From Wilt Chamberlain to Jeremy Lin: 10 NBA 'firsts'
Until â€śLinsanity,â€ť did you know that there was a National Basketball Association record for the most points scored in a playerâ€™s first five career starts?
If you didnâ€™t, join the crowd. Thatâ€™s the kind of record that is buried in the statistical weeds. Until someone like Jeremy Lin, the latest New York Knicks phenom, comes along, such records and â€śfirstsâ€ť are so esoteric as to be invisible.
By contrast, there are iconic records that fans can recite in their sleep. One of the greatest of these â€“ Wilt Chamberlainâ€™s 100-point game â€“ celebrates its golden anniversary Friday (March 2).
Wiltâ€™s mega scoring outburst is right up there with Joe DiMaggioâ€™s 56-game hitting streak when it comes to its presumed unbreakability.
While impressive, Linâ€™s five-game, 136-point run, which broke Shaquille Oâ€™Nealâ€™s 20-year-old record of 129 points, doesnâ€™t feel nearly as invincible. And certainly itâ€™s not as appealingly simple as the memorable round number Wilt attained in a single game.
The golden anniversary of Chamberlainâ€™s 100-point effort, therefore, seems the perfect opportunity to examine 10 NBA firsts, starting, naturally, with Wiltâ€™s game for the ages.
1. The first NBA player to score 100 points in a game: Wilt Chamberlain
One of the gaudiest numbers ever posted in any professional sport at any time, ironically, was recorded in a game played in Hershey, Pa. Wiltâ€™s Philadelphia Warriors played a few of their â€śhome gamesâ€ť in Hershey in 1962 to widen their fan base, but this was such a meaningless regular-season game that there were only two photographers at the game and no TV coverage or film footage. As a result, the game visually remains mostly a blank.
Chamberlain had been an almost unstoppable offensive force since entering the NBA during the 1959-60 season, when he became the first and only rookie to ever lead the league in scoring, with a 37.6-points-per-game average. The 1961-62 season was the high-water mark of his career offensively, as he averaged 50.4 points throughout the entire season. In Wiltâ€™s 100-point game, interestingly enough, he was hardly the only Warrior to score. Philadelphia beat the lowly Knicks, 169-147, and this was before the 3-point basket. Chamberlainâ€™s field-goal shooting percentage was only a mediocre .511 (36-for-63), but his free-throw accuracy â€“ normally a weakness of his game â€“ was spectacular, as he made 28 of 32 foul shots.
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