• Wilt, 1962

  • The Night of 100 Points and the Dawn of a New Era
  • By: Gary M. Pomerantz
  • Narrated by: Stephen Hoye
  • Length: 10 hrs and 16 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (29 ratings)

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Wilt, 1962

By: Gary M. Pomerantz
Narrated by: Stephen Hoye
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Publisher's Summary

On the night of March 2, 1962, in Hershey, Pennsylvania, right up the street from the chocolate factory, Wilt Chamberlain, a young and striking athlete celebrated as the Big Dipper, scored 100 points in a game against the New York Knickerbockers. 

As historic and revolutionary as the achievement was, it remains shrouded in myth. The game was not televised; no New York sportswriters showed up; and a 14-year-old local boy ran onto the court when Chamberlain scored his hundredth point, shook his hand, and then ran off with the basketball. In telling the story of this remarkable night, author Gary M. Pomerantz brings to life a lost world of American sports. 

In 1962, the National Basketball Association, stepchild to the college game, was searching for its identity. Its teams were mostly White, the number of Black players limited by an unspoken quota. Games were played in drafty, half-filled arenas, and the players traveled on buses and trains, telling tall tales, playing cards, and sometimes reading Joyce. Into this scene stepped the unprecedented Wilt Chamberlain: strong and quick-witted, voluble and enigmatic, a seven-footer who played with a colossal will and a dancer’s grace. That strength, will, grace, and mystery were never more in focus than on March 2, 1962. 

Pomerantz tracked down Knicks and Philadelphia Warriors, fans, journalists, team officials, other NBA stars of the era, and basketball historians, conducting more than 250 interviews in all, to recreate in painstaking detail the game that announced the Dipper’s greatness. He brings us to Hershey, Pennsylvania, a sweet-seeming model of the gentle, homogeneous small-town America that was fast becoming anachronistic. We see the fans and players, alternately fascinated and confused by Wilt, drawn anxiously into the spectacle. Pomerantz portrays the other legendary figures in this story: the Warriors’ elegant coach Frank McGuire; the beloved, if rumpled, team owner Eddie Gottlieb; and the irreverent PA announcer Dave “the Zink” Zinkoff, who handed out free salamis courtside. 

At the heart of the book is the self-made Chamberlain, a romantic cosmopolitan who owned a nightclub in Harlem and shrugged off segregation with a bebop cool but harbored every slight deep in his psyche. March 2, 1962, presented the awesome sight of Wilt Chamberlain imposing himself on a world that would diminish him. Wilt, 1962 is not only the dramatic story of a singular basketball game but a meditation on small towns, mid-century America, and one of the most intriguing figures in the pantheon of sports heroes. 

©2005 Gary M. Pomerantz

Critic Reviews

"In his undeniable excellence and egotism, Wilt Chamberlain was America itself, inspiring worship, ambivalence, and downright awe." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

“Gary Pomerantz’s Wilt, 1962 is beautifully written, well reported, and compelling. But what’s so special about this book, what causes it to linger, is the atmosphere that Pomerantz has captured through his words, so bittersweet and haunting. You love Wilt Chamberlain. You feel the aura of his isolation as he towered above the rest of us in life, and you wish more than ever he was still around because of his very individuality.” (H. G. “Buzz" Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights)

“Genius is in the details, and Gary Pomerantz’s Wilt, 1962 proves that.” (John Feinstein, author of A Season on the Brink and a Good Walk Spoiled

What listeners say about Wilt, 1962

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wilt, 1962

I loved this book. It was much better than I had expected and was very well written and spoken. The author's genius lay in his ability to write about a two hour time period in a way that not only kept my interest but had me on the edge of my ears even though I knew the outcome. I left this book having a new appreciation for Wilt Chamberlain. I never realized was a great man he was. Unfortunately our culture has relegated him to the status of an icon that slept with 20,000 women. He was not only a great basketball player but a man of great depth, kindness and strength. I was sad when this book ended. Anyone that enjoys biography and sports will love this book.

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Very good account of a historic basketball achieve

While many know about Wilt Chamberlain being the only basketball player to score 100 points in a game, not many know all the details about that game, as it was played in Hershey, Pennsylvania before a half-filled minor league hockey arena. The Knicks, the team on which Chamberlain scored all those points, were a mediocre team at the time. Professional basketball was losing the few fans it had to football and basketball, with the biggest complaint that it was too boring and too black. This book is an excellent account of not only that game, in which the listener will learn much about both teams, but also of the transformation of basketball that this accomplishment launched as the powers that be in professional basketball realized how much more popular the game would become with more scoring. The narration is very good and the audio version has a bonus of the actual broadcast of the fourth quarter, which was a treat all by itself. A very good audio book on a historic sports moment.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great Book About An Incredble Athlete

I became a sports fan at about age 7 or 8; depending upon the sport. Basketball came first in the winter/spring of 1967 UNC Basketball was my first obsession soon followed by Wilt Chamberlain, at that time with the Philadelphia 76ers. With a second graders lack of understanding about issues like Collegiate Athletic Eligibility, I expressed my hope that Wilt would join the Tar Heels the following season; this provided my adult relatives with a good laugh. From that point on for the rest of his career any game involving Chamberlain became a must see game for me. I thought that I would finally get to see him in a game when he signed a contract with the San Diego Conquistadors of the ABA, (the Carolina Cougars were an ABA team who played several games a year in my hometown of Charlotte.) Unfortunately because of the reserve clause that the courts would still recognize for another 3 years; he would have to sit out a year. Thus Wilt was named the team's head coach and he sorta coached the team for the 1973-74 season but never played a game in the ABA and I never got the chance to see him play in person.
Though I've long since lost my obsession with sports this well crafted, well written, book reminded me of those times and why I was such a fan of this fascinating athlete. One minor point; the author failed to point out a significant irony, in that his foil in the 100 point game, Darrell Imhoff; was actually part of the trade package that the Lakers put together to acquire Chamberlain in a 1968 trade. Given the amount of space Imhoff was accorded in this book it seems a rather large oversight not to have mentioned that fact the two were later traded for each other. Still this is an excellent listen for anyone who appreciates sports history; I actually listened to the entire over the period of about a day and a half.

1 person found this helpful

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WILT'S 100 POINTS

I was there and saw WILT make history while on a 9th grade trip from a " Heart of the AMISH TOWN" of New Holland , PA. I havev to this my ticket stub for the night of BASKETBALL 🏀 HISTORY.
DALE KELLEY