Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game: Why are some claiming pictures or it didn’t happen?

On March 2, 1962, the greatest single performance in NBA history—perhaps in all of professional sports—occurred in a drafty arena designed for ice hockey in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Wilt Chamberlain used his fadeaway jumpers, finger rolls, and “Dipper dunks” to score 100 points in a game between the Philadelphia Warriors and the New York Knicks.

More than an eye-popping statistical milestone, Chamberlain’s 100-point game drew new attention to the NBA, which was previously a secondary attraction striving to attract spectators. According to Oscar Robertson, the game, along with Chamberlain’s 50.4 point scoring average that season, generated enough interest to preserve the league from extinction. The game also marked a turning point in the league’s history. Still moving from the set shot era and plagued by unstated quotas that limited African American players, Chamberlain’s 100 all but signaled that the league’s future will be different.

Over the last decade or two, however, a strange anti-lore has sprung up around that night in Chocolate Town. Specifically, Chamberlain never reached 100. Skeptics flood TikTok, YouTube, Reddit, Facebook, and X/Twitter with videos and postings titled, “Is there any actual proof of Wilt’s 100-point game?” as well “Did the NBA fake Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 Point Record?” Pat McAfee, a popular podcaster, fueled the suspicion last year by disputing with his panel whether one individual could have scored three points in a 48-minute basketball game. How did we arrive here? Let us examine the sources of distrust.

The lack of TV footage of Chamberlain’s 100-point game is a recurrent thread among those who dispute his performance. (The most enduring visual memory of the game is an iconic snapshot of Wilt afterward, seated in a locker room chair and holding a homemade sign reading “100.”) But this is neither surprising nor informative. In 1962, several NBA games were not televised, indicating the league’s second-class status. The Warriors-Knicks matchup did not appear to need extra attention. Chamberlain’s Warriors were comfortably second behind Bill Russell’s Celtics, while the Knicks were dead last with only five regular-season games remaining.

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