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Wilt’s NBA Isn’t Today’s NBA

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Wilt Chamberlain. Photo: New York Daily News

On March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a National Basketball Association game for a team that no longer exists playing in a city that no longer hosts NBA games before a crowd of maybe 4,000 people with no television coverage. Chamberlain’s NBA shares very little with today’s NBA.

There was no video tape of the game, Bill Campbell’s radio report and newspaper wire services reports are available for those who want to listen or read the game account. The NBA was a step above semi-pro level.

Chamberlain’s record effort took place in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and his team, the Philadelphia Warriors, called Hershey a second home. Not long after the game, the franchise would be sold and move to San Francisco. Not long after that game, NBC did not renew its deal with the NBA and the league would not have a national network TV deal in 1962-63.

Philadelphia’s opponent was the New York Knicks. The Knicks franchise played some home games in White Plains, New York and Knicks games were not heard on local radio. That was not usual in the NBA of 1962. Boston played some home games in Providence. It was a vagabond business.

There were nine teams and there was concern that Chicago would never support an NBA team. That Chicago franchise would be sold and move to Baltimore. Syracuse was the last small market team in the league.

The NBA was evolving by 1962. The small cities like Rochester and Fort Wayne were gone. Those towns along with anyone offering a court would host neutral site games. The owners were moving to bigger cities in search of TV money. Cities had not yet gotten into the arena building business and bidding for teams. A competing league, the American Basketball League would fold on December 31, 1962.

Wilt did score 100 but it was a different game then.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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