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Wilt, 1962: The Night of 100 Points and the Dawn of a New Era Hardcover – April 26, 2005

4.9 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On March 2, 1962, in a drafty, half-full, 8,000-seat arena in Hershey, Pa., Wilt Chamberlain (aka the Big Dipper) scored a stunning 100 points in a single game against the New York Knicks-a watershed moment for the fledgling NBA. Drawing on interviews he conducted with various team members, fans, journalists and referees, Pomerantz (Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn) recreates this historic night in startling detail, bringing everyone from Chamberlain, to the Knicks' defensive player Darrall Imhoff, to the caustic journalist Jack Kiser to vivid life. For Pomerantz, Chamberlain and Imhoff "symbolized pro basketball's accelerating generational shift writ large: the agile black athlete, swift and strong, moving freely against a white opponent who, though young, earnest, and determined, seemed... a handsome blond shrine to a bygone era when all of the players were white." Pomerantz explores the racial tension of the era through Chamberlain's experiences, fluidly transitioning from the action on the court to moments in the player's life and then back again. In one instance, he's finger-rolling a ball into the basket, and in the next, he's at Big Wilt's Smalls Paradise, the Harlem nightclub he part-owned, talking about how many good African-Americans were left out of the league due to its racial quotas. Throughout this surprisingly touching narrative, Pomerantz does a remarkable job of making Chamberlain, the world he inhabited and that mythic night shine all over again. 8-page b&w photo insert.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The game in which Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors against the New York Knicks, on March 2, 1962, belongs on the short list of modern sports' defining moments. Robert Allen Cherry discusses the event in his fine biography, Wilt: Larger than Life (2004); but Pomerantz looks in more detail at the accomplishment and places it in its rightful context. He notes, for example, that Chamberlain's 100 points is 51 percent better than David Thompson's 1978 second-place total of 73. And the 100-point game was merely consistent with Chamberlain's unconscious 1961-62 season averages of 50 points, 25.7 rebounds per game. The 100-point game also announced a fundamental change in the style in which basketball would henceforth be played and in the racial makeup of the men who could and would play it. While Pomerantz writes a suspenseful narrative of the game, he also delivers an engaging, full-bodied portrait of one of the great athletes of our time. An excellent companion to Cherry's biography but also a sports book that can stand on its own. Alan Moores
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (April 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400051606
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400051601
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #406,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gary M. Pomerantz (born November 17, 1960) is an American author and journalist who has served the past seven years as a visiting lecturer in the Department of Communication at Stanford University.

He is the author of five books of nonfiction. His newest, Their Life's Work (Simon & Schuster, 2013), is a narrative about the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty that follows the storied team across the decades and examines what the game of football gives to players, and takes from them.

Pomerantz spent nearly two decades as a daily journalist. He served as a sportswriter for The Washington Post (1981-1988) where he covered the Washington Redskins, Georgetown University basketball and the National Football League. He then moved to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (1988-1999) where he wrote social and political profiles, special projects, columns and served on the newspaper's editorial board.

In his first book, Pomerantz wrote about Atlanta's historic rise and racial conscience in Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn, named a 1996 Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times Book Review. His second book, Nine Minutes Twenty Seconds (2001), is a heart-pounding story about an aviation crash, also published in China, Germany and Britain. In WILT, 1962 (2005), Pomerantz recreates the legendary night when basketball star Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game against the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pa. Named an Editors' Choice book by The New York Times, WILT, 1962 was called by Entertainment Weekly "a meticulous and engaging narrative - a slam dunk of a read."

His fourth book, The Devil's Tickets (Crown/Random House, 2009), is a true-crime thriller set in a bygone age when the card game of bridge was all the rage. The Devil's Tickets evokes the last echoes of the Roaring 20s and the darkness of the Depression when a suave and cunning Russian-born American named Ely Culbertson became the Barnum of a bridge craze that fueled marital uproar across the nation, including a husband-killing and sensational trial in Kansas City. The widow Myrtle Bennett was defended in the murder trial by James A. Reed, former U.S. Senator from Missouri and one-time Democratic presidential candidate. A brilliant orator, Reed put on a dramatic courtroom show of eloquence, logic and a few tears.

Pomerantz was born in N. Tarrytown, NY, the youngest of three boys. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley (Class of 1982) with a degree in history. He later served as a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan where he studied theater and the Bible.

From 1999-2001 he served as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism at Emory University in Atlanta. For the past seven years at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., he has taught courses on specialized reporting and writing.

He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and their three children. Vist his website at www.garympomerantz.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I loved this book! Initially I thought -- no way would I read a book on Wilt and basketball history. Then, I stumbled across a two page preview in Parade Magazine and thought-this guy can write! Pomerantz' interesting storytelling immediately captivated me. The most compelling for me, a non basketball afficianiado, is how he took me right into the heart of the historical, cultural and race sensibilities through sports in the fifties and 60's and through this truly unparalleled player, Wilt. Add to this, now I have some sports legend history at my fingertips for conversations.
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Format: Hardcover
I was born and raised in Hershey, Pa., and worked as an usher at the Hershey Arena all through high school. I saw every sporting event in that remarkable little town throughout my life. But I missed that game. I was away at college, Wake Forest University, and missed the greatest night in the history of my hometown.

Obviously, the story of this game, this player (the Warriors trained in Hershey as did the Eagles) and this town is very personal for me.

Gary Pomerantz did an eloquent job of capturing the times, the player, the game and the town. He grasps the sensitivity of the social issues of the time (remember JFK's New Frontier was in full bloom) and the hearts and the minds of the people who lived. He describes with brilliance this innocent period and the bigger than life presence of Wilt Chamberlain, who dominated it and bent it to his will.

This is a book of history, of sport and the civil rights movement and of a man who captured all of our imaginations until the day he left us.

Ernie Accorsi

General Manager

New York Giants
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Format: Hardcover
What a lost treasure. I just finished reading Wilt, 1962. What great insight into a lost era of the NBA. Growing up, Wilt was one of my favoite players. I thought I knew everything about him and his history. Boy! Was I wrong. Wilt. 1962 gives great insight into not only " The 1st big fella", but also what the NBA was like back in the early days. The writer, Gary Pomerantz, does a great job of putting you right there in those old damp, dusty arenas, on the bus trips and the nightlife that surrounded the Big Dipper in his hey day. It was a fast read and highly recommended reading for any sports or history fan.


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Format: Hardcover
I admit I had reservations about ordering "Wilt, 1962." I enjoyed and Pomerantz's other books--"Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn" and "Nine Minutes, Twenty Seconds"--but I had no interest in professional basketball. None. But my admiration of Pomerantz's other works overcame my initial hesitations and I bought it. I'm glad I did because "Wilt, 1962" is about much more than a historic night in sports. It brings to life a time period in recent American history that we wouldn't recognize today. I finished it in a day!

Two things made "Wilt, 1962 compelling--Pomerantz's skill as a researcher and his talent as a writer. In his previous books Pomerantz mastered the details of everything from the residential patterns of segregated Atlanta to the "peen-ing" of the blades of airplane propeller and he brings the same "total immerson" style to "Wilt, 1962" with startling results. He learned how some NBA players defended the Big Dipper by receiving an elbow in the back. Pomerantz, however, is more than a master details--he is also a talented writer. Pomerantz weaves his telling details in a way that resurrects an NBA that needed exhibition games by NFL players to draw a couple thousand fans, to describe the Harlem nightclub scene that was in its twilight and, most importantly, to bring Wilt, a man who'e life and memory are now shadows and stereotypes, to life.
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Format: Hardcover
Mr. Pomerantz has written a cultural snapshot of America by focusing on a single NBA game in 1962. Back when the NBA was a very distant third to baseball and football on the national scene, he has extensively researched the "away" game between the Knicks and the Warriors in Hersey, Pa. There was no televison coverage and the only preservation of the 100 point performance of Wilt was a ham radio operator who started his recording late in the game.

"Wilt,1962" is an examination of race in the days of unoffical quotas, of sportsmanship where the Knicks felt that the Warriors were running up the score, and of team versus individual stardom. By the fourth quarter, the two teams were engaged in intense physical combat and intentionally fouling each other: the Knicks in an attempt to kept Wilt from scoring (he was a horrible foul shooter who had the night of his life by going 28 for 32 from the line) and by the Warriors who were trying to help Wilt when the Knicks started to play "stall ball." Wilt made his 100th point in the final minute of play as the Warriors won, 169-147.

This is not a full biography of Wilt but a story of an era captured within a single game. "Wilt, 1962" is similiar in tone to Frank Fitzpatrick's study of the 1966 NCAA title game between the all-black starting five from Texas Western and the all-white squad from Kentucky in "And The Walls Came Tumbling Down" (2000). It is readable as a history lesson disguised as a sports story.
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