Friday, March 02, 2012

100 Points

Today is the 50th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game. It is an astonishing achievement, one of the greatest personal feats in sports history.

On 710 ESPN people have been discussing whether it will ever be done again in an NBA game. All the experts say no. In 1962 Wilt towered over the  rest of the league; today the players are taller. Only Kobe Bryant, who scored 81 points in a game himself, says yes, it will be done again.

Kobe is right! It will be done again, though maybe not in my lifetime.

I base this prediction on one fact: never is a long, long time. It's not just the rest of my lifetime or the rest of the 21st century or the 22nd century or the 23rd century. Never is forever.

If the NBA lasts long enough, someone will score 100 points again. It will take a perfect storm: a great player will have to be "unconscious," shooting phenomenally well; the opponent will have to have lousy defense, but stay close enough in the game to keep the great player on the floor; and the opposing coach will have to be stupid enough not to double or triple team the great player. So it will take greatness on one side and epic stupidity on the other.

But what if America meets its demise? It could all end in a nuclear holocaust or a meteor strike. In that case, the naysayers can go "Nyah, nyah, nyah, no more 100-point games!"

The NBA could survive the political discorporation of the USA -- if the people in North America want their basketball more than they want a nation called the United States of America.

I think sports would survive if America became some kind of dictatorship because tyrants need bread and circuses to keep the masses sedated. The quality of sports would decline with the end of freedom, as dictatorship causes economic decline and scarcity of resources. The market creates more and more resources and scientific advances that can go into training, medicine and sports science; this would end under dictatorship, and the quality of everything, including sports, would deteriorate. Olympic times would go up and people would wonder how athletes in the old days ever ran so fast and jumped so high. But this might actually make the possibility of another 100-point game more likely. A phenomenon like Wilt or Michael Jordan could blow away a league of declining skills in the darkness of tyranny.

Then there are the Christian mystics who believe the end of the world is nigh. (How can they know when it's supposed to come like a thief in the night? They write books, make movies, run web sites and predict the exact day the world will end. This is a noisy thief coming.) If these people are right, then Wilt's record is safe.

I say it will happen again. But don't hold your breath.

UPDATE: Revisions.


Anonymous said...

You're assuming an American dictatorship. Was there a dictatorship when the Western Roman world fell? I think that is the model. I don't see an American dictatorship. I see a scene out of the Road Warrior followed by regional conflict in North America and the emergence of different political territories. Maybe there will be a resurgent Christianity. Maybe there wont. I actually doubt it.

Will Basketball survive? Will any modern sport? Unknown. It depends how much chaos is unleashed. Did the Arena survive? Did the Circus Maximus? I don't think they lasted much beyond the fall of the Pagan West. And the Circus Maximus was more important to the city of Rome than the Superbowl is to us. Let alone a sport with a dwindling fan base like the NBA. Who the hell wants to watch a bunch of thugs with disgusting tattoos play a game?

Anyway, interesting post.


Myrhaf said...

Rome became a dictatorship at least as early as Julius Caesar. By our standards, maybe earlier. It was another four centuries later before Rome was sacked by Alaric and the Huns.

It's hard to imagine Western Civilization falling into another Dark Age as bad as the last one. It would mean the death of billions of people, because they can't be fed without modern technology and capitalism. Perhaps dictatorship combined with some ghastly calamity such as a meteor strike and airborne plague could take us down to Dark Age level.

This is cheerful stuff to contemplate on a lovely Saturday afternoon.