In 1962, Wilt Chamberlain played a legendary game for the Philadelphia Warriors, scoring 100 points in the team’s win over the New York Knicks — a record that has yet to be broken. He broke 5 other league records that night, including most free throws made, which is stunning, considering he was notably awful at shooting free throws.
Can you imagine what a night like that would take? Eagle-eye accuracy and fierce precision with every shot, flawless ball handling and footwork, stamina (and lots of it), perfect temperature in the room, laces tied up just right, a ba-jillion fouls in the 4th quarter, and the return of Jesus himself as a half time performance. You get the idea.
Too bad we can’t watch any of it. That was truly a once in a lifetime performance for Wilt and anyone that was able to see it that night.
Not a single piece of video footage from that night has been found; press didn’t attend the game and in fact the arena was only at half capacity. At a time when the NBA was not an official major league and struggled to compete against college basketball, games were not regularly televised or well attended. There isn’t much footage of the NBA that has escaped the early 1960s at all.
The only recording of the game on March 2nd was obtained out of self-interest by a college student. The game was broadcasted through WCAU, a local radio station out of Philadelphia. The student, who slept through most of the broadcast, was able to catch only the 4th quarter after rigging up his girlfriend’s tape recorder to a radiator in his bedroom.
And what’s more — this month, that very tape is being added to the Library of Congress in the National Recording Registry as one of the most significant recordings in oral history.
While it’s painful to know that this historic night in basketball will soon no longer exist in living memory and that there is no way to replay all of the plays that accounted for 316 total points between the two teams, we salute this young hero for giving us something to put in our time capsules as an immortal testament to Chamberlain’s greatness.