Wilt's record safe with evolved NBA coaching

Wilt's record safe with evolved NBA coaching
March 2, 2012, 7:30 pm
Share This Post

On the night Chamberlain scored 100 points, he went 36-for-63 from the field and 28-for-32 from the foul line. (AP)

Fifty one years ago, Philadelphia Warriors center Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in an NBA game.

He did it at Hershey Park Arena in Hershey, PA, and his performance helped the Warriors beat the New York Knickerbockers that night 169-147. Chamberlain's 100-point game is considered one of the greatest achievements in all of sport and many believe it is a record that will never be broken. But could it happen?

[RELATED: Honoring 'The Stilt's' record]

Former Warrior Tom Meschery, who was on the court that night Chamberlain scored 100 points, said it could, but then again, probably not.

"Possibly," Meschery said last year about Chamberlain's record being eclipsed. "If you just let LeBron (James) go and said OK, that's it, all you get to do is score. But I don't think (opposing) coaches would allow that anymore. The coaches would stop it. At some point it would be destructive and it wouldn't help the team. So, I doubt very seriously they'd (coaches) allow it."

On the night Chamberlain scored 100 points, he went 36-for-63 from the field and 28-for-32 from the foul line. Those 28 free throws were key for Chamberlain. He knocked down 87.5 percent of his foul shots that game, but he was only a 51-percenter from the line over the course of his career.

His quantity of free throws might suggest the Knicks were employing the Hack-A-Wilt strategy, but that wasn't the case at all. In fact, what the Knicks tried to do for much of the fourth period of that game was to foul everybody but Chamberlain.

"It was a scramble on their part to foul anybody except Wilt after a certain point," Meschery said. "They were just trying to get the game over with as quickly as possible without Wilt scoring 100. So they were willing to put anybody on the line. I always thought the most comical part of that game was how frantic the Knicks were trying to foul everybody. Looked like a bunch of rats running around, scurrying around trying to foul somebody except Wilt."

Meschery actually believes there is something far more impressive about Chamberlain than his 100-point game. And that was the fact that Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points that season. The closest anyone has come to Chamberlain's record was when Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 22, 2006. Bryant had 55 points in the second half of that game and overall went 28-for-46 from the field, including 7-of-13 from 3-point range. He also went 18-for-20 from the line.

Over the years, plenty of NBA players have put up big numbers. David Thompson scored 73 points one night, Elgin Baylor 71, David Robinson 71, Michael Jordan 69, Pete Maravich 68 and even Tracy McGrady had 62 once. But 100 seems out of the question.

One thing that worked in Chamberlain's favor that night was the Knicks never used the strategy of a double-team. According to Warriors ambassador and legend Al Attles, who was on the court with Chamberlain that game, double-teaming was not a big part of basketball back then.

"I don't think anyone is physically able to do that (score 100 points now)," said Attles. "Plus, the other reason I don't think it will happen is I don't think other coaches would allow it. The only other team that had a man play in front of Wilt and a man play in back of Wilt was Red Auerbach and the Boston Celtics. If you talk to any of the Knickerbockers, I don't think many teams had an organized double-team back then other than the Celtics. To get 100 points in a game, that was unheard of. Again, when you were around Wilt Chamberlain and saw what he did on a nightly basis, nothing was beyond his reach. Would he score 100 points today? I don't think so. Because if you double-team someone -- like the Celtics used to do with (Bill) Russell and (Jim) Loscutoff -- what do you do? You pass the ball to someone else because someone else is open. So I don't think it will happen."

Another reason why both men believe it is unlikely to be matched is because Chamberlain's coach, Frank McGuire, had incentive to keep Chamberlain in the entire game. Months earlier, McGuire had predicted that one day Chamberlain would accomplish the feat of scoring 100.

Attles and Meschery also made a point of saying Chamberlain wanted out of that game, and had asked to come out after the game had been decided. But Attles said McGuire wouldn't acknowledge the request.

So, will it ever happen again -- an NBA player scoring 100 points? Attles thinks there's one way it's possible. If they start giving four points for baskets, five points for baskets if you shoot it beyond a certain point, he said. (Or) if you throw it the length of the court and it goes in you get 10 points or whatever. But to get 100 points in a game, were talking about Wilt Chamberlain here. Were talking about Wilt Chamberlain.

More Team Talk