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Where there's a Wilt ...

Nobody in the history of basketball ever had the kind of season that a legend named Wilt Chamberlain uncorked in 1961-62.

That was the year in which the NBA shooters scored at least 50 points 58 times. It was a sensational happening, except for one thing: Chamberlain did it 45 of those times!

Six players also averaged over 30 points a game for the season. Another terrific happening until you checked the Chamberlain average. It was 50.4!


But Chamberlain saved the icing on his strawberries for a late-season game in Hershey, PA. He put everything together--lay-ups, dunks, short jumpers, and 28 out of 32 free throws--for exactly 100 points!

Why this rush of ancient history? Because the NBA's latest marksman, Kobe Bryant, had a field day on January 22, 2006, scoring 81 points!

The walls came tumbling down. Scoring 81 is a lot of points, but it is still 19 points shy of the magic 100. And it's hard to imagine anyone doing it in our lifetime. Huge scorers like Abdul-Jabbar, Jordan, Baylor, Robertson, Erving, Maravich, and West never even came close.

We saw Chamberlain as a high school player in Philadelphia, a college player at Kansas, and as the super star of the NBA, and we have one thing to say about him: He had the greatest physical presence and air of dominance we have ever seen.


Not very long after Kobe (or not Ko Be) Bryant stunned the world of hoops by hitting for 81 points in an NBA game, a talented young lady on a great high school team (Murry Bergtraum H.S. of New York City) continued the miraculous ascension of basketball scoring by sinking 113 points against a hapless opponent.

It took the media until the next morning to realize what an atrocity they had witnessed. Nobody scores 100 points in a legitimate game--not as long as legitimate teams are playing the game with registered officials, on an approved court.

We have always wondered how registered coaches and officials allow the players to go out and break such records. They are so contrived--or phony: A strong team totally dominating the possessions and feeding the team star.

For example, take Epiphanny Prince, the super star of Murry Bergtraum High, who definitely has a name cut out for greatness. No question about her talent, but how do you allow such a tremendous talent to go the whole 32 minutes in a game that is never in doubt, against an inferior foe?

How do you explain her coach's rationale: "At the half, she had 58 points and a chance to break the national record, so we just let her go."

We liked the losing coach's response much better: "I have nothing against Epiphanny," said Brandeis' Vera Springer. "That was an adult decision. But why would you do this against a team like ours? It was like picking on a handicapped person."


Like most passably literate people, we misspent a lot of our youth and eyesight on "junk" reading and loved every moment of it. And then the years started flying by and we discovered ourself reading books by people with names like Hemingway, Verne, Steinbeck, Wells, Maugham, and others who could write so eloquently and movingly.

It wasn't exactly a miracle. It was a progression. You acquired a taste for the written word and you soon found yourself caught up in the artfulness of the excitement, and the huge wealth of knowledge it brought to you.

From the Hemingways and Steinbecks, you came to expect it. From most others, you didn't. And from others, it came as a surprise.

The way it did for us when we read a story by Bill Plaschke, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. He was an unfamiliar name to us. He had written a short story titled, "Her Blue Heaven," and we'd like to try it out on you. Just read this passage:

"I realized that I had been looking for a fight, and found it. Only it wasn't with anyone else. It was with myself.

"It is the same fight the sports world experiences daily in these times of cynicism and conspiracy theories. The fight to believe. The fight to trust that athletes can still create heroes without rap sheets, virtue without chemicals, nobility with grace.

"It is about the battle to return to the days when sports did not detract from life, but added to it, with its awesome powers to enlighten and include."


In our eulogy to the late New York Giants owner Wellington Mara, we did not ignore any of his shortcomings. We simply did not know of any. Besides, who goes around looking for knots in a hero's crewcut?

But "The Duke" was also human, and quite capable of striking out in the clutch. There is one blip on his resume that still astonishes us.

He actually had two of the brightest minds in football history working as assistant coaches for him. Everyone knew about them and wondered what Mara was going to do about his surplus of gridiron coaching greatness. The prevailing wisdom was that he'd make one of them head coach and the other a coordinator.

Mara simply couldn't make the move. He went on living with the status quo, and then it happened, as everyone had expected. The Green Bay Packers signed Vince Lombardi, the offensive genius, and the Packers' dynasty was launched. The Dallas Cowboys moved in and signed Tom Landry, the defensive guru, and we all know what happened in Big D.

Who remembers whether any money or personnel changed hands? But a whole lot of championship banners flew in Green Bay and Dallas over the next two and a half decades.
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Title Annotation:HERE BELOW; accomplishments of Wilt Chamberlain; sportsmanship in high school basketball; New York Giants owner Wellington Mara
Author:Masin, Herman L.
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2006
Previous Article:Boys high school player of the year.
Next Article:Run to win: suggestions for the summer training program.

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