On the 50th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point performance, the AFRO had to grant a round of applause. On March, 2, 1962, Chamberlain forever embedded his name in the NBA’s record books with a three-figure explosion against the New York Knicks as his Philadelphia Warriors prevailed 169-147. The game was low-lit, media vacant and television inapplicable. But those equipped with basketball brains all know the story. Just four free throws missed on 32 attempts, 25 rebounds and two assists. Blocks weren’t even a stat back then but a humble guess assumes Chamberlain rung up the score board in that category as well. Since that eventful night, the only performance that can even rival Chamberlain’s onslaught would be Kobe Bryant’s 81-point bonanza against the Toronto Raptors on Jan, 22 2006.

Bryant’s bond fire struck the AFRO Sports Desk and divided the room. Whose performance was more impressive, Bryant’s or Chamberlain’s? Sportswriters Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley debate.

Riley: It’s simple for me, Bryant, and here’s why: do you know how hard it is for a guard to dominate the scoreboard? Traditional centers and power forwards can use their girth and post moves to attack close to the basket. Despite being the best ball handlers, guards literally have to go through one to three levels of the defense just to reach the paint, making their scoring job that much tougher. Bryant shot over 60 percent from the field, made 18 of 20 free throws and connected on over 50 percent of his seven 3s that night. Incredible. Again, that’s 60 percent from the field, 50 percent from long range and 90 percent from the stripe. Add in Bryant’s modest 6-foot-6-inche frame and even Wilt would have to tip his cap to that effort.

Green: Kobe’s 81 is impressive, but it’s not 100. Just saying the number, 100, is breathtaking in itself. Say it with me, 100. Chamberlain’s numbers are even more mind boggling when you consider he hit on 28 of 32 from the free throw line. How many centers do you know that shoot that type of percentage? I could just add in his boring 25 rebounds just for some icing but I’ll relegate the conversation to points just to keep you in arm’s length. Nobody will ever come close to scoring 100 points in an NBA game and although I don’t think Bryant’s 81 mark will ever be touched, his threshold will be broken before Chamberlain’s ever will.

Riley: How impressive is it to just post in the paint (there were few three-second violations called in Chamberlain’s career) and grab and go? Bryant’s mark took some advanced skill to achieve. We’re talking dribbling, shooting, fading away, weaving, dodging and pump faking. Nobody’s seen Chamberlain’s display but I’m willing to assume you can minus at least five categories of the aforementioned. In the era of zone defenses, shot clocks, 20,000 rules and violations, the fact that Bryant was able to sift through all of that makes his performance king-worthy. True or false: is it easier for a big man to dominate a game than a guard? The answer is yes and the better performance is Bryant’s.

Green: The answer is false. It’s about even to me. If you have skills to be great then it doesn’t matter if you’re a guard or a center. It’s all about talent. It’s easy to marvel at Bryant’s showcase because you were able to see it. Pull it up on YouTube or ESPN.com, it’s there for you to see. No one has footage on Chamberlain’s night so you can’t critique and compare what you can’t see. However, I don’t need to see any highlight reel to tell you that those 100 points flashed some skill, shooting touch and maneuverability. If you think he just stomped down the court like a caveman, turned and grunted for the rock before making some old school sky hook then you’re crazy. Chamberlain was an athlete, evidenced by his excellence in collegiate shot put, high jump, triple jump and the 100=meter dash. Grace; speed; power, it was all there. And when you add all of that to his size, you get the greatest performance in basketball history, 100 points and 25 rebounds.

Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley

AFRO Sports Desk