Author of book on Chamberlain's 100 points has been busy

Gary M. Pomerantz was only 15 months old when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points on March 2, 1962, but it didn't stop the former Washington Post writer and current Stanford University lecturer from writing a comprehensive book on one of the most extraordinary feats in sports history.

And even though his book - Wilt, 1962: The Night of 100 Points and the Dawn of a New Era - was published in 2005, Pomerantz has been one busy person lately.

Pomerantz estimates that in the last few weeks he has conducted more than 70 interviews leading up to Friday's 50th anniversary of Chamberlain's feat.

Yes, he felt the accomplishment deserved an entire book.

"We talk of the triple double, and here is the only single triple in NBA history," Pomerantz said in a phone interview.

Pomerantz interviewed more than 250 people and told the story from all angles.

"It's one of those legendary moments in sports history that seemed to me to tell as much about who we are as a country," he said. "I wanted to get inside that moment and put Wilt Chamberlain in context."

Had Chamberlain scored 100 points in this era, a book like his might not have been as successful because there would be so much real-time press coverage. In 1962, the media largely ignored the game.

Pomerantz tells the story of the late Paul Vathis, an Associated Press cameraman who took his 10-year-old son to the game. Vathis had the night off, but as Chamberlain got near 100 points, he went to his car, got his camera and was the lone photographer at the end of the game.

"We should be glad that he went back to his car to get his camera," Pomerantz said.

No detail was spared in Pomerantz's telling, including legendary public address announcer Dave Zinkoff giving away salamis and cigars at halftime.

Pomerantz said that Chamberlain was bigger than life, a person who transcended professional basketball.

"I am not suggesting the across-the-board talent can compare with today, but with all due respect, Michael Jordan can't be as historically significant as Wilt by virtue of the eras the two played," Pomerantz said. "When Michael Jordan joined the league, it was enjoying great success. But when Wilt came into the league, it was in search of itself, lagging far behind the college game."

Pomerantz said it took him more than three years to complete the book.

"This was like a full-immersion project for me," he said. "I loved every minute of it."

For complete coverage of Wilt's 100-point game, click here.


Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, or mnarducci@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @sjnard.