History of Basketball
From New York to London, to Paris, to Beijing. From Sarajevo to Dafar to Buenos Aires to Los Angeles and everywhere in between the game of Basketball is played. It’s played in the city parks of New York and the dusty plains of Africa, and the expensive designed courts of the NBA. The game is played wherever someone can get a ball, and a mounted ring-like object. Unlike other sports that require multiple people and a lot of equipment, Basketball only requires a Ball and the willingness to play.
The First basketball type game may have been played by the early Olmec people of ancient Mexico as early as 500 years go. The Aztec, and Mayan cultures also had a game similar to basketball, only instead of a rubber ball they used the decapitated skulls of their conquered foes. The First true basketball game as we know it was on January 20th, 1892 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Canadian Doctor James Naismith invented the game for the YMCA to play during the winter months. Naismith wrote simple rules for the game, and nailed up two peach baskets for hoops, most of original Naismith rules are still in place today. Some of the rules have changed a bit, and new rules have been added since then, such as in the original game bouncing the ball was prohibited. Of the 13 rules, nine have been modified and kept in the modern game of basketball, the rest have been disregarded.
The First game consisted of 18 players, or nine to a team which was standard to the baseball teams of the day. Since Naismith or the YMCA didn’t have the money to design a new ball they used a soccer ball. The concept of the game must have been foreign to the players as the game was played for 30 minutes and the final score was 1-0. Halfway though the game however William R. Chase made the ball go into the peach basket, and thus became the first player to ever score in a basketball game. It was during this game that someone suggested a name for this new sport, Basketball.
Dr. James Naismith
The Game grew in popularity and within a few years, most of the YMCA centers in the Norther Eastern United States, and Southern Canada had facilities to accommodate players. However within a decade of its invention most YMCA centers began to ban the game because of the rough style of play associated with it. However other amateur groups picked up the slack, and new Basketball leagues began forming, including the Amateur Athletic Union and the Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
The First Competitive Leagues.
The First competitive basketball leagues where all local leagues, usually within the larger east coast cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. On some occasions’ teams from other regions would travel to play another team. Once such occasion took place on November 7, 1896. this was the first known professional basketball game was played in Trenton New Jersey between the Trenton YMCA and the Brooklyn YMCA. The game was played at the Trenton Masonic temple, and an admission fee was charged for admittance into the game. Each player got $15 dollars except Fred Cooper who got $16 dollars, and became the first highest paid player. Trenton defeated Brooklyn 15-1 to win the first ever professional basketball game.
Two years after the first professional basketball game was played six teams for Philadelphia and New Jersey formed the National basketball league(NBL). Shortly after the NBL formed, other leagues began to form all over the Eastern United States including the Philadelphia Basketball League, Eastern League, New York State League, and the Interstate league. Most early basketball leagues never lasted more then a few weeks, the NBL itself only lasted five seasons. In 1902 the New England Basketball League got a huge boost in national exposure when it allowed an African American named Bucky Lew play in a game
1901 marked a landmark year for the game of basketball as colleges began sponsoring games. At first only a few Colleges participated including Yale, Minnesota, Dartmouth, Columbia, Chicago, Utah, and Navy. In the early days of collegiate sports most teams played less then 10 games with the lucky ones playing maybe 15 or 16. In 1901 Yale would go 10 and 4 to win the first national college championship. The next year the University of Minnesota would go 11 and 0 to become the first undefeated team in basketball. These early games always had problems with injuries, as fouling rules where in place but a shortage of trained referees made it impossible to have good refs at every game. In the time from 1905-1910 many American activist groups were calling for the government to step in and place restrictions on the sport. In 1910 President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt urged the colleges of America to create a governing body for itself before it was too late, in the summer of 1910 they did and formed the Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
While the Colleges where just setting up the pro leagues came and went, but not all teams were in leagues. Some teams remained independent and would travel the country playing local teams for money, they were known as Barnstormers; some of these teams were the Original Celtics, the SPHA’s, the Buffalo Germans, the Trojans of New York, and two all African American teams, the New York Renaissance Five(or Rens) and the most famous of all the Barnstorming teams, and the only one still in existence today-the Harlem Globetrotters.
The Early Professional teams. The Original Celtics where an offshoot of a team called the New York Celtics, the New York Celtics began in 1914 but ended during world war I. At the end of World War I Jim Furey, and his Brother Tom restarted the team. The Furey’s brought many new concepts to the game of basketball, but their most important introductions were Zone defense, and the first contracts to any player. Contracts where important because in the early days players would switch teams constantly to whoever paid them the most, and by having contracts the Celtics prevented this. In 1921 the Celtics joined the Eastern league, and beat Trenton in the championship game, the Celtics where not content just sitting around the next year they joined the Metropolitan League. After starting out 13-0 the Celtics left the league due to a lack of competition, they rejoined the Eastern League but again dominated so greatly they couldn’t draw in a crowd so they with drew again.
The SPHA’s or the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association was created by Eddie Gottlieb in 1918, the SPHA’s had one of the most successful runs of all the Barnstorming teams, they attracted fans wherever they went, and they usually beat their competition. They first joined the Philadelphia League, but after that League disbanded they moved to the Eastern League, and once that league disbanded they moved again and again. The team was so popular that people would pay top dollar to see them play, of corse top dollar at this time was $2 dollars.
The Original Celtics
The Buffalo Germans began play in 1895, and by the time they disbanded had a 792-86 win-loss record, including a 111 game win streak from 1908-1911. The teams’ play was so great in the early days of basketball that in the1904 Olympic Games in St Louis, Missouri they were selected to represent the United States. The Germans would soundly beat all their competition en route to winning the first gold metal in Mens Olympic Basketball History.
The Not So Roaring 20s.
Thought-out the 1920s Basketball was a second tier sport, only attended when there wasn’t a hockey or football game. The low attendance in most areas forced teams, and leagues to close down almost monthly, but some persevered. Teams such as the Celtics, Rens, SPHA’s and Germans kept putting on a show wherever they went, but for every successful team; there were 20 failures. But this all changed in 1925 with the creation of the American Basketball League(ABL).
The ABL was a collection of small teams usually owned by small corporations, some of the Early teams included the SPHA’s and the Original Celtics, Soon other teams including the Boston Whirlwinds, and the Cleveland Rosenblum’s joined the league. With most teams being owned by small corporations games where first played sparingly. Half way thought the first season the Celtics dropped out and began Barnstorming again, this left the chase for the first title wide open. The Cleveland Rosenblum’s would win the first title. The Next year the Celtics once again rejoined the league as the Brooklyn Original Celtics. The Original Celtics would go on to win the title in both 1927 and 1928 before dropping out of the league again. The Rosenblum’s would go on to win the next two titles in 29, and 30, but with the onset of the great depression they and most of the teams in the league disbanded. The ABL tried to keep afloat during the depression, playing in 1930-31, but with money and food in such short quantity not many Americans could enjoy such a luxury as a basketball game. The League suspended operations for 1931-32, and 1932-33 seasons.
War, Economical depression, hunger and Politics in basketball.
After the stock market crash of 1929 the United States was in great despair, money was scarce, and those who had it hoarded it. A vast drought from Ohio to Utah, and Canada to Mexico left many Americans without food. Yet during these dire times, basketball lived on. The thirties did little in the way of improvement upon the game, but it still added its own flair and finesse to the game.
After the 33-34 suspended season the ABL once again began playing. The league saw poor attendance at first, as fans couldn’t afford to eat let alone to go to a basketball game. The League had five teams disband before playing a game. The SPHAs would win their first title this season. In the college ranks the University of Kentucky won its first championship.
The Next season the SPHAs struggled but still won many games. Unfortunately the growing anti-Semitism in American made it hard for the SPHAs to play. SPHAS stood for South Philadelphia Hebrew Association, and some in American felt that Jewish bankers were responsible for the economical depression that was plaguing America. Despite the troubles the SPHAs and the league continued on. The New York Jewels won two out of three games against the SPHAs in the semifinals, only to lose to the Brooklyn Visitations.
The 1935-36 season saw a growth in the league, the economy got better under the Roosevelt administration, and some fans could finally afford to go out to a game. However, the Anti-Semitism didn’t go away. The SPHAs endured harassment everywhere they went, most notably in and around New York City. A new group even threatened to sue the SPHAs if they continued to play in the ABL, the group was the American Nazi party. The threats did little to deter to SPHAs who beat New York in the semis, and went on to face the defending champions’ Visitations. Many American Nazis’ attended the games to harass the SPHAs, many were arrested during the seven game series. The SPHAs would win game seven and the title.
The 36-37 season was much the same as the previous season, the economy stagnated and the talent in the league began to deplete, because players needed better paying jobs to feed their families. The SPHAs would win the title again, but would lose so many players in the off-season they considered folding. It was Eddie Gottlieb who convinced the remaining players to stay. The loss of many key veterans was disastrous for the SPHAs as they struggled thought the entire season. The 37-38 season would belong to the Jersey Reds as they’d go on to win the title .
Competition is born
Going into the 37-38 season the ABL felt confident, however their confidence was about to be tested. The Intercollegiate Athletic Association announced that they would be holding a one and out basketball competition every march to decide the national champion. Teams would be ranked according to their divisions and overall records. Thus, March Madness was born. The league also announced that it would change its name to National Collegiate Athletic Association, or the NCAA. Not many owners feared the NCAA because the players were all amateurs, and only had four years of eligibility to play. Things changed however when owners of many Midwest farming communities announced they had formed the Midwest Basketball Association. The teams where all sponsored by major corporations just like the ABL teams, but the NBL was able to attract some of the most lucrative players in the business, including Leroy Edwards. The best teams for the newly formed NBL where the Buffalo Bison, the Oshkosh All-stars and the Goodyear Wingfoots.
Both leagues catered to a distinct class, the ABL tried attracting the richer peoples of the larger eastern cities, while the NBL tried getting the farmers and blue collar workers of the mid Ohio region to attend games. The 37-38 season wasn’t very profitable for either league, the ABL did make more money because it played more games, but the NBL was on the map. The Goodyear Wingtips would win the first NBL title, while the Reds won the ABL title.
The 38-39 year, both teams saw many teams come and go. The Bison would be inactive for the season. Thus, the NBL lost its largest metropolitan area. The league had a poor showing the first few weeks of the season, but due to a cold winter picked up in popularity. The ABL on the other hand was seeing more and more teams in the red. The situation became so bad that the league was forced to cut the season short, and made the playoffs best out of three. The Reds and the Jewels would play for the ABL title with the Reds wining in a 3-0 sweep. The NBL saw the Firestone Non-skids defeat the Oshkosh All-stars in a best of five series 3-2.
The 39-40 season saw a change in the NBL, for the first time teams began choosing their own nicknames instead of that of the team owners. Also the Bison rejoined the league after taking a year off, only they now played in Chicago as the Bruins. The Financial despair for the ABL continued in the 39-40 season, the playoffs had to be cut to a best of one series. The SPHAs captured their third ABL title when they defeated the Washington Heurichs. Firestone became the NBL’s first repeat winner when they beat the All-stars.
The 40-41 season saw a change for the ABL as people stopped attending their games because of a serious threat of war as well as the poor economy. The league had to scale back on games, dropping the number from 33 games to 16 games. The SPHAs would win the title again in a 3-1 series decision over the Brooklyn Celtics. The NBL also experienced this prosperity, as it too added more teams. The most notable of these new teams was the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons, and the Sheboygan Redskins. The All-stars would make the finals again against the Redskins, only this time the All-stars would win the NBL title.
As the 41-42 season started both leagued hopped that a new found bounce in the economy would provide an extra boost for both the leagues. Both leagues as well as the NCAA found November to be a great month for profit, and overall play. Games were closer, and fans and players were enthused by the game; everything looked great. But like the old saying goes, this was the calm before the storm. As November moved into December Oshkosh and Sheboygan where battling for first place, but that would become the last thing on every-ones minds when they woke up to read the newspaper on Monday, December 8, 1941. The day before the Japanese had launched a surprise attack on the US navel fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, thus the attack brought the United States into the second World War.
Both leagues temporarily suspended operation for a few weeks, as many players signed up to join the armed forces, still others, mainly those of German decent were taken by executive order 9066. EO 9066 was mainly in use against people of Japanese decent, but many Germans were also taken into custody. The SPHAs even had a Jewish, American Born player sent to Germany in exchange for American Citizens. Despite this both leagues as well as the nation as a whole downplayed the entire episode.
Games began to start back up in late December-Early January. The All-stars of the NBL continued to serge while the Redskins floundered. The All-stars costed to the best record in the league, followed by Sheboygan. The NBL enjoyed some success during the season, but uniforms and even balls were scarce, sometimes the games were played with nearly flat balls with no grip. The ABL on the other hand struggled immensely. The loss of many players, the fear in the major cities, and the war took a huge toll on the league. The Wilmington Bombers would win the first game of their playoff series and are declared the champions. In the NBL the All-stars would win their second title.
The War years.
As the 42-43 NBL season got underway, the league had little expectations for success, the league saw three teams drop out before the start of the season, But the league actually saw some success, mainly in the larger cities such as Fort Wayne, and Chicago. Unfortunately smaller teams such as Oshkosh, Sheboygan, and Toledo didn’t have great attendance. Toledo only lasted four games brining the number of teams down to four, Fort Wayne’s Bobby McDermott lead the league in scoring with nearly 14 points a game. McDermott and the Zollner Pistons saw unmatched success as they finished the 17 and six. Sheboygan finished 12 and 11, followed by Oshkosh(11-12) and Chicago(8-15). All four teams made the playoffs, Fort Wayne beat Chicago 2-1 and Sheboygan beat the defending champions Oshkosh All-stars in a two game sweep. Sheboygan would beat Fort Wayne two out of three times, to win the Championship.
Where the NBL had success, the ABL had little. Trenton began their dominance of the league early winning 11 out of their 13 games. Philadelphia and Wilmington also enjoyed good seasons. Trenton would make the Finals only to lose to Philadelphia. The SPHAs were lead by Elmore Morgenthaler, who scored more then 20 points a game in some cases. Morgenthaler was a huge draw for the SPHAs because most of the games were in the mid 50s, and his dominance of the paint was unseen, he was the first true giant of the basketball world despite standing only 6 foot nine or 10.
In the NCAA, the colleges in the Western United States finally began to make an impact against their Eastern Country parts, The University of California-Los Angeles was the first of the western colleges to gain notoriety when they defeated one of the Eastern elite schools. Other schools in smaller less likely places also had great seasons. The Universities of Utah, Wyoming, and Oklahoma all began to draw crowds to their games. In the east Georgetown dominated and was favored to win the title. Georgetown would meet Wyoming for the national championship, in the municipal Auditorium in St Louis Missouri. Wyoming would stun the Hoyas and win the game 46-34.
The 43-44 saw the Cleveland Roseblum’s jump for the ABL to the NBL and become the Cleveland Chase Brassmen. Unfortunately this didn’t increase the number of teams in the NBL because Chicago ceased operations for the season. In the first time in their history the Oshkosh All-stars struggled, the team had finished the previous season below 500 for the first time ever, and the 43-44 season was even worse. The All-star only won seven of their 22 games and finished in second to last place only to the ABL crossover Chase Brassmen, who finished the season 3-15. The Brassmen had to cancel games due to lack of many that is why they only played 18 games while everyone else had 22. At the top of the Standings were the Zollner Pistons. The Zollner Pistons where as good as the All-stars were bad, winning 18 of their 22 games to capture first place. Sheboygan also had a good showing finishing the season at 14-8, with five of their losses coming to Fort Wayne. The Zollner Pistons would make short work of the Chase Brassmen, beating them by nearly 30 in the first game, and then 11 in the second game to take a 2-0 series sweep and advance to the finals. Sheboygan had a harder time with Oshkosh, the Redskins beat the All-stars 32-31 in the first game of the series, but lost 34-31 in game two. Game three wouldn’t be another close one with the Redskins winning 40-27. In the finals Sheboygan put up a good fight against Fort Wayne in the first game losing by 2, 55-53. The next two games saw Fort Wayne build up a comfortable lead early and coast to victory 36-26 in game two, and 48-38 in game thee to capture their first NBL title.
Some of the ABL’s financial problems disappeared in the 43-44 season. The SPHAs the Bombers and a few other made a little money, and the league had some decent game play. But the rise of the NBL was hard to cope with, the ABL lost the Rosenblum’s to the NBL. Also, the league had many players defect to the NBL. Despite this teams such as the SPHAs, Tigers and Bombers carried on. The SPHAs would once again become a dominate force behind Elmore Morgenthaler who lead the ABL in scoring, but he wasn’t enough to lead Philadelphia to the title, they lost four games to three to the Wilmington Bombers.
The 44 college season was mostly unremarkable, game attendance wasn’t very high and most of the players weren’t very important. The thing of most interest involves the NCAA tournament. The Arkansas Razorbacks team bus was involved in an automobile accident. The NCAA needed a replacement for them. The University of Utah had just lost a NIT game to the University of Kentucky. But the NCAA allowed Utah to play in the tournament to replace Arkansas. Utah would go on and Missouri and Iowa to go to the National Championship game. Utah would face Dartmouth for the championship, the game was a closely contest game, and after two halves of play the game was knotted at 36. Each team scored four points in the first four minutes and 56 seconds of the overtime, but with four second to go, Utah’s Herb Wilkinson hit a hook shot at the buzzer giving the Ute’s the 42-40 win. The 1944 Utah Ute’s are the only team to have played in the NCAA and NIT tournament in the same season.
The 44-45 season was an important one for the NBL, for the first time since the start of the second World War the League saw substantial growth. Chicago re-entered the league as the Chicago American Gears, and a new time the Pittsburgh Raiders would join the league. The League was split into two divisions, The East with Fort Wayne, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, and the West with Sheboygan, Chicago and Oshkosh. The league would also expand the number of games from 22 to 30.
In the Eastern Division the Zollner Pistons would once again dominate, going 25-5 with only one loss coming at home. Bobby McDermott would once again be named MVP for the third time in a row for the Pistons. Cleveland would fair much better in the 44-45 season then they did in the 43-44 season. Cleveland did change their name from the Chase Brassmen to Allmen Transfers. They wouldn’t finish the season above 500 but did finish at 13 wins and 17 losses. Pittsburgh brought up the rear in the Eastern Division, winning only seven games and finishing last in the league.
The West was a lot more competitive. No one team ran away with the division lead early like what happened with the Pistons in the East. Instead all three teams had similar records going into a stretch where they needed to face their Eastern counterparts. The Redskins faired the best and took the division lead and would never look back. The Redskins would build up a seven game lead late in the season and eventually stretch it to 12 games as the season ended. Chicago would finish at 14-16, after losing key players to injury late in the season. For the second year in a row Oshkosh would be last with a record of 12 and 18.
Oshkosh and Pittsburgh wouldn’t make the playoffs marking the first time in three seasons a team didn’t play in the post season. Eastern champion Fort Wayne would face the runner up Cleveland. The Pistons hammered the Transfer 78-50 in the first game, led by McDermott who scored 30 points in the game. Game two was a little closer but Fort Wayne still won 58-51 to capture the East and advance to the NBA finals. In the West Chicago stunned Sheboygan when the Gears beat the Redskins 50-49 in game one. The Redskins would respond in game two by trashing the Gears 49-36. Game three would not see an improvement for the Gears as they Redskins once again blew them out 57-27.
A rematch of Fort Wayne and Sheboygan was brewing for all to see in the Finals. Sheboygan would win game one 65-53. Then in stunning fashion the Redskins took game two in Fort Wayne as well winning 50-47. The Redskins were heading back to Sheboygan up 2-0 needing only one game for the title. Fort Wayne however would respond by beating Sheboygan 58-47 in game three, then Fort Wayne embarrassed the hometown Redskins, by beating them 58-41. The series would go back to Fort Wayne all tied up with the momentum on the side of Fort Wayne. The Pistons would capture their second straight NBL title by defeating the Redskins 59-49 in game five. This marked the first time that a team would come back from a 2-0 deficit in a five game series to win the series, a feat which is still rare today.
The 44-45 season saw the ABL nearly decimate itself, internal struggled forced many teams to lose money and the rivalry with the NBL had killed the league, The once proud league was left with only six teams by the start of the 44-45 season. Philadelphia would finish 22-8 and for the best record, Trenton would follow suit at 21-9. The SPHAs would face the Baltimore Bullets in the championship series, and win two to one.
With World War II now over, America tried to focus on the luxuries of life, and that included basketball. The NBL, ABL, and NCAA all saw a huge influx in talent, and fans during this period, because many of the men had been away fighting the way, and now had money to step. The Economy began to boom, and many had an optimism never before seen in America.
The NBL added three new teams, the Indianapolis Kautsky’s, the Rochester Royals, and the Youngstown Bears. However, the Pittsburgh Pirates dropped out of the league after only one season. The Bears and the Royals would join the Pistons and Transfers in the East, while the Kautsky’s joined the Redskins, All-stars and Gears in the West.
Fort Wayne would once again look like the team to beat jumping out quickly in the East, but Rochester kept with them. As the final weeks of the season the teams were neck and neck, the Pistons would win the race for the division championship by two games over the Royals. The Bears finished 13-20, and the Transfers finished a pathetic 4-29. Fort Wayne’s Bobby McDermott was named MVP for the 4th time in a row.
In the West the Redskins, Gears and All-stars would be in a three-way dog fight for the division championship. The Redskins would win it over the All-star by two games, the Redskins finished 21-13 while the All-stars finished 19-15. The All-stars also finished two games ahead of the Gears who finished at 17-17. The Kautskys finished at 10-21.
Only the two best teams in each division made the playoffs. In the East it was Fort Wayne and Rochester in a best of five series. The Pistons won game one by 10 points, but the Royals answered by winning game two, 58-52. With game three was in Rochester and the Royals rode their fan support to beat the Pistons by the same 58-52 score they had won game two with. The Royals smelled blood after their game three win, and demolished the defending champion Pistons 70-54.
Sheboygan and Oshkosh would play a great series, in game one the Redskins beat the All-stars 46-45. In game two the All-stars won 53-41. Game three would switch to the Redskins who won 58-52. The All-stars would counter by winning game four in a blowout, 68-42. In a fitting end to the series neither team won consecutive games, the Redskins beat the All-stars 65-46 in game five, to win the series and moved on to face the Royals in the finals.
The Finals wouldn’t be much of a match, the Royals demolished the Redskins in all three games, winning all three games by double digits. The Royals would become the first expansion team, to win a title in the NBL.
ABL and NCAA
In the ABL the Bullets took an early lead in the season standings, but the SPHAs would come roaring back to tie the Bullets at the end of the season with identical 21-13 records. The two teams would play for the Championship with Baltimore winning three games to one game.
Oklahoma state became the first college to repeat in the modern format when they beat North Carolina 43-40 in the Championship game.
Before the start of the 46-47 season the ownership group of the Chicago Gears sold the team name to another group of investors and moved the Chicago team to Tri-city and changed their name to the Blackhawks. The investor group started up a new team called the Chicago American Gears, and they signed a player that would forever change the game; George Mikan.
Besides the Gears the NBL added other new teams, the Syracuse Nationals, the Toledo Jeeps, the Anderson Duffy Packers, and the Detroit Gems. The addition to teams in Detroit and Syracuse was a huge boost for a league with teams in mostly small town cities.
The Champion Royals began where they left off, by winning big. The Royals lead by Al Cervi had an early jumpstart in the east, which left Fort Wayne struggling to play catch up. The Royals would go on to win 31 games against 13 losses. The Pistons would finish in second place with 25 wins and 19 losses. Toledo and Syracuse would both finish at 21-23, while brining up the rear was Tri-city(19-25) and Youngstown(12-32).
The West had a lot more of a competitive race in the standings. Five of the six teams in the division were still in the race with weeks to go. The All-Stars would take the division crown going 28 and 16. The All-Stars were followed by Kautsky’s who had vastly improved from the season before to go 27 and 17. The Mikan Lead gears followed suit at 26-18 as did the Redskins. The Anderson Duffy Packers finished the season at 24-20, but did not qualify for the playoffs. Rounding out the west was the Detroit Gems who went 4-40 in one of the saddest displays of basketball ever played in a top flight professional league.
For the first time the NBL had an actual playoff seeding format, with four teams from each division making the playoffs. The top seeded Royals would face their New York Counterparts, the Syracuse Nationals in a best of five series. Rochester won the first game 66-64, but the Nationals would win game two 64-61 to tie the series at one game a piece. The Royals would take games three and four by six and five points respectively.
The middle bracket had the Pistons versus the Jeeps; the battle of the cars was on. Fort Wayne would crush Toledo in the first two games winning by more than thirty in game one, and more than 20 in game two. When the series shifted to Toledo, the Jeeps exacted some revenge by beating the Pistons by 10 in game three. The Jeeps would also win game four to send the series back to Fort Wayne. The Pistons would win the series at home in another blow out.
In the West old rivals Sheboygan and Oshkosh would once again be facing each other. Sheboygan would squeak out two wins at home before going to Oshkosh up two games to none. But in a repeat performance of the 44 NBL championship the Redskins lost the next three games and would be eliminated for the playoffs. In the middle bracket the Kautsky’s and Gears would have a fantastic series, one of the best the NBL ever had. The Gears took game one 74-72 and also got game two 69-61. When the series flipped to Indianapolis, the Kautsky’s would return the favor winning game one in games three and four. The Gears would return to Chicago and win the series 76-62.
For some curious reason the league decided that the semifinals would be a best out of three instead of best out of give. The Royals beat the Pistons in game by nine, but the Pistons would beat the Royals by seven in game two. The two teams had begun a rivalry which would last for 20 years during this time, as both teams began to rudely jeer at the other team. Rochester would win game three in a twenty-point blowout to return to the finals.
The Gears would have little trouble with the All-Stars in game one, the Gears won by six points but Mikan’s dominance of the paint forced the All-Stars to shoot jump shots which caused them dearly. Game two was much the game but the All-stars actually had the lead late in the game but George Mikan would take over and lead the Gears to a one point victory.
Going into the finals Rochester looked like a favorite to win behind Cervi, but Mikan was a forced to be reckoned with. Cervi and the Royals would take game one 71-66. Game two was a different story, Mikan dominated and lead the Gears to a 67-63 win. Mikan would dominate the series for then on out and the Gears would win games three(78-70) and four(79-68) to capture the title.
The 46-47 Season saw substantial growth for the ABL. The league went from six to 10 teams during the season. The Bullets dominated the regular season play, going 31 and 3 and winning the southern division. In the norther division Brooklyn won the division title at 24 and 10. Unlike the NBL who would send the top teams from each division, the ABL sent the division winners and the four overall best teams. The Bullets beat Brooklyn and Trenton beat Jersey City, Philadelphia and Elizabeth town to advance to the finals. The Bullets decided to play in the World basketball Championships instead and dropped out of the playoffs, with that the Trenton Tigers were declared ABL champions.
The Birth of the BAA
With the NBL on the rise, and the ABL falling owners from America’s largest cities, and one Canadian owner decided to create a new league in the larger markets to compete with the NBL and ABL. The league was called the Basketball Association of America or the BAA. Players earned about $2,000 dollars’ month, and would get another $2,000 dollars if they won the title.
Teams were the Washington Capitols, the Philadelphia Warriors, New York Knickerbockers, Providence Steamrollers, Toronto Huskies, Boston Celtics, Chicago Stags, St Louis Bombers, Detroit Falcons, Cleveland Rebels and Pittsburgh Ironmen. The Celtics were named after the Original Celtics. The new team’s linage was from that of the Boston Whirlwinds of the ABL.
In the East the Capitols gained an early lead and never let up, they would take the division crown by going 49-11. The Capitols were coached by Red Auerbach. The Warriors came in second at 35-25, coincidently the Warriors were also owned by Eddie Gottleib who also owned the SPHAs of the ABL. The Knickerbockers game in third at 33-27, followed by the steamrollers(28-32), the Huskies, and the Celtics who both finished at 22-38. Philadelphia’s Joe Fulks would lead the BAA in scoring with 23 points a game, a far cry from anything any other player in any other league was putting up.
Like the NBL the BAA’s western division seemed to be the close one with the Stags winning the division title at 39-22, and the Bombers one game behind at 38-23. The Rebels finished at 500 with a 30 and 30 record, the Falcons and Ironmen brought up the rear.
The BAA set up their playoffs like a cross between the ABL and NBL playoffs, the division winners got a first round bye like in the NBL, while the playoff seeding went by overall record not division standings like the ABL had.
In the opening round the Knicks beat the Rebels in their best of three series 2-1. The Rebels stole game one 77-51, but the Knicks won both games two and three by double digits.
The Warriors beat the Bombers in their best of 2-1 with the Warriors winning game one 73-68, but the Bombers would take game two by 22 points, 73-51. But the Warriors beat the Bombers up in game three 75-39.
The Stags would face the Capitol in the next round, and the series would be best of seven. The Stags won the first two games handily. The Capitols put up a better fight in game three but still fell short. The Capitols would win the next two games by double digits. The Stags would win game six to take the series 4-2.
The Knicks-Warriors series would differ vastly from the Capitols-Stags series, where that series was competitive and fans attended the games. The Knicks-Warriors had a poor showing, and only lasted two games. The Warriors won both games and advanced to the finals.
The Warriors would win game one against the Stags, they followed that up by victories in games two and three. The Warriors lead by nine points late in game four, but the Stags and their leader Max Zaslofsky came charging back and took a one point victory. Game five would belong to the Warriors who won the first ever BAA title.
In the college Ranks Holy Cross stunned everyone by winning the title, they did so behind a flashy young point guard nicknamed the Houdini of the hardwood, Bob Cousy.
The 47-48 season saw more growth and more change for the NBL. The Gems moved from Detroit to Minneapolis and became the Lakers, which wasn’t the only big move the newly named Lakers did, they acquired MVP center George Mikan. The Youngstown Bears folded and where replaced by the Flint Dow AC’s.
The East was once again dominated by Cervi and the Royals. They would finish with the best record in the NBL yet again at 44 and 16. The Anderson Duffy Packers who had just moved to the East from the west were second at 42 and 18. The Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons came in third at 40 and 20, While the Nationals would gain the last playoff birth at 24-36. Toledo would finish at 22-37, and the Flint Dow AC didn’t even last the season in Flint before they moved to Midland, and finished eight and 52.
The Lakers would dominate the West going 43 and 17, Mikan would dominate and be the leagues first 20+ scorer. Tri-city would finish second at a mediocre 30-30, Oshkosh would finish one game behind them at 29-31, and Indianapolis would gain the last playoff birth at 24 and 35. The Redskins would finish at 23-37 and miss the playoffs.
Again Rochester and Fort Wayne would meet in the playoffs, Rochester would win game one by nine, and Fort Wayne would even the series after taking game two. The Royals would blow the Pistons away in games three and four to take the series.
Anderson would dominate struggling Syracuse in their best of five series. The Packers would win all three games by a margin of about 20 points a game. The Packers would wait to see if they faced the Royals or Pistons.
The Lakers would face the All-stars and beat them handily in game one, 80 to 68. The Lakers inflicted even more punishment upon the All-stars in game two taking it 88-65. Oshkosh would however give the Lakers their worst defeat of the season beating them 69 to 51 in game three. But Mikan was to much for Oshkosh in game four and the lakers won 81-66.
The Blackhawks would take game one against the Kautsky’s by 10, but the Kautsky’s returned the favor by beating the Blackhawks by 19 in game two. The Blackhawks would take games three and four in blowouts to go to the semifinals.
In the East semi’s the Royals beat the Packers 71-66 to win game one, the Packers beat the Royals 76-69 in game two but Cervi would come though for the Royals as they took game 74-48, in the monumental beating some of the Packer players actually booed their teammates.
The lakers would crush Tri-city in the West semi’s winning both games handily. Mikan was once again the most dominate player in the game. Mikan’s performance grabbed the attention of the national media, and Basketball became a hugely popular sport thereafter.
The Lakers and Mikan would face the Royals in the finals, again. The two NBL stars were fighting for the championship. The Lakers beat the Royals 80-74 in game one, Despite a fantastic performance by Cervi. The lakers also took game two 82-67. Cervi and the Royals would counter with a game three win, but it was too little too late, the Lakers would take game four and the title.
By the start of the 47-48 the ABL had all but practically died, most of the players had already defected to the NBL or the newly formed BAA, this included the Bullets who joined the BAA Midway thought the season the Scranton team was disbanded and many teams switched cities. Peterson and Wilkes-Barre would play for the title with Wilkes-Barre winning the title two games to one game.
The Boston Celtics are among the BAA teams to join the NBA.BAA
Despite a decent showing in attendance, some of the BAA’s teams disbanded. Detroit, Cleveland Pittsburgh and Toronto all went the way of the Dodo before the season. Also the league lowered the number of games to 48, and Baltimore Bullets joined the league for the ABL.
Philadelphia and New York would battle all season long for the best record, Joe Fulks would prove to much for the Knickerbockers and the Warriors captured the eastern crown. The Celtics would improve to 20-28, while the Steamrollers fell to 6 and 42.
In the West all four teams battled all season long for the division. In the end the Bombers would one more game then the Bullets, Stags and Capitols would all finish at 28 and 20. The Capitols lost a tie breaker game to the Stags, who in turn lost to the Bullets the Stags Max Zaslofsky won the scoring title, Despite averaging 21.0 ppg, while Philadelphia’s Joe Fulks averaged 22.1, this happened because Zaslofsky played in all 48 games scoring 1,107 points while Fulks only played in 43 contest scoring 949 points. Since Zaslofsky has scored more overall points, he won the scoring title.
The Bullets would face the Knickerbockers in the playoffs, the Bullets won game one by four points, but the Knickerbockers came back with a 10 point win in game two. The Bullets finally put away the Knickerbockers winning game three 87 to 77.
Chicago would face Boston in the other opening round series. The Stags won game one by seven, while the Celtics won game two, by four points. Like the Bullets the Stags pulled away in the third game to win the series.
The First semi final was between the Warriors and the Bombers. The Bombers won game one in St Louis 60 to 58. The Warriors squeaked out a one point win to steal home court from the Bombers as the series moved back to Philadelphia. The Warriors followed their game two victory by completely thrashing the visiting Bombers 84 to56. The Bombers stole home court back by beating the Warriors 56-51 in Philadelphia With the Series back in St Louis the Bombers looked to take a commanding lead and win the series when they beat the Warriors 69 to 62 in game five. With the Series moving back to Philadelphia, the Warriors took game six in another blowout, thumping the Bombers 84-61. Game seven was back in St Louis three nights later, were the Warriors once again blew out the Bombers 85-46 in front of many upset fans.
The other semi final which was the best out of three saw the Bullets crush the Stags in both games. The Bullets team defense smothered Zaslofsky and the Stags offense stagnated. The Bullets won the series in a two game sweep.
The Warriors had home court advantage in the finals, game one in Philadelphia the Warriors rode the fan momentum and coasted to a 71-60 win. The Warriors came out with much the same enthusiasm they had in game one, in game two, The Warriors would build up a 21-point half-time lead. The Bullets came charging back and in Historical precedence won game two 66-63, this still makes the biggest comeback to win a championship game in BAA/NBA history. After game two the momentum shifted and the Bullets would win three of the next four games to win the second BAA Championship.
The growth of the NBL continued in 1948-1949 with the addition of four new teams; the Waterloo Hawks, the Detroit Vegabond Kings, the Hammond Calumet Buccaneers, and the Denver Nuggets. However the national exposure of Mikan and the Lakers caused the Lakers to jump ship to the BAA, as did the Kautskys the Piston, and the Royals. The NBL was in dire straight after this, and the pockets of the owners would feel it. This was an ironic twist of faith, because the previous season had been the leagues most successful.
With the loss of both the Pistons and the Royals the NBL east had a gapping whole in the standings, the Buccaneers and the Vegabond Kings were placed in the East. Neither team did very well, the Vegabond Kings only last half a season before they moved to Dayton and became the Rens. The Buccaneers finished the season 21-41, and the Vegabond/Rens at 16 and 43. At the top of the Division was the Duffy Packers who capitalized on the absence of the Pistons and Royals. The Packers finished the season with the best record in NBL history at 49 and 15. The Nationals who were lead by rookie Dolph Schayes finished second at 40 and 23.
In the West the All-stars took the Lakers place as the number one team. The All-stars finished the season at 37 and 27. Don Otten and the Tri-City Blackhawks finished second at 36 and 28. Otten was the first player other than George Mikan to lead the NBL in scoring in three years. Sheboygan finished just a little better than the two expansion teams at 35 and 29. The Waterloo Hawks finished just below 500 at 30 and 32, and the Denver Nuggets rounded the standings out at 18 and 44.
Oshkosh and Anderson both earned first round byes for finishing with the best records in their divisions. In the East opening round Syracuse would face off with Hammond. The Nationals won the first game 80 to 69, and the second game 72 to 66.
Tri-City would face Sheboygan in the other opening round match. Like the Nationals the Blackhawks would sweep their opponent in two games.
Anderson would face Syracuse in the Semifinals, the Packers would win the first game 89 to 74, but the Nationals and Schayes took game two 80 to 62. The Packers would answer by winning games three and four by 6 points each.
Oshkosh would win a two-point game 66-64 over Tri-city in game one. Game two was much the same for Oshkosh who won 83-73. The Blackhawks would score a win in game three when they beat the All-Stars 70-64. The All-Stars would however bounce back and beat the Blackhawks 70-69, and the All-stars would make their first NBL finals appearance since1942.
In the finals Anderson won game won 74-70, the Packers followed that win up by winning game two 72-70. The Packers finished off the All-Stars 88 to 64 to win their first NBL title.
The owners of the ABL tried keeping the league alive but with the exception of Philadelphia and Brooklyn the ABL had lost their stronghold on all the major cities. Wilkes-Barre would once again have the best record and once again win the title.
The 48-49 season saw great growth for the BAA. Four of the NBL super teams, the Minneapolis lakers, the Rochester Royals, the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons and the Indianapolis Kautsky’s, all jumped to the BAA. The Kautsky’s became known as the Jets and then Zollner Pistons as just the Pistons. In addition to gaining four new teams for the NBL, the BAA also got superstars Paul Risen and George Mikan.
The Capitols became the Eastern Divisions best team by winning 38 games against 22 losses. The Knickerbockers went 32-28 to finish at second. Third was the defending champion Bullets who seemed lost after winning the title. They finished 29 and 31. The Warriors finished even lower then the team that had beaten them in the finals just the year before at 25-35. Providence did improve a little doubling their win output from the season before going 12 and 48.
The Western division and its powerhouse teams made for good basketball in the BAA, five of the six teams would be huge draws anywhere they went. The Royals and Lakers battled most the season for the top spot, but the Risen lead Royal one upped the lakers winning the division by one game at 45 and 15. The Lakers at 44 and 16 were followed by the Stags at 38-22, the Bombers at 29-31, the Pistons at 22-38, and the Jets at 18-42.
The Playoffs would be a best out of three contest. In the Eastern bracket the Capitols bested the Warriors in a two game sweep. The Knickerbockers would win their first ever playoff series by beating the defending champion Bullets two games to one. And the Capitols finished off the Knickerbockers two games to one to go on to the Finals.
In the West the Royals demolished the Bombers in game one 93-64, and then got a narrow 66-64 win in game two to win the series. The lakers pounded the Stags in a two game sweep to advance to the semi’s to face the Royals. In what was boasted as the biggest match in BAA history, the Lakers took game one on Rochester’s home floor by one. When the series moved to Minneapolis so many people wanted tickets the game had to be moved to St Paul. The Lakers took game two 67-55, the 12 point win disappointed many fans, but still most had gotten hooked on the game.
The Finals say the lakers take a domineering role in the first three games, winning all but one by double digits. However, in game four the Lakers star center George Mikan broke his wrist. This allowed the Capitols to steal the game away from the Lakers. With Mikan still ailing, the Capitol also took game five in Washington. Game six was a different story, Mike came back and scored 42 points to lead the Lakers to their first BAA title.
The NBL and BAA Merge; the Birth of the NBA.
Owners from the NBL and BAA would meet after both the leagues had finished their seasons, owners on both sides were concerned over teams and players constantly jumping leagues. On August 3rd, 1949 all the team owners had come to a satisfying agreement; the six remaining NBL teams, the Syracuse Nationals, The Anderson Duffy Packers, the Tri-City Blackhawks, the Sheboygan Redskins, the Waterloo Hawks, and the Denver Nuggets, would join with the BAA, the resulting 17 team league would be called the National Basketball Association(NBA), and have three divisions of five or six teams. The League did lose one team, the Providence Steamrollers disbanded after two horrible seasons.
In the East the Nationals behind Schayes dominated their division and finished 51-13. The Knickerbockers finished next at 40 and 28, followed by the Capitols(32-36), the Warriors(26-42), the Bullets(25-43), and the Celtics(22-46)
The Lakers and Royals had another dog fight to the finish in the Central division. Both teams would finish 51 and 17, and need a tie breaker to decide who would win the division title, the Lakers won the tie breaker. Fort Wayne and Chicago would also finish the season with a tie at 40 and 28. The Pistons won the tie breaker over the Stags. The Bombers finished last at 26-42.
In the West the Jets had become the Olympians won the division in a tightly contested race to the Finish with the Packers. The Blackhawks would follow up, followed by Sheboygan, Waterloo, and Denver. With the exception of Syracuse the NBL teams all struggled in the new BAA, and the entire western Division was made of former NBL teams.
In the playoffs the Nationals beat the Warriors in a two game sweep to move on to face the Knickerbockers who had beaten the Capitols in a two game sweep. The Nationals would advance to the finals since they had fewer losses (13) then the Lakers(17) who won the Central, both teams won 51 games in the season.
The Lakers would sweep the Stags in the NBA central division playoffs, while Fort Wayne Shocked their old Rivals from the NBL by beating the Royals in a sweep. The Lakers would then sweep the Pistons to await the winner of the Western Finals.
The Western divisional playoffs say Indianapolis and Sheboygan have a tightly contested series with the Olympians pulling out in game three. The Packers and Blackhawks series would also go three games, but it wasn’t nearly as contested, the Packers pulled away with the victory in game three to go and face the Lakers.
The Lakers would crush the Packers in the Semifinals, neither of the games was close at all and Mikan sat most of the last half of the second half of both games.
In the Finals the Lakers took game one from well-rested Syracuse, but the Nationals took game two as the Series moved to Minneapolis. Both games’ three and four were played in St Paul, and the Lakers won both games three and four. Syracuse would win game five but when the series returned to Minneapolis, Mikan the Lakers were to much as the lakers captured their third title in their third league in a row.
By the time 1949 rolled around the ABL was all but dead, the SPHAs had cased operations because owner Eddie Gottleib had turned his attention to his NBA team, the Warriors. Brooklyn took on the New York name to try and give the league some prestige but it didn’t help. Bridgeport would win the title, but it was over for the ABL. The ABL lasted until 1953, but of the teams who played in the 49-50 season only Wilkes-Barre, and Scranton remained in the league when the final curtain fell in 1953.
The 50s saw the end of one great dynasty and the beginning of an even greater one. It saw the fathers of the NBL fade away only to be replaced with some of the NBA’s first true superstars. The decade also saw some hard times, and it also saw some very good times. It was a time of short shorts and no dunking, and great innovations into the game.
When the 49-50 season ended everyone had high hopes, those hopes were soon dashed when the Chicago Stags, the St Louis Bombers, the Anderson Packers, the Sheboygan Redskins, the Waterloo Hawks, and the Denver Nuggets all either disbanded or left the league. Despite the losses the league continued on with it’s remaining eleven teams, but it suffered another setback when at mid-season the Washington Capitols closed their doors leaving the league with just ten teams. On November 22, 1950 in a game between Minneapolis and Fort Wayne, with the Lakers leading 18-17 at the half, the Pistons held the ball the entire second half, until Larry Foust scored a lay-up with six seconds left to give the Pistons the 19-18 win; The Game still remains the lowest scoring game in NBA History. The NBA also added a new innovation; the annual All-star game was first played in Boston on March 2 of 1951.
The Bullets finished the season with on of the worst records in the NBA at 24 wins to 42 losses, they finished with the worst record of all the remaining teams, but the Blackhawks did lose one more game then did the Bullets, this was due to the disbandment of Washington. The Bullets didn’t have a single player finish in the top five of any statical category, and were among the lowest scoring teams in the NBA.
The Celtics finished second in the East behind Philadelphia at 39 and 30. Ed Macauley lead the Celtics in scoring at over 20 points a game, and field goal percentage. He was selected to the All-star game where he won MVP. In the draft the Celtics also picked up point guard Bob Cousy.
The Pistons struggled thought-out most of the season finished at 30 and 36 behind the Lakers and Royals.
The Olympians finished 31 and 37. Alex Groza lead the team in scoring with around 22 points a game, the Olympians also had Ralph Beard in the top ten in scoring getting 15 points a night. The Olympians had one of the most prolific scoring offenses in the league, but their defense had gapping holes usually letting up more points then they could score on the offensive end.
the Mikan Lead Lakers finished with the best record in the NBA at 44 and 24. Mikan lead the NBA in scoring with at the time an astounding 28 and ½ points per game, Mikan was also second in rebounds with 14 rebounds a game. The Lakers started the season undefeated until they played Fort Wayne in the infamous 19-18 game.
The Knickerbockers quietly won games behind Harry Gallatin, who lead them in both scoring and field goal percentage. The Knickerbockers finished third in the East behind Boston and Philadelphia, going 36 and 30.
The Warriors finished with the best record in the East, and six games behind the Lakers for the best record in the League. Paul Arizin lead the Warriors in scoring with 17 points a game, and Joe Fulks lead the league in free throws. The Warriors had one of the deepest rosters in the league, but chemistry issues would case friction all season long. Andy Phillips would lead the Warriors and the NBA in scoring.
The Royals finished four games behind the Lakers in the West. The Royals had one of the best tandems in the history of early basketball with Arnie Risen, and Bob Davies. Risen would lead the Royals in scoring with 16 a game, and in rebounds.
Dolph Shayes was once again the man for the Nationals, leading them in both Points per game and rebounds per game. Despite this Syracuse struggled all season long finishing at 32 and 34.
Tri-City’s 25 and 43 mark was the worst in the west, and their 43 losses was worst in the NBA. Frank Brian would lead them in scoring, but that was the only stat category they had anyone in the top five.
The Capitols played the first 35 games of the season going 10 and 25 before they disbanded. Their players were dispersed thought-out the league; their best player Frank Scolari was picked up by the Nationals.
In the East Semi finals the Knickerbockers surprised everyone and made easy work of the Celtics. The Knickerbockers beat the Celtics 83 to 69 in game one, and 92 to 78 in game two. Harry Gallatin’s defense cause Bostons Ed Macauley to shoot in the high 30s down from his 46% in the regular season.
In the other Eastern Semi, the Nationals provided another upset when they stunned the Warriors 91-89 in overtime of game one in Philadelphia. In game two the Nationals took charge early and won the game by 12, 90 to 78.
In the West the old rivals’ Rochester and Fort Wayne would once again play. The Royals would trash the Pistons in a 110 to 81 game one beating. The Pistons would take game two 83 to 78, but would lose in game three 97 to 78.
The Lakers took care of the Olympians 95 to 81 in the first game of their series, but in game two in Indianapolis George Mikan would get injured and the Olympians hammered the Lakers 108 to 88. When the series returned to Minneapolis, George Mikan would still play and lead the lakers to the 85-80 victory.
The conference finals were best of five, and the Knickerbockers beat the cross-state rival Nationals 103-92 in game one. The Nationals would trash the Knickerbockers 102 to 80 in game two. The Knicks would squeak out a 2 point win back in Madison Square Garden. The Nationals would take game four in Syracuse before the series returned to New York were the Knickerbockers won 83 to 81.
With Mikan injured the lakers struggled, they won game one by three 76 to 73, but couldn’t do anything to stop Risen who lit the Lakers up in every game. The Royals took game two 70-66, and game three 83-70. Mikan would give it all he had in game four, but the Royals were to much and dethroned the champions 80 to 75.
With the all New York state finals in the NBA finals, not many people thought the Knickerbockers stood a chance. After the first three games it looked like the critics were right, the Knickerbockers got beat handily 92 to 65 in game one, 99 to 84 in game two, and 78 to 71 in game three. The Knickerbockers however would take games four, five, and six by 6 points, 3 points, and 7 points. Late in game seven it looked as if the Royals were to much for the Knickerbockers, but the Knickerbockers went on a 20 to 2 run to take a 74 to 72 lead. The Royals defense would collapse on the Knicks for the final 40 seconds and win the game and the title 79 to 75.
In the off-season the NBA adopted some new rules; they widened the free throw lane. By opening up the lane the NBA experienced a sky rocketing in scoring from the guards, with six guards ranking in the top 20 in scoring. The league also saw a greater influx in talent as more and more college stars joined the NBA ranks, this also meant better competition.
The Bullets once again struggled, and once again finished in last place in the East. Newly acquired Frank Scolari lead the Bullets in scoring and free throw percentage, but no one else on the team did much of anything for the team. The Bullets record was 20 wins against 46 losses.
The Celtics once again missed winning the division by one game, but the Celtics had one of the best tandems in the game with guard Cousy, and forward Macauley, both would be named to the all NBA first team. Cousy lead the Celtics in scoring with 21 points a game and Macauley trailed him by 2 points a game. Bill Sharman who had come over from Washington in the dispersal draft, but didn’t play due to injury, finally got to play for the Celtics and would lead the team in free throw percentage. The Celtics finished the year at 39 and 27.
Despite having two players in the top ten in scoring, the Pistons struggled all season long going just 29 and 37. Brian and Foust would lead the team in scoring with 16 a game, and Foust would lead the NBA and the team in rebounds.
The Olympians were rocked in the off-season by a points shaving scandal. Alex Groza, and Ralph Beard who played together at the university of Kentucky were both implicated in the scandal and were subsequently banned from the NBA, the loss of their two leading scorers didn’t hurt the Olympians as bad as one might think, the team actually improved going 34 and 32 to finish in third place in the west. Leo Barnhorst lead the team in scoring.
The Tri-City Blackhawks moved from Davenport to Milwaukee in the off-season and dropped the Black from their name to become known as the Hawks. Mel Hutchins would lead the team in both scoring and assist but the Hawks still finished with the worst record in the NBA at 17 and 49.
With Mikan slowed early in the season by his injury from the previous year the Lakers got off to a slow start, but once Mikan was healthy again the Lakers made a run for the division but it was a little too late and they lost the Division crown for the first time since 1949. Mikan would also lose the scoring title coming in second behind Arizin with 24 a game. Vern Mikkelsen would be second in scoring with 15 a game and lead the team in field goal percentage. Mikan would finish third in rebounds per game with 13.
The Knickerbockers again had a sluggish start, Harry Gallatin once again lead them, but they only went 37 and 29 for third in the East. Dick McGuire lead the team in assist with 6 assists a game.
The Warriors also struggled, going a dismal 500 at 33 and 33, Despite having Paul Arizin lead the NBA in scoring with 25 a game, and in field goal percentage. Andy Phillips would have another stellar year leading the NBA in assist with 8 a game.
The Royals finished a game better than both the Nationals and the Lakers to have the best record in the NBA at 41 and 25. Bob Davies lead the Royals in scoring with 16 a game, he was followed by Bob Wanzer, and Arnie Risen with 15 a game each, this marked the first time one team had three scorers in the top ten in the NBA. Wanzer lead the team in field goal, and free throw percentage, while Davies lead them in assist and Risen in rebounds.
The Nationals finished 40 and 26 behind Shayes who was not in the top five in any of the statistical categories of the NBA. Al Cervi finished second in free throw percentage to be the only Nationals player to finish in any category. Shayes did lead the team in scoring and rebounding.
The Nationals and Warriors would play again in the first round. The Nationals beat the Warriors 102 to 83 in game one in Syracuse, but the Warriors would get the game back when the series returned to Philadelphia and they beat the Nationals 100 to 95. Schayes, Cervi and the Nationals would be too much for the Warriors in game three winning the game and the series 84 to 73.
The Knickerbockers and the Celtics once again met in the playoffs, this time the Celtics took game one 105 to 94. When the Series went back to New York City the Knickerbockers got a 4 point game two win. In an epic game three showdown the teams remained tied after regulation, and tied again after the first overtime, it wasn’t until a missed Boston free throw that the Knickerbockers escaped with a one point win.
In the West the Lakers made short work of the Olympians beating them 78 to 70 in game one, and 94 to 87 in game too. Mikan once again returned to form in this series, while Barnhorst struggled immensely.
The old Rivals of the NBL, the Pistons and the Royals once again met, and once again the Royals took it to the Pistons. The Royals blew out the Pistons in game one, and then got a 6 point game two victory to advance and face the lakers.
The Knickerbockers stole game one in Syracuse 87 to 85, but Schayes would lead the Nationals to a 10 point win in game two. But just like the season before Harry Gallatin and the Knicks just couldn’t be stopped as they won game three 99 to 92, and game four 100 to 93.
The Royals took a 10 point game one decision, but Mikan and Mikkelsen took games two, three and four to take down the defending champs and once again put the Lakers back into the Finals.
The first two games of the 52 two finals where played in St Paul with the Lakers taking a 4 point game one victory, but the Knickerbockers counted and surprised the Lakers with an 8 point game two win. When the Series shifted to New York, the Lakers regained the upper hand in game three with a 5 point victory, only to lose the upper-hand in game four when the Knickerbockers tied the series with a one point win. With game five being played in St Paul the lakers moved one game closer to the championship with a 102 to 89 victory, but the Knickerbockers just wouldn’t go away, Gallatin rallied a Knickerbockers game six victory to send the series back to Minneapolis for a game seven. In game seven it was all the Lakers, as they won easily over the Knickerbockers who had started to be called by their nickname; the Knicks.
The 52-53 season mimicked the previous season in both game play and attendance. Scoring did drop in the season as did overall shooting percentages. The total number of games this season did increase with teams playing between 69 and 71 games
The Bullets struggled again and fan attendance plummeted to almost nothing, the team didn’t have one star player and their record showed it, as they went 16 and 54.
Despite having three superstars in Cousy, Macauley, and Sharman the Celtics still struggled at times, they did get involved in a three-way race to win the division with the Knicks and Nationals but were the odd man out winning only 46 games. Cousy lead the Celtics in scoring with 20 a game, and Macauley right behind him with 20 also. Cousy also lead the NBA in assist with 8 a game.
The Pistons continued being stuck in meritocracy going 36 and 33 in only 69 games. Frank Brian and Larry Foust once again lead the Pistons but neither of them finished very high in any stat category.
The Olympians continued to suffer from the points shaving scandal, the team burley missed being the worst team in the west by one game. Fan support was at a minimum, and the team went thought three coaches.
The Hawks continued to be seller dwellers in the West, finishing with the worst record in the West at 27 and 44. Jack Nichols lead the Hawks in scoring with 16 a game, and Mel Hutchings lead in rebounding with 11 a game.
The Lakers jugger-naught continued to roll winning a league best 48 games, while Mikan finished number two in scoring with 20 a game and Mikkelsen added 15 a night. Mikan would also lead the NBA in rebounding with just over 14 a game.
The Knicks finally won the Eastern division going 47 and 23. Harry Gallatin lead the team in scoring again, and Dick McGuire lead them in assist. Carl Braun also helped transform the Knicks having one of his best seasons.
Paul Arizin would take the next two seasons off to serve in the US Military. This left the Warriors with a huge hole in their team. The Warriors would trade Assist leader Andy Phillips to the Pistons at mid-season and their record went down hill. Neil Johnston would pick up the scoring slack left by Arizin. Johnston’s scoring average would jump from 6 to 22 points a game. The Warriors finished the season as the worst team in the NBA going 12 and 57.
The Royals trailed the Lakers most the season in the standings and would finish second to the Lakers with a record of 44 and 26. Bob Davies would lead the team in scoring with 16, while Bob Wanzer added 15.
The Nationals would lose out on winning the division title by mere percentage points to the Knicks, the Nationals won the same number of games as the Knicks but lost one more. Dolph Schayes would lead the Nationals in scoring with 18 a game, and finish third in the NBA in rebounding at 13 a game.
For the first time the Knicks would have home court advantage in a playoff series but they would not need it as they routed Baltimore 80 to 62 in game one, and 90 to 81 in game two to win the series in a two game sweep.
The Celtics would face the Nationals in the playoffs, the Nationals had the advantage but the Celtics squeezed out a 6 point win in game one. Game two of the series became known as the greatest game ever played before 1976. The Celtics would rely heavily on guard Bob Cousy who ignited the Nationals for a then NBA record of 50 points, including 30 free throws which today still stands as the NBA record. The game would go into quadruple overtime before the Celtics got the 111 to 105 victory.
The Pistons and Royals would once again meet, but the mediocre Pistons took game one 84 to 77. The Nationals would exact revenge on the Pistons in Fort Wayne taking game two 83 to 71. But the rivalry would get interesting again as the Pistons took a game three victory by 2 points.
The Lakers cruised by the Olympians in game one 85 to 69, but the Olympians would put up a fight in what turned out to be their last game losing 81 to 79.
The Knicks would take game one from the Celtics 95 to 91, but Boston would answer with a 86 to 70 blowout in game two to tie the series at one game a piece. The Knicks took game three 101 to 82 and followed that up by winning the series in four games with an 82-75 victory.
The Lakers won the first two games of their series with nearly identical scores, winning game one 83-73, and game two 82-75. The Pistons took game three in Fort Wayne by the score of 98 to 95, and then won game four 85 to 82. With the Series now tied going into the elimination game the lakers looked to Mikan to lead them, and lead them he did in a 74 to 58 thrashing.
The Knicks took game one of the NBA finals 96 to 88, but the lakers followed their game one loss by beating the Knicks by two points in game two, and by 15 in game three. Games three, four and five were all played in New York City as the NBA looked to adopt a new finals schedule, this scheduling would only last for one year but would be brought back in later decades. The lakers took game four in a tight one 71-69, and then won the title 91-84. The Knicks became the first team to lose three consecutive NBA finals, but the Lakers would also accomplish this feat in the 1960s.
The downsizing of the NBA continued early in the 53-54 season as the Indianapolis Olympians disbanded after five seasons in the NBA. The NBA also took a lot of criticism for having too slow a pace in the game, teams like the Lakers and Nationals use to walk the ball up the court so their big men could set up. Other teams with good guards would dribble out the clock, so the NBA came up with a device to counter this; the 24-second Shot clock, though it was not fully used in every game it increased the pace and speed of the game, as well as the scoring. The NBA also adopted new foul rules which put a team in the penalty after its fifth foul of a quarter.
The Bullets situation didn’t change this season either, they managed only to win 16 games and there were talks about passably disbanding the team, or moving them to another league where they could be more competitive. However rookie Ray Felix did give the fans something to cheer about as he became the first Baltimore player in Franchise history to crack the top 10 in scoring in the NBA.
The Celtics found themselves in another tightly contested race to the finish with the Knicks and Nationals. The Knicks would take the division but Boston followed at second, and the Nationals third. Bob Cousy was second in the NBA in scoring, and Ed Macauley was third, Bill Sharman also cracked the top 10 scorers for the Celtics. Cousy again lead the NBA in assist, and Macauley in shooting percentage.
The Pistons rising rookie star Jack Molinas was implicated in another points shaving scandal, though he was cleared he admitted to placing bets on the Pistons, the NBA responded by banning Molinas from ever playing again in the NBA. The Pistons suffered from this, as they were in a tight race with the Lakers and Royals for the division. Larry Foust once again lead the Pistons in scoring, and newly acquired Andy Phillips lead the team in Assist.
The Hawks downward spiral continued, as they went 26 and 46. The team had become so bad that fans would actually boo them during home games.
With the aging Mikan now approaching 30, the Lakers rested their star and because of this may have lost a few more games, but none the less, the Lakers still won a league best 46 wins. Mikan fell to fourth in scoring in the NBA, and Mikkelsen dropped completely out of the top 10. The Lakers still couldn’t be stopped as their well oil machine would win games night in and night out. “Their backups are almost as good as our starters” - Ray Felix
The Knicks won the Eastern Division and Harry Gallatin won the rebounding title. The Knicks like the Lakers seemed to be able to win no matter what as they went 44 and 28.
The Warriors rebounded from their 12 win season from a year ago to go 29 and 43. Neil Johnston once again lead the NBA in scoring with 24 points a game.
The Royals came in second to the Lakers with a record of 44 and 28. Bob Wanzer lead the team in scoring with 13 a night, and Bob Davies lead the team in Assist. The Royals looked good most nights but struggled defensively allowing the 4th most points in the league.
The Nationals lost a three-way race with the Knicks and Celtics to finish third in the East with a record of 42 and 30. Dolph Shayes lead the Nationals in scoring with 17, while Paul Seymore lead the team in Assist.
The Playoff seating was set up differently in 53-54, instead of organized series the top three teams from each division would play a round robin tournament to advance to the conference finals. In the East the first match up would be between the Celtics and the Knicks. The Celtics beat the Knicks 93 to 71, then Boston would face Syracuse in the next game. Syracuse would beat the Celtics by one in overtime. Syracuse than would play New York and beat the Knicks 75 to 68. The Knicks would then play the Celtics and lose 79 to 78. The Knicks would again play Syracuse and lose once more eliminating them from the playoffs. The Nationals and Celtics would play one more meaningless game before they would meet again in the conference finals, the Nations won the lost game by a score of 98 to 85.
In the West the first game was between Rochester and their old rival Fort Wayne. The Royals beat the Pistons by seven; 82 to 75. The Royals would than face the Lakers only to lose by 21. The lakers would next play the Pistons and beat them 90 to 85. Due to traveling concerns the Lakers had to once again play Fort Wayne, the lakers beat the Pistons again with a score of 78 to 73. The Royals would play the Pistons again to see who would go on to the second round with the Lakers, the Royals won 89 to 71. The last game was merely a formality since the Royals won, and due to more traveling concerns the game was cancelled and the Lakers and Royals would wait to play each other in the conference finals.
In the Eastern Finals the Nationals continued their dominance of the Celtics, winning game one 109 to 94, and winning game 83 to 76 for the two game sweep. In the West the Lakers did much of the same to the Royals, but the Royals would take game two to force a decisive game three which the Lakers won.
In the Finals the Lakers took game one easily 79 to 68, but the Nationals answered back taking game two 62 to 60. The Lakers handily won game three in Syracuse by the score of 81 to 67, but Schayes and the Nationals just wouldn’t go away and took game four 80 to 69. The Lakers won game five 84 to 73, but Schayes lead another Nationals comeback in game six to tie the series at three games each. In game seven Mikan proved to be to much and the Lakers because the first team in the NBA or the NBL or BAA to win three consecutive championships. This marked the Lakers fourth NBA championship that with their lone titles from the BAA and NBL made it six championships all together. For George Mikan it was his seventh, the six with the Lakers and one his rookie season with the American Gears of the NBL.
The 54-55 seasons saw a change in the NBA, dominate big man George Mikan retired, the NBA fully adopted the shot clock as part of the game. The league saw an ever more up tempo game then it had ever seen, the Celtics became the first team to average triple digit scoring for an entire season with 101 points a game. The league also saw a lot of internal changes as new coaches replaced old ones in places like Syracuse, and Fort Wayne. And the league would also see its last down grading when the Bullets disbanded.
The Bullets only played in 14 games during the 54-55 season before they disbanded. Rookie Frank Selvy would lead them in scoring before being picked up by Milwaukee during the dispersal draft. The Loss of the Bullets would be the NBA’s last, since then no other NBA team has ever disbanded.
Despite leading the league in points per game the Celtics only finished at 500 going 36 and 36. Cousy was third in the NBA in scoring, Sharman was ninth, and Macauley had fallen to tenth. Cousy would once again lead the NBA in scoring with 8 a game.
The Pistons struggled as the season first began, but their hired former referee Charley Eckman and they became nearly unstoppable, as they surged thought the standings to win the western division. Larry Foust once again lead the team in most statistical categories, Andy Phillips lead the team in Assist and was third in the NBA in the category.
The Hawks picked up Frank Selvy early in the season from the Bullets, his addition did change the team a little but the team was still perineal losers and of the teams that finished the season they were the worsts, again. In the draft the Hawks had also picked up Bob Pettit, who lead the team in scoring, with 20 a game, one point more a game then Selvy.
With the Loss of Mikan the scoring load fell to Vern Mikkelsen, Mikkelsen did put up an honest 18 a night but without Mikan’s dominating presence the lakers fell to 2nd in the division behind the Pistons.
With Harry Gallatin now aging the Knicks found it harder and harder to win games, they fell to second in the division behind the Nationals going 38 and 34. Dick McGuire was second in the NBA in assist behind Cousy, but the Knicks downward spiral had begun.
The Warriors got some good news early in the season when Paul Arizin returned to the team, he and now three time scoring champion Neil Johnston helped the Warriors climb back into meritocracy going 33 and 39, but it still wasn’t enough to make the playoffs.
The Days of the Royals being a powerhouse were over, the Royals sank far into the depths of the standings battling with Milwaukee most the season for the third spot, which they eventually won going 29 and 43. Bob Wanzer’s scoring had diminished, and there was no one there to pick up the slack.
The Nationals tied the Pistons for the best record in the NBA, but had won the season series so they would have home court thought-out the playoffs. Schayes once again lead the team in scoring with a little over 18 a game. Paul Seymore lead the team in assist and was forth in the NBA overall.
The Knicks would face the Celtics in the first round of the east while the Nationals had a bye. The Celtics took game one 122 to 101 in what at the time was the most points ever in an NBA playoff game. The Knicks would take game two in New York in a 102 to 95 decision. The Celtics would win the series in game three by a score of 116 to 109.
In the West the Pistons had the bye and the Lakers and Royals would play each other. The Lakers won game one in St Paul 82 to 78. The Royals would escape in game two with a 94 to 92 win in Rochester. The lakers would wrap the series up in St Paul winning game three 119 to 110.
In the East semi’s the Nationals took game one 110 to 100, they followed that up by a 116 to 100 game two victory. When the series shifted to Boston, the Celtics took game three 100 to 97 in overtime. But the Nationals would not be stopped in game four winning 100 to 94.
The Pistons would not play a playoff game in Fort Wayne in 1955, instead their first game against the Lakers was in Elkhart, Indiana. The Pistons took game 96 to 79. Game two was played in Indianapolis where the Pistons won a one point overtime decision 98 to 97. The Lakers would take a game three contests in overtime 99 to 91, but the Pistons would end the Lakers streak of title with a 105 to 91 win over the Lakers in Minneapolis.
The Finals was now between two former NBL teams, the Nationals, who had never won a title, and the Pistons who had not won a title since 1945. The Nationals home court helped them in game one as they took it 86 to 82. The home court played a factor for the Nationals again in a tightly contested game two which say the Nationals come away victorious 87 to 84. When the series shifted back to Indianapolis for the next three game home court would once again be important. The Pistons won game three 96 to 89, than they won game four 109 to 102, and took the series lead with a 74 to 72 game five victory. With the Series now going back to Syracuse, the Pistons looked to win their first title in a decade, but the home court once again became a factor and the Nationals took game six 109 to 104 to tie the series. Game seven would go the same way the rest of the series had; a tightly contested game decided by the final few plays. With the game tied at 91 and with 12 seconds left Syracuse guard George King made on of two free throws, then stole the inbound pass to give the Nationals their first NBA Championship.
BRAND NEW RISING STARS
During the off season the Hawks made a move from Milwaukee to St Louis. This wasn’t the only big news to involve the Hawks and the NBA; prior to the season the NBA announced that a new award would be given to the best overall player. The award was named the Most Valuable Player award or MVP as it’s known by. The first player to win the MVP was St Louis forward Bob Pettit. The Leagues adjustment to the shot clock and the up tempoed pace of games continued, with all teams averaging around 99 points a game. Despite the good times the NBA still did have its problems, the league had gone from 17 teams a few years ago to just 8, and some of them where still have financial troubles.
Cousy continued to be the epitome of the point guard, passing and scoring as he pleased. Cliff Hagen also helped Celtics to try and improve, but it wasn’t enough as the Celtics once again came in second place in the East, going 39 and 33.
George Yardley finally became the force that the Pistons needed him to be. Yardley lead the Pistons to a 37 and 35 mark which was the third best in the NBA, but the best in the Western Conference. With Yardley doing the scoring Larry Foust found he didn’t need to score as much as he once did, he did however manage to put up 16 a night for the Pistons.
Clyde Lovellette continued the trend of new players making big impacts as he lead the Lakers in scoring with 21 and a half points a game. Lovellette also lead the team in rebounding with 14 a game, as was third in the NBA in that category. Dugie Martin was another player who found short-lived stardom in this time, as he’d finish third in the NBA in assist. The Lakers as a team finished the season tied with the Hawks at 33 and 39, their first time being below 500 since joining the NBA.
With Gallatin’s numbers now down around 13 a game and with McGuire also struggling the Knicks found themselves in a deep hole early in the season, one they wouldn’t be able to climb out of. The Knicks finished the season with a record of 35 and 37, tied with the Nationals, but the Knicks would lose the tie breaker.
With Arizin back in full form, and Johnston still producing strong, the Warriors found themselves on top of the NBA going 45 and 27. For the first time in three seasons Neil Johnston did not win the scoring title as he came in third behind Petit, and teammate Arizin. The Warriors also added rookie Tom Gola to their team during the draft.
With the Hawks playing better the Royals found themselves as the worst team in the west going 31 and 41.
Behind MVP Bob Pettit the Hawks finally made the playoffs going 33 and 39 to tie the Lakers for second place, the Hawks would lose the tie break and be counted as the third place team. Pettit not only won MVP he also lead the league in Scoring and Rebounding.
The Nationals had an up and down season, one of their ups was a 135-133 win in mid December of the Lakers where Dolph Schayes was one of seven players to score 20 or more points. This game would be the highest scoring game in NBA history until the next season. Schayes averaged 20 points a game to lead the Nationals in scoring, and 12 rebounds a game to lead them in rebounds. The National would win a tie breaker game over the Knicks to make the playoffs.
After the tie breakers the Nationals would face the Celtics. The Celtics took game one 110 to 93, but the Nationals would win the next two. They won game two by a score of 101 to 98, and game three 102 to 97.
The Hawks won their first playoff game since 1950 when they beat the lakers 116 to 115 in Minneapolis. In game two, Clyde Lovellette and the Lakers would embarrass the Hawks with one of the worst beatings in NBA playoff history, 133 to 75. Many thought that the trashing would have changed the momentum of the series, but Bob Pettit rallied the Hawks who beat the lakers by the same 116 to 115 score they had in game one, to advance to the conference finals.
In the East finals the Warriors took game one from the Nationals 109 to 87. But the Nationals got revenge and took game two 122 to 118. Philadelphia won game three easily 119 to 96, but the Nationals would battle back in game four to tie the series with a 108-104 victory. The warriors would get their first trip to the NBA finals with a 109 to 104 game five victory.
The Hawks continued winning class playoff games as they took game one from the Pistons 86 to 85, in game two the Hawks finally got a somewhat easy win, winning by 10 points 84 to 74. The Nationals would respond to the elimination game by wailing on the Hawks 107 to 84 in game three. The Pistons tied the series in game four by beating the Hawks 93 to 84. The pivotal game five was all Pistons as they built an early lead and survived a late run by the Hawks to win the series 102 to 97.
In the Finals the Warriors won a close game one by the score of 98 to 94, Fort Wayne took game two by one;84 to 83. The Nationals would win the next three games by scores of 100 to 96, 107 to 105, and 99 to 88 to claim their first NBA championship. Owner Eddie Gottlieb had now won a title in the ABL, BAA and NBA.
The Bill Russell era begins
For the Boston Celtics this is the season that their fortunes changed. In the off-season the St Louis Hawks wanted to add local players to their team, most notably Cliff Hagan and Ed Macauley, both of which belonged to the Boston Celtics. The Hawks didn’t want to trade star and fan favorite Bob Pettit for either of them, but the Hawks did have one other thing to offer, their first round pick; a lanky 6'9" forward from the University of San Francisco named Bill Russell. The Celtics took the deal.
The Celtics may have gotten one of the best draft steals in history when they not only added Bill Russell but guard Tom Heinsohn from Cousy’s alma mater Holy Cross. With Russell, Heinsohn, Sharman and Cousy the Celtics dominated their opponents going a league best 44 and 28. Sharman lead the team in scoring with 21 a game, while Cousy lead the team and the league in Assist and the rookie Russell lead the team in rebounds. Bob Cousy would also become the first point guard to win the MVP award.
Yardley once again lead the Pistons in scoring with 22 a game. The Pistons would get in a three-way race for the division with the Hawks, and Lakers, but would lose out in the tie breaker games.
Clyde Lovellette continued to lead the Lakers who still remained below 500 but were still in the thick of the division crown race. The Lakers would finish second at 34 and 38.
The Knicks 500 season was a small step forward but it still wasn’t good enough to make the playoffs, both Harry Gallatin and Dick McGuire would become disgruntled near mid-season and the Knicks as a team suffered for it.
Paul Arizin won the scoring title, burley beating out Petit for it. Neil Johnston fell to fourth in scoring but the Warriors defense continued to struggle and they finished third at 37 and 35.
The Royals finished last in the NBA with a 31 and 41 mark. Maurice Stokes lead the Royals and the league in rebounding at 17 a game, and came in third in the NBA in assist with 5 a game.
Pettit, Hagen, and Macauley lead the Hawks to win their first ever division crown going 34 and 38 and beating both the lakers and the Pistons in tie breaker games to do so. Pettit lead the team in scoring with 25 a game, and Macauley added 16. Pettit also finished second in the NBA in rebounds with 15 a game.
The Nationals finished second to the Celtics with a 38 and 34 record, Schayes scoring had jumped up to 22 a game but the talent pool in the league was so great that the Nationals could never get more then a few games over 500.
In the Eastern first round the Nationals had little trouble with the defending champion Warriors, beat Philadelphia 103 to 96 in game one, and 91 to 80 in game two.
In the Western First round the Lakers followed the Nationals example and took care of the Pistons in a high scoring game one 131 to 127, and then finished off Fort Wayne 110 to 108 to advance.
The Nationals were no match for the Celtics in the Eastern Semi’s. Bill Russell completely shut Dolph Shayes down, while Cousy and Sharman scored at will. The Celtics won game one 108 to 90, then they took game two 120 to 105, and ended the series in a three game sweep 83 to 80.
The Hawks got an easy game one win behind Petit 118 to 109. In games two and three the Lakers put up a better fight, the Hawks got a hard-fought 106 to 104 win in game two, and the two teams had a grueling double overtime thriller in which the Hawks won 143 to 135 to decide the Western Champion. This game would take the places as the highest scoring game in NBA history.
In what promised to be a fantastic and legendary NBA finals the Hawks and the Celtics would need seven games to decide a winner. In the mouths before the season the two teams had made a huge trade; sending Macauley and Hagen from Boston to St Louis for Russell. Now the two teams faced each other for the NBA crown. The Hawks took game one in double overtime 125 to 123. The Celtics would get an easy game two 119 to 99 win to tie the series at 1 game. The Hawks would get a another two point win in game three beating the Celtics 100 to 98. Boston would take game four 123 to 118 to once again knotted the series up. Boston took game five by the score of 124 to 109, before the Hawks returned the favor and tied the series with a 96 to 94 game six win. Red Auerbach’s Celtics would need double overtime, but behind 19 points and 32 rebounds from Russell, and 37 points and 23 Rebounds from Heinsohn the Celtics would capture their first NBA title with a 125 to 123 win over the Hawks.
The once seemingly anchored Fort Wayne Pistons moved from Fort Wayne to Detroit during the off-season and then acquired Dick McGuire and Harry Gallatin from the Knicks the Pistons were not the only NBA team to move, the Royals left upstate New York and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. This move meant that only the Syracuse Nationals were based in a city with less than a million people.
Bostons glory continued in the regular season as Russell, Sharman, Cousy, and Heinsohn continued to be the all-star starting lineup for the Celtics. The Celtics went 49 and 23 to have the best record in the NBA once again. Bill Russell won his first rebounding title, and his first MVP, marking the only time in NBA history that an MVP has been two different players from the same team in consecutive years.
The Royals saw some improvement as the finished third in the west with a record of 33 and 39. The Royals had acquired Clyde Lovellette from the Lakers in the off-season and he lead them in scoring with 23 points a game.
The Move to Detroit seemed to change the Pistons outlook, but not their fortunes. George Yardley would lead the league in scoring with 28 a game, but the team continued to let up more points then it scored on a nightly basis.
The Loss of Lovellette sent the Lakers into an even more downward spiral, the team would only win 19 games a franchise low that remains intact today. John Kundla would go 10-23 before being replaced by Laker legend George Mikan. Vern Mikkelsen would once again lead the lakers in scoring with 17 a game.
The Loss of both McGuire and Gallatin did little to change the Knicks situation. They lost one more game then a year previous going 35 and 37. Ken Sears would lead the team in scoring with 19 a game.
the Warriors finished at 37 and 35 , Arizin lead the team again in scoring with 20, while Johnston finished with 19 a game.
The Hawks put their NBA finals loss behind them, as they once again won the west with a record of 41 and 31. Pettit would be third in scoring with 25 a night. Ed Macauley would finish his last full season with the Hawks averaging 17 a night.
In a 135 to 109 victory over the Pistons Dolph Schayes scored 23 points to become the NBA’s all time leading scorer, a mark once held by George Mikan the Nationals would finish second in the East behind the Celtics with a record of 41 and 31.
In the Playoffs the Warriors and Nationals began to have a rivalry as the teams met for the third consecutive year. The Warriors would win the series two games to won, in a tightly contested series.
Even though both teams had moved, it didn’t change their long-standing rivalry. The Pistons easily swept their old rivals winning game one by 7 points and game two by 20 points.
In the Eastern finals the Celtics won the first three games against the Warriors easily, but the Warriors prevented being swept with a 14 point win in game four, only to lose by 5 in game five.
The Hawks won two close ones against the Pistons to take a two nothing games lead over the Pistons. The Pistons would win three by 20 before the Hawks manhandled the Pistons 145 to 101 in game four, then 120 to 96 in game five.
The Hawks took game one in Boston 104 to 102, but the Celtics would need 136 points the next night to beat the Hawks. St Louis would return home and win game three 111-108, this was much worse then just losing a game because Bill Russell would injure his ankle and be out for a few games. The Celtics minus Russell tied the series with a 109 to 98 win in game four. But with Russell injured the Hawks took advantage and won game five by 2, and then in game six Bob Pettit tied Bob Cousy’s playoff record of 50 points to lead the Hawks to the 110-109 victory over the Celtics to capture the franchises only NBA title.
A NEW RIVALRY IS BORN
Having the worst record in the NBA does come with some perks, as the lakers would find out in 1958 when the used the #1 pick in the 1958 draft to selected University of Seattle Star Elgin Baylor. Baylor would revolutionize the game like very few before him had done.
the Celtics became the first NBA team to win 50 games as they went 52 and 20, Bob Cousy won his 7th assist title. And during a game in February the Celtics scored 173 points against the Elgin Baylor lead Lakers. The 173-139 score saw 7 league records fall, and on the conclusion of the game Maurice Podoloff the NBA commissioner ordered an investigation to see if the teams were playing defense. Russell would lead the league in rebounds again, with 23 a game.
Jack Twyman lead the Royals in scoring and was second in the NBA with 26 a game, but the Royals continued to struggle going a league worst 19 and 53.
The Pistons lost George Yardley to the Nationals in the off-season, and they lost Harry Gallatin to retirement. Dick McGuire was their best player but he was showing signs of aging, the Pistons finished third in the west with a mark of 28 and 44.
With Baylor onboard the Lakers made a huge turnaround going 33 and 39; A plus 14 in games won from the previous year. Baylor lead the team in scoring with 25 points a game, and he would also lead the team in rebounds with 15 a game.
Second year player Rich Guerin lead the Knicks with 18 points a game, and the team finished 12 games behind Boston for the lead.
Arizin would finish third in the NBA in scoring with 26 a game, but big man Neil Johnston would suffer an injury which limited his playing, and would cause him to retire at the end of the season. This loss severely hurt the Warriors, who would finished in last place in the east at 32 and 40.
For the third straight year the Hawks finished atop the Western Division with a 49 and 23 mark. Pettit would lead the NBA in scoring with 29 a game. Cliff Hagan would also add 24 per contest for the Hawks. The Hawks also acquired Clyde Lovellette to try and counter Bostons all-star lineup.
The Nationals acquired Larry Costello from the Warriors the year prior, but Costello had a break out year leading the Nationals in assist at 5 a game. The Nationals also added George Yardley who scoring average fell 10 points from 28 to 18 after the move. Despite the influx of talent the Nationals only managed to go 35 and 37 for third in the East.
In the East the Nationals handily beat the Knicks 129 to 123 in game one, and 131 to 115 in game two to take a two game sweep.
The Lakers returned to the playoffs after a one year absence, and won game one against the Pistons 92 to 89. The Pistons would win game two 117 to 103, but Baylor was on his way to be the Lakers next superstar and single handedly beat the Pistons in game three 129 to 102.
The power loaded eastern teams of Boston and Syracuse would be at each other all series long. The first game belonged to Boston who beat the Nationals 131 to 109. Schayes and the Nationals stole game two away winning 120 to 118. Boston regained the upper hand in a 22 point win. The Nationals would once again tie things up winning game four 119 to 107. Boston would take game five 129 to 108, but the Nationals would force a seventh game with a 133 to 121 win in game six. In the seventh game Russell finally shut down Schayes and the Celtics prevailed 130 to 125.
The Defending champion Hawks would face the new look Lakers, and in the first game the Hawks looked like champions as they crushed the lakers 124 to 90. But game two saw a shift in the series momentum as Baylor lead the lakers to the 106-98 win. The hawks would win game three big by the score of 127 to 97, but the Lakers would win game four 98 to 97 in overtime, and game five 108 to 98. In the sixth game the Lakers won 106 to 104 to advance to the finals for the first time in 5 years.
In what would be the only asterix in Elgin Baylor’s career, the fact that he couldn’t win a title. The Celtics beat the Lakers in four straight games for the first ever sweep in NBA finals history. This would also mark the first time the Lakers and Celtics would meet in the NBA finals.
For the past few seasons a rookie would come in a change the way the game was played, and none would do it in as big of way as Wilt Chamberlain. The 7'-1" center from Kansas would make an immediate impact on the NBA, becoming the first rookie to lead the NBA in scoring. The NBA increased the number of games each team would play to 75.
The Celtics machine was oiled, primed and ready to go, Cousy would once again lead the NBA in assist.
The Royals continued to struggle Despite Wyman averaging over 31 points a game, the Royals finished the season at 19 and 56, losing three more games then they did a season prior.
The Pistons finished15 games below 500 but that was still good enough for second in the west. The Pistons won their games by playing team basketball as no one players’ stats stood out particularly well.
Baylor was the third player in 59-60 to average 30+ points, but the lakers still struggled going 29 and 50 for third place in the west.
Rich Guerin could not change the fortunes of the Knicks as they slipped back into the seller of the East going 27 and 48.
Rookie Wilt Chamberlain lead the NBA in scoring(37.6 ppg) and rebounding(27 rpg), and take home both rookie of the year, and MVP. Paul Arizin’s scoring numbers would drop to 22 a game with Chamberlains arrival, and Warriors win 49 games against 26 losses for second in the East.
Petit fell to fourth in the NBA in scoring with 26 a game, and Hagan followed that up with 25 a game. The Hawks easily won the west winning it by a whole 16 games over the Lakers. The Hawks would also be the only western team with a winning record going 46 and 29.
The Nationals would battle the Warriors all season long for second place but Chamberlain’s power was to great for even the NBA’s all time leading scorer to combat, Schayes 23 points and 13 rebounds were still respectable enough to draw fans in to see the Nationals however, something a lot of other teams wished they could say.
The Warriors and Nationals would once again face each other. In game one Chamberlain and the Warriors proved to be to much for the Nationals as they won easily 115 to 92. Dolph Schayes showed he wasn’t completely washed up in game two as he lead the Nationals to a 125 to 119 win. But Chamberlain and Arizin would combine for nearly 100 points alone to lead the Warriors to the 132 to 112 victory and series win.
In game one between the lakers and Pistons, Baylor hit a jumper with second remaining to give the Lakers the 114 to 113 win in Detroit. But game two in Minneapolis would be all lakers as they won 114 to 99.
The Celtics and Warriors would split the first two games in Boston with the Celtics winning game one by six and the Warriors taking game two by five. The Celtics would win game three by 30, and game four by eight to bring the series near an end. But with their backs against the wall Chamberlain and Arizin fought tooth and nail to get the Warriors back in, as they won game five 128 to 107. But Russell and the Celtics proved to be even to much for the young Chamberlain as they escaped with a 2 point win a game six to advance to the finals for the fourth straight year.
The Hawks would beat the Lakers by 13 in game one, but the lakers would take game two by 7. St Louis would once again go one up as the Hawks won 93 to 89 in game three. The Lakers made a frantic late comeback to win game four by 2 points, then used overtime to beat the Hawks by 7 in game five. The Hawks would win games six and seven by double digits to advance to the finals for the third time to face the Celtics.
The Hawks and the Celtics were facing each other in the finals for the 3rd time in as 4 years, the Celtics and the Hawks and each won one of the series against each other. The Celtics easily took game one 140-122, but the Hawks won game two 113 to 103, Despite Bill Russell setting an NBA finals record of 50 rebounds in the game. The Celtics won game three 102 to 86. The Hawks would take a 10 point game four decision to tie the series at 2 games each. Boston blew out St Louis in game five 127 to 102, and if it wasn’t for two bad played in the final minutes of game six the Celtics could have won the series in six, but the Hawks would take that game 105 to 102. The Celtics would win their second straight title behind Bill Russell’s 22 point, and 35 rebound effort in game 7.
As the decade came to a close the NBA had gone full circle, all the early stars except Dolph Schayes had retired. Nine teams had disbanded during a short 11 year run, but the new guys had helped bring the NBA to the forefront of American sports; the league still trailed Baseball in most its markets; but actually did have better attendance then football in cities such as Boston, Minneapolis, and Detroit. The Forefathers of the NBA had left an exciting new league for guys such as Russell, Chamberlain, Baylor and new comers such as Jerry West to enjoy, not to mention millions of fans world wide. The NBA in the 50s would have one more lasting mark on the world of basketball, following the 59-60 season the Lakers left the cold snowy land of the Lakes for the warm sandy beaches of South California; the Los Angeles Lakers were born.
The sixties were a time of great political upheaval, and internal struggle’s thought-out the United States and the world. From assassinations to Vietnam to the Moon, Americans’ eyes were turned constantly to the TV. For the NBA, this meant big money from lucrative TV deals, it also meant others would try to challenge them for the new found wealth that TV brought. By decades end the Basketball world would know two major professional leagues, one of the larger markets and the other of smaller markets. Both with their own stars and own rules, but both would dramatically shape the way the game is played. Also the NBA in the sixties can be summed up quite easily, “the Boston Celtics are World Champions Once again”-Johnny Most. The Celtics would win 8 of the 10 championships in the decade in one of the most dominating eras’ in sports history.
As the decade started the United States was still in a sort of “Pax Americana”, the prosperity of the 50s had carried over into the new decade. In the summer of 1960 the United States won the gold metal lead behind All-Americans Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Jerry Lucas and Walt Bellamy. In the Draft Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson found that he wouldn’t have to travel far to play basketball, he was drafted by him hometown Royals. West from West Virginia was drafted by the Lakers, but instead of having to play in the frigid Midwest, West found himself in sunny southern California. Lucas and Bellamy would both return to the ranks of the NCAA.
The Celtics once again finished the season with the best record in the NBA going 57 and 22. For the first time in eight seasons Bob Cousy did not lead the NBA in assist, that honor went to Robertson of Cincinnati, Cousy came in third. Also for the first time in a decade the Celtics did not have a player in the top 10 in scoring.
Rookie Oscar Robertson’s impact on the League and the game of basketball was profound. However, his impact did not help the Royals make the playoffs. The Royals did however go out fighting, as they missed the playoffs by one game going 33 and 46. Robertson posted a near triple double averaging 30 points per game, 10 rebounds per game, and a league leading 9.7 assist per game.
Bailey Howell and Gene Shue both made huge strides in their career during the 60-61 season. Shue a Journey man had averaged 22 a game the previous year, but now with Howell his shooting percentage went up as well. Howell lead the Pistons in rebounding at 14 a game, while Shue lead the Pistons in assist with 7 a game. The Pistons beat out their old rivals the Royals during a tight three-way race, going 34 and 45.
The Lakers found their new home a little better then their previous one. The Lakers won 36 games while losing 43 games, an 11 game improvement from a year ago. The Lakers also found themselves a game better then Detroit in the standings for second place in the West. Baylor was three points per game shy of taking the scoring championship from Chamberlain. Baylor also lead the Lakers in rebounds with 20 per game.
The Knicks continued to sink into the Basketball cellar, going an NBA low 21 and 58. Willie Naulls lead the Knicks in scoring with 23 a game, and Rich Guerin continued leading the team in assist.
The Big Dipper continued to tear apart the NBA for the Warriors, averaging a then league high 38 points a game, and another league high with 27.2 rebounds a game, 2/10ths of a rebound more then he averaged the previous year. (Which also was a league high) Paul Arizin also helped the Warriors out by averaging 23 points per game, even though they had two 20+ scorers the Warriors could not challenge the Celtics for the top spot in the East missing out by a full 11 games at 46 and 33
Bob Pettit continued to power the Hawks in the west, Pettit averaged 28 points a game which was good for fourth in the NBA in scoring, and he was third in rebounds with 20 per game. Pettit lead the Hawks to their 5th straight Division championship.
Dolph Schayes kept the Nationals decent going 38 and 41 for third place in the east. The now aging Schayes had begun to slow down, his minutes dropped but his scoring picked up as he scored a point more than he had the previous season.
In the first round of the newly formatted best of five, Eastern playoffs the Nationals faced their long-standing rivals the Warriors. Despite Chamberlain averaging about 40 a game in the series the Nationals still dominated the Warriors. In game one the Nationals beat the Warriors in Philadelphia 115 to 107. In game two the Nationals won 115 to 114, and in game three 106 to 103.
In the west the series would go a bit longer. For the eighth time in 10 years the Pistons and the Lakers would face each other. In game one the Lakers took a big 120 to 102 win, game two saw the lakers sneak out with a 120 to 118 victory. In the third game, facing elimination, the Pistons managed to score 124 points to the Lakers 113 for the win, the Pistons once again starved off elimination in game four winning 123 to 114. But once the series shifted back to the west coast the Lakers took and easy 137 to 120 victory to clinch the series.
The defending champions faced the Nations once again, and once again Boston built an early series lead by winning game one 128 to 115, but Syracuse would tie things up with a 115 to 98 victory over the Celtics in the Garden. The Celtics responded bu thrashing the Nationals in front of their home crowd back in Syracuse with a 133 to110 game three win. In game the Celtics kept the pressure on and won that easily 120 to 107, the Celtics would finish off the Nationals with a 123 to 101 game five victory.
Once again where the East was dominated by the Celtics, the west was fought for and won by the Hawks. The Hawks lost game one of their best of seven series to the Lakers 122 to 118 in St Louis, but they responded by winning game two 121 to 106. With the series shifting back to the west coast and the lakers having stole home court the Hawks let another close one slip away 118 to 112. Both the Hawks managed to hold the Lakers shooting cold in the final period as they beat the Lakers in Los Angels 118 to 117. The Lakers took game six in St Louis easily 121 to 121 and looked to eliminate the standing western champions back in LA. After a grueling one point overtime game six victory in Los Angeles, the Hawks had tied the series up heading back St Louis. Game seven was another close one but Bob Pettit was once again clutch in the final minute to lead the Hawks back to the finals.
The Hawks and Celtics once again faced each other in the Finals. This would also be their last finals meeting. The Series with the Lakers had so exhausted the Hawks, as they played then boarded a plan and flew from St Louis to Boston, that they were completely lethargic in game one and Russell’s Celtics walked all over them 129 to 95. The Celtics continued pressing the Hawks in game two winning them by eight; 116 to 108. The Hawks tried to mount a series comeback as they took game three in St Louis 124 to 120, but the Celtics couldn’t be hindered as they won game four 119 to 104, and then won game five and the championship 121 to 112. This was the Celtics third championship in a row.
In one of the most important years in the history of the NBA, the league expanded to Chicago Packers. This was the leagues first expansion team. The League also saw a huge jump in scoring as seven players averaged more than 30 points a game. And was also the year of some of the most spectacular feats in sports history.
The Celtics became the first NBA team to ever win 60 games going 60 and 20. Cousy, Russell, Heinshon and Sam Jones continued to rake in wins for the Celtics as they seemed unstoppable. Bill Russell won his second straight MVP and his third overall with 24 rebound a game and 19 points a game.
In their first season the Packers only managed to win 18 games while losing 62, and thus coincidently became the first team in NBA history to lose 60 games. One bright spot for the Packers was center Walt Bellamy who was second in the NBA in scoring with 32 points a game, and third in the NBA in rebounds with 19 a game.
What he couldn’t do in 60-61 he did in 61-62, Oscar Robertson averaged the only season long triple double in NBA history, averaging 31 points per game, 12 rebounds per game, and became the first double digit assist man with a league best 11 assist a game. Robertson’s play and that of his teammate Jack Twyman turned the Royals around and they won 43 game for second in the West.
Bailey Howell’s and Gene Shue’s scoring dropped off from the previous season and the Pistons just kind of staggered around the entire season going 37 and43 for third in the west.
Elgin Baylor had brought the Lakers full circle, no longer were they just another team, they were someone to be reckoned with as many teams found out. The lakers went 54 and 26 for the best record in the West. Baylor’s scoring rose to 38 a game, but he was injured and missed most of the season, but in his absence Jerry West rose to stardom averaging 31 points per game.
The Knicks improved with a healthy Rich Guerin, but the Knicks still only managed to win 29 games and finished last in the East once again.
The 61-62 season saw many remarkable feats accomplished by Wilt Chamberlain. Chamberlain scored 60 or more points 18 times during the season, a record still held today. He finished the season averaging 50 points a game. On December 8, 1961, Chamberlain scored 78 points against the Lakers breaking Elgin Baylor’s 71 point record for most points in a game. Than on March 2, 1962 in a game in Hershey, Pennsylvania Chamberlain scored an astonishing 100 points in a game against the Knicks. No NBA player since then has even gotten close to matching the Big Dippers feat. Even more impressive then his 100 point game in that he played in all but 8 minutes of the season for the Warriors.
The Increase of talent in the league overall hurt the Hawks, they fell from first place a year ago to 4th in the west and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since moving to St Louis in 1955. Pettit still scored 30 a game and Cliff Hagen added 23 points per game, but it was mainly the Hawks defense which cost them games as their guards were slow and shot the ball poorly most nights.
The Nationals 41 and 39 record was good enough for third place in the east, Schayes got injured midway thought the season and missed 21 games and could only muster 15 points a game for the Nationals
In the first round of the east it was the Warriors and the Nationals once again. Chamberlains Warriors took game one 110 to 103, and then followed that up with a 97 to 82 win to put the Nationals on the brink of elimination. In game three Dolph Schayes returned to his former glory as he lead the Nationals to a one point win to starve off defeat, 101-100. Schayes still had more magic and he lead the Nationals to another win in game four at Syracuse to tie the series at two games each. But game five would be all the Big Dipper as the Warriors rolled over the Nationals 121 to 104.
In the west the old NBL rivalry of the Pistons and Royals heated up once again. Detroit took a very closely contested game one 123 to 122, but Cincinnati responded by wailing on the Pistons 129 to 107 in game two. But Robertson and Twyman didn’t have enough firepower alone to lead the Royals as the Pistons took game three 118 to 107, and then Gene Shue hit a deciding jumper in game four to give the Pistons the 112-111 win to take the series 3 games to 1 game.
Boston would face Philadelphia in the east, Russell would keep Chamberlain pretty much under control, as Chamberlain only averaged 40 points a game, down from the 50 points he averaged in the regular season. The Celtics took game one easily 117 to 89, but Philly answered in game two winning 113 to 106. Russell would have a big game three to lead the Celtics to a 129 to 114 victory over the Warriors in Philadelphia. But again Chamberlain and the Warriors couldn’t be silenced as they came roaring back to take game four 110 to 106. Game five in Boston saw the Celtics build up and early lead and coast to the119 to 104 victory. But again the Warriors came back to tie the series after taking game six in Philly 109 to 99. Game seven would be an epic one, the teams battled back and fourth all night, the key match ups of Arizin and Heinshon and Russell and Chamberlain provided a spectacle for all to see. The game would go down to the wire, and with five second to go in the game tied, and Boston will the ball, Sam Jones hit the game winning jumper for the Celtics.
The Lakers would face the Pistons in the west, and after the first two games it looked like the Lakers firepower was to much. The Lakers won game one 132 to 108 and won game two 127 to 112. The series now shifted back to Detroit, and the Pistons but up a better fight in game three but still lost to the Lakers 111 to 106. The Pistons would rally to fend off elimination as they won game four 118 to 117, and then followed that off with a 132 to 125 game five victory in Los Angeles. But West, Baylor and the Lakers were too much for the Pistons in game six as the Lakers took the series with a 123 to 117 victory.
Elgin Baylor would have a chance at avenging his beating at the hands of the Celtics in the finals from four years earlier as the Lakers and Celtics faced each other once again in the Finals. The Celtics took game one 122 to 108 in Boston, but the Lakers would steal home court advantage with a 129 to 122 victory in game two. With the Series in LA the Lakers road their home fans and won game three 117 to 115 to take a 2 games to 1 game lead in the series. The Celtics tied things up with a twelve-point game four victory. Game five of the 1962 NBA finals would witness another NBA milestone, as LA’s Elgin Baylor erupted for some NBA finals high of 61 points to lead the Lakers to a 126 to 121 win. The Lakers were now one game away from defeating Boston and winning their first championship since 1954. Russell would rally the Celtics in game six as they won 119 to 105. Game seven would be another down to the wire game for the Celtics as with time running out in regulation, and the score tied, Laker guard Frank Selvy, Had a shot to win the game, but it clanked off the rim and sent the game into overtime. In Overtime the Celtics would outscore the Lakers, to win a new NBA record of four consecutive NBA championships.
On the West Coast
As the season began there were some notable differences, the Warriors moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco, leaving Philadelphia without a basketball team for the first time since the early 1930s. To compensate for the Warriors move to the west, the Royals joined the east and would end the great playoff rivalries with the Pistons. The Packers would change their names to the Zephyrs during the season. And Bob Cousy announced before the season that this would be his last. The NBA also added a new award; Coach of the year; which went to St Louis’s Harry Gallatin.
In Bob Cousy’s last season in the NBA, the Celtic went 58 and 22 for the best record in the NBA, Cousy’s 8 assist lead the Celtics and was third in the NBA. Russell’s 24 rebounds per game was just shy of Chamberlains 24.3 rebounds per game. The Celtics also didn’t have a 20-point scorer on the team. In the Draft the Celtics picked up Ohio State guard John Havilcek
The newly named Zephyrs added Terry Dischinger from Purdue, Dischinger would go on to win Rookie of the year, and would mark the first time that the same team would have two consecutive Rookie of the Years. Walt Bellamy still lead the Zephyrs in scoring at 28 per game
The move to the East did little to stop the progression of Robertson and Twyman, the Royals only lost one more game then they did the previous season going 42 and 38, but the tougher competition meant that the Royals fell to third place. Robertson nearly averaged another triple double but fell a few assists and rebounds short.
The Pistons enjoyed another mediocre season at 34 and 46, the Pistons drafted Dave DeBusschere in the draft and he made an immediate impact on a team already with Bailey Howell and Don Ohl.
The Lakers continued to be the elite team of the west going 53 and 27, Baylor played in all 80 games during the season averaging 34 points per game, but the lakers lost West for about 30 games during the season due to a foot injury.
Rich Guerin tried, but just couldn’t keep the Knicks competitive in the east, as the Knicks finished last in the NBA at 21 and 59.
The Move to the west may have hurt the Warriors, more then the move to the east that the Royals had to do. The Warriors struggled, despite Chamberlains 45 points and 24 rebounds per game. Like Bob Cousy this would be the last season in the NBA for Paul Arizin who would retire after playing 10 seasons in the NBA, his career started 12 years earlier in 1950 but Arizin served two years in the Military during his NBA career. The Warriors finished 31 and 49 and did not qualify for the playoffs.
Rookie Zelmo Beatty and new coach Harry Gallatin helped re serge the Hawks who went 48 and 32 for second place in the East. Bob Pettit once again lead the Hawks in scoring with 28 points per game.
The Nationals finished second in the east again going 48 and 32. Once again they were lead by Dolph Schayes who seemed to be like a fine wine, getting better with age.
In the first round of the playoffs the Royals would play the Nationals. The Nationals took a very close game one 123 to 120, but the Royals routed the Nationals in Syracuse 122 to 115. The Nationals responded by beat the Royals in Cincinnati 121 to 117. The Royals took game four 125 to 118, and followed that up with a series clinching win in game five, 131 to 127.
In the western series the Hawks made light work of the Pistons in both games in St Louis, winning game one 118 to 99, and winning game two 122 to 108. The Pistons fended off elimination by winning game four 107 to 103, but the Hawks captured the series win with a 104 to 100, game four win.
The Royals thought they had a chance to beat the four time champion Celtics in the East final, Robertson had dominated in the first round and the Royals expected more of the same, but the Celtics would be ready for him. After a hard-fought game one the Royals escaped with a 135 to 132 win, but the Celtics would blow the Royals out by 22 in game two to tie the series at one game a piece. Cincy won another close game, winning game three 121 to 116. The Celtics would take games four and five to give them a 3 games to two games series lead, but in game six the Royals beat the Celtics by 10 to force a game seven. In the seventh game the Celtics scored 142 points to the Royals 131 to make it to the finals for the seventh straight year.
The Lakers took game one of their series against the Hawks 112 to 104, and then won game two by two points, 101 to 99. In St Louis the Hawks took game three 125 to 112, and then took game four 124 to 114 to tie the series at two games each. The Lakers would win game five by 23 points, but the Hawks wouldn’t go away in game six winning that one 121 to 113 to force a seventh game in the west. In game seven Baylor, West and the lakers prevailed 115 to 100 to face the Celtics in the finals again.
Baylor and the Lakers hoped this would be their year to return to glory, and win another championship, the only thing that stood in their way was the team that had already beaten them twice for the NBA Championship; the Boston Celtics. The Celtics took game one 117 to 114, and then took game two 113 to 106, the series now shifted to Los Angeles were the lakers won game three 119 to 99. The Celtics would steal game four away from the lakers 108 to 105. The series now went back to Boston with the Celtics up 3 games to 1 game. The lakers would force the series back to LA with a game five victory, 126 to 119. But in game six, Russell and Havilcek combined to force many laker turnovers and the Celtics would win their 5th straight NBA title 112 to 109. Bob Cousy would retire after the game having won six NBA championships.
Big City Hustle
The 63-64 season saw more movement in the NBA, the Chicago Zephyrs packed their bags and moved to Baltimore to become the Bullets. The Bullets was taken from the name of one of the original NBA team also called Baltimore Bullets. And the Syracuse Nationals would move from New York after nearly 20 seasons there and move to Philadelphia Pennsylvania and become known as the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Bullets won five more games in 63-64 then they did in 62-63, but that was only good enough for fourth place in the west. Walt Bellamy once again lead the team in points with 27.
Even with the Loss of Cousy the Celtics continued to roll and once again got the best record in the NBA going 59 and 21, a game better then the previous year with Cousy. Russell won the rebounding title over Chamberlain, but missed out on winning his 4th straight MVP.
The Royals challenged the Celtics all season long for the top record in the east, and just lost out by four and a half games. For his effort Oscar Robertson was rewarded with the MVP, Robertson also captured the All-star MVP. The Royals also added Jerry Lucas in the draft, who went on to win the Rookie of the Year award.
The Pistons completely fell apart in 63-64. Debusschere and Howell couldn’t get a long and team suffered embarrassing defeats on a nearly nightly basis. The Pistons finished 23 and 57 for the worst record in the NBA.
The Lakers dominance of the west was temporarily suspended because Baylor and West had both had lower then expected season outputs. The Lakers finished third in the west at 42 and 38. This is also the year the NBA introduced its now famous logo, many believe its likeness is Lakers star Jerry West
The Knicks improved by one game in 63-64, but they still ended up with the worst record in the NBA at 22 and 58.
The fans in Philadelphia showed up in droves to support the 76ers, but the 76ers struggled most the season and finished third in the NBA at 34 and 46. Dolph Schayes was injured midway thought the season which limited him to only 24 games and a career low six points a game. Schayes would retire at the end of the season ending a remarkable 16 year career which saw him become the NBA’s all time leader in points, rebounds, and games played.
The Warriors were back on top, Chamberlain’s 37 points lead the NBA in scoring but his 22 rebounds didn’t but it did help the Warriors play a more team oriented game. The Warriors won 48 games for the top spot in the west. Alex Hannum won the coach of the year award in its second year for the Warriors.
Pettit and the Hawks continued to try and reach their glory days again, but the league had gotten much stronger. The Hawks did manage to win 46 games, two behind the Warriors for the best record in the west.
The Royals would face the 76ers in the first round. The Royals won game one 127 to 102, but the 76ers won game two 122 to 114 to tie the stories. The Royals won game 101 to 89 to retake the series lead. The 76ers would retie the series at two games each with a 129 to 120 victory in game four. But Robertson and the Royals would be to much as they took the decisive fifth game130 to 124.
In the west the Hawks beat the Lakers 115 to 104 in game one, and 106 in 90 in game two to force an elimination game for the defending western champions. The lakers took game three by 2, 107 to 105, and then 97 to 88 in game four. But the Hawks ended the Lakers reign over the west with a 121 to 108.
The Celtics and Royals would face each other again, but the Celtics jumped out with a quick 3-0 series lead after a 103 to 87 victory in game one, a 101 to 90 in game two, and a 102 to 92 in game three. The Royals prevented the sweep with a102 to 93 win in game four, but the Celtics returned to the Finals with a 109 to 95 win in game five.
In the West the Hawks would steal game one from the Warriors in San Francisco, 116 to 111, but the Warriors would retaliate with a 35-point blow out in game two, 120-85. The Hawks would rebound a 113 to 109 victory in game three. Chamberlain would lead the Warriors to a two point win in game four in St Louis, then a 121 to 97 win in game five in San Francisco. With the Hawks facing elimination Pettit and Beatty combined to lead the Hawks to a huge 123 to 95 victory over the Warriors in game six, but alas Chamberlain proved to be too much, and the Warriors won game seven 105 to 95.
The defending champion Celtics took game one from the Warriors 108 to 96, then the Celtics took game two 124 to 101, to take a two games to none series lead. Back in San Francisco, Chamberlain rallied the Warriors to win game three 115 to 91, but Bill Russell’s heroics in 98 to 95 Celtics win in game four put the Celtics one game closer to their sixth consecutive title. Chamberlain was able to keep the Warriors close for much of game five, but Havilcek and Russell were too much as the Celtics won their sixth straight NBA title. The title did not only make NBA history, it made sports history, no other professional team had ever won six successive titles, the New York Yankees of Baseball and the Montreal Canadians of Hockey had each won five successive titles.
Many fans had been complaining that the game favored the big men, so the NBA widened the free throw line from 12 to 16 feet. These rules did little to impact the effect big guys like Bill Russell, and Wilt Chamberlain had on the game. The growing angst in America caused many to bypass basketball games for other activities.
The Bullets finally improved enough to make the playoffs, Bellamy continued to lead the team in scoring, with 25 points a game on 50 percent shooting as well. Don Ohl added 18 a game for the Bullets as well.
The Celtics faced many adversities in the 64-65 season, Jim Loscutoff and Frank Ramsey both retired, and owner Walter Brown died during the off-season. Despite this, the Celtics went on to win a league best and NBA record 62 game, while only losing 18. Sam Jones crept into the top five in scoring with 26 points per game, and Bill Russell captured another rebounding title. Russell would also win his fifth and final regular season MVP trophy.
Robertson once again lead the Royals with a near triple double, but again the Royals came second fiddle to the Celtics at 48 and 32.
The Pistons continued to be stuck in meritocracy once again, going 31 and 49. Terry Dischinger lead them in scoring with 19 per game, but were only 4th in the west and not making the playoffs once again.
The Lakers continued to dominate the west going 49 and 31 for the second best record in the league behind Boston. Jerry West moved into second place in the season scoring list as he averaged 31 points per outting, Baylor was fivith with 27 a game.
For the sixth year in a row the Knicks finished at the bottom of the east, but this year they only had the third worst record in the NBA going 31 and 49. The Knicks added rookie center Willis Reed in the draft and Reed would go on to lead the Knicks in scoring with just under 20 a game.
The 76ers struggled for the early part of the season, but at the All-star break they pulled of a league shocking trade when they sent Paul Newman, Connie Dierking, Lee Shaffer and Cash to the Warriors for Wilt Chamberlain. Chamberlains re-arrival in Philadelphia made the 76ers an instant hit again, the 76ers finished the season at 40 and 40 for third place in the east.
The Warriors started out decent, but after the Chamberlain trade they fell completly apart going a dismal 17 and 63 for the worst record in NBA history to that point. Guy Rodgers finished second in the NBA in assist for the Warriors, as that was about their only bright spot.
The Hawks finished 5 games behind the Lakers for the western crown, at 45 and 35. Bob Pettit average a little over 22 points a game, in what would be his last NBA season.
The 76erss would beat the Royals by 2, 119-117 in game one of their best of five series, but the Royals would take game two by 1, 121-120 to tie the series at one game each. The Chamberlain lead 76ers would win games three and four by double digits to advance to face the Celtics.
The Bullets stunned the Hawks by winning their first ever playoff game in game one of their best of five series, winning 108 to 105 in St Louis. The Hawks tied the series in game two with a 129 to 105 win. But a 32 point win in game three gave the Bullets the momentum they needed to win the series, as they then took game four 109 to 103, as this marked the first time in their history the Hawks did not win a playoff series in the playoffs.
Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell would face each other in the playoffs again. Russell lead the Celtics to a 108 to 98 win in game one, but Chamberlain followed that up by leading the 76ers to a 109 to 103 win in game two. Russell and the Celtics took game three 112 to 94, but Chamberlain answered with a 134 to 131 overtime win in game four. Boston took game five 114 to 108, but Philly came right back and tied the series at three games each with a 112 to 106 win. Game seven would be an epic one. The two teams battled all night, the Big men clashed, but unlike the rest of this series they wouldn’t decide the winner. With the Celtics leading by one, the 76ers tried to inbound the ball but John Havilcek picked it off, and he dribbled out the clock announcer Johnny Most uttered some of the most famous words in basketball history “Havilcek Steals the Ball!”
The Lakers wouldn’t be surprised by the Bullets like the Hawks were, the Lakers took game one 121 to 115, and then game two 118 to 115. The Bullets would return to Baltimore and take game three 122 to 115, and then take game four 114 to 112 to tie the series up. Back in Los Angeles the Lakers took game five 120 to 112 and then upon their returned to Baltimore the lakers won game six and the series 117 to 115. In a basketball oddity the Bullets scored 115 points in three games, while the Lakers did it once for a combined total of four times. This is a rare thing that has only happened a few times thought-out NBA history. The Win wasn’t all celebration for the lakers however, Elgin Baylor got injured and would not be able to play in the Finals.
Jerry West would have to pick up the scoring slack left by the injured Baylor, and West did just that averaging 46.3 points per game for the highest point per game average in finals history. This however did little to stop the Celtics. The Celtics took game one 142 to 110, then won game two 129 to 123. The lakers would take game three 126 to 105, but the Celtics took games four and five to win their seventh NBA title.
65-66 The 65-66 season was the beginning of some change in the NBA, it wasn’t immediate but it was long lasting. The Aging Celtics began to show some signs of wear and tear, and Chamberlain continued to dominate but his numbers decreased and others around him began to catch up to the Big dipper in shear dominance.
The Bullets traded Dischinger to Detroit for Bailey Howell, but only improved by one game. Bellamy continued to be a dominate inside force for the Bullets who finished second in the west behind that lakers with a record of 38 and 42. But the Bullets would trade Bellamy to the Knicks at mid-season.
For the first time since 1957 the Celtics did not finish atop the eastern standings, their record of 54 and 26 was only good enough for second place in the east behind Philadelphia. Russell finished second in the NBA in rebounds with 23 a game, and Sam Jones lead the Celtics in scoring with 23 a game.
The Royals experiacned some ups and a lot of downs during the season, Robertson finished third in the NBA in scoring with 25 a game, and Adrian Smith won the all-star MVP, but the Royals suffered being in the same division as Chamberlain and Russell, as they fell to third place in the standings with a record of 45 and 35.
Terry Dischinger did little to help the Pistons struggles. They finished with the worst record in the NBA at 22 and 58.
Injuries shortened Baylor’s season to only 65 games, and only 17 points a game, Jerry West however picked up the slack and again averaged 31 points a night for the lakers who won the west with a record of 45 and 35.
Even with Walt Bellamy the Knicks couldn’t get out of the cellar. Bellamy and Willis Reed made a tough tandem in the middle but the Knicks could only win 30 games while they lost 50.
Chamberlain had lead the 76ers over the Celtics in six out of their ten meetings, he had led them to the division title, and he lead them in scoring, field goal percentage, and rebounds, the only thing he couldn’t do was to lead them to a title.
The Warriors added hotshot rookie Rick Berry to their team and they instantly improved going 35 and 45,while watching Berry win the Rookie of the year award.
Zelmo Beaty stepped in for the Hawks after Bob Pettit’s retirement, Beaty lead the Hawks in scoring with 21 a game and lead them to the third best record in the west.
The Celtics would have to play a first round game for the first time in years, and it didn’t start out for them nicely either. The Royals beat the Celtics 107 to 103 in the first game. Boston came back to win game two 132 to 125. The Royals put the seven time champion Celtics on the brink of elimination with a 113 to 107 game three win. The Celtics rallied though and won game four 120 to 103, and then won game five and the series 112 to 103.
The Hawks wouldn’t be surprised by the Bullets this year. The Hawks won game one 113 to 111. Then they won games two and three to sweep the Bullets. This was the first playoff sweep in the NBA since 1960.
The 76ers and Chamberlain thought they had the upper hand on the Celtics, but Boston took game one and home court from the 76ers,115 to 96. The Celtics built on game one momentum by beat the 76ers 114 to 93 in game two. Philadelphia got back into the series with a 111 to 105 win in game three, but the rest of the series would be all Celtics. The Celtics won game four 114 to 108 and then won the series in a 120 to 112 win in game five.
The Lakers got game one 129 to 106 over the hawks. The lakers also won game two fairly easily by the score of 125 to 116. The Hawks would close to within on game with a 120 to 113 win in game three. The Lakers took game four 107 to 95 to but the Hawks on the brink of elimination. Beaty however rallied the Hawks and they won game five 112 to 100, and then tied the series with a 121 to 127 in game six. The lakers would get back to their winning ways with a 130 to 121 win in game seven.
Once again the Lakers and Celtics faced each other in the NBA finals. The lakers got a hard-fought overtime decision over the Celtics in game one by the score of 133 to 129. Boston took game two easily 129 to 109 to tie the series up again. The Celtics would win the next two games fairly easily, beating the lakers 120 to 106 in game three, and 122 to 116 in game four. The Lakers had to follow what the Hawks did to them in the previous series, and the Lakers did exactly that. The Lakers won game five 121 to 117, and then won game six 123 to 115 to force a seventh and final game. Before the seventh game Red Auerbach made a stunning announcement, he would retire after the game and Bill Russell would succeed him, making Russell the first black coach in all of sports. This inspired the Celtics who went out and beat the Lakers 95 to 93, to win their record setting eight NBA championship.
The Age of Expansion
The 1966-67 season would kick off the NBA’s age of expansion, and age that would last until 1980 and introduce 14 new teams to join the NBA, 10 expansion teams and 4 merger teams. The first of these teams began play in 1966, they where the Chicago Bulls. The season also saw the first time when two teams would win 60 plus games.
The Bullets moved to the East after the expansion, and the move coupled with the loss of Bellamy who was traded a year earlier, and Bailey Howells departure for Boston spelled disaster for the Bullets who went a league low 20 and 61
The Celtics saw many changed during the season, Bill Russell was both player and coach for the Celtics who won 60 games, but that wasn’t good enough because the 76ers won 68. John Havilcek lead the Celtics in scoring with 21 a game, and new comer Bailey Howell added 20 points a game for the Celtics.
The Bulls made good use of the first expansion draft in NBA history, they made Bullets guard Jerry Sloan the first player ever to be taken in an expansion draft, they followed that up by also taking John Thompson, Bob Boozer, and Jim King. The Bulls also added Guy Rodgers to the team. The Bulls finished a mediocre 33 and 48, but in doing so became the first and thus far only expansion team to ever make the playoffs.
Robertson’s near triple double season did little to help the fading Royals who finished third once again behind the 76ers and Celtics.
In the draft the Pistons picked up guard Dave Bing. Bing immediately made the Pistons better as they improved by one game from the previous year.
Like the Celtics, the Lakers fell during the 66-67 season, Baylor and West combined for nearly 50 points a game, but the Lakers didn’t even manage to stay above 500 going 39 and 42 for second place in the west.
Willis Reed was finally making his presence felt in the Big apple, the Knicks won 36 games, and ended up in fourth place, but more importantly; they made the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. With Reeds numbers going up Bellamy’s declined, and it’s been thought for years that Bellamy may have been upset with this, but none the less, the two got along on the court long enough to help improve the Knicks.
The 76ers reeled of win after win all season long, going an amazing 68 and 13. Which for the time was the best record any NBA team had ever had. Chamberlain only averaged 24 points a game, but his assist jumped to eight a game.
In just two years Rick Berry turned the Warriors from a cash-strapped franchise on the brink of bankruptcy into one of the premiere powerhouses of the NBA. The Warriors finished 44 and 37 and won the west, ending the Lakers streak of Western division title. Berry lead the NBA in scoring at 36 a game, and his underhand free throw shooting entertained fans everywhere
The Hawks were one of the quietest teams in the NBA during the 66-67 season, they didn’t win big, but they won consistently going 39 and 42 for second place in the west.
In the newly formatted playoffs where each team now played a first round best of five series, the Celtics and Knicks would face each other. In game one the defending champion Celtics blew out the Knicks 140 to 110. The Celtics also took game two 115 to 108. The Knicks prevented being swept with 123 to 112 win. But the Celtics finished off the Knicks in game four with a 119 to 108 win.
In the second series the 76ers faced the Royals. The Royals stunned the 76ers with a 120 to 116 win in game one, but the 76ers would come back with a vengeance winning the next three games by double figures. They won game two 123 to 102, they took game three 121 to 106, and then ended the series with a 112 to 94 win in game four.
In the west the Hawks once again faced new comers into the playoffs; the Bulls. But unlike two years previously when the Hawks faced the Bullets in their first ever playoff games, the Hawks took care of business often and early in this series. The Hawks took game one 114 to 100, then the Hawks hit their free throws down the stretch of game two to take 113 to 107 victory. The Hawks completed the sweep with a 119 to 106 victory in game three.
In the second western series the Warriors copied the Hawks, and swept the lakers. The Warriors won game one 124 to 108, game two 113 to 102, and completed the sweep with a 122 to 115 victory.
Once again the Celtics and 76ers would face each other in the playoffs. Wilt Chamberlain publically commented that “this is the year we take it,” and after game one many believed him. The 76ers took game one 127 to 113. The Celtics almost took game two, but Hal Greer hit some big shots to give the victory to the 76ers, 107 to 102. Then the 76ers did the unthinkable. They won game three 115 to 104. The eight time defending champions were now down 0-3, facing the most dominate player in the game. The Celtics managed to win game four 121 to 117, but they were helpless to watch as Wilt Chamberlain end their greatest run of championships in sports history, as the 76ers eliminated the Celtics in a game five blowout 140 to 116.
In the west the Warriors won game one over the Hawks 117 to 115. The Warriors also took a high scoring 143 to 136 decisions in game two. The Hawks returned to St Louis and began to even things up as they took game three 115 to 109, then tied things up with a 109 to 104 win in game four. But Berry would not be deterred as he lead the Warriors to a 123 to 102 game five win, and then a 125 to 122 game six series clinching win.
The 1967 finals were a match-up that pitted Philadelphia’s old team, the Warriors, against their new team, the 76ers. The first game was a great one as the fans in Philadelphia booed the team, they once cheered for. The new Philadelphia team, the 76ers took game one 141 to 135 in overtime. The 76ers followed that up by winning game two 126 to 95. But the old Philadelphia team, the Warriors, took game three 130 to 124. In game four Wilt Chamberlain moved one game closer to his first NBA title as the 76ers beat the Warriors 122 to 108. The Warriors starved off elimination in game five with a 117 to 109 win. But Wilt Chamberlain had a huge game against the team that had traded him a few years before as he lead the 76ers to their first championship since 1955 when Dolph Schayes lead the then Syracuse Nationals to a title.
The Red White and Blue of the ABA. NBA
The NBA continued to expand as it added two more new teams, the San Diego Rockets, and the Seattle Supersonics. The League also saw scoring drop as many of the younger players left to join the newly created American Basketball Association. The NBA also added to more games to the schedule, making it an 82 game season.
The Bullets added Earl “the Pearl” Monroe out of Winston-Salem State, and they immediately got better. The Bullets won 16 games more then they did the previous season, unfortunately it was only good enough for last place in the east.
Bill Russell Continued to coach and play for the Celtics who finished second to the 76ers again with a record of 54 and 28.
The Bulls became one of the better defensive teams in the NBA lead by Sloan. The Bulls won only 29 games but managed to still get into the playoffs.
Oscar Robertson suffered an injury early in the season and missed 20 games, this hurt the Royals as they seemed lost without him, when he got back they seemed to be lost with him as well going 39 and 43 and not making the playoffs.
The Pistons moved to the east, and ironically they got better. The Pistons fished 10 games better then a year ago, going 40 and 42 for fourth place in the east. Dave Bing lead the NBA in scoring with 27 points a game.
The Lakers rebounded from the previous season by going 52 and 30 for second place in the west. Baylors 26 points per game was second in the NBA.
The Knicks lead by Willis Reed and Walt Bellamy continued to improve and won 43 games against 39 losses for third place in the east.
The 76ers lost a few more games then they did the previous season, but their 62 and 20 record was still the best in the NBA. Wilt Chamberlain continued adding to his remarkable career as he became the first and only center to lead the NBA in assist as he averaged 8.6 assists per game.
The Rockets had a dismal 15 and 67 season and finished last in the NBA. The Rockets were consistently the worst scoring team in the NBA. Off the court the Rockets were involved in legal issues with the ABA franchise the Denver Rockets.
Even though Rick Barry left the Warriors to join the Oak of the ABA the Warriors didn’t really struggle to much, they won only one fewer game then the previous year, but fell to third place without Barry’s defense.
The Supersonics finished with the second worst record in the NBA, just eight games better then fellow expansionists, San Diego. Walt Hazzard busted onto the NBA scene after playing a few unproductive years in Los Angeles, Hazzard averaged 24 points a game, For the Sonics.
The Hawks captured the west division title lead by Zelmo Beaty and Lenny Wilkens. The Hawks won a franchise best 56 games.
In the eastern first round the 76ers took on the Knicks in a new best of seven first round. The 76ers took game one 118 to 110, but the Knicks tied things up with a 128 to 117 wins in game two. The Warriors won a double overtime game in game three, 138 to 132, to take a 2 games to 1 advantage. But the Knicks answeared back and tied the series after winning game four 107 to 98. The Sixers would take game five easily 123 to 105, and then ended the series with a 113 to 97 win in game six
The Celtics took game one from the Pistons 123 to 116, but the Pistons took the next two games to take the series lead 2-1. The Pistons won game two 126 to 116, and game three 109 to 98. The Celtics would strike back at the Pistons by winning game four 135 to 110. The Celtics then took game five 110 to 96, and won the series with a 111 to 103 win in game six.
The Warriors took game one from the Hawks 111 to 106, but Hawks took game two by the same score. The Warriors would win the next two game 124 to 109, and 108 to 107 to take a three games to one lead over the Hawks. The Hawks stayed alive with a 129 to 103 beating of the Warriors. But the Warriors finished off the Hawks with a 111 to 106 win in game six.
The Lakers took game one from the Bulls 109 to 101, then followed that up with a 111 to 106 win in game two. Jerry Sloan would hit some key shots and make key defensive plays down the stretch of game three to give the Bulls the 104 to 98 win over the Lakers. But the Lakers would finish off the series with two straight wins over the Bulls. The Lakers won game four 93 to 87, and the series clinching game five 122 to 99.
In the east finals it was the marquee match up of the NBA once again, Bill verses Wilt. The Celtics took game one 127 to 118 in Philadelphia. But Wilt and the 76ers responded by winning the next three games to put the Celtics in a 3-1 series hole. The 76ers won game two by the score of 115 to 106, they won game three 122 to 114, and they won game four 110 to 105. With the Celtics down 1-3, it looked like Last season would repeat itself and the 76ers would go onto the finals, but Russell rallied the Celtics to take game five 122 to 104. Game six in Boston, saw the Celtics tie the series with a 114 to 106 win. In game six Sam Jones, and Bill Russell frustrated the 76ers all night long and the Celtics completed the comeback and won them decisive seventh game 100 to 96,
In the west the Lakers made short work of the Warriors. The Lakers won game one 133 to 105, then took game two 115 to 112. The Warriors tried using the fans in San Francisco to help them, but this was to no avail and the lakers took game three 128 to 124. The Lakers completed the sweep with a 106 to 100 win in game four.
The Lakers and Celtics met once more in the Finals. The Celtics took game one 107 to 101, but the lakers answeared with a 123 to 113 win in game two. The Celtics would regain the upper hand after taking game three 127 to 119, but the Lakers immediately tied it back up with a 119 to 105 victory in game four. Game five would require overtime to find a winner, which would be the Celtics who scored 120 points to the Lakers 117. The Celtics ended the series with a 124 to 109 win in game six. Bill Russell played 292 minutes of the series, the most of any player in a six games NBA final series. This was the Celtics 10th NBA championship.
In the fall of 1967 eleven teams formed to create a new league; the American Basketball Association. The league would compete against the NBA in the medium sized cities of America. And in one of basketballs greatest coups, the league got NBA legend George Mikan to be it’s first commissioner. The League was also searching for a way to distinguish itself from the NBA, they did so by having a red, white and blue ball, which was the brain child of George Mikan. The league also added one of the most revolutionary inventions to the game, the three point line. In the leagues first season of play, there where 11 teams, all in the United States. Including three teams in places that the NBA had failed in; Denver, Minneapolis, and Indianapolis.
The Anaheim Amigos lost to the Oakland Oaks in the very first ABA game. The losing continues as the Amigos went 25 and 53 in the season.
The Dallas Chaparrals went 46 and 32 in their first season. The team finished two games behind New Orleans for the western lead.
The Denver Rockets originally started out as the Kansas City Larks, but before the league even began the team moved to Denver and became the Rockets. The Rockets finished at 45 and 33 for third place in the west.
The Houston Mavericks who are unrelated to the newer Dallas Mavericks finished fourth in the west at a poor 29 and 49 record. However, the team did make the playoffs
The Indian Pacers are the only ABA team that stayed in the same city, and stayed with the same nickname to join the NBA. They had a modest 38 and 40 showing in their first season in the NBA.
The Kentucky colonels went 36 and 42 in their first season and finished in fourth place in the east.
The Minnesota Muskies were one of only two teams to finish with more then 50 wins in the innagrual ABA season, going 50 and 28.
The New Jersey Americans went 36 and 42 for the worst record in the East.
The New Orleans Buccanneers finsihed with the best record in the west going 48 and 30. The team was lead by Doug Moe who was second in the ABA in scoring, and Larry Brown who lead the ABA in assist.
After winning the first ever ABA game, the Oaks would lose almost every game they played. The team had the rights to Rick Barry who made the jump from the Warriors of the NBA, but due to contract issues Barry couldn’t play. The Oaks would go 22 and 56.
The Pittsburgh Pipers would go a league best 54 and 24. The team also had the MVP of the ABA in Connie Hawkins. Hawkins wasn’t allowed in the NBA because he had been mentioned in a college points shaving scandal, even though he wasn’t convicted the league wouldn’t allow him to play.
In the eastern playoffs the Muskies and Colonels had a hard fought series which the Muskies won 3 gams to 2 games. The league leading Pipers would thwart the Pacers easily in a 3-0 sweep.
The West say the Buccaneers and Rockets go the distance, but the Bucs would win in five games. The Chaparrals would sweep the Mavericks in three to move on to face the Bucs.
The Pipers and the Muskies would face each other in the semi finals. the teams were the leagues best, but the series was short lived as the Pipers easily won it 4 games to 1.
Like the Pipers the Buccaneers made easy work of the Chaparrals, winning their series 4 to 1 also.
The Bucs would face the Muskies in the finals, the series would go the distance with the Muskies winning the first ABA championship. Connie Hawkins was once again named THE MVP of the finals.
The NBA added two more teams in 68-69, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns. The St Louis Hawks also moved from the banks of the Mississippi river to the shores of the Atlantic as they moved to Atlanta. Two rookies would make a huge impact on the NBA season, Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes. Also, the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Center Wilt Chamberlain from the 76ers during the off-season.
The Move to Atlanta did little to change the Hawks ways. They won 48 games for second place in the west. Beaty once again lead the team in scoring with 21 a game
With Unseld at the helm the Bullets cruised past everyone. The Bullets won a franchise best 57 games, and Wes Unseld was both Rookie of the year, the most valuable player.
With the resurgence of the east the Celtics began to decline. Bill Russell announced that this would be his last season in the NBA. The Celtics did manage to go 48 and 34 for fourth place in the east.
The Bulls fell to fivith place in the west at 33 and 49. The team looked in disarray and there was talk about yet another Chicago-based franchise packing up and leaving.
Like the Celtics the Royals felt the sting of the resurgent east, but unlike the Celtics the Royals were the odd man out. The Royals went 41 and 41 but didn’t qualify for the post-season. Oscar Robertson lead the NBA in assist a gain with nearly 10 a game, and was fivith in the NBA in scoring at 24 a game.
The Pistons continued to suck, they went 32 and 50 and had absolutely nothing going for them. They did acquire Walt Bellamy halfway though the season, but this didn’t change much for them, they still lost games by double figures on a near nightly basis. Bellamy however did set the NBA record for most games played during a season, after he was traded he played in 88 games because the Knicks had played more games then the Pistons had prior to the trade,
The Lakers continued to win, they now had a team loaded with superstars; Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, yet they couldn’t manage to end up with the best record in the NBA. They did however manage to win 55 games for first place in the west.
The Expansion Bucks looked like an expansion team, winning just 27 games. However this wasn’t as bad as fellow expansion team Phoenix who won only 16.
The Knicks won 54 games for third place in the east. The Knicks were lead by a steady attack of Willis Reed all season. The Knicks traded Walt Bellamy to the Pistons half way thought the season, and by doing so Bellamy played in a total of 88 games, the most by any one player in one season.
After three years a top the division the 76ers fell to second place in the East at 55 and 27, two games behind the Bullets. Billy Cunningham lead the 76ers in scoring with 25 per game
The Expansion Suns finished 16 and 66 in their first year, and ended up with the worst record in the NBA. Gail Goodrich who was picked up in the expansion draft from the Lakers blossomed into the teams first star, but the rest of the players were mediocre, so while the Suns were fun to watch, they couldn’t win games.
With the addition of rookie Elvin Hayes, the Rockets went from an expansion team to serious playoff threat. Hayes lead the NBA in scoring, and was fourth in rebounds. But this couldn’t get him rookie of the year honors, those went to Unseld. The Rockets finished 37 and 45, but that was good enough for fourth place and a playoff birth. Don Kojis finished 10th in the NBA in scoring for the Rockets, as he was the number two threat for the Rockets, however he is seldom mentioned in the history books, despite having many good seasons with the Rockets.
The Warriors finished at 500 going 41-41. The lackluster season was good enough for third place, but it wasn’t drawing fan support, and many of the players became dissatisfied with the team. Nate Thurmond took a lot of criticism from the fans, who thought he should be traded since he was the team leader and could not lead them into the playoffs.
The Supersonics made a small improvement from the previous season, going 30 and 53. With the arrival of Lenny Wilkens from Atlanta, the Supersonics became an instant success in Seattle. Wilkens were second on the team in scoring, and was second in the NBA in assist.
In the east semi’s the Bullets who had been rolling all season hit an abrupt wall called the New York Knicks. The Knicks took game one 113 to 101, the followed that up with a 107 to 91 game two victory. The Knicks took game three 119 to 116 and completed the sweep of the top seeded Bullets 115 to 108 in game four.
The 76ers would once again face the Celtics. The Celtics had just come off their worst record of Bill Russell’s career and looked to be easy picking for the 76ers. But Boston won game one 114 to 100, and game two 134 to 103. Russell’s magic continued as he guided the Celtics to a 125 to 118 game three victory. The 76ers prevented the sweep with a 119 to 116 game four win, but the Celtics closed the series out with a 93 to 90 game five win.
The Lakers took on the Warriors in the first round yet again, San Francisco won the first two games; 99 to 94 in game one, and 107 to 101 in game two. The Lakers would answeared with four straight wins. The Lakers won game three 115 to 98, game four 103 to 88, game five 103 to 98, and won the series with a 118 to 78 thumping of the Warriors in San Francisco
The Hawks once again faced a team making its first playoff appearance in the San Diego Rockets. The Hawks won their first ever post season game in Atlanta in game one by the score of 107 to 98. The Hawks then won game two 116 to 114. Hayes and Kojis would lead the Rockets to their first ever playoff victory in game three, 104 to 97. They would team up to do it again in game four. Back in Atlanta the Hawks took an easy 112 to 101 decision over the Rockets in game five, then the Hawks closed out the series in six games taking a 108 to 106 decision in game six.
The Celtics took game one from the Knicks 108 to 100, then followed that up with a 112 97 win in game two. The Knicks climbed within a game with a 101 to 91 game three victory. Russell and Jones would lead the Celtics to a one point win in game four to take a commanding 3 games to 1 game lead over the Knicks. Willis Reed would lead the Knicks to one more victory in game five, before the Knicks fell to the Celtics 106 to 105 in game six.
The Lakers won a very close game one over the Hawks 95 to 93. The lakers would follow that up by winning another tight one 104 to 102. The hawks took game three in Atlanta in a blow out 99 to 80, but the Lakers would return the favor and blow the Hawks out in game four 100 to 85, and then won the series with a 104 to 96 win in game five.
The Lakers and Celtics would once again face each other in the finals the Lakers took game one 120 to 118, and then took game two 118 to 112. The series shifted to Boston where the Celtics won game three 111 to 105, and tied the series in game four 89-88. The Lakers would win game five 117 to 104, it looked as if the Lakers would finally beat the Celtics and Elgin Baylor would win his title. But like they did so many times before the Celtics pulled off a miracle. The Celtics won game six 99 to 90, and captured their astounding eleventh NBA championship in thirteen years. Bill Russell would retire with the honor of having more NBA championship rings, then fingers. After the series the NBA handed out the very first finals MVP, and for the only time in NBA finals history, it went to a player from the losing team; Jerry West.
Before the season started the league saw a shift in some teams, the Muskies moved from Minnesota to south florida, and became the Miami Floridians. While the Pipers moved from Pittsburgh to Minnesota, and the Americans moved to New York and became the Nets.
The Chaparrals struggled though-out parts of the season, they did finish 41 and 37 which were good enough to get them into the playoffs.
Denver finished the season at 44 and 34, but spent a lot of time in the legal courts due to a naming issue with the San Diego Rockets of the NBA.
The Mavericks finished worst in the west at 23 and 55. The team was also running out of money fast, because fan support was low. And by the end of the year the team would be moving.
The Pacers acquired Mel Daniels from the Muskies when they sold him to move to Florida. Daniels would lead the Pacers in scoring, and lead them to the best record in the east at 44 and 34.
The Colonels improved to 42 and 36, for third place in the east. The team was one of the few teams that made money on a consistent basis. The team also did one of the strangest publicity stunts in basketball history when they signed Penny Anne Early. Early became the first female to be signed by any major sports franchise, and then when she entered the game against the Stars she became the first and only woman to play in a mens professional league.
The Amigos moved to Los Angeles and became the starts to attract more fans, this didn’t work as the team was unable to compete with the title contender Lakers for fans. The Stars finished 33 and 45 for second to last place in the west.
The Floridians finished second in the east behind Indiana going 43 and 35.
Hawks and the Pipers were basically on loan to Minnesota, but the team finished worse then a year ago going 36 and 42 for fourth place in the east.
The Bucs finished in second place in the west behind Oakland. The Bucs went 46 and 32, and finished 14 games behind the Oaks.
The Nets finished with the worst record in the ABA at 17 and 61. Despite having to compete with the Knicks for fans, the Nets actually did make money and had a nice fan following.
With Brent Barry finally being allowed to play, and the acquisition of Larry Brown, the Oaks went from one of the worst team, to the flat out best. The Oaks finished the season at 60 and 18, while Barry lead the ABA in scoring, and Brown lead the ABA in assist.
The Pipers and Floridians would play a hard-fought seven games in their first round match up. The Floridians took a 3-2 series lead, but the Pipers evened things back up before the Floridians eliminated the defending champions. In the other eastern first round match up, the Pacers and Colonels would also go seven games. The Pacers would win in a close series three games to two games.
The west would also see two seven-game series as the Oaks struggled with the Rockets, and the Bucs and Chaparrals went the distance with the Bucs winning in seven.
In the eastern final, the pacers made light work of the Floridians beating them 4 to 1 to advance to the finals. In the west the Barry-Brown combo was to much for the Buccaneers, and the Oaks won the series 4 to 0.
In the finals the Oaks too game one, but lost game two, then won the next three to capture the ABA championship. The Oaks had gone from chumps to champs in less then a year, a story that would be repeated quite often in the ABA.
The 69-70 season was the beginning of a new era. It marked the end of the Celtics dynasty. The league as a whole saw an increase in scoring and attendance. The league also saw the entrance of yet another impact ful rookie, Lew Alcindor who would later go on to be known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The Hawks added Lou Hudson to their team, but their record didn’t improve from the previous season. They did however win the west with a record of 48 and 34.
Wes Unseld once again lead the Bullets to 50 wins, going 50 and 32. But the Bullets fell to third in the east behind New York and Milwaukee.
With Bill Russell and most the Pieces of the Celtics dynasty now gone, the Celtics sputtered to sixth place in the East. Their failure to make the playoffs marked the official end of the dynasty to most fans. The Celtics did have John Havilcek who lead Boston in scoring with 23 a game, but their 34 and 46 record was among their worst in two decades.
The Bulls jumped to third place in the west, they did this with the addition of Bob Love who had spent three previous unsuccessful seasons in the NBA, but his scoring jumped to 21 a game with the Bulls.
With the loss of Oscar Robertson many thought the Royals would be abysmal, but they only lose 4 more games then the previous season, but they still didn’t make the playoffs.
Even with Dave Bing the Pistons struggled, their 31 and 51 record was the worst in the east, and their scoring was near last. Bing did average 23 points a game, but none of his teammates could muster up more then 15 a game.
Jerry West lead the NBA in his 10th season with the Lakers at 31 points per game. Both Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain had down years in scoring, and the Lakers dramatic drop in wins showed this. The Lakers went 46 and 36 for second place in the west.
The Bucks made one of the biggest turn arounds in sports history after drafting Alcindor. The Bucks went from 27 wins in 68-69, to 56 wins in 69-70. An increase of nearly 30 games. The Bucks also finished second in the east behind the Knicks. Lew Alcindor was a big part of the Bucks turn around, another part was the acquisition of point guard Oscar Robertson from Cincinnati which gave the Bucks two legit threats on offense and defense.
Willis Reed had finally become the man in New York City, after he lead the Knicks to the best record in the NBA at 60 and 22. Reed didn’t lead the NBA in any categories like Chamberlain or Russell had, but like them he played team ball which equaled wins.
The 76ers fell to fourth place in the east at 42 and 40. Billy Cunningham continued to lead the team in scoring with 26 per game. The team struggled at points during the season, often looking uninterested in the game.
Like their fellow expansion team the Bucks, the Phoenix Suns improved dramatically over the previous year. Gail Goodrich once again lead the team in scoring, but he wanted out and would lead the team after the season was over.
The instant success of Elvin Hayes was over in San Diego, the team fell to last place in the west and lost 10 more games then they did the previous season. Hayes still lead the team in scoring at 27 a game.
Like the Rockets, the Warriors also fell short of their expectations from the previous season. The team managed to win only 30 games, and was still losing money and many thought that the team wouldn’t survive another season.
The Sonics missed their first playoff birth by three games to Phoenix. The Sonics lead by Bob Rule won six more games then the season prior, and had finally established a perminate fan base in Seattle.
In the Eastern playoffs, the Bucks took on the 76ers. The Bucks won game one 125 to 118. The 76ers tied the series at one with a 112 to 105 win in game two. But the Bucks would win the next three games, including a 156 to 120 thrashing in game three, to win the series 4 games to 1.
The Knicks would face the Bullets, in a battle of the leagues primer big men. Willis Reed lead the Knicks to a 120-117 double overtime victory in game one, and a 106 to 99 win in game two. But Wes Unseld would lead the Bullets back in game three with a 127 to 113 victory, and the Bullets tied the series with a 102 to 92 win in game four. Reed once again lifted the Knicks, as they took game five 101 to 82 in Madison Square Garden. Unseld and the Bullets would retie the series with a 96 to 87 victory in game six, but Reed and the Knicks overpowered the Bullets in game seven, 127 to 114, to win the series.
The West saw the Hawks take on the Bulls. The Hawks won game one 129 to 111, the won game two 124 to 104. With the series in Chicago were the Bulls had caused problems with the Hawks in the regular season, many Bulls fans expected to tie the series up. But the Hawks stunned the Chicago crowd with 106 to 101 victory in game three. The Bulls did manage to win game four 131 to 120 to starve off elimination for one more game, but the Hawks ended the series with a 113 to 107 win in game five.
The Lakers took on the Suns in the other western first round match up. The Lakers won game one 128 to 112, but in game two former Laker Gail Goodrich lead the Suns to a surprise 114 to 101 victory over the Lakers. The Suns took a two games to one advantage with a 112 to 98 win in game three. The Suns moved to a 3-1 advantage when they took game four 112 to 102. The series shifted back to LA, were the Lakers won game five 138 to 121. The Suns looked to close out the series in six games back in Phoenix, but some late turnovers cost them as the Lakers won the game 104 to 93. Game seven was in LA, and the Lakers fired on all cylinders and clobbered the Suns 129 to 94 to take the series in seven games
The Eastern semi’s saw another match up of dominate big men, as New York’s Willis Reed faced off with Milwaukee’s Lew Alcindor. The Knicks took game one 110 to 102, and despite Alcindors best efforts the Knicks also took game two 112 to 111. The Bucks won game three back in Milwaukee 101 to 96. But the Knicks took game four 117 to 105, and then won game five 132 to 96 to advance to the finals for the first time since 1953.
The Lakers made short work of the Hawks in the west. The Lakers won game one 119 to 115, then took game two 105 to 94, and game three 115 to 114 in overtime. The lakers completed the sweep in game four as they blew out the Hawks 133 to 114.
The Lakers made their third consecutive finals appearance while the Knicks made their first in 17 years. The Knicks took game one 124 to 112. The lakers tied the series with a two point win in game two at the Garden, but upon the series shift to LA the Knicks regained the upper hand with a 111 to 108 overtime win. The Lakers tied things back up in game four with a 121 to 115 overtime win. The Knicks won game five at a heavy price, Willis Reed injured his ankle and it looked as if he was out for the series. With the Knicks leading 3 games to 2, and the series back in LA, the Lakers took full advantage of their opponent’s handicap. Wilt Chamberlain torched the Knicks for 45 points, as the Lakers won game six 135 to 113. The series was now tied, the Lakers had the upper hand, and the momentum, it looked as if Elgin Baylor would win his first NBA title. As the clock counted down to the start of game seven, the fans in Madison Square Garden awaited the game with anxiousness, then the crowed erupted as Willis Reed limped out onto the court in one of the most memorable moments in sports history. Reed would start the game, and score the first four points, this shift in momentum helped lead the New York Knicks to a 113 to 99 game seven win, and their first NBA championship.
The ABA once again saw more teams switch places. The Champion Oaks moved to Washington and became the Caps. The Mavericks moved to Carolina and became the cougars, and the Pipers moved back to Pittsburgh
The now Carolina Cougars finally had a decent season going 42 and 42, their 500 record was good enough to get them into the playoffs. Bob Varga lead the Cougars in scoring with 27 points per game.
The Chaparrals finished second in the west at 45 and 39. Glen Combs would lead the Chaparrals in scoring with 22 per game.
The Rockets signed forward Spencer Haywood during the offseason. Haywood was denied entrance into the NBA because he had not gone the full four years of college. The NBA’s loss was Denver gain as Haywood lead the Rockets and the league in scoring with 30 a game. Haywoods presence also carinated to wins for the Rockets, who won the second most games in the league with 51.
The Pacers finished with the best record in the ABA going 59 and 25. Roger Brown lead the Pacers in scoring with 23 per game.
The Colonels were among the best statistical teams ever. They had Lou Dampier who lead the team in scoring with 26 per game, and also had Darrel Carrier who averaged 23 points a game, to give the Colonels an awesome scoring tandem. Carrier also lead the ABA in three point percentage as well as free throw percentage.
The Stars had finally put a team together for the 69-70 season. The Stars had made a huge acquisition in the offseason, when they lured Zelmo Beaty from the Hawks of the NBA. Beaty would not be allowed to play because of contract disputes. The Stars went 43 and 41 for fourth place in the west, but fan support still dwindled and by seasons end the team announced they would be moving to Salt Lake City.
The Floridian completely fell apart in 69-70 going a league worst 23 and 61, the team had decent fan support in the later part of the season, but the fans were never really into the team.
The Buccaneers went 42 and 42, but this was only good enough for last place in the west. Stephen Jones lead them in scoring with 21 per game, but by seasons end they too would be looking for a new home; Baton Rouge.
The Nets continued to get fan support as they got better going 39 and 45. Doc Tart would lead them in scoring at 23 a game.
Connie Hawkins was allowed to play in the ABA in 69-70, so this left the Pipers with a big whole to fill, one that they never would. The Pipers went 29 and 55 for second to last place in the east.
After the champion Oaks moved to Washington they became the Caps. Rick Barry lead the team in scoring, and was second in the ABA, at 28 per game, and Larry Brown once again lead the ABA in assist. But the team that had previously dominated the ABA looked lackluster at times, and could only manage to win 44 games.
Indiana zoomed past Carolina in the first round, in an easy 4 nothing sweep of the Cougars. The Colonels had a much harder time with the Nets. The Nets actually lead 3 games to 2 games before the Colonels mad a mad dash to win the series in the last two games.
Denver would need seven games to dethrone the champion Oaks, as the two highest scoring and flashiest players of the ABA, in Rick Barry and Spencer Haywood, faced each other. The Stars would beat the Chaparrals in six games to move on the face the Rockets.
In the conference finals both Indiana and Los Angeles would win their respective series with 4 to 1 margin, to face each other in the finals.
The Pacers won the first two games of the ABA finals, but LA won game three. The Pacers won game four, but turnovers cost them in game five. The Pacers would win the ABA title in game six with a six point win.
By the end of the 1960s the Basketball world had gone from predictable to unstable. Two leagues were now vying for fans, and player salaries began to skyrocket. The Celtics dynasty was now ruin, while new teams began to try to leave their own mark on the basketball world. The basketball world had gone from watching just 8 teams to 25 teams, with the NBA looking to expand to even more cities.
Written by Bran Faurschou
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