On the night in 1962 when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points for Philadelphia Warriors, it’s easy to forget who the leading scorer was on the other team. In any other game, this would have led to big headlines in New York tabloids for this Knicks player.
But said former Hawks coach Richie Guerin, who scored 39 points on that memorable March 2 in Hershey, Pa., “Wilt was the best big man I ever saw. He could dominate the game in a 100 different ways.’’
Guerin, who is now 83, can remember every aspect of Chamberlain’s night, a 169-147 win for the Warriors. Chamberlain shot 63 times, making 36 of them and going 28-of-32 at the line which was an incredible feat considering during his career he barely made 50 percent of his free throws.
But after the game, Guerin, who made 13 of his 29 shots and 13 free throws in the game, did make headlines for what he told the media when asked about Chamberlain.
“I made a comment after that game that later in my career I had to talk to Wilt about,’’ he said. “I thought in the second half of the game the Philly team was deliberately fouling us to get more possessions for Wilt. I think at half they had decided they were going to get Wilt 100 points, which was sort of a farce. They were making us shoot free throws to give them more time on offense. That came out in the paper, and it was nothing against Wilt because he probably would have had 85 points anyway.’’
But after the headlines hit, Guerin felt bad and at a later All-Star game had a sit-down with the big man.
“I asked him if I could have a chat with him and told him I want to be straight with what I said and that it was nothing against him,’’ said Guerin. “He said I didn’t have to say a word. He wasn’t upset, and it wasn’t necessary. That was the type of guy he was.’’
Guerin played a lot of games against Chamberlain and Bill Russell of the Celtics, but has always felt Chamberlain was the better player.
“There was always a lot of controversy about that between Wilt and Russell,’’ he said. “But I always thought that Bill always played on a better team, he had better players around him. Russell changed the way I drove to the basketball because he was such a good defender and I had to get more loft under my ball to get it over him. But Wilt could do anything he wanted.’’
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