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A photo, a story | Wilt Chamberlain’s “100” poster

This is the first image that comes to mind when it comes to this legendary game. On March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain, the Warriors’ star pivot, achieved one of the greatest feats in sport: scoring 100 points in the same game, against the Knicks! A round figure immortalized by this no less legendary photo. There ” ultimate picture by Wilt Chamberlain described the giant’s biographer, Robert Cherry.

What happened in the spans of the Hershey Sports Arena (Pennsylvania), at the end of this performance never before equaled, for such a cliché to be taken?

The first name to remember is that of Harvey Pollack. That evening, the man who would later be considered a statistics legend within the league, was to officiate as the Warriors’ public relations director as well as the game’s statistician. But not only: he is also used to cover the meeting with the Associated Press, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the United Press International!

The Philadelphia Inquirer decided not to send its reporter to cover the game. They asked me to do it for them. I brought my portable typewriter. At the same time, the AP and United Press International had associates in Harrisburg, but they didn’t know much about basketball. “, remembered the handyman in 2012, a few years before his death, considering that this match was now known to everyone largely thanks to his work. ” Biggest night in 65-year league career. »

The photographer present… as a spectator!

That evening, the Philadelphia Inquirer wants, for example, the slightest detail on the 36 shots converted by the pivot (36/63 in total and 28/32 on free throws!). After checking the numbers with Dave Richter, the official scorer, we head to the locker room.

Wilt Chamberlain is already there, seated on a stool. Harvey Pollack then notices one of the few photographers present, Paul Vathis, of the AP, waiting. The image professional, who is none other than the 1962 winner of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for his shot of John F. Kennedy and Dwight D. Eisenhower at Camp David, finds himself here almost by chance. He came to the match as a simple spectator, taking his son there for his tenth birthday. The photographer had to rush into his car to retrieve his camera during the evening!

Have you already taken your photos? »asks him in the locker room Harvey Pollack, who reported the scene in a documentary devoted to the match.

Paul Vathi: I don’t know what to take. What can I do ?

–Harvey Pollack: Did anything unusual happen here tonight?

– Paul Vathis: Yes, Wilt scored 100 points.

–Harvey Pollack: Let’s do something to mark the occasion. »

The statistician, who does not simply want to pose the player with the ball, then speaks to Jim Heffernan, editor of the Philadelphia Bulletin. ” Do you have Hef paper? The journalist gives him a sheet of his notebook on which he was going to write the story. Once the number “100” has been scribbled, Harvey Pollack hands the sheet inside: ” Do you see this symbol? It shows what you did here tonight, a photographer is going to take a picture of you. And Wilt Chamberlain replies: Hey, great idea! »

no caption needed

My dad just needed an idea. He wrote ‘100’ on a piece of paper, which we didn’t keep, and they took a picture of him. It was just a quick idea. He thought the easiest thing was to write down the number and hand it to her. That says it all. You don’t need a caption. A picture is worth a hundred points “, Formulated Ron Pollack in 2016 about the approach of his father.

It’s just Wilt sitting on that bench, looking sheepishly at a device holding a piece of paper. But it works “judged Gary Pomerantz, author of the book ‘Wilt, 1962’. “It’s as awesome as any image taken in basketball. Whether it’s Julius Erving dunks, levitating Michael Jordan, or Kareem’s ‘sky hook’ (Abdul-Jabbar), this image surpasses them all. »

An iconic image for an iconic match that Randall Vathis, who was celebrating his tenth birthday for the occasion, will never forget ” never. It was just a wonderful evening. I remember thinking, ‘That’s a three-digit number.’ I never thought in my lifetime someone could score so much. Nobody, nobody, did what this guy did. Fortunately, his father and his “advisor” were there to immortalize him.

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