By Jason Adams
Updated April 25, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

Big, strong, gregarious, dapper: Wilt Chamberlain stood in no man’s shadow — except his own. A boastful comment from his 1991 autobiography, A View From Above, in which the late hoopster claimed he bedded no less than 20,000 women, reduced the NBA legend to a late-night punchline. Thankfully, Wilt, 1962 focuses more on artfully reconstructing the legend’s career exclamation point: his almost mythical (and untelevised) 100-point game on March 2, 1962, against the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pa. Logging more than 250 interviews with teammates, opponents, and attendees (including the kid who stole the eBay-worthy game ball), Gary M. Pomerantz unfolds a meticulous and engaging narrative that illustrates how a combination of obsequious teammates, forgiving rims, and more than a little showmanship (picked up playing a year for the Globetrotters) converged to make a historic evening — and a slam dunk of a read.