1972 NBA Season – Finally!
Elgin Baylor retired 9 games into the 1972 Season *photo courtesy of Bleacher Report
Let’s take a look at the NBA Standings from November 4, 1971 (early in the 1972 Season) – you’ll get the point in a second.. hopefully.
- Atlantic Division
- Boston Celtics 6-2
- Philadelphia 76ers 7-3
- New York Knicks 6-5
- Buffalo Braves 3-8
- Central Division
- Baltimore Bullets 3-7
- Atlanta Hawks 3-7
- Cincinnati Royals 2-6
- Cleveland Cavaliers 2-8
- Midwest Division
- Milwaukee Bucks 8-1
- Chicago Bulls 7-2
- Detroit Pistons 6-4
- Phoenix Suns 4-5
- Pacific Division
- Golden State Warriors 8-3
- Seattle Supersonics 7-3
- Los Angeles Lakers 6-3
- Portland Trailblazers 2-5
- Houston Rockets 2-10
Still early in the season, so nothing really to sort out, except that the Central looks terrible (and there’d still be two playoff teams from every division, no matter what their record was). The Champion Bucks are off to a quick start while the Knicks are off to a slow start (Willis Reed played in 9 of those 11 games and would only play in 2 more the rest of the season). Meanwhile, big news for the 3rd place Los Angeles Lakers was that Elgin Baylor was calling it quits after starting 9 games but realizing he may be done when new Lakers coach Bill Sharman wanted to put Jim McMillian in the starting lineup over him. The retirement ceremony was before their November 5 game against Baltimore in the Forum. The Lakers won that game 110-106. Keeping the Lakers in mind, let’s take a look at the standings on January 8, 1972.
- Atlantic Division
- Boston Celtics 29-15
- New York Knicks 25-17
- Philadelphia 76ers 19-25
- Buffalo Braves 13-28
- Central Division
- Baltimore Bullets 18-22
- Atlanta Hawks 15-28
- Cleveland Cavaliers 15-28
- Cincinnati Royals 10-30
- Midwest Division
- Milwaukee Bucks 35-8
- Chicago Bulls 29-12
- Phoenix Suns 25-18
- Detroit Pistons 16-27
- Pacific Division
- Los Angeles Lakers 39-3
- Seattle Supersonics 25-19
- Golden State Warriors 23-19
- Houston Rockets 15-27
- Portland Trailblazers 10-35
The playoff teams are starting to round into form. Other than Golden State passing Seattle, the top 2 teams in each division listed here finished in that same order (Baltimore did win the Central with a 38-44 record followed by Atlanta at 36-46.. sadly, those were the 3rd and 4th best records in the East that season). However, take a look at the number of Laker losses on November 4 and then take a look at the number on January 8. It didn’t change, did it? While there were 33 more victories on the January 8 column then the November 4 line.
33 victories in a row is a record that has stood for 41 years now (the one recently challenged by the Miami Heat). And yes, ironically the streak did start on the night that Baylor retired.
The first game featured was the game that the Laker winning streak was stopped.
January 9, 1972 – Los Angeles Lakers 104 @Milwaukee Bucks 120
The Lakers were an old team in 1972 and were thought to have had their window closed. But new coach Bill Sharman wanted to go with a running game which was his style. This, on paper, didn’t fit the Laker personnel however (especially Chamberlain). But Wilt was always good at crashing the boards. He and power forward Happy Hairston starting doing that regularly and getting outlets out to Jerry West, who ran the break with Gail Goodrich and Jim McMillian. Off the bench, the Lakers would get contributions from players like Flynn Robinson, Pat Riley, LeRoy Ellis, and John Trapp. All in all, this was not a team that figured to go on a 33-game winning streak. But they did and were thought of as legit contenders as the season went along.
But the World Champions were still around. The Milwaukee Bucks came into this mid-season tilt with a 35-8 record, only 4.5 games behind the Lakers. The Bucks had traded Greg Smith a month earlier to Houston for Curtis Perry. Perry was a little bit taller and a little bit stronger and would become a rebounding machine alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (which was now officially his name). Bob Boozer had retired and Kareem’s backup in 1971, Dick Cunningham, was traded to Houston for John Block. Block was another strong rebounder and a good outside shooting big man. He would have a big impact in this game. The Bucks also acquired Wali Jones from Philadelphia for a player to be named later (that player would end up being Block in the summer of ’72). So Block, Jones, and Lucius Allen comprised the Bucks bench.
This game worked out perfectly for ABC’s Sunday game-of-the-week broadcast. The story-line obviously being the Lakers streak but these were the two best teams in the NBA and Milwaukee had a charged up crowd. Keith Jackson and Bill Russell (who had replaced Jack Twyman as the analyst) were there. The Milwaukee team was just as charged up as the crowd at the beginning of the game. Bob Dandridge hit the first shot, then Kareem tipped in a miss and hit a sky hook over Wilt. After another Jabbar hook and free throw, the Bucks were up 9-2. But the Lakers had to be used to the other team getting off to hot starts as the streak had gone along, and they came back to take a 16-13 lead on West’s bank shot. Milwaukee tried a fast break after the make, but Wilt blocked a Dandridge layup. Wilt turned out to be a big presence defensively early as Kareem, after his hot start, missed 4 consecutive shots. Two Goodrich free throws put the Lakers up 24-17 and gave Gail 8 points in the first quarter. After Robertson made a customary turn-around shot from the elbow and a subsequent Bucks free throw, Flynn Robinson, the Lakers instant offense man and former Buck, came in off the bench and immediately nailed a fade-away jumper. Milwaukee cut the Lakers lead to 28-26 at the end of the first on a Wali Jones jumper.
In the 2nd quarter, the Bucks bench more than countered Flynn Robinson’s production. John Block got a put-back and then threw a full length pass to Lucius Allen for a layup after a defensive rebound. Allen then made another jumper and the Bucks were up 32-30. Allen ended up playing most of the back-court time alongside Robertson. This was not only because he was producing, but Bucks Coach Larry Costello used Lucius’ quickness against Gail Goodrich instead of Jon McGlocklin’s height advantage. A bit of a chippy moment happened midway through the 2nd quarter when Kareem got a loose ball in the lane and went up for a dunk. As Jabbar went up, a hustling Happy Hairston fell off-balance and under-cut Kareem for the foul. The dunk rolled in as Kareem kind of fell on Hairston. Then Jabbar jabbed him with a right and the refs had to separate Kareem and Wilt for a second while Hairston lay recuperating. A punching foul was called on Jabbar and Hairston missed the technical (the Lakers first free throw miss of the game on their 17th attempt.. yes, you are correct in assuming that Wilt Chamberlain was 0-for-0). Meanwhile, Kareem missed the free throw to complete the three-point play and the score remained 38-34 Milwaukee. The Bucks would go on to a 51-45 lead at halftime as John Block contributed 11 points and 9 rebounds. Los Angeles shot 29% from the field in the half and had 15 turnovers, but were still in the game.
The second half though didn’t get much better for the Lakers as Chamberlain committed his 4th foul early in the quarter. Wilt stayed in the game but Abdul-Jabbar would go crazy against a passive Chamberlain. Kareem’s first basket was him getting out on the break for a layup and the Bucks were up 57-50. Then Jabbar hit a hook and another jumper. The Lakers scored enough to stay within striking distance of the Bucks. But Kareem was dominating on both ends. After hitting another jumper on an offensive rebound, the big man made a great defensive play. Chamberlain was in the post guarded by Jabbar. Wilt gave the ball to a cutting Hairston who looked to be open for a layup. But Kareem dropped off and stuffed the shot. The Bucks recovered the ball as the crowd went crazy, but didn’t score. But Kareem hit another short bank shot on the next possession for his 27th point (on 5-for-5 shooting in the third) and a 67-59 Milwaukee lead. But the Lakers went on an 8-0 run over the next minute and a half, completed on a Hairston tip-in. The score was still tied at 71 when the Bucks bench again came to the rescue. Kareem hit an open Lucius Allen in the corner for a jumper and then Allen got a steal and a layup for his 5th field goal in 5 attempts. Then Block nailed a jumper followed by Dandridge doing the same. That completed an 8-0 run and the Bucks were up 84-77 after three.
The Bucks continued to lead early in the 4th but the charging Lakers were led by Flynn Robinson. Robinson hit a runner in the lane over Kareem while he was being fouled by the big man. The free throw cut the Bucks lead to 90-86. Robinson then hit two long jumpers to match another basket by Block on an offensive rebound and an Allen basket on a Chamberlain goaltend. A Chamberlain tip half-way through the quarter put the game back at 94-92. At a stoppage at around this time, Goodrich came back into the game for Robinson. The Lakers offense went to the bench with Flynn. Oscar drove the lane and threw an over-the-head pass to Kareem for a slam as Chamberlain helped. This great play put Milwaukee up 96-92. Then Kareem on the next possession tipped in his own miss. At 5:35, Allen got another layup on a full-length pass from Oscar. Then Perry hit a jumper, Kareem got another layup on an offensive rebound, and Allen got yet another layup. The Lakers only had two points to counter this run. Goodrich missed a free throw and then West missed a banker on a critical possession. With the Bucks up 106-94, John Block fouled Wilt for his 6th foul. Block got a thunderous standing ovation and Wilt missed two free throws. Dandridge hit a layup and two free throws and Jabbar hit a jumper on an Oscar pass for the last of his 39 points. The game at this point was all but over. The final straw was broken on a Curtis Perry three-point play on the third Milwaukee shot of the possession.
It was said during the game that Milwaukee wasn’t a bad place to lose the winning streak. The Bucks followed up their championship season with a 63-19 record and a Midwest Division title. But the Lakers ended up setting the regular season wins record with a 69-13 clip. The Lakers beat the Bucks in the Western Conference Finals in 6 games. Milwaukee wasn’t helped by Oscar Robertson being slowed by injury. Oscar would never really fully be the same.
Los Angeles starters (points scored)
Jim McMillian (18) – Small Forward
Happy Hairston (18) – Power Forward
Wilt Chamberlain (15) – Center
Jerry West (20) – Point Guard
Gail Goodrich (18) – Shooting Guard
Los Angeles bench (points scored)
Flynn Robinson (15)
Pat Riley (0)
Los Angeles Coach: Bill Sharman
Milwaukee starters (points scored)
Bob Dandridge (11) – Small Forward
Curtis Perry (7) – Power Forward
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (39) – Center
Oscar Robertson (17) – Point Guard
Jon McGlocklin (4) – Shooting Guard
Milwaukee bench (points scored)
Lucius Allen (18)
John Block (17)
Wali Jones (7)
Toby Kimball (0)
Milwaukee Coach: Larry Costello
Gail Goodrich coming off a Chamberlain screen as Lucius Allen was defending *photo courtesy of LA Times
January 18, 1972 – NBA All-Star Game at Los Angeles: West 112, East 110
Similar to today with Los Angeles and Houston hosting All-Star games recently after the last time they hosted it (Los Angeles and Houston hosted the games in 2011 and 2013 after hosting it in 2004 and 2006), Los Angeles hosted the game in 1972 after hosting it in 1963. The difference is that back then it was just a game (although ABC was starting a one-on-one tournament at halftime of this game that would conclude in the NBA Finals with Bob Lanier beating Jo Jo White).
The NBA was also three years away from letting the fans vote for the starting lineups (my theory is that Oscar Robertson would have gotten the starting nod over Gail Goodrich if the fans were voting… but then again those voting numbers in L.A. were probably bigger than those in Milwaukee).
This game came 9 days after the Bucks had ended the Lakers 33-game winning streak and the fans at the Forum showed Abdul-Jabbar how much they appreciated him leading the Bucks to that victory. Kareem was booed soundly in the opening lineup introductions (while Kareem laughed hysterically) and when Kareem made his first basket (a three-point play) the crowd may have murmured a bit but didn’t really cheer.
The game started out with ties at 2, 4, 6, and 8. The East got off to a slow-start shooting but hustled after second shots. The term hustle would be appropriate because the West frontcourt of Abdul-Jabbar, Spencer Haywood, and Bob Love (and Chamberlain off the bench) had the size over Dave Cowens, Billy Cunningham, and John Havlicek. Despite this height advantage there was a possession where the East got 7 shots (but finally turned the ball over on a three-second violation). The East eventually got it going. They went on an 8-0 run to take a 24-16 lead on a Walt Frazier steal and layup. The West cut back into the lead a bit but still trailed 33-27 after one quarter. Frazier led all scorers with 11 points while Spencer Haywood led the West with 7.
There was an exchange between the announcers, Keith Jackson and Bill Russell, in the first quarter where Jackson said to Russell that Haywood’s found himself this year. Russell’s response was that Haywood been on the basketball court more than in court. The average fan watching live in 1972 probably knew what Russell was talking about but I feel this needs to be explained. It’s not that Haywood was in court for doing anything bad, unless you despise high-schoolers going straight to the NBA or the one-and-done rule for college once the NBA said you needed to be out of high school for 1 year. Back then a player wasn’t eligible to be drafted by the NBA until he was 4 years removed from graduating high school. However, the NBA was competing against the ABA for talent and the ABA was taking talent that wasn’t allowed in the NBA (like Connie Hawkins). Spencer Haywood joined the ABA after his sophomore season at the University of Detroit (in which he was an All-American). Haywood averaged 30 ppg and 19 rpg for the Denver Rockets in the 1970 season and was the league MVP. Haywood was then signed by the Seattle Sonics before the 1971 season, but the NBA threatened to dis-allow the 6-year, $1.5 million contract and implement various sanctions against the Sonics because Haywood was not four years removed from his high school graduation. Haywood challenged this decision by commencing an antitrust action against the NBA. As part of his claim against the NBA, Haywood argued that the conduct of the NBA was a “group boycott” and a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. After the United State District Court for the Central District of California ruled in favor of Haywood and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the NBA, the Supreme Court by a 7-to-2 count upheld the District Courts decision and allowed Haywood to play for the Sonics. Situations like this were eventually made ‘hardship’ cases by the NBA. A player had to prove financial hardship before entering the NBA early. But Spencer Haywood and this Supreme Court ruling (401 U.S. 1204 from 1971) started the trend of college underclassmen and high-schoolers joining the NBA early. This information came from Wikipedia pages Haywood vs. National Basketball Association and Eligibility for the NBA Draft.
Anyway, in the second quarter of this All-Star game, Jo Jo White for the East and Connie Hawkins for the West came off the bench to spark their teams. White had 8 points and Hawkins 7. The East maintained their lead as Billy Cunningham scored 6 of 8 points on an East 8-4 run that put them up 53-43. The East took a 12-point lead on an Archie Clark assist to Dave Cowens. They led 64-54 at the break.
In the third quarter, the West came back sparked by Connie Hawkins and Jimmy Walker. Hawkins made three highlight plays. First, he got a dunk on a cut and a pass from Kareem. Then Hawkins made an under-hand scoop in the lane while his left hand never touched the ball (the East had to call a timeout and the crowd went crazy after this play). Walker then made two jumpers in a row that gave the West a 77-76 lead. The East took a 4-point lead as Jack Marin got out on the break for two layups. An Oscar three-point play and Walker free throw tied the game. Then Hawkins’ aforementioned third highlight play (a double-pump right-handed layup) and another Walker jumper gave the West an 85-81 lead. Then Wilt got a dunk on a Paul Silas assist (Connie Hawkins would have gotten an assist too if this was hockey). An Archie Clark free throw and another Marin layup on the break cut the West’s lead to 87-84 after three.
The West took a lead in the fourth after Cazzie Russell went on a 6-0 run, nailing two jumpers from the same spot and two free throws. This run gave the West their biggest lead of the game at that point at 98-90. They would take their biggest lead at 105-96 on West’s 6th steal and subsequent layup. But then the East went on a 6-0 run. Dave DeBusschere hit a jumper and Cowens and Cunningham hit a pair of free throws. After an Oscar free throw with 1:45 left to put the West up 106-102, Havlicek got hot. A Jerry West long jumper on an Oscar assist was sandwiched in-between two Havlicek jumpers. Then Oscar hit two free throws with 47 seconds left for a 110-106 lead. Havlicek then got a shooters roll on his third consecutive shot. The West came back down, but at 22 seconds Russell was short on a long jumper. The East got the rebound and drove back down court without a timeout. Billy Cunningham drove the lane and kicked out to Cowens who hit a shot at the right corner with 11 seconds left to tie the game.
Bill Russell figured either Oscar or West was going to take the last shot for the West team. West was taking the ball out at half-court, so Oscar was trying to break open but Jerry’s pass to Oscar was deflected out of bounds by Frazier. At the time in the NBA, the rule was that the person who was closest to the ball when it went out-of-bounds had to take it in. So Oscar played it in and West broke free of Frazier to get the ball at three-quarter court. Jerry dribbled into the front court against Clyde. At the top of the circle, West had his back to the basket and was guarded closely by Frazier. But in one instant, Mr. Clutch turned around and shot the ball. Nothing but net. One second left. The East’s last attempt was intercepted by Cazzie Russell at the final airhorn (the buzzer in the Forum at the time sounded like a tornado-warning alarm).
Jerry West was named MVP finishing with 13 points (7 in the fourth quarter), 6 steals, and the game-winning shot. You know it’s a balanced NBA when the leading scorer in the game had 15 points and 13 players finished in double figures. This you will never see today, even in a wide open All-Star Game.
East starters (teams) and point totals
John Havlicek (Boston Celtics) 15 – Small Forward
Billy Cunningham (Philadelphia 76ers) 14 – Power Forward
Dave Cowens (Boston Celtics) 14 – Center
Walt Frazier (New York Knicks) 15 – Point Guard
Lou Hudson (Atlanta Hawks) 6 – Shooting Guard
East bench (teams) and point totals
John Johnson (Cleveland Cavaliers) 0
Bob Kauffman (Buffalo Braves) 2
Jack Marin (Baltimore Bullets) 11
Wes Unseld (Baltimore Bullets) 2
Tom Van Arsdale (Cincinnati Royals) 0
Jo Jo White (Boston Celtics) 12
Butch Beard (Cleveland Cavaliers) 3
Archie Clark (Baltimore Bullets) 8
Dave DeBusschere (New York Knicks) 8
East Coach: Tom Heinsohn (Boston Celtics)
West starters (teams) and point totals
Bob Love (Chicago Bulls) 8 – Small Forward
Spencer Haywood (Seattle Sonics) 11 – Power Forward
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Milwaukee Bucks) 12 – Center
Jerry West (Los Angeles Lakers) 13 – Point Guard
Gail Goodrich (Los Angeles Lakers) 4 – Shooting Guard
West bench (teams) and point totals
Oscar Robertson (Milwaukee Bucks) 11
Cazzie Russell (Golden State Warriors) 10
Paul Silas (Phoenix Suns) 2
Jimmy Walker (Detroit Pistons) 10
Connie Hawkins (Phoenix Suns) 13
Elvin Hayes (Houston Rockets) 4
Wilt Chamberlain (Los Angeles Lakers) 8
Bob Lanier (Detroit Pistons) 2
Sidney Wicks (Portland Blazers) 4
West Coach: Bill Sharman (Los Angeles Lakers)
Jerry West hit the winning jumper over Walt Frazier in the 1972 All-Star Game at the Forum *photo courtesy of mitchell and ness blog
May 7, 1972 – NBA Finals, Game 5: New York Knicks 100 @Los Angeles Lakers 114
You could feel the tension in the pregame. The Lakers had won 3 games in a row in this series to take a 3-1 lead heading back home for Game 5. This was the Lakers chance to finally win a championship after 12 seasons and 8 trips to the NBA Finals. The crowd of 17,505 knew it and were more charged up than ever (every call against the Lakers was booed soundly, even if it was a good call.. I know that pretty much happens at every arena but these fans had the attitude that nobody.. not the Knicks, not the referees.. was going to stop the Lakers from ending their heartache).
The Lakers had an issue though. In Game 4, Wilt Chamberlain had fallen on his wrist. The report was that it was badly sprained. Wilt said in his book that came out a year later that the wrist was broken. Either way, both wrists were heavily wrapped and nobody knew how long the big man would be able to go and how effective he would be.
The Knicks had injury problems too. They already had Reed out for the playoffs and Dave DeBusschere had hurt his side in Game 2 and was ineffective in games 2-4. New York had Earl Monroe starting at the guard spot opposite Frazier, but Monroe had been grossly ineffective in the first 4 games (averaging 4.5 ppg). Dick Barnett, who had played sparingly in the playoffs with an injury, started Game 4 and scored 13 points but was still struggling. This meant that rookie Dean Meminger started at guard for Game 5. The Knicks had been carried by Frazier, Jerry Lucas, and Bill Bradley in the series. But Lucas and Bradley struggled in Game 5.
The Lakers came out of the gate as charged up as the crowd. Jim McMillian hit three consecutive jumpers and then Jerry West hit two in a row. The Lakers had a 10-0 lead and Bill Russell commented that ‘I don’t think they intend to have a game tonight, just a little shootout.’ The Knicks missed their first 5 shots before DeBusschere connected from the right wing. It was then that everyone got a first test of how effective Chamberlain would be. He got the ball on back-to-back possessions and went to the basket against Lucas and reverse slammed the ball. The crowd went crazy each time. But the Knicks worked their way back into the game despite this. After Meminger surprisingly hit back-to-back jumpers, the Knicks had their first lead at 22-20. The Lakers were on a 1-for-9 shooting stretch during this time. But they did recover and grab a 26-24 lead at the end of the first quarter on a Pat Riley jumper at the buzzer.
New York had gotten back into the game mostly sparked by Walt Frazier, and Frazier jump-started them in the 2nd quarter with 2 steals and 2 layups as a result. Frazier had 10 points, 5 assists and 3 steals at the mid-way point of the quarter. The teams went back-and-forth and exchanged the lead 11 times in the first half. Monroe gave the Knicks a spark for the first time in the Finals and Bradley hit a pull-up jump shot in the middle of the exchange for his third and last field goal of the game (until late when it was too late). Russell said in his pregame keys that Bradley needed to score and for a half he did. In an interesting situation (at least to me) in the first half, the Lakers’ Pat Riley scored a fast break layup against the Knicks’ Phil Jackson. Yes those are the same two guys who became coaching rivals two decades later. Back-to-back Wilt Chamberlain layups (plus a Wilt free throw!) ended the first half on a high note for the Lakers. Keith Jackson even commented that Wilt couldn’t even eat his cereal that morning because of his wrist. Two Monroe free throws tied the game at 53 (the 12th tie of the game) at halftime. Frazier had led the Knicks with 14 points while Bradley and Monroe followed with 10 each. Wilt was the only Laker in double figures in the first half, he had 14 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists. The Lakers as a team had 13 offensive rebounds to counter their 14 turnovers.
The 2nd half started back and forth as well. Monroe started the half in Meminger’s place and hit the first basket. The Laker’s other scorers; West, Goodrich, and McMillian got going in the third. Each got a basket as the Lakers took a 63-59 lead. McMillian and DeBusschere exchanged two baskets. West, who was 4-for-14 in the first half and in a slump in the Finals, scored a driving layup to give the Lakers a 69-63 lead. The Lakers had hit 6 of their first 8 shots in the half. After New York cut it to 69-67, West nailed another long jumper. After Lucas hit a long jumper (only his 5th point of the game), Goodrich drove baseline and lost the ball after it looked like he was grabbed. The ball went right to Wilt who was fouled but Goodrich wasn’t too happy and got a technical after Russell seemed to observe him saying an inappropriate 4-syllable word. Russell also took a little comical dig at Wilt as he was shooting free throws, saying ‘you can’t really say he’s going to the line, he goes in that area.’ In Wilt’s latest free throw style of him shot-putting a line drive, he stood three feet back from the actual 15-foot line. Wilt did make the two free throws though (he probably heard Russell and was like “shut up William!”). A possession later, Phil Jackson tipped in a Bradley miss in which he was clearly over the cylinder but the basket was still called good. The Lakers though went on a 6-0 run and ended the third quarter up 83-78.
The Knicks early in the 4th cut the Lakers lead to 85-83 on two Lucas free throws. This is when the Lakers’ final push started that got them the championship. Goodrich hit a driving underhand scoop and then Chamberlain hit his customary finger roll. The Lakers used the momentum and New York fouls to grab a 96-85 lead. Wilt went crazy on defense too as he got 8 blocks for the game. The Lakers held their lead and with a minute left and the score 110-98, both teams took out their starters to standing ovations. Chamberlain was named Finals MVP. He had 24 points and 29 rebounds in Game 5.
New York starters (points scored)
Bill Bradley (12) – Small Forward
Dave DeBusschere (13) – Power Forward
Jerry Lucas (14) – Center
Walt Frazier (31) – Point Guard
Dean Meminger (4) – Shooting Guard
New York bench (points scored)
Dick Barnett (0)
Earl Monroe (16)
Phil Jackson (10)
Luther Rackley (0)
Eddie Mast (0)
Eddie Miles (0)
Charlie Paulk (0)
New York Coach: Red Holzman
Los Angeles starters (points scored)
Jim McMillian (20) – Small Forward
Happy Hairston (13) – Power Forward
Wilt Chamberlain (24) – Center
Jerry West (23) – Point Guard
Gail Goodrich (25) – Shooting Guard
Los Angeles bench (points scored)
Flynn Robinson (0)
Pat Riley (7)
John Trapp (0)
LeRoy Ellis (0)
Jim Cleamons (2)
Los Angeles Coach: Bill Sharman
Wilt Chamberlain was the NBA Finals MVP in 1972, he scored 24 points and grabbed 29 rebounds in the clinching Game 5 despite a sprained (or broken) wrist *photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated for Kids