Earlier this week, I mentioned to my grandmother the 50-year-anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. Why? Because she’s the best storyteller I know and it’s always exciting to here her perspective on historic events. Grandma Tins – that’s what we’ll call her for the sake of time – knew of Wilt and his exploits (not those, pervs); her most vivid memories were Bill Russell vs. Chamberlain, but even admitted the most she paid attention to sports during this era was Muhammad Ali. Grandma Tins vaguely recalled what the climate was like for Wilt’s century mark game. Not that I can blame her because the game itself wasn’t televised and only about 4,000 people saw it actually happen. She did, however, toss something my direction which has crossed my mind once or twice over the years and the achievement Kobe Bryant says will eventually happen. Will anyone ever score 101 points?
Wilt’s been referred to as everything in his career from the most dominant player to ever grace the court to a player whose mental approach prohibited him from being the unquestioned greatest basketball entity of all time. With this in mind, The Big Dipper’s 100-point game (and 20,000 women!) looms over the sport in the same manner Cy Young’s 511 wins does over baseball (the unquestioned most unbreakable record in ALL of sports). In a climate stacked with scorers – Kobe, Carmelo, Durant, Wade, James, Dirk, Love, Monta – the prospect of one of them clipping the triple digit mark screams of “near impossible.” Kobe’s 81 point game, for as iconic as it is, still saw him fall six three pointers and one free throw shy from tying said record. Michael Jordan’s career high was 69, and that came in overtime. LeBron’s is 56, where Kevin Durant’s 51 came earlier this season. What’s even more mind numbing is realizing Wilt has six of the top 10 highest scoring games in history (for what it’s worth, Jordan has five of the top 10 playoff performances).
Coming close to putting up 100 points in a game’ll require a three part recipe: the ultimate green light, once in a generation rhythm and the right team who’ll lay down and die, but keep the score respectable. There’s a possibility Durant could sniff the feat if he catches the Bobcats on a bad night (every night), if Russell Westbrook sits and he somehow plays 47 or 48 minutes. Or maybe if…you know what, forget it. That’s what I’m saying. Breaking Wilt’s record doesn’t seem plausible given the fact so many “if” factors must play out right for a given player. And while Chamberlain was several inches taller than most of his competition – and the style of play paled in contrast to the generations afterwards – the sheer awesomeness of the accomplishment commands respect.
What happened 50 years ago today is an indelible finger print on the world’s love affair with the National Basketball Association. In a game rich with superstars, yet wealthier with timeless memories, March 2, 1962, just happens to shine brighter than most.