Here’s a little-remembered Eagles connection to the 55th anniversary of the night long ago when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game between the Philadelphia Warriors and the New York Knicks played in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
That NBA game between the Warriors and the Knicks was actually the second part of a twin bill. Most of the 3500 or so patrons at the Hershey Arena that night had come to see the 1962 Philadelphia Eagles square off in a preliminary basketball game with the Baltimore Colts. And yes—Sonny Jurgensen played basketball for the Eagles in that game as did Johnny Unitas for the Colts.
Philly beat the Knicks that night 169-147. The football fans who stuck around for the NBA game got treated to witnessing the record 100-point scoring performance by Chamberlain.
Funny to remember, but the NBA was kind of a high-minor league attraction back then. The game that night was scheduled for Hershey, Pa. in an attempt to attract regional fan bases in outlying areas who were by tradition in allegiance with either the Eagles or the Colts.
The game was not televised, and no video footage of the game has been recovered; there are only audio recordings of the game’s fourth quarter. No members of the New York press were at the game. With few in the media present, the Warriors’ publicist was tasked this night with being the stringer for the Associated Press (AP), United Press International (UPI), and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Only two photographers were at the game.
A copy of the radio broadcast of the game was only uncovered in 1988. WCAU’s original game tape had been recorded over by one of its engineers, a standard practice in those days. However, a Philadelphia fan had recorded with a dictaphone part of announcer Bill Campbell’s coverage in the fourth quarter, but only the Warriors possessions. Two years later, a reel-to-reel tape of Campbell’s entire fourth quarter call surfaced; Jim Trelease, then a college student at the University of Massachusetts, had recorded a 3 a.m. re-broadcast of the fourth quarter of the game. The NBA merged the reel-to-reel with the dictaphone tape, which also included a short postgame show.
Chamberlain made 36 of 63 field-goals and 28 of 32 free throws that night. Chamberlain thanked his teammates. “It wouldn’t even have been close to possible without them. They wanted me to get it as much I did.” He added, “They had to do more than just give up open shots. They had to avoid fouls and pass me the ball in traffic.”
Local Hershey fan Kerry Ryman, who was 14 years old when he attended the game, claimed to have left the arena with the basketball that Chamberlain used to score his famous basket for the 100th point. The ball was auctioned by Leland’s Auction in 2000 for $551,844, which was the then-third highest sports memorabilia auction price. After controversy over the ball’s authenticity, the sale was suspended. The ball was relisted months later and sold for only $67,791.
The Warriors finished the season with a 49–31 record. They lost in the conference finals of the playoffs to the Celtics, losing the seventh game 109–107.
The Box score for that crazy night:
- Wilt Chamberlain’s statistics by quarter:
I just thought it was really interesting to note that had it not been for the Eagles’ popularity in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and with their offseason basketball team as an opening draw, that game between the Philly Warriors and the Knicks on March 2, 1962 would never have been scheduled in Hershey—and most likely the 100-point scoring circus performed by Chamberlain would never have happened.
Meanwhile in Eagles news as the Scouting Combine kicks off:
The New Orleans Saints‘ Brandin Cooks is the most prominent receiver to have surfaced in potential trade talks involving both the Tennessee Titans and the Philadelphia Eagles, according to league sources.
This could be just a case of Cooks’ agent stirring things up. Cooks will enter the fourth year of his five-year rookie contract with a base salary of $1.56 million for 2017. The team holds a fifth-year option on him, which will likely be exercised and will likely cost around $8.5 million for 2018.
But Cooks is pretty darn good and has excellent downfield speed. In three seasons, he has 215 catches for 2,861 yards and 20 touchdowns. He had 78 catches for 1,123 yards (15.0 average) and eight touchdowns in 2016.
The idea of a trade started to gain momentum last year, when Cooks expressed his frustration with his role in New Orleans’ offense after he had zero targets in a 49-21 rout over the Los Angeles Rams — including the memorable line “Closed mouths don’t get fed.”