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1950’s NBA Part 2

March 1, 2013

Pettit-Russell

Bob Pettit and Bill Russell battling for a rebound *photo courtesy of hardwood paroxysm

The late 1950’s in the NBA was dominated by Bob Pettit and the St. Louis Hawks and Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics.  They faced off in two memorable NBA Finals series in 1957 and 1958 (highlighted on The Way it Was, where I got my footage of it).  Not only did they face off twice but participated in one of the most famous trades in NBA History.  It’s one thing for the Celtics to acquire the draft rights to Bill Russell from St. Louis for Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan (two Hall-of-Famers by the way), but then to face that same team in back-to-back years in the NBA Finals with each team winning one championship against the other.  One could say that not only did that trade help the Celtics, it helped the Hawks!

But before the Celtics/Hawks matchups, there was the 1956 Season.  Maurice Stokes was the Rookie of the Year for the Rochester Royals and led the league in rebounding.  Stokes would unfortunately only have two more years in the NBA.  This was the first year that the NBA handed out the League MVP award for the regular season and it was won by the second-year man for the St. Louis Hawks, Bob Pettit.  Pettit led the Hawks to their first playoff appearance since the franchise was known as the Tri-Cities Blackhawks in 1950 (who were coached by Red Auerbach).  The Hawks made the Western Division Finals and faced the defending-Western Division Champion Fort Wayne Pistons.  They won the first 2 games of the best-of-5 series but Fort Wayne won the next three and would return to the NBA Finals.  Defending-champion Syracuse would finish in a third-place tie in the Eastern Division with New York and would win a one-game tiebreaker to make the playoffs.  They beat Boston and advanced to the Eastern Division Finals against the Philadelphia Warriors, who boasted the league’s best record that season.  Philadelphia had gotten Paul Arizin back from the marines the previous year.  Arizin, along with big man Neil Johnston and rookie sensation Tom Gola, led the Warriors to the playoffs for the first time since 1952 (the last year Arizin played before serving in the Marines).  The Warriors went on to beat Syracuse and Fort Wayne to win the NBA Championship.

The only highlight film I have from the 1956 Season though is the All-Star Game, narrated by Marty Glickman.

January 24, 1956 – NBA All-Star Game at Rochester: West 108, East 94

When reviewing this game, I find it most interesting that they only showed one highlight of the game’s MVP Bob Pettit (and it was the last highlight of him making a jumper – and then receiving his award).  There was a lot of ball movement and good shooting shown in the highlight.  But the highlight can be deceiving (like if you were watching without commentary you’d have no idea that Pettit was the MVP).  The West shot 39% from the field while the East shot 34%.  This was standard for this era as players were just running and gunning and playing no defense.  This was typical in a regular game too – check out the stat sheet from the highest scoring regulation game in NBA History (I wish it had field goal attempts too, and the Commissioner Maurice Podoloff’s quote in the newspaper clipping).  Also, atypical of a current All-Star Game, the West shot 42 free throws (making 30) and the East shot 53 (making only 34!).  The East took the early lead and led 24-17 after the first quarter.  The West came back to lead 43-40 at halftime and then broke it open in the third, outscoring the East 41-24.  It was finished from there.  The MVP was Bob Pettit who finished with 20 points, 24 rebounds, and 7 assists.

East starters (teams) and point totals:

Paul Arizin (Philadelphia Warriors) 13 – Small Forward

Dolph Schayes (Syracuse Nationals) 14 – Power Forward

Neil Johnston (Philadelphia Warriors) 17 – Center

Dick McGuire (New York Knicks) 6 – Point Guard

Bob Cousy (Boston Celtics) 7 – Shooting Guard

East bench (teams) and point totals:

Red Kerr (Syracuse Nationals) 4

Harry Gallatin (New York Knicks) 16

Ed Macauley (Boston Celtics) 4

Jack George (Philadelphia Warriors) 6

Bill Sharman (Boston Celtics) 7

East Coach: George Senesky (Philadelphia Warriors)

West starters (teams) and point totals:

George Yardley (Fort Wayne Pistons) 8 – Small Forward

Mel Hutchins (Fort Wayne Pistons) 11 – Power Forward

Larry Foust (Fort Wayne Pistons) 9 – Center

Slater Martin (Minneapolis Lakers) 9 – Point Guard

Bobby Wanzer (Rochester Royals) 13 – Shooting Guard

West bench (teams) and point totals

Maurice Stokes (Rochester Royals) 10

Bob Pettit (St. Louis Hawks) 20

Vern Mikkelsen (Minneapolis Lakers) 16

Clyde Lovellette (Minneapolis Lakers) 7

Bob Harrison (St. Louis Hawks) 5

West Coach: Charley Eckman (Fort Wayne Pistons)

paularizin

Paul Arizin led the Warriors to the 1956 NBA Championship *photo courtesy of bleacher report

March 30, 1957 – NBA Finals, Game 1: St. Louis Hawks 125 @Boston Celtics 123 (2ot)

The Way it Was highlighted 4 games from the 1957 NBA Finals and 2 games from the 1958 NBA Finals and was voiced over by Celtic’s legendary broadcaster Johnny Most.  The first game highlighted from 1957 was Game 1.  St. Louis took a surprising 31-21 lead after the first quarter.  St. Louis actually wasn’t predicted to do much against the 44-28 Celtics in the Finals.  They had tied with Minneapolis and Fort Wayne for first in the Western Division.. with a 34-38 record!  Boston cut it to 49-47 at the half where the film picks up.  St. Louis continued to hold the lead for most of the third quarter, as the highlight showed Bob Pettit and Ed Macauley of the Hawks matching baskets with Bill Sharman and Bob Cousy of the Celtics.  Boston came back to take a 74-71 lead after three and it was tied at 102 at the end of regulation.  It picks up at the end of the first overtime with the Hawks up 113-111 and time running out.  The Celtics had the ball and Sharman (who would finish with 36 points) tried to get a shot off of a Jim Loscutoff screen.  He could not, so he passed back to Loscutoff outside.  ‘Jungle’ Jim made the shot off the glass to send the game into a second overtime.  Then with the game tied at 123 late in the second overtime, the Hawks had the ball.  Jack McMahon was trying to get the ball inside to Pettit guarded by Loscutoff (Russell and his backup Arnie Risen had fouled out of this game).  The ball was knocked away by Loscutoff but went right back outside to McMahon who, as the shot clock was running down, gave it over to Jack Coleman who was outside the elbow area on the right side of the court.  Coleman nailed a long jumper that proved to be the winning basket.  Coleman was a veteran who had a 10.6 points per game average for his career.  He played with the Rochester Royals from 1949-1955 (and was the starting forward on their 1951 Championship team) before providing veteran leadership for St. Louis.  Coleman would be a big factor for the Hawks off the bench during the 1957 and 1958 Finals.  He retired following the Hawks 1958 Championship.

St. Louis starters (points scored)

Bob Pettit (37) – Small Forward

Ed Macauley (23) – Power Forward

Charlie Share (5) – Center

Slater Martin (23) – Point Guard

Jack McMahon (12) – Shooting Guard

St. Louis bench (points scored)

Jack Coleman (8)

Cliff Hagan (16)

Med Park (1)

St. Louis Coach: Alex Hannum

Boston starters (points scored)

Tom Heinsohn (26) – Small Forward

Jim Loscutoff (9) – Power Forward

Bill Russell (7) – Center

Bob Cousy (26) – Point Guard

Bill Sharman (36) – Shooting Guard

Boston bench (points scored)

Jack Nichols (0)

Frank Ramsey (6)

Arnie Risen (5)

Andy Phillip (8)

Boston Coach: Red Auerbach

Jack Coleman Makes Shot For St Louis

Jack Coleman, seen here making a layup against the Knicks, was the hero of Game 1 *photo courtesy of Corbis Images

March 31, 1957 – NBA Finals, Game 2: St. Louis Hawks 99 @Boston Celtics 119

Something that probably wouldn’t happen today is NBA Finals games on back-to-back days.  NBA Playoff and Finals games on back-to-back days happened pretty commonly in the early NBA days, especially on Saturdays and Sundays so the games could be on TV.   A day after a double-overtime Game 1, Game 2 was played.  The big players in Game 1 struggled in Game 2.  Pettit only had 11 points and Sharman only had 9.  Even with Sharman’s struggles, seven other Celtics finished in double figures and the Celtics ran away with this game from the beginning.  They led 31-21 after the first quarter, 62-43 at the half, and 94-70 after the third quarter.  It was probably good for the Hawks that they won Game 1 and could use Game 2 as a throw-away (though I doubt they viewed it that way).  Also, at the time in the NBA only 10 players per team were allowed on the playoff roster.  Of the 20 possible players that could have played in this game, the only one that didn’t was Hawks player-coach Alex Hannum.  He would be a factor on a key play later in the series.

St. Louis starters (points scored)

Bob Pettit (11) – Small Forward

Ed Macauley (19) – Power Forward

Charlie Share (13) – Center

Slater Martin (8) – Point Guard

Jack McMahon (14) – Shooting Guard

St. Louis bench (points scored)

Jack Coleman (10)

Cliff Hagan (8)

Med Park (7)

Irv Bemoras (9)

St. Louis Coach: Alex Hannum

Boston starters (points scored)

Tom Heinsohn (14) – Small Forward

Jim Loscutoff (11) – Power Forward

Bill Russell (11) – Center

Bob Cousy (22) – Point Guard

Bill Sharman (9) – Shooting Guard

Boston bench (points scored)

Jack Nichols (11)

Frank Ramsey (22)

Arnie Risen (14)

Dick Hemric (2)

Andy Phillip (3)

Boston Coach: Red Auerbach

The next game highlighted in this series was Game 6 but before we get to that, read about a Game 3 pre-game incident between Celtics coach Red Auerbach and Hawks owner Ben Kerner.

April 11, 1957 – NBA Finals, Game 6: Boston Celtics 94 @St. Louis Hawks 96

The Hawks won Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead in the series but the Celtics won the next two games.  So the Hawks came back home for Game 6 facing elimination.  Going into the last two minutes, the lead had changed hands 22 times and the game had stayed close.  Boston led narrowly at the end of each quarter.  They led 23-22 after one, 51-49 at halftime, and 78-77 at the end of third quarter.  Then the game got into the nitty-gritty with the championship on the line for the Celtics.  The shooting wasn’t good in this game either from the field (33-for-103 for St. Louis, 35-for-115 for Boston)  or from the free throw line (30-for-43 for St. Louis, 24-for-34 for Boston), and in the fourth quarter the Hawks outscored the Celtics 19-16.  This was the only game of the 1957 Finals where neither team reached 100 points.  With the game tied at 92 late, Celtics backup center Arnie Risen got a layup to put Boston up by 2 (Risen ended up fouling out of this game).  But St. Louis came right back as Ed Macauley hit a short shot from the lane to tie the game (only Macauley’s second field goal in 10 attempts).  St. Louis ended up with the ball in the last 30 seconds with the score tied at 94.  Tom Heinsohn knocked the ball away to Bob Cousy who tried to avoid defenders with a behind-the-back dribble (something Cousy did better than anyone in the 50’s).  But this time he had the ball knocked away and Slater Martin took it coast-to-coast for the Hawks.  His layup was blocked by a hustling Heinsohn but Tommy knocked it out of bounds with 8 seconds left.  After a Hawks timeout, the inbounds pass went to Bob Pettit who dribbled to the corner and took a jumper.  He missed but Cliff Hagan tipped it in at the buzzer and St. Louis ran off the court celebrating while Auerbach rushed to the referee saying that there should still be time left.  Auerbach’s argument was futile and the teams were going back to Boston for Game 7.

Boston starters (points scored)

Tom Heinsohn (28) – Small Forward

Jim Loscutoff (2) – Power Forward

Bill Russell (17) – Center

Bob Cousy (17) – Point Guard

Bill Sharman (15) – Shooting Guard

Boston bench (points scored)

Jack Nichols (2)

Frank Ramsey (8)

Arnie Risen (5)

Andy Phillip (0)

Boston Coach: Red Auerbach

St. Louis starters (points scored)

Bob Pettit (32) – Small Forward

Ed Macauley (4) – Power Forward

Charlie Share (4) – Center

Slater Martin (6) – Point Guard

Jack McMahon (17) – Shooting Guard

St. Louis bench (points scored)

Jack Coleman (16)

Cliff Hagan (16)

Med Park (1)

St. Louis Coach: Alex Hannum

hagan

Cliff Hagan’s tip-in won Game 6 for the Hawks *photo courtesy of hardwood paroxysm

April 13, 1957 – NBA Finals, Game 7: St. Louis Hawks 123 @Boston Celtics 125 (2ot)

If this game happened today, we’d be talking about it forever!

  • Game 7 of the NBA Finals going into double overtime.
  • Both teams looking for their first championship.
  • The Celtics great backcourt of Cousy and Sharman combining to shoot 5-for-40 from the field (Cousy was 3-for-20, Sharman was 2-for-20).
  • The Celtics rookies of Heinsohn and Russell stepping up and leading the team (Heinsohn had 37 points and 23 rebounds, Russell had 19 points and 32 rebounds).
  • The Hawks’ stars Bob Pettit, Cliff Hagan, and Slater Martin stepping up (each had over 20 points, only one other Hawk was in double figures).
  • A total of 6 players fouling out of this game (Coleman, Hagan. Macauley and McMahon for the Hawks, Heinsohn and Risen for the Celtics).
  • And to top it off, an incredible ending where a bizarre play almost worked (we’ll get there).

If someone has the original film, we will be best friends!  This is probably among the top original broadcasts I wish I could view.  As we look back on this game, it can be said to have kicked off a dynasty.  The Celtics kept grabbing leads throughout the game but St. Louis kept coming back.  The Celtics got out of the gate quickly in the first quarter but St. Louis came back to take a 28-26 lead after one quarter.  The Celtics grabbed a 41-32 lead but the Hawks came back to lead 53-51 at the half.  The Celtics grabbed an 83-77 lead at the end of the third quarter and had an 8-point lead early in the fourth.  The Hawks responded with a 9-0 run and eventually took a 101-97 lead with under two minutes left.  The Celtics hit 3 free throws to cut it to 101-100 with under a minute left.  Russell blocked a Coleman jumper and then at the other end (where the highlight begins) Russell got the ball in the lane and laid it in with the left hand to put Boston up 102-101.  Cousy then knocked the ball away from the Hawks and got fouled after dribbling some time off the clock.  Cousy hit 1-of-2.  So with the Hawks down two, Pettit went to the basket against Russell, Russ blocked it but got called for the foul.  Pettit’s first free throw swished in and his second free throw hit the front rim and bounced in as well.  Tie game.  The Celtics gave the ball to Sharman for the last shot and he hit the back of the rim for overtime.

In the overtime, with the Celtics holding a 113-111 lead, Jack Coleman hit a jumper to force another overtime.  In the second overtime, scoring continued and people fouled out which forced bench players in.  Cousy hit one of his three field goals for the game, Andy Phillip hit a big shot, and Jim Loscutoff hit two big free throws for the Celtics to give them a 125-123 lead with a second left.  The Hawks could only inbound the ball from the other end of the court.  But player-coach Alex Hannum had an idea.  He was going to throw the ball the length of the court and off the backboard, and then Pettit was going to tip it in for a third overtime.  Incredibly, Hannum did his job successfully, and Pettit caught the ball while in the air and shot it before touching the ground.  The ball bounced on the rim four times and fell off.  The Celtics had their first of many championships and the Hawks had probably the most heartbreaking loss in NBA History.  Nobody came closer to winning a championship without actually winning it, but the Hawks would get theirs the next season.

St. Louis starters (points scored)

Jack Coleman (10) – Small Forward

Ed Macauley (9) – Power Forward

Bob Pettit (39) – Center

Slater Martin (23) – Point Guard

Jack McMahon (6) – Shooting Guard

St. Louis bench (points scored)

Cliff Hagan (24)

Charlie Share (5)

Med Park (7)

Alex Hannum (0)

St. Louis Coach: Alex Hannum

Boston starters (points scored)

Tom Heinsohn (37) – Small Forward

Jim Loscutoff (3) – Power Forward

Bill Russell (19) – Center

Bob Cousy (12) – Point Guard

Bill Sharman (9) – Shooting Guard

Boston bench (points scored)

Jack Nichols (8)

Frank Ramsey (16)

Arnie Risen (16)

Andy Phillip (5)

Boston Coach: Red Auerbach

nba1957.celtics-russell(meek)

Bill Russell gets a rebound against the Hawks’ Hagan.  Jim Loscutoff (#18 – Celtics), Jack Coleman (#12 – Hawks) and Bill Sharman (on the right side, boxing out) are in the foreground *photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated

January 21, 1958 – NBA All-Star Game at St. Louis: East 130, West 118

This was the first of three All-Star Games (1977 and 1990) that the MVP came from the losing team.  Bob Pettit won it on his home court with 28 points and 26 rebounds.  Only two other players in the game were in double figures on the boards (Stokes, 14 and Russell, 11).  Pettit and Stokes had a chance to grab all those rebounds because of the East missing 78 field goal attempts!  The East’s 51-for-129 from the field adds to the meaning of if you shoot a lot of shots, some of them will go in.  The East made 8 more field goals than the West and had 7 players in double figures to more than cancel out Pettit’s output.  The East only had a 92-91 lead at the end of the third but outscored the West 38-27 in the 4th quarter.  The biggest thing I saw from the Glickman highlight recap (other than the shooters weren’t as good as shown) is how Bob Cousy was just magic, especially in the fast-paced All-Star Game tempo (which just about every game from this era was – as I said before).  Cousy had the running hook down with either hand and also he would stop on a dime and take a hook shot instead of a jump shot from either the baseline or the middle of the lane.  Cousy handed out 10 assists to go along with his 20 points.

The main changes to the 1958 NBA Season were that the Fort Wayne Pistons became the Detroit Pistons and the Rochester Royals became the Cincinnati Royals.  Those two teams faced off in the Western Division Semifinals that year and Game 1 of that series turned out to be Maurice Stokes’ last NBA game.  Detroit beat Cincinnati but lost to St. Louis in the Western Finals.  Meanwhile, Philadelphia beat higher-seeded Syracuse in the East Semifinals but lost to Boston.  So the Hawks and Celtics, not shockingly, met again in the NBA Finals.  Both teams had finished 8 games ahead of the 2nd place team in their division.

East starters (teams) and point totals

Willie Naulls (New York Knicks) 8 – Small Forward

Dolph Schayes (Syracuse Nationals) 18 – Power Forward

Bill Russell (Boston Celtics) 11 – Center

Bob Cousy (Boston Celtics) 20 – Point Guard

Bill Sharman (Boston Celtics) 15 – Shooting Guard

East bench (teams) and point totals

Kenny Sears (New York Knicks) 12

Paul Arizin (Philadelphia Warriors) 24

Neil Johnston (Philadelphia Warriors) 14

Richie Guerin (New York Knicks) 7

Larry Costello (Syracuse Nationals) 1

East Coach: Red Auerbach (Boston Celtics)

West starters (teams) and point totals

George Yardley (Detroit Pistons) 19 – Small Forward

Maurice Stokes (Cincinnati Royals) 10 – Power Forward

Bob Pettit (St. Louis Hawks) 28 – Center

Slater Martin (St. Louis Hawks) 6 – Point Guard

Dick Garmaker (Minneapolis Lakers) 5 – Shooting Guard

West bench (teams) and point totals

Jack Twyman (Cincinnati Royals) 18

Larry Foust (Minneapolis Lakers) 10

Gene Shue (Detroit Pistons) 18

Dick McGuire (Detroit Pistons) 4

Cliff Hagan (St. Louis Hawks) did not play and was not replaced

West Coach: Alex Hannum (St. Louis Hawks)

bobpettit_display_image

Bob Pettit holding his All-Star MVP trophy *photo courtesy of realgm

March 30, 1958 – NBA Finals, Game 2: St. Louis Hawks 112 @Boston Celtics 136

For the second straight year, the Hawks took Game 1 in Boston (104-102 in regulation).  And for the second straight year, the Celtics romped the Hawks in Game 2 a day later (Saturday-Sunday games to satisfy network television).  Balance was the key for the Celtics while Cliff Hagan was the only bright spot for the Hawks.  Boston held an 8 point lead at the end of the first quarter (33-25) and at halftime (68-60).  It was in the third quarter though where they blew it open, outscoring the Hawks 38-28 to take an 18 point lead at the end of the quarter.

The series’ complexion would change in Game 3 though when Bill Russell sprained his ankle in a St. Louis win.  Russell would be out for Games 4 and 5.  The Celtics were already missing more inside muscle as Jim Loscutoff was out for the playoffs (he only played 5 games that season with a knee injury).  So the Celtics had to contend with the Hawks’ rebounding quartet of Pettit, Hagan, Share and Macauley with only Tom Heinsohn and aging center Arnie Risen.  Risen was a pretty good player in Rochester in the late 40’s and early 50’s (averaging a respectable for the time 13.7 points per game) but his production fell off in Boston, especially once Russell arrived.  Regardless of this disadvantage, the Celtics surprisingly won Game 4 in St. Louis but the Hawks surprisingly won Game 5 in Boston.  The highlight picks up for Game 6 with St. Louis trying to win a championship at home.

St. Louis starters (points scored)

Cliff Hagan (37) – Small Forward

Bob Pettit (19) – Power Forward

Charlie Share (9) – Center

Slater Martin (19) – Point Guard

Jack McMahon (8) – Shooting Guard

St. Louis bench (points scored)

Ed Macauley (3)

Win Wilfong (2)

Jack Coleman (7)

Med Park (2)

Walt Davis (6)

St. Louis Coach: Alex Hannum

Boston starters (points scored)

Lou Tsioropoulos (12) – Small Forward

Tom Heinsohn (12) – Power Forward

Bill Russell (22) – Center

Bob Cousy (25) – Point Guard

Bill Sharman (22) – Shooting Guard

Boston bench (points scored)

Frank Ramsey (20)

Jack Nichols (4)

Arnie Risen (3)

Sam Jones (16)

Boston Coach: Red Auerbach

April 12, 1958 – NBA Finals, Game 6: Boston Celtics 109 @St. Louis Hawks 110

Russell was back for this game off the bench but he wasn’t himself and Bob Pettit went bonker-nuts.  His 50 points was tied for a playoff record at the time (Bob Cousy had 50 points in a 1953 playoff game – 30 of them on free throws and the game went into quadruple-overtime).  St. Louis maintained a one point lead (78-77) at the end of the third quarter where the highlight picks up Hawks’ Center Charlie Share making the first basket of the fourth on a hook shot over the hampered Russell (Share was playing with a broken nose in this series – commonplace now, not so much then).  But the fourth quarter was defined by Pettit as he scored 19 of the Hawks last 21 points to give them a 110-107 lead with 15 seconds left.  Bill Sharman made an uncontested layup to cut the lead to one.  But the Hawks combo of Slater Martin and Ed Macauley were able to kill the clock for their first and only championship (the concept of fouling wasn’t quite around then, the Celtics were going for steals but not really trying hard to commit fouls).  The Hawks would only make two more appearances in the NBA Finals in their franchise history (in 1960 and 1961, both losses to the Celtics).

Interestingly, Ben Kerner had a propensity for firing coaches almost as much as Steinbrenner (except he didn’t hire the same guy again 5 times after firing him.. or once).  After the championship, Alex Hannum (who retired as a player after his off the backboard pass almost worked in the 1957 Finals) decided he wanted a bigger contract.  He was let go instead.  After briefly playing in the 1959 Season, Ed Macauley retired and ended up becoming the Hawks Coach.  Macauley led them to the Finals in 1960 but was let go after that season.  Recently retired Syracuse Nationals star Paul Seymour coached the Hawks to the 1961 Finals before getting fired early in the 1962 Season.

Boston starters (points scored)

Lou Tsioropoulos (14) – Small Forward

Tom Heinsohn (23) – Power Forward

Arnie Risen (12) – Center

Bob Cousy (15) – Point Guard

Bill Sharman (26) – Shooting Guard

Boston bench (points scored)

Bill Russell (8)

Frank Ramsey (8)

Jack Nichols (0)

Sam Jones (3)

Andy Phillip (0)

Boston Coach: Red Auerbach

St. Louis starters (points scored)

Cliff Hagan (15) – Small Forward

Bob Pettit (50) – Power Forward

Charlie Share (8) – Center

Slater Martin (4) – Point Guard

Jack McMahon (9) – Shooting Guard

St. Louis bench (points scored)

Ed Macauley (2)

Win Wilfong (4)

Jack Coleman (8)

Med Park (5)

Walt Davis (5)

St. Louis Coach: Alex Hannum

hawks 1958

The 1958 Hawks were the last all-white team to win the NBA Championship

Front row: Head Coach Alex Hannum, Cliff Hagan, Jack Coleman, Charlie Share, Bob Pettit, Walt Davis, Ed Macauley.  Back row: ballboy Max Shapiro, Slater Martin, Win Wilfong, Jack McMahon, Med Park, Frank Selvy, trainer Bernie Ebert

January 23, 1959 – NBA All-Star Game at Detroit: West 124, East 108

This was the first of four times that there were co-MVPs for the All-Star Game (1993, 2000, 2009).  This was also the only time in NBA History that a player won the MVP in back-to-back seasons.  Bob Pettit this time led the West to a win with 25 points and 16 rebounds.  He was named MVP along with Minneapolis Lakers’ rookie Elgin Baylor who finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds.  The East’s more deliberate attack granted them a 31-27 lead after the first quarter but the West broke the game open in the second led by Baylor, Pettit and Jack Twyman.  They outscored the East 34-21 to lead by nine.  They went on to pull away from there despite more magic from Bob Cousy, with his ballhandling and hook shooting.  Cousy only handed out 4 assists this time though as the East shot 34-for-105 for the game.  Paul Arizin led the East with 16 but shot 4-for-15.

Baylor and Pettit would end up meeting in the Western Division Finals in 1959 after once again St. Louis and Boston proved to be the best teams in the league in the regular season.  However, both teams would have tough runs in the playoffs.  Minneapolis upset St. Louis in 6 games while Boston had a challenge with Syracuse in the Eastern Division Finals.  Less than a month after the All-Star Game, Syracuse would acquire George Yardley from the Pistons to team with All-Stars Dolph Schayes, Johnny ‘Red’ Kerr, and Larry Costello (as well as rookie Hal Greer who would become the leading scorer in franchise history).  The Nationals would take Boston to 7 games and would lose an entertainingly close and high scoring Game 7 at Boston Garden 130-125.  The Nationals would get 32 from Yardley and 35 from Schayes in this game.  They also held a 68-60 lead at halftime.  The Celtics would come back though with their bench tandom of Frank Ramsey and Sam Jones leading the way.  Ramsey led the Celtics with 28 points while Jones got 19.  The Celtics swept the Lakers to kick off their string of 8 straight championships.  This would also be the first of 8 consecutive times the Celtics beat the Lakers in the Finals.  Most of which happened in the 1960’s.

East starters (teams) and point totals

Paul Arizin (Philadelphia Warriors) 16 – Small Forward

Kenny Sears (New York Knicks) 15 – Power Forward

Bill Russell (Boston Celtics) 7 – Center

Bob Cousy (Boston Celtics) 13 – Point Guard

Bill Sharman (Boston Celtics) 11 – Shooting Guard

East bench (teams) and point totals

Dolph Schayes (Syracuse Nationals) 13

Woody Sauldsberry (Philadelphia Warriors) 14

Red Kerr (Syracuse Nationals) 7

Larry Costello (Syracuse Nationals) 7

Richie Guerin (New York Knicks) 5

East Coach: Red Auerbach (Boston Celtics)

West starters (teams) and point totals

Cliff Hagan (St. Louis Hawks) 15 – Small Forward

Elgin Baylor (Minneapolis Lakers) 24 – Power Forward

Bob Pettit (St. Louis Hawks) 25 – Center

Slater Martin (St. Louis Hawks) 5 – Point Guard

Gene Shue (Detroit Pistons) 13 – Shooting Guard

West bench (teams) and point totals

George Yardley (Detroit Pistons) 6

Jack Twyman (Cincinnati Royals) 18

Larry Foust (Minneapolis Lakers) 8

Dick McGuire (Detroit Pistons) 5

Dick Garmaker (Minneapolis Lakers) 5

West Coach: Ed Macauley (St. Louis Hawks)

baylor

Elgin Baylor was the 1959 Rookie of the Year and All-Star Game co-MVP *photo courtesy of bleacher report

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