Wilt's record safe with evolved NBA coaching

688898.jpg

Wilt's record safe with evolved NBA coaching

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.

Kerr befuddled by Barkley's criticism of Warriors: 'I think he goes overboard'

Kerr befuddled by Barkley's criticism of Warriors: 'I think he goes overboard'

As Charles Barkley continues to throw rubber darts at the Warriors, disparaging their style of play at every opportunity, sometimes going out of his way to do so, the Warriors continue to shrug them off.

They believe the only significant response to Barkley or any other critic is by producing successful results.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr has known Barkley for years and he basically sees his act as perfect made-for-TV moments.

“Having worked with Charles in TV, for TNT, I understand that there’s a show that has to happen,” Kerr said Friday on The Warriors Insider Podcast. “There’s an entertainment value that he brings that nobody else can bring. I think Charles is hilarious. He’s really good at what he does.”

Yet Kerr is at least slightly puzzled when Barkley constantly singles out the Warriors for being a “jump-shooting team” or playing “little girly basketball,” as he said Thursday on TNT.

“I think he goes overboard with his criticism of us,” Kerr said. “Everybody is the league is basically doing what we’re doing. Cleveland takes more 3s than we do. They beat us last year in The Finals by going small and shooting 3s and LeBron (James) playing the 4. The series came down to Kyrie (Irving) making a 3.”

It’s apparent to those paying attention that Barkley, who retired in 2000, has not made the observational transition to basketball as it is played in 2016.

The Warriors average 32.2 3-pointers per game, behind the Rockets (37.0) and defending champion Cavaliers (34.8). Only one team, the Pistons, at 19.8, averages less than 20 shots beyond the arc per game.

When Barkley retired in 2000, only the Kings, at 20.2, averaged more than 20 3-pointers per game. The Rockets were second, at 19.8, and Barkley was a member of that team.

“This is just the way the game is played these days: spread the floor, very few low-post plays,” Kerr said. “The game has changed a lot. I don’t know why Charles continues to crush us. But the game’s changed, and almost everybody is playing like this now.”

Whereas the big men of yesteryear – Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson etc. – tended to operate in the low post, those of today are more likely to venture out beyond the elbow, and even the arc.

“The big guys that you see now who are coming into the league, the best players, guys like Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns, they’re out there shooting jump shots, because they grew up handling the ball,” Kerr said. “They grew up as guys who wanted to be Kevin Durant, and not Charles Oakley.”

Though some of the transition is due to bigger players being more versatile, it’s also a matter of coaches understanding new rules and finding rosters that can exploit them. Gone is the hand-check, as well as the days of zone defenses being illegal.

“We do what we need to do to be successful,” Kerr said. “. . . Our players are suited to play the way we play, and we’re not going to apologize for that. But we know that criticism and judgment are just part of the deal. It really doesn’t bother us.”

Kerr acknowledges marijuana use for chronic back pain, advocates for change

Kerr acknowledges marijuana use for chronic back pain, advocates for change

There were days and nights when he was in agony, when no medication – and he tried many – could stop the headaches from corroding his mere existence.

So Steve Kerr tried something once considered radical.

The Warriors coach sought relief in weed.

“I guess maybe I can even get in some trouble for this, but I’ve actually tried it twice during the last year and a half, when I’ve been going through this chronic pain that I’ve been dealing with,” Kerr said Friday on The Warriors Insider Podcast.

“(After) a lot of research, a lot of advice from people and I have no idea if maybe I would have failed a drug test. I don’t even know if I’m subject to a drug test or any laws from the NBA.”

During the summer of 2015, Kerr underwent two surgeries on his back, the latter procedure in part to alleviate the pain from the first. Still, the pain continued. He arrived at training camp to coach the defending champions and two days later realized he was not up to the grind.

Kerr, now 51, took a leave of absence that lasted nearly four months, during which time he sought comfort through various painkillers and treatments.

He returned to coaching in January 2016, but it was during his absence from the team that he reached the same conclusion as many medical professionals.

“I’m not a pot person; it doesn’t agree with me,” Kerr said. “I’ve tried it a few times, and it did not agree with me at all. So I’m not the expert on this stuff. But I do know this: If you’re an NFL player, in particular, and you’ve got a lot of pain, I don’t think there is any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin. And yet athletes everywhere are prescribed Vicodin like it’s Vitamin C, like it’s no big deal.”

Vicodin (hydrocodone) and other pain relievers come with side effects – including nausea, vomiting, constipation and blurred vision – that can be even more damaging to the body. Moreover, painkillers invite the risk of addiction that, for some, can lead directly to death.

“I know enough, especially over the last couple years, having gone through my own bout with chronic pain, I know enough about this stuff – Vicodin is not good for you,” said Kerr, who still has experiences discomfort. “It’s way worse for you than pot, especially if you’re looking for a painkiller and you’re talking about medicinal marijuana, the different strains what they’re able to do with it as a pain reliever.

“I think it’s only a matter of time before the NBA and NFL and Major League Baseball realize that.”

Marijuana has been legalized in some form by 26 states and the District of Columbia. It has been used to treat patients suffering from chronic or acute pain. Yet it remains stigmatized in certain segments of American society.

“There’s this perception in our country that over-the-counter drugs are fine, but pot is bad,” Kerr said, explaining that some folks continue to resist the notion that pot is somehow more treacherous than, say, alcohol, while others have studied the subject and become advocates.

“I would hope,” Kerr said, “especially for these NFL guys, who are basically involved in a car wreck every Sunday – and maybe four days later, the following Thursday, which is another insane thing the NFL does – I would hope that league will come to its senses and institute a different sort of program where they can help these guys get healthier rather than getting hooked on these painkillers.”