How Did Wilt Chamberlain of the Warriors Average 48.5 Minutes Per Game?

How Did Wilt Chamberlain of the Warriors Average 48.5 Minutes Per Game?

Many of the NBA records held by Wilt Chamberlain were established in the 1961–1962 season, when he famously scored 100 points for the Philadelphia Warriors (now the Golden State Warriors) against the New York Knicks, en route to winning the third of his six consecutive scoring titles. (he would add a seventh with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1965–1966).

Though it stands as the highest single-season average in NBA history, his season’s scoring average may not even be the most noteworthy figure he achieved during the 1961–1962 campaign. No, that might have been the 48.5 minutes he played each game that year, which is quite unlikely considering that an NBA game lasts 48 minutes.

Unquestionably, one of the most resilient players in NBA history is Wilt Chamberlain. The 13-time All-Star played 80 or more games nine times in his 14-year career and fewer than 73 games just once. Not only did Chamberlain average 42.1 minutes per game every game for 14 seasons, but he also led the league in minutes played nine times.

To put that into perspective, Shaquille O’Neal only ever reached 40 minutes per game (he hit the mark exactly once in his 19-year career) and never averaged that many.

Wilt Chamberlain accomplished the seemingly unachievable feat of averaging 48.5 minutes per game from 1961 to 1962. However, this is how he managed to do it. In 1967–1968, the NBA switched to an 82-game schedule, and Wilt participated in all 80 games for the Warriors, missing just eight minutes and 33 seconds of action. And the reason for that was that on January 3, 1962, he was ejected from a game against the Los Angeles Lakers—a team he would go on to win a championship with—after receiving his second technical foul.

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