In late 2021, The Sporting News ranked the top 50 seasons in sporting history and Wilt Chamberlain’s 1961-62 season finished second on the remarkable list.
You can find the full list of the top 50 seasons here, but let’s dive into a historic season that had all the makings of what could easily be considered the most dominant individual year in the history of the sport.
Chamberlain has become something of a mythical creature for people (like me) who were not old enough to see his days as a gamer. We are often reminded of their ridiculousness whenever a current NBA player does something that seems unfathomable, only to hear them join Chamberlain and sometimes an elite roster of other Hall of Famers who have achieved. any feat.
His 1961-62 season was filled with record numbers, some that will probably never be broken.
In what was arguably the most unstoppable year of Chamberlain’s career, let’s take a look at some of those ridiculous unbreakable records.
100 points in one game
Of course, this is the natural starting point for most conversations about Chamberlain records. His famous 100-point game came during the 1961-62 season, shooting 36 of 63 from the field and 28 of 32 from the free throw line in a landslide victory over the New York Knicks.
This record has rarely been questioned since Chamberlain set it on March 2, 1962.
MORE: Five Things You Didn’t Know About Chamberlain’s 100-Point Game
In 1978, Nuggets legend David Thompson challenged the record a bit, scoring 73 points in a single game. Spurs legend David Robinson scored 71 points in a game in 1994, but those were the closest efforts for a long time.
In 2006, the Lakers’ all-time great Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a game, the second-most singles scoring in NBA history, but even he was 19 points behind the untouchable record of Wilt. More recently than that, Devin Booker scored 70 points in a game in 2017, but it’s a stretch to even call so close to the record.
We will likely never again see someone score 100 points in an NBA game, leaving Chamberlain’s 1961-62 season with another definitive milestone.
50.4 points per game
Some of the best players in NBA history never scored 50 points in a game. From legends like Magic Johnson, Julius Erving and Bill Russell, to Kevin Garnett, Steve Nash and Chris Bosh, to current stars still looking to pull off the feat like Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard.
And then there’s Chamberlain, who averaged more than 50 points per game for an entire season.
In 1961-62, Chamberlain had 45 (!!!) 50-point games. That’s more 50-point games in a season than the next closest person in NBA history in his entire career (Michael Jordan, 31 50-point games).
During this season, Chamberlain also had 12 60-point games, which is double the next closest player in NBA history that he has in his career (Kobe Bryant, six 60-point games). The same goes for 70-point games: Chamberlain had two, no other player in NBA history has more than one.
Excluding other Chamberlain seasons, the next highest scoring average for a season in NBA history was Elgin Baylor during that same 1961-62 season, recording 38.3 points per night. More recently, Jordan averaged 37.1 points per game in 1986-87 and James Harden averaged 36.1 points per game in 2018-19. Well below Chamberlain’s average of 50.4 points per game, it feels safe to say that it is another of his unshakable records.
4000 points in one season
And as you might expect, during the season that Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points per game, scored 100 points in one game, had two 70-point games, 12 60-point games, and 45 50-point games, he also established the all of the NBA. -Record time for points in a season.
Shocking, I know.
Chamberlain accumulated 4,029 points during the 1961-62 season, the most with much in NBA history. In fact, it’s the only 4,000-point season the NBA has seen. There have only been four seasons in NBA history in which a player scored more than 3,000 points and Chamberlain is responsible for three of them.
Like most of the time, he is the player closest to his own record, scoring 3,586 points during the following season in 1962-63. But after that, the next closest player is Jordan, who scored 3,041 points in 1986-87.
More recently, Bryant scored 2,832 points in 2005-06 and Harden scored 2,818 points in 2018-19, but both players were well below 4,000.
Just like no one will average 50 points per game in a season, no one will score 4,000 points either.
27.2 rebounds per game
Highscore records are insane, but rebounding records are no less impressive.
Chamberlain averaged 27.2 rebounds per game in 1961-62, the most in NBA history. The next closest player (again, besides himself) is Bill Russell, who averaged 24.7 rebounds per game in 1963-64.
During this season, Chamberlain had a contest in which he knocked down 43 boards. He had 19 30-rebound games and 49 (!) 20-rebounds games, and he only had fewer than 20 rebounds 11 times. There wasn’t a single game all season where Chamberlain didn’t have at least 15 rebounds.
To further demonstrate just how unbreakable this record is, there is only one player in the top 40 for the highest rebounding average in a season since the 1990s and that is Dennis Rodman, who averaged 18.7 in 1991-92.
The closest any current player has come to sniffing the record is Andre Drummond, who averaged 16.0 rebounds per game in 2018-19, and that’s not even close.
We may never see a player averaging 20 rebounds per game again, regardless of 27.2.
48.5 minutes per game
Of all the unshakable records, this is the unbreakable record.
Yes, there are only 48 minutes in an NBA game. No, that is not a typo that Chamberlain averaged 48.5 minutes per game during a season. In 1961-62, Chamberlain played an NBA-record 79 (!!!) complete games, which means he never missed a single time in all of his games except one.
So how did he average more minutes than there are in regulation game?
Chamberlain played every minute of the Warriors’ seven overtime games that season. With one game going into double overtime (playing 58 minutes) and another game going into triple overtime (playing 63 minutes), that put Chamberlain above the average number of minutes played in a regulation game of the season.
The next closest average minutes per game for a season (stop if you’ve heard this before, besides him) was Tiny Archibald’s 46.0 minutes per game in 1972-73. The most recent “challenge” to Chamberlain’s record was Allen Iverson, who played 43.1 minutes per game in 2005-06.
In today’s age of frequent rest and load handling, there is no question that no player will average more than 48 minutes per game.