April 1st, 1962, Game 5 of the East Finals. The Boston Celtics are playing the Philadelphia Warriors, with the series tied at 2-2. That’s the day April Fools became April Stool day in Boston. For a moment, the game almost turned into a WWE event, courtesy of Sam Jones and Wilt Chamberlain.
At 6’4″, 200 lbs Jones had to get creative around Wilt. He threw an elbow on one play, and it hit Wilt right in the solar plexus. Chamberlain groaned in pain as he was trying to catch his breath. The moment oxygen returned to his lungs, Wilt came after Jones. Not wasting a moment, Jones knocked a photographer off his stool to use it in self-defense.
Jones tried to take a swing at Wilt with the stool, but at that time, both benches cleared. Bill Russell stopped Wilt from getting to Jones, who still managed to let him know what’s coming next.
“Wilt was looking over his shoulders pointing at me, and he said ‘Sam Jones I’m gonna make you eat this stool,‘ and I was saying ‘Wilt Chamberlain, I’m gonna crack your kneecaps.’”Sam Jones, Wilt Chamberlain Archive
The fight was broken up, and the Celtics won the game. With a 3-2 lead, the series was moved to Philadelphia. At the beginning of the game, Chamberlain told Jones the paint is off-limits for him that night. Jones took him up on that challenge.
“The first time I got the ball, I went in for a layup. He did not try to block the ball at all; he blocked my body. He put me flat on my back, and I remember him coming in, getting close to me, and saying, ‘The next time you come in here, I’ll put you flat on your back‘ as he was picking me up.”Sam Jones, Wilt Chamberlain Archive
Driving into the paint was a risky proposition to begin with in those days. The events from the night before, trying to swing at Wilt with a stool, didn’t help. After his first attempt, Jones got the message.
“I said, ‘I won’t be back.‘ That whole night, I did not come back into the paint.”Sam Jones, Wilt Chamberlain Archive
The box score showed it. Jones had 15 points on 31.6% shooting. The Warriors won the game 109 -99 and earned Game 7 in Boston. Back on home court, Jones was back to himself and led the Celtics in scoring with 28 points in a 109-107 victory.
Both Chamberlain and Russell didn’t lead their team in points or shot attempts, but both pulled down 22 rebounds. The craziest part? They both played 48 minutes. Someone send that box score to Mike Budenholzer.