Tip-Off Timer: Wilt Chamberlain Didn't Stop at 48 Minutes
It might be the most remarkable, most unbreakable record in NBA history. And it's not his 100-point game.
It's only fitting that larger-than-life Wilt Chamberlain holds the record that never will be broken, and never will be approached.
NBA games are only 48 minutes, yet Chamberlain averaged 48.5 minutes during his remarkable 1961-62 season, a feat that goes behind Herculean, putting today's so-called Ironmen to shame.
By comparison, not a single player in the NBA last season averaged 40 minutes. Chamberlain, conversely, played every minute of every game in 1961-62, except for the one when he was ejected late. The overtime periods he played pushed his average that season above the 48-minute limit. He played in 3,882 of his team's 3,890 minutes during the 80-game season.
Chamberlain holds or shares in 72 NBA all-time records, but none as impressive as this one. Even his 100-point game and his 50.4-point average through that same 1961-62 season in Philadelphia can match the durability records he set. His numbers just don't lie
He doesn't hold just the NBA record for most minutes in a season, he has the top seven spots in that category.
It was a different era in sports then, when players were physically and mentally tougher. In baseball, good pitchers were expected to throw nine innings. Basketball stars were expected to play entire games. Chamberlain viewed sitting down as a sign of weakness, so he played through fatigue and nagging injuries and any foul trouble he might have had.
Through 14 seasons, Chamberlain never fouled out of a game, allowing him to dictate when it was time to sit – which was very infrequent. He averaged 45.8 through his career. Second best in history was rival Bill Russell (42.3 mpg).