1972–73 NBA season

The 1972–73 NBA season was the 27th 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 1 in the NBA Finals.

1972–73 NBA season
LeagueNational Basketball Association
SportBasketball
DurationOctober 10, 1972 – March 28, 1973
March 30–April 29, 1973 (Playoffs)
May 1–10, 1973 (Finals)
Number of games82
Number of teams17
TV partner(s)ABC
Draft
Top draft pickLaRue Martin
Picked byPortland Trail Blazers
Regular season
Season MVPDave Cowens (Boston)
Top scorerNate Archibald (Kansas City–Omaha)
Playoffs
Eastern championsNew York Knicks
  Eastern runners-upBoston Celtics
Western championsLos Angeles Lakers
  Western runners-upGolden State Warriors
Finals
ChampionsNew York Knicks
  Runners-upLos Angeles Lakers
Finals MVPWillis Reed (New York)

Notable occurrences

Coaching changes
Offseason
Team 1971–72 coach 1972–73 coach
Atlanta Hawks Richie Guerin Cotton Fitzsimmons
Buffalo Braves Dolph Schayes Jack Ramsay
Phoenix Suns Cotton Fitzsimmons Butch Van Breda Kolff
Philadelphia 76ers Jack Ramsay Roy Rubin
Portland Trail Blazers Rolland Todd Jack McCloskey
In-season
Team Outgoing coach Incoming coach
Detroit Pistons Earl Lloyd Ray Scott
Houston Rockets Tex Winter Johnny Egan
Philadelphia 76ers Roy Rubin Kevin Loughery
Seattle SuperSonics Tom Nissalke Bucky Buckwalter

Season recap

Setting the scene

This season began in the wake of the remarkable victory of the Los Angeles Lakers, who ended an agonizing decade of runner-up finishes with their first NBA title on the West Coast. It was also the first Laker title since George Mikan over fifteen years previous. The '71-'72 title had come after a tremendous Western Conference Finals with Milwaukee and their superstar center, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the former title-winning Lew Alcindor. A Laker and Bucks rematch in the playoffs figured to decide the next championship just as it had the last two. The East, clearly the dominant half of the league for so long, looked to be the weaker half again at the start of this season as they had the last two years.

Eastern Conference

It was the East that provided the season's top record. The Boston Celtics won 68 of 82 NBA games, one of the greatest records in history, two more than Milwaukee two years ago, and just one less than Los Angeles last year. The new Celtics were a year older and bolder with young star Dave Cowens at center and Jo Jo White as point guard. Cowens was the team's anchor at center, third in the league in both rebounds and minutes played while scoring 20.5 points per game. A physical, active defender as well, Cowens made NBA observers marvel at his energy level and intensity. At 6' 9, he cast a huge presence for his team. Longtime star John Havlicek was still the team's leader, leading the team in scoring, assists and steals. Along with Cowens up front, Boston had tabbed Paul Silas from Phoenix to take the load off of "Hondo" inside. The results included more shots tried and made, more rebounds and more assists than any other NBA team this season.

In the East, Boston drew an Atlanta team with 46 wins, led again by high scorers Lou Hudson and Pete Maravich, who scored 29.7 and 26.2 points per game respectively. Richie Guerin was again the coach with the small rotation of minutes. Deeper Boston jumped on them big early on to win the series four games to two.

Just under the radar was another tough New York – Baltimore matchup. Both teams had over 50 wins and looked very comparable. Baltimore had added super big man Elvin Hayes to help Wes Unseld on the boards and Archie Clark in the scoring column. Yet the Knicks, with 57 wins, did not play around with the Bullets, winning the series 4-1. The Knicks, with three key big men well past age 30, were supporting All-Pro guard Walt Frazier this year in hopes of one last shot at the top themselves. They again had the league's top defense. Now another hotly debated Boston-New York matchup loomed in the East final.

Boston was again the favorite over New York, though many still remembered New York's underdog romp the year before. Leaving little to chance, Boston pounded them 134-109 at home in Game One. New York repaid the favor in Game Two, 129-96. Then, the Knicks stole one in Boston before a double-overtime contest in Game Four at Madison Square Garden. New York hung on to win that as well. New York was up 3–1, but coach Tom Heinsohn's team rallied to win a one-pointer in Game Five, and then Game Six to force a seventh game. But John Havlicek had a badly injured shoulder, playing with a sling and was now shooting left-handed. Because of Havlicek's injury, New York easily handled Boston to complete the series victory, becoming the 1st NBA road team to win Game 7 after leading series 3–1. It was a tough break for Havlicek, who would burn to return the following year, while New York was back in the NBA Finals for the third time in four years.

Western Conference

The Lakers got another rebounding title from Wilt Chamberlain, the eleventh of his colossal career. Wilt also sank an unreal 72.7% of his shots, though he continued to shoot less and less. Chamberlain averaged 13.2 points per game, a far cry from his 50 points per game twelve years before. However, Wilt knew he was part of a team concept that was a proven winner. Jerry West and Gail Goodrich were the scorers again, with Jim McMillian the ready third threat. The Lakers lost key rebounder Happy Hairston after 28 games, but brought over rebounding legend Bill Bridges from crumbling Philadelphia. The Lakers eventually won 60 games.

Milwaukee got another huge year from Abdul-Jabbar, who looked again to be the NBA's top player. His 30.2 points per game were second in the league, and he was fourth in rebounds. Only one player, Kansas City's Nate Archibald, scored more points. Only two, Archibald and Seattle's Spencer Haywood, tried more shots. But Abdul-Jabbar sank 55% of his shots, tops among high-scoring NBA shooters, and likely again blocked more shots than any big man in the league. The seven footer also added five assists per game. A balanced cast of Bucks supported Abdul-Jabbar en route to another 60-win campaign, their third straight. But both teams were showing some gray streaks as West, Chamberlain, and Oscar Robertson, all all-time greats, were each clearly approaching the end of remarkable careers. The three 60-win monsters drew most of the attention as playoff time arrived, which again rigidly followed the NBA's four divisions. All of the NBA's eight winning teams neatly made the field.

Los Angeles would again turn away a solid Dick Motta coached Chicago club The series went the full seven games, which showed the Lakers had clearly dropped a couple notches. Game one had been an overtime affair, while LA needed their fourth home game to win Game Seven 95-92. Chicago, like Baltimore and Atlanta, had become the solid second-tier team that could not get past the giants.

Milwaukee looked to be that fourth giant as they met the 47-win Golden State Warriors. Nate Thurmond wanted to prove he could defend the league's best center and he surely did, dropping Abdul-Jabbar's scoring by eight points and shooting by 12% in the series. Rick Barry had finally rejoined his NBA team from five years ago also, and Clyde Lee starred as well helping Thurmond to a 4–2 series win that wasn't really very close. Game Six ended 100–86. Milwaukee's Robertson saw a solid series fall short.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles was resting, having used three 20-point scorers and Chamberlain's dominance inside to brush off Golden State 4-1. Al Attles' Warriors may still have been celebrating their win over Milwaukee. Game Three was a huge 126-70 Laker win in Oakland. The Warriors won Game Four, but all it did was force the series back to Southern California, where the Lakers clinched in Game Five.

The NBA Finals

The NBA had their third New York – Los Angeles matchup in four years, which marked this remarkable period in media attention. Chamberlain was the giant favorite again at age 36, a role which rarely suited him. Meanwhile, New York used a tandem at center. Thick Willis Reed, sore knees and all, had been kept fresh for the playoffs thanks to Jerry Lucas, primarily a center once again. The two had come to be known as 'Willis Lucas' averaging 22 points and 15 rebounds a game combined during the year. Neither were great shot blockers but both were smart, tough and unselfish, a trait also shared by forward Dave DeBusschere, who was still a very key part of the Knicks success.

Like Robertson, Jerry West reached for the greatness of years past and found some of it gone forever. Earl Monroe eagerly gave Gail Goodrich a better match this time as well. Chamberlain chose not to shoot again, scoring just 10.4 per game in the playoffs for another enigmatic performance that again gave his opponents their opening.

Los Angeles edged out a win in Game One at home. After that, the team concept of New York took over to win the remaining four games. It was clearly revenge for the year before. In a year highlighted by the graying of some of the game's greatest players, New York's three big men had keyed an impressive title run past tough rivals and two 60-win teams to cap impressive careers. For Chamberlain and West, it was one more runner-up finish for the road.

Final standings

By division

Atlantic Division W L PCT GB Home Road Neutral Div
y-Boston Celtics 68 14 .829 33–6 32–8 3–0 18–4
x-New York Knicks 57 25 .695 11 35–6 21–18 1–1 16–6
Buffalo Braves 21 61 .256 47 14–27 6–31 1–3 8–14
Philadelphia 76ers 9 73 .110 59 5–26 2–36 2–11 2–20
Central Division W L PCT GB Home Road Neutral Div
y-Baltimore Bullets 52 30 .634 24–9 21–17 7–4 17–5
x-Atlanta Hawks 46 36 .561 6 28–13 17–23 1–0 10–12
Houston Rockets 33 49 .402 19 14–14 10–28 9–7 9–13
Cleveland Cavaliers 32 50 .390 20 20–21 10–27 2–2 8–14
Midwest Division W L PCT GB Home Road Neutral Div
y-Milwaukee Bucks 60 22 .732 33–5 25–15 2–2 15–5
x-Chicago Bulls 51 31 .622 9 29–12 20–19 2–0 10–10
Detroit Pistons 40 42 .488 20 26–15 13–25 1–2 9–11
Kansas City–Omaha Kings 36 46 .439 24 24–17 12–29 6–14
Pacific Division W L PCT GB Home Road Neutral Div
y-Los Angeles Lakers 60 22 .732 30–11 28–11 2–0 22–4
x-Golden State Warriors 47 35 .573 13 27–14 18–20 2–1 14–12
Phoenix Suns 38 44 .463 22 22–19 15–25 1–0 14–12
Seattle SuperSonics 26 56 .317 34 16–25 10–29 0–2 9–17
Portland Trail Blazers 21 61 .256 39 13–28 8–32 0–1 6–20

By conference

# Eastern Conference
Team W L PCT
1 z-Boston Celtics 68 14 .829
2 x-New York Knicks 57 25 .695
3 y-Baltimore Bullets 52 30 .634
4 x-Atlanta Hawks 46 36 .561
5 Houston Rockets 33 49 .402
6 Cleveland Cavaliers 32 50 .390
7 Buffalo Braves 21 61 .256
8 Philadelphia 76ers 9 73 .110
# Western Conference
Team W L PCT
1 z-Milwaukee Bucks 60 22 .732
2 y-Los Angeles Lakers 60 22 .732
3 x-Chicago Bulls 51 31 .622
4 x-Golden State Warriors 47 35 .573
5 Detroit Pistons 40 42 .488
6 Phoenix Suns 38 44 .463
7 Kansas City–Omaha Kings 36 46 .439
8 Seattle SuperSonics 26 56 .317
9 Portland Trail Blazers 21 61 .256

Notes

  • z, y – division champions
  • x – clinched playoff spot

Statistics leaders

Category Player Team Stat
Points per game Nate Archibald Kansas City-Omaha Kings 34.0
Rebounds per game Wilt Chamberlain Los Angeles Lakers 18.6
Assists per game Nate Archibald Kansas City-Omaha Kings 11.4
FG% Wilt Chamberlain Los Angeles Lakers .727
FT% Rick Barry Golden State Warriors .902

NBA awards

Note: All information on this page were obtained on the History section on NBA.com

See also

External links

1972 NBA draft

The 1972 NBA draft was the 26th annual draft of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The draft was held on April 10 and 15, 1972 before the 1972–73 season. In this draft, 17 NBA teams took turns selecting amateur U.S. college basketball players and other eligible players, including international players. The first two picks in the draft belonged to the teams that finished last in each conference, with the order determined by a coin flip. The Portland Trail Blazers won the coin flip and were awarded the first overall pick, while the Buffalo Braves 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. As a result of last year's supplemental hardship draft, the Cincinnati Royals, the Atlanta Hawks, the Golden State Warriors and the Baltimore Bullets forfeited their first round picks, while the Los Angeles Lakers forfeited their fourth round pick. Prior to the start of the season, the Cincinnati Royals relocated and became the Kansas City-Omaha Kings. The draft consisted of 18 rounds comprising the selection of 198 players.

1972–73 Atlanta Hawks season

The 1972–73 NBA season was the Hawks' 24th season in the NBA and fifth season in Atlanta. The team moved their home games from the Alexander Memorial Coliseum to The Omni Coliseum. The Hawks registered a 46–36 record during the regular-season, but went 2–4 against the Boston Celtics in postseason.

1972–73 Baltimore Bullets season

In the 1972–73 NBA season, their tenth and final season in Baltimore, Maryland, the Bullets were led by seventh-year head coach Gene Shue and won a third consecutive Central Division title.

Prior to the season in June, forward Elvin Hayes was acquired in a trade from the Houston Rockets, for forward Jack Marin and draft picks. In the 1972 draft in April, Baltimore selected point guard Kevin Porter in the third round. After a slow start, the Bullets had a strong 10–4 record in December. In the playoffs, they faced their playoff rivals the New York Knicks, and fell in five games in the conference semifinals; the Knicks went on to win the NBA title.

Following the season, the Bullets made a short move to the new Capital Centre in Landover, a suburb east of Washington, D.C., and became the Capital Bullets.

1972–73 Boston Celtics season

The 1972–73 Boston Celtics season was their 27th in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Celtics finished the season with the best record in the league, and currently in franchise history, at 68–14. Third-year forward Dave Cowens won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award ahead of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Tiny Archibald.

In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics lost to the eventual NBA champion New York Knicks.

1972–73 Buffalo Braves season

Despite finishing with a worse record than their previous 2 seasons, their 21–61 record was good enough for 3rd place. The Braves showed improvement under new Coach Jack Ramsay. Rookie center Bob McAdoo provided the silver lining by winning the Rookie of the Year Award with 18.0 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game.During the fifth game of the season versus the Boston Celtics on October 20, 1972, the team set an NBA record which still stands for most points in a single quarter with 58, and still managed to lose 126-118.

1972–73 Chicago Bulls season

The 1972-73 NBA season was the Bulls' 7th season in the NBA.

1972–73 Cleveland Cavaliers season

The 1972–73 Cleveland Cavaliers season was the third season of NBA basketball in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers finished the season with a 32–50 record, finishing last in the Central Division and 6th Eastern Conference. This was the 2nd consecutive year with a total win increase. Lenny Wilkens led the team in assists and was named an All-Star.

1972–73 Detroit Pistons season

Following are the results of the 1972–73 season of the Detroit Pistons, the franchise of the National Basketball Association based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The 1972–73 NBA season was the Pistons' 25th season in the NBA and 16th season in the city of Detroit.

1972–73 Golden State Warriors season

The 1972–73 NBA season was the Warriors' 27th season in the NBA and 10th in the San Francisco Bay Area.

1972–73 Houston Rockets season

The 1972-73 NBA season was the Rockets' 6th season in the NBA and 2nd season in the city of Houston.

1972–73 Kansas City-Omaha Kings season

The 1972–73 NBA season was the Kings 24th season in the NBA and their first season in the cities of Kansas City and Omaha.

1972–73 Los Angeles Lakers season

The 1972-73 NBA season was the Lakers' 25th season in the NBA and 13th season in Los Angeles.Coming off winning the NBA Finals against the New York Knicks in five games, their sixth NBA Championship, and posting the longest winning streak in NBA history at 33 straight victories, the Lakers hoped to continue their success. However, even though the Lakers managed to make to the NBA Finals again for the third consecutive time, they once again met the New York Knicks for also the third consecutive time, against the team that they defeated in last season's NBA Finals as well as were defeated by in the season before's NBA Finals. Just like the season before last season, they were swiftly defeated in five games by the Knicks.

Following the season, Wilt Chamberlain retired.

1972–73 Milwaukee Bucks season

The 1972–73 NBA season was the Bucks' fifth season in the NBA.

1972–73 Portland Trail Blazers season

The 1972–73 season was the third season of the Portland Trail Blazers in the National Basketball Association (NBA). After finishing the previous season at 18–64, the Blazers earned the first overall selection in the 1972 NBA Draft, and infamously picked LaRue Martin over future Hall-of-Famer Bob McAdoo. LaRue would average seven points per game over a four-season NBA career.

The Blazers finished at 21–61, a marginal three-game improvement from the previous season.

1973 NBA All-Star Game

GAME 23: in Chicago, January 23, 1973

MVP: Dave Cowens

Coaches: East: Tom Heinsohn, West: Bill Sharman.

1973 NBA Finals

The 1973 NBA World Championship Series was the championship series of the 1972–73 National Basketball Association (NBA) season, and the culmination of that season's playoffs. The Eastern Conference champion New York Knicks defeated the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers 4 games to 1. The series was an exact reversal of the prior year, with the Lakers winning Game 1 and the Knicks taking the next four games. Knicks center Willis Reed was named as the NBA Finals MVP.

1973 NBA playoffs

The 1973 NBA playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 1972–73 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Conference champion New York Knicks defeating the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers 4 games to 1 in the NBA Finals. The Knicks won their second (and most recent) NBA title. Willis Reed became the first player to be named NBA Finals MVP twice.

The playoff format was modified, as only the divisional champions qualified automatically; two wild-cards were also added from each conference. Once qualification was determined, the four qualifiers were seeded 1–4 based on record; divisional position no longer mattered. The #1 seed then played #4, and #2 played #3. Because of this new format, New York, the Atlantic Division runner-up, had home-court advantage versus the Baltimore Bullets, the Central Division champion, since the Knicks had the better regular-season record. The Bullets had home-court advantage in the 1972 playoffs versus the Knicks and in the 1971 playoffs versus Philadelphia, even though their record was worse than New York's and Philadelphia's were those seasons, because they had won their division, while the Knicks and Sixers were runners-up.

This was the second straight time (and third in the last 4 years) that the Lakers and Knicks met in the Finals; the Lakers–Knicks rivalry ended with two titles won by the Knicks and one by the Lakers.

This was the Lakers' last appearance in the Finals until 1980; It was New York's last appearance until 1994.

List of 1972–73 NBA season transactions

These are the list of personnel changes in the NBA from the 1972–73 NBA season.

Lloyd Neal

Lloyd Neal (born December 10, 1950) is an American former professional basketball player born in Talbotton, Georgia.

A 6'7" center/forward from Tennessee State University, Neal spent his entire professional career (1972–1979) with the National Basketball Association's Portland Trail Blazers. Though undersized for his position, he endeared himself to fans with his hard work and tenacity, and he averaged a double-double (13.4 points, 11.8 rebounds) during the 1972–73 NBA season. After his career was cut short by a knee injury in 1979, the Blazers retired his #36 jersey. He finished college in 1980 and moved on to a long career with the Internal Revenue Service in Portland, where he's worked since 1985.

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1972–73 NBA season by team
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