NBA Finals NBA Finals


SI Flashback: NBA Finals

Finals MVP: Wilt Chamberlain, Lakers

Finally! In their seventh trip to the Finals since moving from Minneapolis, the Lakers captured Los Angeles' first NBA title. This was a season in which L.A. would not be denied: The Lakers ran off a professional-sports-record 33-game winning streak during the year and finished with 69 wins, a total not surpassed until the 1995-96 Bulls.

Snapshot from Swish and They're In

By Peter Carry

Click for larger image May 15, 1972 Sheedy & Long
Foregone conclusion: The futility of New York's position was not lost on the Lakers. After their second win, Jim McMillian agreed to a tennis match in Los Angeles scheduled for the day when a less confident man might have figured he would be in New York preparing for the sixth game. Jerry West, meanwhile, was relaxing in his Manhattan hotel room, assuring callers that his team would certainly win in five games and explaining that he had suffered insomnia after the second Laker victory. He had lain awake trying to figure out how he should act when he finally won a championship after so many near misses.

They Said It
"We were a team with a lot of lacks, but [Coach Bill] Sharman fit us together perfectly. He told us he thought that if we played the way he wanted us to that we could beat anyone. He got us to believe that right away, and he did it without raising his voice once all year." —West
Clutch player:
The sprain was severe -- so severe that it was "very, very doubtful" Wilt would play Game 5. ... Wearing the padded hand wraps interior linemen use, Chamberlain played his best game of the super series. He scored 24 points. He had 29 rebounds. On defense, he harassed Knick shooters far outside, yet still scrambled back to block inside shots. In the end, he shut up -- perhaps forever -- those critics who for years claimed that he was a quitter, that he could not win important games. He was, padded hands down, the most valuable player as Los Angeles took its first championship.

Issue date: May 15, 1972