What does the produce industry have to do with the most famous game in NBA history? Ask potato man Dave Budd, which is what SPW Editor Chip Carter and Video Guru Jenni Kight did on a recent visit to the North Carolina Potato Association’s annual gathering in Elizabeth City, NC.
Not only is it the most famous game in NBA history, it may be the most famous in the history of professional sports. It’s an event that’s only happened once. It may never happen again — and if it does the significance will be diminished because of the three-point shot. On March 2, 1962, at Hershey Sports Arena in Hershey, PA, Wilt Chamberlain did what had previously been almost inconceivable: He scored 100 points in a game. Yes, by himself.
Chamberlain’s Philadelphia Warriors were playing the New York Knicks that night. On the other side was a long, lean athletically gifted kid out of Wake Forest University named Dave Budd. If you’ve ever done any business with potato people, you probably know him as the long-time chip potato specialist with Gloucester County Packing Corp. in his hometown of Woodbury, NJ.
But in 1962, Budd was in his third year as an NBA player when fate put him in “Wilt the Stilt’s” path.
Budd was no slouch himself – at 6’6 and a solid 200 pounds, he had been a standout at Woodbury Junior-Senior High School and earned a scholarship to Wake Forest University in 1956. There he scored over 1,000 points in three years with a career shooting percentage close to 50%. He made the All-ACC second team his sophomore and junior years.
In 1960, he was the 10th overall pick in the NBA draft that saw Oscar Robertson and Jerry West go number 1 and 2, respectively.
He ranked 6th in the league in field goal percentage (.493) during the 1962–63 season. He ranked 9th in the league in true shooting percentage (.540) during that same season.
But he will forever be remembered as the man who put up the Knicks’ best fight against Chamberlain on that legendary night. Budd was the only Knick who managed a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in 27 minutes. He was also the only player not named Chamberlain to collect double-digit rebounds that night.
“I had played him before and had moderate success for short periods of time,” Budd has said. “You couldn’t play him conventionally because he was so big. The only thing you could attempt to do was either front him, and in that case they’d try to lob it in to him, or beat him down the floor and set up where he wanted to get and force him out a couple of extra steps. The guy weighed 300 or 270, so that wasn’t easy, either.”
Then in 1966, he walked away from the NBA to go into the produce business. Ever since, we’ve all known him as the really tall guy who knows a whole lot about potato chips.
It seems extraordinary today to think that a player would walk away from the NBA. But you have to remember salaries were nowhere near today’s extremes. Many professional athletes had jobs in the off-season. And the NBA’s grueling schedule kept Budd apart from his family far too much so he simply gave it up with no regrets.
In 2001, Wake Forest opened a new all-purpose exercise facility, the Kenneth D. Miller Center. It is home to a basketball gym on the third floor that is used as a practice court for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams. It is named the Dave Budd Gymnasium in honor of the man who stood tall against Wilt Chamberlain.