NBA Finals NBA Finals


SI Flashback: NBA Finals

Finals MVP: None selected until 1969

No one could possibly have known at the time what they were witnessing, but this series marked the birth of what Sports Illustrated recently proclaimed to be the top sports dynasty of the 20th century. The arrival after the 1956 Melbourne Olympics of a gangly center named Bill Russell proved to be the final ingredient Boston needed to get to the top. It took two overtimes in Game 7, but the Celtics finally took their first step toward greatness.

Snapshots from Hot on the Boards

By Jeremiah Tax

Even matchup: The playoffs thus far had produced enough heroes and heroics for an Odyssey of basketball. Boston's Bill Russell had soared over the court like some gigantic bird, blocking shots, grabbing rebounds and generally intimidating St. Louis shooters. ... St. Louis' Slater Martin and Jack McMahon had performed miracles on defense to contain Boston's great Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman. In every game, the guarding was so tenacious that a plyer had to drift back to midcourt for a clear shot. Neither team had ever been able to demonstrate real superiority -- in any department.

Last chance: The score was Boston 125, St. Louis 123, there were two seconds left to play and Alex Hannum of St. Louis had the ball out of bounds under his defensive board. The basket through which he had to score hung 10 feet above the floor, 90-odd feet away. ... Hannum threw a perfect strike the length of the court in a planned maneuver to hit the backboard for a rebound by a teammate. The ball bounced off -- into the arms of teammate Bob Pettit. Just exactly perfect. Pettit misses this kind of shot about as frequently as destiny touches a comparative unkown like Hannum. Pettit took his shot. It rolled around the rim, and rolled out.

Issue date: April 22, 1957