Fifty years ago today, Wilt Chamberlain stormed into a sleepy Hershey, Pa., gym, and came out – 100 points later – resembling a superhero. There’s no video and only part of a radio broadcast, but we all know the iconic photograph from March 2, 1962: Wilt, rubber band on the wrist, with his hastily made sign of “100.”
That record will never be broken, just like the 10 more here we think are untouchable.
(One noticeable dissenter: Mr. 81 points, Kobe Bryant. He said “Somebody will do it. It probably won’t happen in our lifetime or in the next lifetime, but it will happen.”)
Wilt set 71 NBA records and has 62 of those solely to himself. His Century Mark game reads like the dominance it was, though basketball fans of that era should check out Harvey Araton’s book, “When the Garden was Eden” for another read on his career. The book chronicles the early 1970s Knicks that won two NBA championships, but Wilt is a central character for the Lakers. Mostly, Araton writes, Chamberlain could shrink from the spotlight in big games.
So Chamberlain wasn’t “on” all the time, but tell that to the record book, where he set 71 of them.
Sure, no one could have expected a 7-1, high-jumping, volleyball-playing giant to storm out of the college scene in Lawrence, Kansas, and into the pro ranks in the 1960s, so we can’t see when the NBA’s Next Enormous Thing will challenge these marks.
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Bill Russell’s 11 championships:
Even in a watered-down league, 11 titles is an absurd notion in the era of free agency. Player movement will keep a core together for only so long.
You won’t find enough focus from teams anymore to bust the Bulls’ 1996 mark. We think of this year’s Miami team as a laser-guided missile but this team, even in a full schedule, wouldn’t get within five wins of the mark.
69 minutes in a game:
Dale Ellis went for 69 of the 73 in a five-overtime game in 1989. The chances of a game going long enough to even get to this point is slim. Having a guy in there that long would take even stranger circumstances than that.
7 seasons leading in scoring:
Wilt and Michael Jordan went seven straight seasons leading the league in scoring, which no one will do again because of the diluted league. With even weaker competition, a number of players can challenge for the scoring title every year.
John Stockton’s career total for Utah has already been assailed by a notable group of contemporaries — Jason Kidd, Mark Jackson — who are still more than 4,000 short. Good luck, next generation.