Will Any NBA Player Ever Come Close To Scoring 100 Points In A Game Again Like Wilt Chamberlain?
Fifty years ago today, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in an NBA game—making him the first and only NBA player to ever accomplish that feat. During a game between Chamberlain’s Philadelphia Warriors and the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pennsylvania, the Warriors center made 36 of 63 field goal attempts, hit 28 of 32 free throws attempts, and grabbed 25 rebounds as he filled up the box score in a 169-147 victory. Fifty years later, no one has even come close to breaking the 100-point record. But, according to Kobe Bryant, who came closest to breaking Chamberlain’s record in January 2006 by dropping 81 points during a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors, someone will. It might not be this year or next year—or anytime soon, for that matter—but someone will score 100 points in an NBA game again.
“It probably won’t happen in our generation or the next, but it will happen,” he said recently. “Right place, right time, right team…the right opponent.”
Does anyone really have a legitimate chance to break Chamberlain’s record, though? We think not. For starters, look at the score of that Warriors/Knicks game. It was 169-147. That’s a final score that, frankly, couldn’t even be matched during an NBA All-Star Game today. So, in order for someone to score 100 points in today’s game, they’d essentially have to score just about all of their team’s points. That’s just not likely to happen.
Secondly, Chamberlain was a physical specimen unlike any other back in the 1960s. No one could guard him, mostly because he was taller, stronger, and quicker than anyone else out on the court. Unlike today, every team didn’t have a 7-footer that they could throw at Chamberlain. That led many teams to resort to fouling him and sending him to the free throw line. And unlike a lot of today’s centers, he could stroke the ball from the free throw line and make other teams pay. But, by today’s standards, Chamberlain wouldn’t have been such a freak. He’d still be one of the biggest players in the league, but there would be guys who could guard him.
And, finally, the game is so much different today than it was back in the 1960s. The players are better, the coaching is better, and the schemes that coaches put into place on the court are drastically different. That’s not to say that one player can’t still dominate a contest or have a game where he’s simply on fire. But scoring 50 points in a game is a chore in and of itself these days. It requires a shooter to be on his A-game or a big man to be damn-near perfect from the free throw line. And, if he is either one of those things, chances are a coach will rework the game plan at halftime and change the way his team is playing defense. That makes scoring 100 points impossible today.
Does that mean that there’s zero chance of it ever happening? Well, anything can happen. If you had ask us ten years ago, we would have said that Kobe dropping 81 was impossible. But he managed to somehow do that. All we’re saying is that, unless the game changes in some drastic way, you’re not going to see a player score 100 points in a single game ever again.
So, rest easy, Wilt. Your record is safe for now. And, maybe, forever.