Historical Markers
Wilt Chamberlain's Scoring Record Historical Marker
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Wilt Chamberlain's Scoring Record

Hershey/Gettysburg/Dutch Country Region


Marker Location:
100 Hersheypark Dr. (Hersheypark Arena), Hershey

Dedication Date:
March 2, 2002

Behind the Marker

Program for the basketball game in which Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points
Program for the basketball game in which Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points,...
If everybody, living or dead, who has ever claimed to have seen markerWilt Chamberlain score 100 points in an NBA game could be assembled in one place, the crowd would easily fill the home parks of the Phillies, Pirates, Steelers and Eagles with the overflow spilling out of Philadelphia's Franklin Field and Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley. Such was the enormity of Chamberlain's accomplishment. Such was the mythic resonance that reverberates from that night. In the pantheon of sporting achievement, Chamberlain's century resides in the niche reserved for sacred numbers. Yet, the night began with no fanfare at all.

It was March 2, 1962. The Philadelphia Warriors, in second place in the NBA's Eastern Division well behind the Boston Celtics, were set to play the cellar-dwelling Knicks. To build the team's fan base, the Warriors had scheduled several out-of-town home games that season. This was one of them, held in the chocolate capital of Hershey, about ninety miles west of Philadelphia. Still, there was so little interest in the contest –the two teams would pack New York's Madison Square Garden the next night–that the Hershey Arena, which sat 7,200, was barely half full. Only two Philadelphia sportswriters showed up; not a single counterpart from New York made the journey. Television did not cover the game, nor did New York radio. What a spectacle they missed.

Interior of the Hershey Sports Arena
Interior of the Hershey Sports Arena, Hershey, PA, circa 1940.
Perhaps Chamberlain was right in his self-assessment: "Nobody," he once said, "roots for Goliath." But you did not have to root for Chamberlain to be awed by what he could do. The league's tallest tower was dominating on the inside, revolutionizing the way basketball was played. Every night he seemed capable of the improbable, with the 1961-62 season marking his statistical peak: he scored more than 4,000 points, topping 50 in 45 of the Warriors" 80 games, and averaging an astonishing 50.4 per outing while pulling down almost 26 rebounds. Chamberlain was on the court for all but eight of the team's 3,890 minutes. No one else in NBA history has ever been in the same ballpark.

In the months leading up to March 2, there were hints of what might come. Chamberlain put up 73 against the Lakers in December, and then, in January, 78 against the old Chicago Packers to shatter the league mark of 71. That night, he was just two points shy of the old record after three quarters, and his 41 points in the first half alone would have stood as a career night for almost anyone else in the NBA. He commanded center stage. The rest of the Warriors and Knicks seemed like little more than supporting players.

Yet, Chamberlain was by no means alone out there. Each of the Warrior starters–Paul Arizin, Tom Meschery, Al Attles, and Guy Rodgers–contributed double figures to their 169-147 shellacking of the Knicks, and Chamberlain's final points, netted with 46 seconds remaining on the clock, were anything but a solo effort. As Harvey Pollack, the Warriors long-time statistician recalled, "Wilt had 98 with more than a minute left. He took a shot and missed, grabbed his own rebound and shot again. And missed again." This time, Ted Luckenbill snagged the rebound. He passed it to Joe Ruklick, who sent it back to Chamberlain. Like an exclamation point on the night, Chamberlain then slammed it through the hoop with one of his signature Dipper Dunks.

A man wearing a sweater stands, holding a basketball, while a group of young men sit in a semi-circle on a gym floor.
Coach Frank McGuire meets with his Philadelphia Warriors at the training camp...
Oddly, the record Chamberlain was transfixed on in Hershey was one from the foul line. A notoriously poor free-throw shooter, he converted an astonishing 28 of 32. "I wasn't thinking about 100 points," he later admitted. "But after I made nine straight free throws I was thinking about a foul-shooting record."

Meanwhile, everybody else was thinking about his hot hand. From the opening tip on, Chamberlain's teammates kept feeding him, and as the game wore on, the embarrassed visitors visibly bristled at the public address announcer's stentorious tally of Chamberlain's totals. In the second half, they began fouling other players to keep the ball out of Chamberlain's hands, and tried stalling when they were on offense. Neither tactic worked. Fueled by chants of "Give the ball to Wilt," Chamberlain kept scoring and scoring and scoring and scoring: 28 in the third period, 31 in the fourth. All told, Chamberlain set four records that night: the 100-point total, 36 field goals, 31 points in a quarter, and 59 in a half.

The following night, the Knicks held him to just 58 points in the Warriors 129-128 win in New York. Far more of a team player than his statistics indicated, Chamberlain's crisp, clean pass to Arizin assisted on the winning hoop.

How impressive was Chamberlain's dominance that night? Not until Lower Merion native Kobe Bryant of the Lakers scored 81 points against Toronto in 2006 had anyone come within 20, and to this day, Chamberlain holds six of the ten highest game totals, including four of the top six.

"I feel confident to say that 100 points is a record that will not be broken," observed his former rival, teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Jerry West, in the late 1990s. "Whole teams today don't even score 100 points."

Yet, as utterly amazing as Chamberlain was that night and that season, and as much of a drawing card as he was on the road, neither he nor his teammates could fill seats in Philadelphia. By the start of the next campaign, the team had moved to San Francisco.
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