1969–70 NBA season

The 1969–70 NBA Season was the 24th season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the New York Knicks winning the NBA Championship, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 4 games to 3 in the NBA Finals.

For this season, officials switched from wearing the traditional black-and-white striped shirts to solid gray shirts.

1969–70 NBA season
LeagueNational Basketball Association
DurationOctober 14, 1969 – March 22, 1970
March 25–April 20, 1970 (Playoffs)
April 24–May 8, 1970 (Finals)
Number of games82
Number of teams14
TV partner(s)ABC
Top draft pickLew Alcindor[a]
Picked byMilwaukee Bucks
Regular season
Season MVPWillis Reed (New York)
Top scorerJerry West (L.A. Lakers)
Eastern championsNew York Knicks
  Eastern runners-upMilwaukee Bucks
Western championsLos Angeles Lakers
  Western runners-upAtlanta Hawks
ChampionsNew York Knicks
  Runners-upLos Angeles Lakers
Finals MVPWillis Reed (New York)

Regular season

The 1969–70 season saw the NBA into a new decade as well as a new era. The retirement of Bill Russell from the Boston Celtics at the end of the 1968–69 season effectively signaled the end of the Celtics dynasty that had dominated the NBA for the past decade.

The New York Knicks were the top club in the league. They had a solid team of players led by star center Willis Reed and rising star guard Walt Frazier. Dave DeBusschere, who had been acquired from the Detroit Pistons the previous year, combined with Frazier and Reed to anchor the league's best defense. Coach Red Holzman led the club to wins in 60 of its 82 regular season games to pace the league.

In just their second season in the league, the Milwaukee Bucks totaled 56 wins behind rookie superstar Lew Alcindor. The 7'2", 230-pound center had caused controversy by boycotting the 1968 Summer Olympics and urging Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld, and Bob Lanier to do the same. The Bucks, however, were happy to sign him after a bidding war with the ABA. Alcindor averaged 29 points per game on 52% shooting. He was also third in rebounds, seventh in shooting accuracy, second in minutes played, and blocked more shots than any center since Russell or Chamberlain, making him a strong Most Valuable Player candidate in just his first year. Coach Larry Costello's team also had a strong backcourt of Jon McGlocklin and Flynn Robinson, and two ex-Cincinnati Royals, but Alcindor's arrival on the team nearly doubled their win total from the previous season, earning him rookie of the year honors.

The Baltimore Bullets also reached the 50-win plateau. Coach Gene Shue led a squad looking to improve after their early playoff exit the previous year. Guards Earl Monroe and Kevin Loughery were the team's main scoring threats, while center Wes Unseld and forward Gus Johnson excelled at rebounding, giving the Bullets more field goals than any other NBA team that year.

The Atlanta Hawks won the NBA's West Division title with 48 wins. Under coach Richie Guerin, they fielded a solid starting five, led again by scorer Lou Hudson. An early-season trade with Detroit netted star center Walt Bellamy. The Hawks again eyed a shot at the NBA Finals with some of the same faces from their St. Louis days.

Right behind the Hawks at 46 wins were the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers starting five had to account early for an injury to Wilt Chamberlain, who played just twelve regular-season games. Happy Hairston joined Elgin Baylor to average 20 points per game, even as Baylor was hampered by injury for much of the year. Guard Jerry West led the NBA in scoring, averaging 31.2 points per game on 50% shooting from the field and 82% from the free throw line.


The top four teams from each division made the playoffs. Unusually, The NBA had the division winners face the third-best teams, while the second-seeds faced the fourth seeded teams in Round One. New York met third-place Baltimore in a rematch of the previous year's playoff series. The Knicks won the series in 7 games, including an overtime win in Game 1. The Bullets scoring was neutralized by the defensive-minded Knicks team. Milwaukee eliminated the 76ers in 5 games on the strength of Alcindor at center.

Atlanta's strong five, with player/coach Guerin coming off the bench effectively at age 37, beat the Chicago Bulls, led by ex-76er Chet Walker four games to one in the Western division semifinals. The Lakers survived a seven-game series with the second-year Phoenix Suns. The Suns had a strong frontline led by Paul Silas and former ABA star Connie Hawkins.

With the top seeds in both divisions advancing, New York then met Milwaukee while Atlanta met Los Angeles. The Lakers swept the Hawks in four games. Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain were again on a mission, but the Lakers bench may have been the deciding factor in this series. In the East, New York eliminated the Bucks in five games.

New York had the edge in Game 5 until Reed collapsed with a torn leg muscle, allowing Chamberlain a strong advantage. Knicks coach Red Holzman devised a strategy to confuse the Lakers with a centerless lineup, rotating different defenders on Chamberlain. The Knicks went on to win 107–100. With Reed out, Chamberlain scored 45 points in Game 6 in Los Angeles to knot the series again at 3. Game 7 would be in New York, but without Reed, the Knicks appeared to have little chance of winning.

With ABC's Chris Schenkel and Jack Twyman leading speculation about what the Knicks could do to guard Chamberlain, Reed emerged from the locker room and joined his team on the floor, shocking thousands and surprising the Lakers. Energized by their big man's effort, the Knicks roared to an early lead and held on long after Reed limped to the bench. The Knicks achieved sports immortality with the 113–99 victory, their first NBA title.

Division standings


Eastern Division

Eastern Division W L PCT GB
x-New York Knicks 60 22 .732
x-Milwaukee Bucks 56 26 .683 4
x-Baltimore Bullets 50 32 .610 10
x-Philadelphia 76ers 42 40 .512 18
Cincinnati Royals 36 46 .439 24
Boston Celtics 34 48 .415 26
Detroit Pistons 31 51 .378 29

Western Division

Western Division W L PCT GB
x-Atlanta Hawks 48 34 .585
x-Los Angeles Lakers 46 36 .561 2
x-Chicago Bulls 39 43 .476 9
x-Phoenix Suns 39 43 .476 9
Seattle SuperSonics 36 46 .439 12
San Francisco Warriors 30 52 .366 18
San Diego Rockets 27 55 .329 21

x – clinched playoff spot

Statistics leaders

Category Player Team Stat
Points per game Jerry West Los Angeles Lakers 31.2
Rebounds per game Elvin Hayes San Diego Rockets 16.9
Assists per game Lenny Wilkens Seattle SuperSonics 9.1
FG% Johnny Green Cincinnati Royals .559
FT% Flynn Robinson Milwaukee Bucks .898

NBA awards

Source: History section at NBA.com


  1. ^ Changed his name to Kareem Abdul Jabbar before the 1971–72 season.[1]


  1. ^ "Basketball Star Lew Alcindor Changes Name to Kareem Jabbar". The Morning Record. September 17, 1971. p. 14. Retrieved July 16, 2016.
  2. ^ "Division Standings". 1969-70 NBA Season Summary. Basketball Reference. Retrieved 24 August 2018.

See also

External links

1969 NBA draft

The 1969 NBA draft was the 23rd annual draft of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The draft was held on April 7, 1969, and May 7, 1969, before the 1969–70 season. In this draft, 14 NBA teams took turns selecting amateur U.S. college basketball players. A player who had finished his four-year college eligibility was eligible for selection. If a player left college early, he would not be eligible for selection until his college class graduated. The first two picks in the draft belonged to the teams that finished last in each division, with the order determined by a coin flip. The Milwaukee Bucks won the coin flip and were awarded the first overall pick, while the Phoenix Suns were awarded the second pick. The remaining first-round picks and the subsequent rounds were assigned to teams in reverse order of their win–loss record in the previous season. The Los Angeles Lakers were awarded an extra first-round draft pick as settlement of the Rudy LaRusso trade to the San Francisco Warriors. The draft consisted of 20 rounds comprising the selection of 218 players.

1969–70 Atlanta Hawks season

The 1969–70 NBA season was the Hawks' 21st season in the NBA and second season in the city of Atlanta.

1969–70 Baltimore Bullets season

The Bullets would get started on a strong note as they won 9 straight games in November. The Bullets would finish with a record of 50–32. In a competitive Eastern Division, the Bullets finished the season 3rd place.

1969–70 Boston Celtics season

The 1969–70 NBA season was the Celtics' 24th season in the NBA.

1969–70 Chicago Bulls season

The 1969-70 NBA season was the Bulls' 4th season in the NBA.

1969–70 Cincinnati Royals season

The 1969–70 Cincinnati Royals season was one of the last years the franchise played in Cincinnati. In 1972, they moved to Kansas City. This was also the final season for Oscar Robertson, who went to the Milwaukee Bucks next season.

1969–70 Detroit Pistons season

Following are the results of the 1969–70 season of the Detroit Pistons, the franchise of the National Basketball Association based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The 1969-70 NBA season was the Pistons' 22nd season in the NBA and 13th season in the city of Detroit.

1969–70 Los Angeles Lakers season

The 1969-70 NBA season was the Lakers' 22nd season in the NBA and tenth season in Los Angeles.

1969–70 Milwaukee Bucks season

The 1969–70 Milwaukee Bucks season was the second season for the Milwaukee Bucks. Led by the heralded rookie center Lew Alcindor, they finished with a 56–26 record, enough for second place in the Eastern Division. After beating the Philadelphia 76ers 4–1 in the Eastern semifinals, they lost to the eventual champions New York Knicks in five games.

1969–70 Philadelphia 76ers season

The 1969-70 NBA season was the 76ers 21st season in the NBA and 7th season in Philadelphia.The season prior, Wilt Chamberlain was dealt to the Lakers, however a more devastating trade was made before the 1969–70 season. Chet Walker, an all-star forward, was traded to the Chicago Bulls for Jim Washington, who played college ball in Philadelphia, and ended up having a journeyman career. Luke Jackson continued to be hobbled by a major injury sustained in 1969 and never played the same again. That combined with a very poor draft, was a factor in the team losing 13 more games than the previous campaign.

1969–70 San Diego Rockets season

The 1969-70 NBA season was the Rockets' 3rd season in the NBA.

1969–70 San Francisco Warriors season

The 1969–70 NBA season was the Warriors' 24th season in the NBA and 8th in the San Francisco Bay Area.

1969–70 Seattle SuperSonics season

The 1969–70 Seattle SuperSonics season was the 3rd season of the Seattle SuperSonics in the NBA. After the resignation of Al Bianchi, Lenny Wilkens took the role of player-coach and led the team to a 36–46 record, a six win improvement over their previous season and 3 games behind the Chicago Bulls, who got the last playoff spot in the Western Division. Wilkens led the league in assists with 9.1 apg.

1970 NBA All-Star Game

The 1970 NBA All-Star Game was played at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, on January 20, 1970. Bob Rule was the replacement for the injured Nate Thurmond of the San Francisco Warriors. The MVP was Willis Reed. The coaches were Red Holzman (East), Richie Guerin (West). The game was broadcast by ABC, with Chris Schenkel and Jack Twyman commentating.

1970 NBA Finals

The 1970 NBA World Championship Series was the championship series of the 1970 NBA Playoffs, which concluded the 1969–70 National Basketball Association (NBA) season. The Eastern Division champion New York Knicks defeated the Western Division champion Los Angeles Lakers in a best-of-seven series 4 games to 3 for their first NBA title.

The Knicks appeared to have a see-saw Game 3 won when Dave DeBusschere made a shot with three seconds left to give New York a 102-100 edge, and the Lakers were stuck with no time outs. L.A. inbounded to Mr. Clutch, Jerry West, who launched and made a miracle shot from beyond midcourt. It counted only for two points, as only the ABA had a three-point shot at the time, so the game went to overtime, and the Knicks were able to win, 111-108.The final game of the series was named by ESPN in 2010 as the greatest Game 7 in finals history, featuring a return from injury for Willis Reed. Reed's most famous performance took place on May 8, 1970 in Game 7 played at Madison Square Garden. Due to a severe thigh injury suffered in Game 5, a torn muscle that kept him out of Game 6, he was considered unlikely to play in Game 7. Yet Reed surprised the fans by walking onto the court during warmups, prompting widespread applause. Starting the game, he scored the Knicks' first two field goals on his first two shot attempts, his only points of the game. He then played defense on Wilt Chamberlain, limiting him to two shots made in nine attempts. When Reed left for good with 3:05 left in the first half, the Knicks led 61-37. Walt "Clyde" Frazier took it from there, finishing with 36 points and 19 assists as the Knicks won the championship, 113-99. Following the game in the winner's locker room, a moved Howard Cosell told Reed on national television, "You exemplify the very best that the human spirit can offer."

1970 NBA playoffs

The 1970 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1969–70 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Division champion New York Knicks defeating the Western Division champion Los Angeles Lakers 4 games to 3 in the NBA Finals. Willis Reed was named NBA Finals MVP.

It was the first NBA title for the Knicks in franchise history, and was their first appearance in the finals since losing their third straight finals in 1953 to the Lakers while they were still in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For the Lakers, it was their third straight Western Division title and second straight year they lost in Game 7 of the NBA finals. The Lakers dropped their eighth straight NBA finals series (the previous 7 to the Boston Celtics) and were denied their first NBA title since 1954.

It was also the playoff debut of the second-year Milwaukee Bucks, and they managed a first-round defeat of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Boston missed the playoffs for the first time since 1951, despite being the defending champions.

John Arthurs

John Charles Arthurs (born August 15, 1947) is a retired American professional basketball player.

Arthurs played college basketball for the Tulane University, where he was an All-American in 1969. He scored 1,501 points in three seasons, graduating as Tulane's all-time leading scorer. He also served as a first baseman for Tulane's baseball team. After college, Arthurs was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 6th round (73rd pick overall) of the 1969 NBA Draft. He appeared in 11 games for the Bucks during the 1969–70 NBA season and tallied 35 points.When his sports career ended, Arthurs entered the real estate business in New Orleans. He was inducted into the Tulane Athletics Hall of Fame in 1980. He is also a member of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

List of 1969–70 NBA season transactions

These are the list of personnel changes in the NBA from the 1969–70 NBA season.

Phantom Buzzer Game

The Phantom Buzzer Game is the unofficial name of a National Basketball Association game between the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks on November 6, 1969 at Chicago Stadium. The game was famous for referee Bob Rakel disallowing a game-tying basket because he claimed the buzzer sounded, even though there was one second left on the clock, and also for being the first incident where an official protest was upheld by the NBA.

1969–70 NBA season by team

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