All-time NBA/ABA tournament of champions: Part III
By Cort Reynolds
Part I Part 2
Only 15 championship teams remain out of the original field of 38 in the all-time pro basketball tournament of champions. Eleven of those teams will eventually advance to have a chance to reach the quarterfinals, including three "lucky losers" who do not win their bracket yet still have the opportunity to win a second chance bracket playoff to make the elite eight.
The biggest "upset" of round two was the 2007 Spurs defeating the 2000 Lakers.
Four teams are still alive in the power-packed 1970s bracket, as well as four more in the 1950s/60s division. As expected, the top two teams in both the star-studded 1980s and 1990s brackets each advanced to their finals to set up classic rivalry showdowns.
With one series yet to be determined by a seventh game, the Celtics still have five teams (2008, 1986, 1974, 1963, 1957) left in the field and the Lakers boast two (1987, 1972) among the final 15. No other franchise has more than one representative still alive.
All-time NBA/ABA Tournament of ChampionsSecond Round Results (all series are best of 7)
Seed, title year and team with season record, playoff record and head coach listed in parentheses
2000s bracket 2nd round results
#1 seed 2000 Los Angeles Lakers (67-15, 15-8, Phil Jackson)
Starters: S. O'Neal, K. Bryant, G. Rice, AC Green, R. Harper
Key reserves: R. Fox, R. Horry, B. Shaw, D. Fisher
#4 seed 2007 San Antonio Spurs (58-24, 16-4, Gregg Popovich)
Starters: T. Duncan, M. Ginobili, T. Parker, B. Bowen, F. Oberto
Key reserves: B. Barry, M. Finley, F. Elson, R. Horry, B. Udrih
Result: San Antonio 4, Los Angeles 2
Series recap: The Spurs pulled off a minor upset over the top seed Lakers as Bowen held Bryant to 41% shooting after Kobe sprained his ankle coming down on the defensive ace's foot on a jump shot. Tony Parker sped past lead-footed Laker veteran guard Ron Harper for 24 points a game while Manu Ginobili averaged 17 points and eight assists. Tim Duncan and Shaq offset one another inside, and an aging Glen Rice suffered through a poor shooting series after leading LA to a series win in the opening round. LA got no offense from other aged veterans AC Green and Harper, and SA seized control of the series by upsetting LA in Staples Center in game one. They took games three and four at home for a commanding 3-1 lead before O'Neal exploded for 43 points in game five to keep LA alive down 3-2.
But Bowen clinched game six in Texas with his patented open corner trey in the closing seconds, 103-100. A desperation Derek Fisher trey at the buzzer was disallowed to preserve the series win by the Spurs.
Series MVP: Tony Parker
#3 seed 2008 Boston Celtics (66-16, 16-10, Doc Rivers)
Starters: P. Pierce, K. Garnett, R. Allen, R. Rondo, K. Perkins
Key reserves: J. Posey, T. Allen, E. House, G. Davis, L. Powe
#2 seed 2013 Miami Heat (66-16, 16-7, Erik Spoelstra)
Starters: L. James, D. Wade, C. Bosh, M. Chalmers, U. Haslem
Key reserves: R. Allen, M. Miller, C. Andersen, S. Battier
Result: Tied Boston 3, Miami 3
Series recap: Miami won games 1, 3 and 5 while Boston took games 2, 4 and 6 to even the series 3-3. Game seven was postponed and will be played in the next installment.
1970s bracket 2nd round results
#1 seed 1972 Los Angeles Lakers (69-13, 12-3, Bill Sharman)
Starters: J. West, G. Goodrich, W. Chamberlain, J. McMillian, H. Hairston Key reserves: F. Robinson, P. Riley, L. Ellis
#9 seed ABA 1975 Kentucky Colonels (58-26, 13-3, Hubie Brown)
Starters: A. Gilmore, D. Issel, L. Dampier, W. Jones, B. Averitt
Key reserves: T. McClain, M. Roberts
Result: Los Angeles 4, Kentucky 1
Series recap: The powerhouse Lakers, fresh off their record 33-game win streak, rolled over the ABA champion Colonels. LA easily took the first two games at home before Kentucky stayed in contention with a game three win at home in Louisville's Freedom Hall as Artis Gilmore and Dan Issel combined for 57 points.
But in game four Jerry West and Gail Goodrich, the highest-scoring backcourt in NBA history, singed the nets for 63 points as the Lakers won going away. In game five back at the Forum, Wilt yanked down 29 rebounds and scored 24 points to outplay the younger Gilmore as LA won, 114-100.
West averaged 26 points, 10 assists and six rebounds a agme while shutting down Colonel sharpshooter Louie Dampier with suffocating defense to lead LA to victory. Goodrich also scored 27 ppg and Wilt added 22 caroms per outing to help negate Gilmore (19/17) and Issel (21/11).
Series MVP: Jerry West
#2 seed 1971 Milwaukee Bucks (66-16, 12-2, Larry Costello)
Starters: L. Alcindor (Jabbar), O. Robertson, B. Dandridge, J. McGlocklin, G. Smith Key reserves: L. Allen, B. Boozer
#7 seed 1975 Golden State Warriors (48-34, 12-5, Al Attles)
Starters: R. Barry, K. Wilkes, P. Smith, C. Ray, B. Beard
Key reserves: C. Johnson, D. Dickey, J. Mullins, G. Johnson
Result: Milwaukee 4, Golden State 2
Series recap: The Warriors simply had no answer for the inside outside duo of the Big A and Big O (Alcindor and Oscar). The favored Bucks won the first two games handily at home as their star tandem averaged a combined 54 ppg. Golden State stayed alive with a game three win by the bay as Barry fired in 39 points. In the pivotal fourth game, Milwaukee prevailed in double OT on a running hook by big Lew, as he was still known in 1971. The Warriors staved off elimination with a game five upset in Milwaukee as Barry, Smith and Wilkes combined for 81 points. But the Bucks closed it out in Calfornia in game six as Bob Dandridge scored his series-high 32 points to aid the big two. With the Warrior defense collpasing on Lew and Oscar in the crunch, sharpshooting Jon McGlocklin closed it out on four big foul shots and a jumper in the final minutes, 104-100.
Series MVP: Oscar Robertson
#3 seed 1973 New York Knicks (57-25, 12-5, Red Holzman)
Starters: W. Frazier, D. DeBusschere, W. Reed, E. Monroe, B. Bradley. 6th man: J. Lucas.
Key reserves: P. Jackson, D. Meminger, D. Barnett
#6 seed 1977 Portland TrailBlazers (49-33, 14-5, Jack Ramsay)
Starters: B. Walton, M. Lucas, L. Hollins, B. Gross, D. Twardzik
6th man: J. Davis. Key reserves: L. Steele, L. Neal, H. Gilliam
Result: New York 4, Portland 2
Series recap: Portland's lone real advantage in the matchups was at center, where a healthy, in his prime Bill Walton overmatched the aging and injured NY center duo of 6-9 Willis Reed and 6-8 Jerry Lucas. Still the duo hurt the Blazers at times with great perimeter shooting. The series was tied 2-2 after the first four games, with each team winning twice at home. The heady Knicks held serve at home in the fifth game as DeBusschere fired in 33 points to offset 23 points, 21 rebounds and eight blocks by Walton. In game six at Portland, the Blazers forced OT on a jumper by Maurice Lucas just before the buzzer. But when Walton fouled out in the extra session, the Knicks pulled away as Walt Frazier scored eight of his game-high 36 points in OT. Throughout the series, the Rolls Royce backcourt of Frazier and Earl Monroe outscored the outmanned Portland guards 242-113 to make the difference.
Series MVP: Walt Frazier
#4 seed 1974 Boston Celtics (56-26, 12-6, Tom Heinsohn)
Starters: J. Havlicek, D. Cowens, J. White, P. Silas, D. Chaney
6th man: Don Nelson. Key reserves: P. Westphal, S. Kuberski
#12 seed ABA 1973 Indiana Pacers (51-33, 12-6, Bob "Slick" Leonard)
Starters: M. Daniels, G. McGinnis, R. Brown, D. Freeman, F. Lewis. 6th man: Billy Keller. Key reserves: D. Buse, D. Hillman, G. Johnson
Result: Boston 4, Indiana 1
Series recap: The Celtics of the 1970s are underrated by many, being sandwiched between the Russell and Bird eras and having won "only" two titles. But their trio of Cowens, Havlicek and White takes a back seat to few, and they dominated the upset-minded ABA champion Pacers. Hondo averaged 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds a game while shutting down Indiana small forward Roger Brown with his tenacious defense. JoJo White scored 22 ppg and the ferocious Cownes contributed 20 points, 18 boards and boundless intensity as the Celtics won all three games at home by an an average of 14 ppg. After dropping game three at Indianapolis as George McGinnis muscled his way to 33 points and 23 rebounds, Boston took a commanding 3-1 lead with a tight victory in game four as Havlicek buried a leaning banker with two seconds left to win it, 103-102. The Celtics closed it out in game five at the Garden as White scored 31, Havlicek netted 20 and Cowens tossed in 28.
Series MVP: John Havlicek
1950s/60s 2nd round results
#1 seed 1967 Philadelphia 76ers (68-13, 11-4, Alex Hannum)
Starters: W. Chamberlain, H. Greer, W. Jones, C. Walker, L. Jackson 6th man: B. Cunningham.
Key reserves: D. Gambee, M. Guokas, L. Costello
#9 seed 1955 Syracuse Nationals (43-29, 7-4, Al Cervi)
Starters: D. Schayes, P. Seymour, R. Rocha, J. Kerr, E. Lloyd
Key reserves: G. King, D. Farley
Result: Philadelphia 4, Syracuse 1
Series recap: The outmanned Nationals simply had little chance against the powerhouse 76ers. Their only potential advantage in the matchups came at power forward with Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes. Wilt, who led the NBA in assists that year, averaged a near quadruple double for the series at 24 points, 21 rebounds, 10 assists and eight blocks per game. Philly won the first three games and only a 38-point outburst from Schayes in game four prevented a sweep. Ironically, the 76er franchise originally was the Syracuse Nationals before the Warriors moved west.
Series MVP: Wilt Chamberlain
#2 seed 1963 Boston Celtics (58-22, 8-5, Red Auerbach)
Starters: B. Russell, B. Cousy, S. Jones, T. Heinsohn, T. Sanders
Key reserves: J. Havlicek, F. Ramsey, KC Jones, C. Lovellette
#7 seed 1969 Oakland Oaks (60-18, 11-4, Alex Hannum)
Starters: R. Barry, W. Jabali, D. Moe, L. Brown, I. Harge
Key reserves: G. Bradds, J. Eakins
Result: Boston 4, Oakland 1
Series recap: Celtic rookie John Havlicek called this Celtic team the most talented one he played on as all five starters made the Hall of Fame, along with three of its reserves. As such the Oaks were no match, especially with Barry not fully recovered from a knee injury that forced him to miss half the season after leading the ABA in scoring at 34 ppg. Russell dominated on defense with nine blocks a game and 24 boards per contest. Boston blew the Oaks out in the first three games by an average of 18 ppg, and Okalnd only won game four in overtime when Auerbach decided to rest his regulars. Boston closed it out in game five at the Garden, 130-108.
Series MVP: Bill Russell
#3 seed 1954 Minneapolis Lakers (46-26, 6-4, John Kundla)
Starters: G. Mikan, J. Pollard, S. Martin, V. Mikkelsen, W. Skoog Key reserves: C. Lovellette, P. Saul, D. Schnittker
#6 seed 1958 St. Louis Hawks (41-31, 8-3, Alex Hannum)
Starters: B. Pettit, E. Macauley, C. Hagan, S. Martin, J. McMahon Key reserves: C. Share, J. Coleman, W. Wilfong
Result: St. Louis 4, Minneapolis 3
Series recap: In one of the best and closest series of the second round, the Hawks edged the Lakers in double overtime in game seven, 125-123. The teams alternated victories throughout, with Pettit and Mikan dominating. At the end of game seven, the Hawks won on an astounding play. Cliff Hagan ricocheted a court-length in-bounds pass intentionally off the backboard to Pettit, who grabbed it and tossed in an 8-footer at the horn to eliminate the feisty Lakers. Pettit averaged 33 points and 19 rebounds a game, including 40 markers in the clincher. Mikan tallied 26 and 13 per outing, but didn't get enough scoring help from his guards.
Series MVP: Bob Pettit
#4 seed 1956 Philadelphia Warriors (45-27, 7-3, George Senesky)
Starters: P. Arizin, N. Johnston, T. Gola, J. George, J. Grabowski Key reserves: G. Dempsey, E. Beck
#5 seed 1957 Boston Celtics (44-28, 7-3, Red Auerbach)
Starters: B. Russell, B. Cousy, T. Heinsohn, B. Sharman, J. Loscutoff 6th man: F. Ramsey.
Key reserves: A. Phillip, A. Risen, D. Hemric
Result: Boston 4, Philadelphia 3
Series recap: In another great seven-game series between two fierce traditional rivals, the Celtics prevailed in game seven at home, 124-118. Cousy averaged 22 points and 14 assists a game and his superb passing helped all five Celtic starters average in double figures. Sharman tallied 21 per, Russell 16, Heinsohn 18 and Loscutoff 10 as the superior Celtic balance offset the one-two punch of jump-shooting forward Paul Arizin and hook-shooting center Neil Johnston, who combined for 51 ppg.
Series MVP: Bob Cousy
1990s bracket 1st round results
#1 seed 1996 Chicago Bulls (72-10, 15-3, Phil Jackson)
Starters: M. Jordan, S. Pippen, D. Rodman, L. Longley, R. Harper
6th man: T. Kukoc. Key reserves: S. Kerr, B. Wennington, J. Buechler
#4 seed 1995 Houston Rockets (47-35, 15-7, Rudy Tomjanovich)
Starters: H. Olajuwon, C. Drexler, O. Thorpe, R. Horry, K. Smith
Key reserves: S. Cassell, M. Elie, C. Herrera
Result: Chicago 4, Houston 2
Series recap: The only real chance for the Rockets to pull the upset was for Olajuwon to dominate and have Drexler come close to negating Jordan. Houston won games three and four at home to tie it 2-2 with that formula as Hakeem and Clyde, ex-University of Houston teammates, scored 54 ppg in the Summit. But the Bulls won big at home in game five to take the lead back at 3-2, then took the sixth game in Texas when Olajuwon got in foul trouble while being guarded by the antagonistic Rodman. With the Rockets doubling up Jordan in the final seconds of an 86-86 tie, Michael hit a wide-open Steve Kerr who swished the game winner from just beyond the foul line at the buzzer to clinch the series for Chicago. Jordan scored 35 ppg while Drexler scored 22 and Hakeem 33, but no other Rocket averaged double figures. The versatile Pippen clamped down Horry and averaged 19 points, eight boards and seven assists a game. Meanwhile, Kukoc added 13 ppg off the bench and Rodman yanked down 17 re
bounds a game.
Series MVP: Michael Jordan
#2 seed 1999 San Antonio Spurs (37-13, 15-2, Gregg Popovich)
Starters: D. Robinson, T. Duncan, S. Elliott, A. Johnson, M. Elie Key reserves: S. Kerr, M. Rose, A. Daniels, J. Jackson
#3 seed 1990 Detroit Pistons (59-23, 15-5, Chuck Daly)
Starters: I. Thomas, J. Dumars, B. Laimbeer, M. Aguirre, J. Edwards 6th man: V. Johnson. Key reserves: D. Rodman, J. Salley
Result: Detroit 4, San Antonio 2
Series recap: The great Piston backcourt of Thomas, Dumars and Johnson dominated the pedestrian Spur guards to the tune of 58 points and 26 assists a game, compared to just 21 ppg from Johnson, Daniels and Elie. Long-armed John "Spider" Salley swarmed Robinson inside and the physical Piston frontcourt trio of Laimbeer, Rodman and Mahorn frustrated a young Tim Duncan into a 42% shooting performance. Detroit split the first two at San Antonio and raced to a 3-1 advantage before Robinson broke out of a series slump with 37 points in game five to avoid elimination. But in game six Thomas poured in 43 points to pace Detroit to a clinching win at home, 95-90.
Series MVP: Isiah Thomas
1980s bracket 1st round results
#1 seed 1986 Boston Celtics (67-15, 15-3, K.C. Jones)
Starters: L. Bird, K. McHale, D. Johnson, R. Parish, D. Ainge
6th man: B. Walton. Key reserves: S. Wedman, J. Sichting
#4 seed 1989 Detroit Pistons (63-19, 15-2, Chuck Daly)
Starters: I. Thomas, J. Dumars, B. Laimbeer, M. Aguirre, R. Mahorn 6th man: V. Johnson.
Key reserves: D. Rodman, J. Salley, J. Edwards
Result: Boston 4, Detroit 2
Series recap: The home teams each held serve through the first four games of this grudge match between fierce literal blood rivals. However, unlike 1988 and 1987, the healthy Boston bench was more than a match for the deep Piston line of subs. In game five at home Boston blew out the Pistons as Bird and McHale combined for 68 points. In the drafty Silverdome before over 51,000 fans in game six, the Celtics rallied from a big deficit to take the lead on a late tip-in by McHale, but it was erroneously waved off by the officials. Bird stole the ball and fed DJ for a layup but Thomas put Detroit back in front with a bank trifecta. However, Bird's fadeaway over Rodman tied it to force overtime in the final seconds.
After Parish fouled out, Walton came in. He drove and passed to Bird inside, who drew the defense and dished to McHale for a dunk on a pass play for the ages. After a Dumars jumper tied it, Walton drew a double team late in the OT. The redhead found Bird wide open for a dagger trey, and his right wing triple barely rippled the nets, it went so perfectly through the net. Thomas drove and dished out to Dumars for a potential tying three, but DJ got a piece of it and the ball landed in the extended hands of Walton as time expired.
Larry Legend averaged a triple-double for the series with 31 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists a game. Yet sour grapes Thomas and Rodman still insisted the three-time MVP was "overrated" following the series loss, although Isiah later said he was only joking. But Piston coach Chuck Daly and John Salley refuted the overrated claim in a press conference afterward. Bird refused to comment, instead preferring to focus on the next series showdown against the arch-nemesis 1987 Lakers.
Series MVP: Larry Bird
#2 seed 1987 Los Angeles Lakers (65-17, 15-2, Pat Riley)
Starters: E. Johnson, K. A.-Jabbar, J. Worthy, B. Scott, AC Green 6th man: M. Cooper. Key reserves: M. Thompson, K. Rambis
#3 seed 1983 Philadelphia 76ers (65-17, 12-1, Billy Cunningham)
Starters: M. Malone, J. Erving, A. Toney, M. Cheeks, M. Iavaroni
6th man: B. Jones. Key reserves: C. Richardson, C. Johnson
Result: Los Angeles 4, Philadelphia 3
Series recap: In one of the closest matchups of the second round, the Lakers narrowly edged the 76ers in a seven-game classic. Jabbar and Malone negated one another, as did Worthy and Dr. J as well as sixth men Jones and Cooper. The difference was the huge size advantage of 6-8.5 Earvn Johnson and 6-4 Byron Scott over the sub 6-3 76er guards, especially 6-1 playmaker Maurice Cheeks. Johnson was able to shoot and pass over the small Philly backcourt. The teams traded wins, with LA victorious in games 1, 3 and 5 while Philly responded each time to tie it with triumphs in games 2, 4 and 6. Dr. J's swooping behind the bakcboard reverse layup sparked the Sixers to the series-tying win in game 6, 109-103.
But in game seven, Jabbar sky-hooked his way to 33 points aganst the muscling defense of Malone. Johnson put together a 32-15-7 masterpiece to lead LA to a 123-117 win despite 23 rebounds by Moses, and 26 points by Erving and 21 by Jones.
Series MVP: Earvin Johnson
2000s finals: 2007 San Antonio vs. 2008 Boston or 2013 Miami
1990s finals: 1996 Chicago vs. 1990 Detroit
1980s finals: 1986 Boston vs. 1987 Los Angeles Lakers
1970s semifinals: 1972 Los Angeles Lakers vs. 1974 Boston; 1971 Milwaukee vs. 1973 New York Knicks
1950s/60s semifinals: 1967 Philadelphia vs. 1957 Boston; 1958 St. Louis vs. 1963 Boston.
Check back for next round results and more detailed series recaps in the next installment of the series coming soon.