Knicks pass, but missed a one-handed shot from the foul line.

After the Knicks missed a shot, Rucklick passed the ball to Chamberlain, but he missed his two next shots. Luckenbill rebounded and passed the ball to Rucklick. Rucklick lobbed the ball to Chamberlain underneath the basket. In one sweeping motion, Chamberlain leaped high, clamped both hands on the ball, and dunked it for his one-hundredth point with 46 seconds remaining. The roar of the crowd drowned out the announcer’s voice. More than two hundred spectators rushed the court to congratulate a thrilled Chamberlain. Police vainly tried to restore order. A boy shook Chamberlain’s hand and ran off with the now-historic basketball. It would take nine more minutes before the game—which still had time left on the clock—could be finished.

Chamberlain received numerous tributes. “Tonight was a wonderful thrill,” coach McGuire said. “It’s almost unbelievable.” Teammate Paul Arizin said “It’s a fantastic thing to be a part of.” Rodgers, who had twenty assists in the game, said “There was no easier way to get an assist tonight. All I had to do was to get the ball to the Big Dipper [Chamberlain].” Attles, who made eight baskets, said “I don’t miss a shot and nobody even talks to me.” Knicks center Imhoff added, “I can’t have a nightmare tonight. I just lived through one.”

Chamberlain, who considered rebounding more important than scoring, did not regard this game as his biggest sports thrill. He cherished his 55-rebound performance against Boston in November, 1960, more than his 100 point record-breaker. Chamberlain also believed that field-goal percentage was more important than total points. Although he made 36 of 63 shots (57 percent), he admitted taking too many ill-advised shots. “I really think I shot too often in that 100 point game—particularly in the fourth quarter, when everyone was egging me toward 100.” Chamberlain also made 28 of 32 foul shots (87.5 percent) that night. His 28 free throws were remarkable because he was just a 51 percent career free-throw shooter. “That shows that anyone can get lucky,” he reflected.

Significance

Even into the twenty-first century, Chamberlain’s incredible scoring feat looms large among U.S. sports records. His single game marks for most points (100), shots (63), and field goals (36) shattered his December 8, 1961, triple-overtime statistics. He broke his single-game scoring record by 27 points for a regulation-time game and 22-point record for overtime. No NBA player has approached Chamberlain’s 100 points, taken 60 shots, or made more than 30 baskets. On January 22, 2006, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. Rick Barry of the Golden State Warriors made 30 baskets against Portland Trailblazers on March 26, 1974. Chamberlain’s 28 free throws in a game was a record not equaled until Adrian Dantley Dantley, Adrian of the Utah Jazz duplicated it against the Houston Rockets on January 4, 1984.

Chamberlain later starred with the Golden State Warriors (1962-1965), Philadelphia 76ers (1965-1968), and Los Angeles Lakers (1968-1973). He scored 31,419 points (fourth all-time) and set an NBA record with 23,924 career rebounds. The thirteen-time All-Star earned four NBA regular season Most Valuable Player awards, eleven rebounding titles, seven NBA scoring titles, and two NBA championships. He played 1,205 games without fouling out and was selected All-NBA First Team seven times, All-NBA Second Team three times, and NBA All-Defensive First Team twice.

Chamberlain, the most dominant NBA player before Michael Jordan, ushered in the “dominant center” era. He dwarfed the competition statistically and physically and still holds many records. He held the four highest season point totals and seven highest season rebound totals, the top four single-game marks for points scored, and five of the top eight single-game rebound marks. He was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978, the NBA 35th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1980, and to the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996. Basketball Athlet es;Wilt Chamberlain[Chamberlain]

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Bjarkman, Peter C. The Biographical History of Basketball. Chicago: Masters Press, 2000. This biographical history compares Chamberlain with NBA greats Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, and Oscar Robertson.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Chamberlain, Wilt. A View from Above: Sports, Sex, and Controversy. New York: Villard, 1991. Chamberlain discusses more about his life in and out of sports, including issues of controversy.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Chamberlain, Wilt, and David Shaw. Wilt: Just Like Any Other 7-Foot Black Millionaire Who Lives Next Door. New York: Warner, 1975. Chamberlain provides critical reflections on his historic 100-point game and on his life.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Goldaper, Sam. Great Moments in Pro Basketball. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1977. Goldaper recalls many unforgettable NBA moments, including Chamberlain’s remarkable 100-point game.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">

    Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, March 3, 1962, and Philadelphia Inquirer, March 3, 1962. Local papers that provide summaries and box scores for Chamberlain’s historic game.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Pomerantz, Gary M. Wilt, 1962. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2005. Pomerantz tells an engaging tale in recounting Chamberlain’s historic game and his career.

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Categories: History