Tip-Off Timer: Chamberlain and Dantley's Record 28 Free Throws
For one night, Wilt Chamberlain felt like a little guy.
He stood at the foul line and drilled free throws as if he were Oscar Robertson, Jerry West or some other sharpshooting guard from his era.
The result was Chamberlain, a 51.1-percent career marksman, hitting 28-of-32 free throws. That showing is a primary reason why the big man was able to become the only player ever to score 100 points in a game as his Philadelphia Warriors beat New York 169-147 on March 2, 1962 in Hershey, Pa.
"When you think of Wilt Chamberlain, it makes you kind of wonder because, when I started watching him play, we all know he wasn't a good free-throw shooter. But one night you're going to be hitting every free throw, and that's what happened to him,'' said Adrian Dantley, who was 7 when Chamberlain set the NBA record of 28 free throws made in a game and would join him in the Hall of Fame in 2008.
On Jan. 4, 1984, Dantley joined Chamberlain in the record book. He hit a remarkable 28-of-29 foul shots as his Utah Jazz defeated Houston 116-111.
Dantley managed 46 points during his record night in Las Vegas, where the Jazz had moved home games. Like Chamberlain's performance, it came at a neutral site. And it came in the same city where three months later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would break Chamberlain's career NBA scoring record with a skyhook against Utah.
"Sometimes you have games like that,'' said Dantley, who shot 9-of-15 from the field but mostly got fouled by the likes of Ralph Sampson, Rodney McCray, Robert Reid and Lewis Lloyd, who piled up a combined 21 fouls while playing just a combined 92 minutes. "I had a good night. They seemed to be fouling me on pump-ball fakes. All the (Houston) players were saying, 'Dantley gets all the calls.'''
Like Chamberlain, Dantley, who starred in the NBA from 1976-91 and is now a Denver assistant coach, usually did get a lot of calls. He also had games in his career in which he made 26 and 27 free throws, giving him three of the five most prolific nights in NBA history from the foul line.
The 7-foot-1 Chamberlain, who was 36-of-63 from the field during his record night, was a dominant center while the 6-5 Dantley was an undersized power forward. But both share a place in the NBA record book.
Yet while Dantley was an 81.8 percent career foul shooter, Chamberlain, who died in 1999, didn't just usually put up bricks from the line. They often were cinderblocks. Playing from 1959-73, six times he shot under 50 percent in a season, including an anemic 38 percent in 1967-68.
"It was astounding,'' said Nuggets coach George Karl, who was 10 and living in Pennsylvania at the time, said of Chamberlain's incredible night.
For one night, Chamberlain drilled foul shots as well as any little guy.