March 2, 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain scoring 100 points in a game. This record is considered one of the most hallowed records of all time. In reality, it is one of the most overrated records in all of sports.
First, let me clarify that Chamberlain's performance was great that day. He shot almost 57 percent from the field and made 28 out of 32 free throws, which is great considering he shot only 51 percent from the charity stripe for his career.
The first thing that stands out is when Chamberlain set this record, there was no three-second violations. He was able to stand under the basket as long as he wanted with nothing holding him back.
Also, the game became a farce in the final five minutes. It started when the Knicks would purposely foul any player except Chamberlain so he could avoid getting 100 points. The Knicks were already out of contention and at this point did not want to risk further embarrassment by letting one player get to the century mark.
This led the Warriors to doing the same thing. They would foul the Knicks when they got the ball so they could get more opportunities to get Chamberlain the ball. An NBA game turned into a video game. Even Warrior guard Al Attles passed up an easy layup just to give Chamberlain his 89th point.
In the final minute of the game, Chamberlain had 98 points. The Knicks had all five players surrounding the Warriors' center, but that did not stop Chamberlain from getting the ball. He missed a close-range shot that was rebounded by Ted Luckenbill, who passed it back to Chamberlain who missed again. This time, Luckenbill passed up an easy layup and lobbed it high for Chamberlain, who dunked the ball with 46 seconds left.
During the last 46 seconds after Chamberlain scored his 100th point, he stood at midcourt waiting for the game to end, as he thought 100 points sounded better than 102.
His performance would have been one of the best we have ever seen even if he didn't score 100 points. He most likely would have scored around 75 or 80 points if the game ended normally without any fouling.
Chamberlain's record will most likely never be beat. Kobe Bryant was closest when he scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. Even with the benefit of the three point line, Bryant fell 19 points short. In fact, there are only three teams in the NBA this year that average over 100 points. This makes Chamberlain's record equivalent to Cy Young's career wins record in MLB. Both leagues have different styles of play that make the records almost impossible to even come close to.
Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, who was almost equal to Chamberlain in size, could have scored 100 points if he wanted. However, Russell was not worried about his stats and wanted to win games. A record made by a single player in a team sport is impressive. Although, when the record is made in a selfish manner, it makes it less of an achievement.
As we celebrate a great record that Chamberlain accomplished, keep in mind how it was done.