Even when I look at it now, 56 years later, it is still hard to fathom that someone could score 100 points in a basketball game. Wilt Chamberlain accomplished this amazing record on March 2, 1962 to lead his Philadelphia Warriors to a 169-147 win over the New York Knicks. The game was played at Hershey Sports Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The game was played in Hershey because the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not yet considered a major sports league and would often play “home” games in other locations to attract new fans. The game in Hershey was the home game for the Warriors.
The NBA regular season was close to the end with the Warriors (46-29) in second place behind the Boston Celtics and the Knicks were in last place.
The Warriors jumped out to a 19-3 lead with Chamberlain accounting for 13 points. He finished the quarter with 23 points. By halftime, Chamberlain had an impressive 41 points. He eclipsed his own personal record for scoring when he notched his 79th point with 7:51 left in the game. In the final minutes, the game plan was clear to get the ball to Chamberlain. The Knicks began fouling anyone with the ball except for Chamberlain and slowing down the game when they had possession of the ball. With 46 seconds, Chamberlain scored his 100th point as the sparse crowd went crazy. Unfortunately, there are no television or radio accounts of the game but witnesses differ between Chamberlain laying up the 100th shot or scoring it with a slam dunk. The next highest scorer for the Warriors on that night was Al Attles with 17 points. Richie Guerin led the Knicks with 39. Chamberlain was 36 of 63 shots from the field and made 28 of his 32 free throw attempts.
After the celebration for Chamberlain scoring his 100th point, the final 46 seconds was played but Chamberlain simply stood in the circle and said that “100 sounded better than 102”.
The teams played again in New York two nights later and Chamberlain was held to “only” 58 points in the rematch. Chamberlain finished the season with 4,029 points and the only player in NBA history to break the 4,000 point barrier.
Philadelphia finished 49-31. The Warriors edged Syracuse 3 games to 2 in the division semifinals but then lost in seven games to the Boston Celtics in the division finals. The Warriors’ franchise moved to San Francisco the next season and would later become today’s Golden State Warriors.
Chamberlain played 13 more seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers (1965-1968) and Los Angeles Lakers (1968-1973). He won two NBA titles in 1967 and 1972.
The only player to come within reach of Chamberlain’s record was Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers who scored 81 points in January 2006 in a game against the Toronto Raptors.
Wilt Chamberlain’s Top Scoring Games in NBA history:
- 78 – December 1961 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
- 73 – January 1962 vs. Chicago Packers
- 73 – November 1962 vs. New York Knicks
- 72 – November 1962 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
- 70 – March 1963 vs. Syracuse Nationals
- 68 – December 1967 vs. Philadelphia 76ers
- 67 – March 1961 vs. New York Knicks
- 67 – February 1962 vs. St. Louis Hawks
- 67 – February 1962 vs. New York Knicks
- 67 – January 1963 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
- 66 – February 1969 vs. Phoenix Suns
- 65 – February 1962 vs. Cincinnati Royals
- 65 – February 1962 vs. St. Louis Hawks
- 65 – February 1966 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
- 63 – December 1962 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
- 63 – November 1964 vs. Philadelphia 76ers