The Poor Decision Wilt Chamberlain Made That Was Based On Embarrassment

On a cold, rainy night in 1962, Hershey, Pennsylvania, was host to one of the greatest games in basketball history between the Philadelphia Warriors and the New York Knicks. The star player of the Warriors was 7-foot-tall Wilt Chamberlain, who was as tall as a giraffe, but as graceful as a ballerina. By the end of the first quarter, Chamberlain had scored 23 points, 41 points by halftime, 63 points by the third quarter, and he wasn’t slowing down. With 46 seconds left on the clock, Chamberlain broke free from five Knicks players, approached the basketball rim, jumped high, and slammed the ball through the hoop. The arena exploded into a frenzy. Wilt Chamberlain had just scored 100 points, the most any player has ever scored in a professional basketball game. On that historic night, Chamberlain netted 28 out of his 32 shots from the free throw line. That’s an incredible 87.5%, a drastic improvement over the 40% average. It didn’t happen because he improved his shooting skills; it happened because he changed the way he shot free throws. Instead of the typical overhand shot, he shot his free throws underhanded — a.k.a. “granny style.” After that historic game, something incredible happened. Wilt Chamberlain stopped shooting underhand and reverted back to shooting overhand. He chose to go back to being a terrible free throw shooter, all so he wouldn’t look so silly — and for the rest of his basketball career, he remained a poor free throw shooter.