Why do some people say that Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game didn’t happen?

March 2, 1962, saw the greatest single performance in NBA history, if not in all of professional sports, take place in a drafty ice hockey stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania. In a game involving his Philadelphia Warriors and the New York Knicks, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points using a variety of moves, including fadeaway jumpers, finger rolls, and “Dipper dunks.”

More than just a stunning statistical accomplishment, Chamberlain’s 100-point performance brought renewed attention to the NBA, which was previously a marginal draw that was having trouble drawing in fans. Oscar Robertson claimed that the game, along with Chamberlain’s season-long 50.4 point scoring average, attracted enough attention to keep the league from going extinct.

 

Additionally, the game served as a sort of turning point in the league’s history. With the league still moving away from the set shot era with unstated constraints limiting African American players, Chamberlain’s 100 effectively heralded a new era for the game.

 

But in the last ten or so years, an odd counter-lore about that night in Chocolate Town has emerged. Specifically, that Chamberlain never reached 100 and that it never happened.

 

The doubters flood Facebook, X/Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, TikTok, and Reddit with videos and articles posing the question, “Is there any actual proof of Wilt’s 100-point game?” and “Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point record: Was it fabricated by the NBA?” The suspicion was sparked by well-known podcaster Pat McAfee last year, who debated with his panel whether one individual could have shot three points in a forty-eight-minute basketball game.

 

Another obviously dubious element is that there is only a fragmentary radio broadcast tape of the game. The audio available for the game only goes through the fourth quarter, but it does feature Chamberlain’s 100th point. Bill Campbell, the play-by-play man, exclaims, “He made it! He made it!” “The Big Dipper gets a hundred points!” This is also not surprising: During that time, NBA games were not often recorded, let alone stored.

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