1970 NBA Finals
|Dates:||April 24 – May 8|
(New York Knicks)
|Announcers:||Chris Schenkel, Jack Twyman, and Howard Cosell|
|Radio network:||KABC (LAL)
|Announcers:||Chick Hearn and Lynn Shackelford (LAL)
Marv Albert (NYK)
|Game 7: Richie Powers and Mendy Rudolph|
|Hall of Famers:||Knicks:
Willis Reed (1982)
Phil Jackson (2007, coach)
Bill Bradley (1983)
Dave DeBusschere (1983)
Walt Frazier (1987)
Elgin Baylor (1977)
Wilt Chamberlain (1979)
Jerry West (1980)
Red Holtzman (1986)
|Eastern Finals:||Knicks defeat Bucks, 4-1|
|Western Finals:||Lakers defeat Hawks, 4-0|
The 1970 NBA Finals was a best-of-7 series for the world championship of the National Basketball Association. It featured the Eastern Conference champion New York Knicks and the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers. The Knicks won the series 4 games to 3 for their first NBA title.
The 1970 Finals was the ninth consecutive NBA championship series to feature a team from California - all of which were lost by the team from that state. For the seventh time, the team was the Lakers. The San Francisco Warriors were the other, losing in 1964 and 1967. With the win, New York became the first city in the United States to win titles in the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB, done over a span of just over 30 years. Five other cities - Philadelphia in 1980, Detroit in 1989, Chicago in 1991, Boston in 2002 and Los Angeles in 2012 - have since done so.
Road to the finals
The New York Knicks had a very successful season; they won 60 games and were led by future hall of famers Willis Reed and Walt Frazier. They had a strong supporting cast that featured Dick Barnett, Bill Bradley and Dave DeBusschere. In the playoffs, the Knicks barely won a tough seven-game series against the Baltimore Bullets. In the Eastern Conference Finals, they beat the Milwaukee Bucks, led by captain Lew Alcindor, in five games.
The veteran Lakers were led by superstars Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West. However, Chamberlain suffered a severe knee injury in the 9th game of the season and didn't return until there were three games left. Baylor missed 28 games and West was out for three weeks. The Lakers sputtered early without Chamberlain and Baylor and were 13-17 after 30 games. But first year players like center Rick Roberson and guard Dick Garrett made valuable contributions; an early season trade brought Happy Hairston from Detroit to help in the front court, and the Lakers won 46 games to finish two games behind the Atlanta Hawks in the Western Division. In the playoffs, the Lakers rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Phoenix Suns, and then in the Western Conference Finals they swept the Atlanta Hawks to advance to the NBA Finals for the 3rd straight year.
The series started with the Knicks jumping out to an early double digit lead and they were never seriously threatened in their 124-112 game 1 victory.
In a reversal of Game 1, the Lakers achieved an early double-digit lead in Game 2, but they struggled to keep it till the end. Finally, Jerry West scored the game-winning free throws as the Lakers grabbed home court advantage with a 105-103 win.
The scene shifted to L.A. for game 3 and the fans witnessed one of the most memorable games in NBA Finals history. It was a see-saw game that saw Willis Reed score 38 for the Knicks, while Elgin Baylor fouled out for the Lakers. With 15 seconds left, Jerry West hit a 20 footer to tie the game, only to see Dave DeBusschere score from just above the free throw line with 3 seconds left to put the Knicks up by two. A frustrated Chamberlain grabbed the ball after it went through the basket, and without ever going completely out of bounds (a violation that was not called), threw the ball to West and turned to head to the locker room. West caught the pass, took two dribbles and fired up a desperation 63 footer. The ball glanced off the back of the rim and caromed through the net and the Forum crowd went wild as the game headed to overtime. However, the Lakers could not take advantage of the momentum and the Knicks went out to a 5 point lead midway through overtime. The Lakers cut the lead to 109-108, but Dick Barnett's 18 footer sealed a 3 point Knicks victory. West later lamented that he "still can't believe the Lakers lost that game."
The Lakers knew they had to win Game 4; it was another overtime thriller and this time the Lakers won, 121-115, behind 37 points from West and 30 from Baylor. In Game 5 at the Garden, the Knicks took an early lead but then eight minutes into the game, Willis Reed fell down hard while trying to make a shot. Reed eventually got up on his own, but a leg injury forced him to leave the game. The Lakers took advantage and led by 16 points in the 3rd quarter, but a scrambling defense, full court press, and sheer determination to "win one for the captain" helped New York stage a comeback. The Knicks forced 19 second half Laker turnovers, and Bill Bradley's clutch shot tied the game at 87 with 7:40 left to play. New York then outscored L.A. 20-13 the rest of the way for a 107-100 victory and a 3-2 lead in the series. Back in L.A. for game 6, the Knicks were without Reed. Chamberlain, remembering the criticism after playing poorly in game 6 of the prior year's finals, responded by taking advantage of Reed's absence with 45 points as the Lakers cruised to a 135-113 win.
The two teams headed back to New York for Game 7. All indications were that Reed would not be able to play. But during warm-ups, Willis Reed walked onto the floor, and the Madison Square Garden crowd erupted with cheers on the heels of his entrance. Reed proceeded to score the first two (and his only) baskets of the game to give the Knicks an early lead and send the crowd into a fever pitch. Reed then came out of the game, but the Lakers were rattled. Walt Frazier took over, scoring 22 points in the first half en route to a 36-point, 19-assist, 7-rebound game. The Knicks built a 20+ point second half lead, and won 113-99 to capture their first NBA championship.
|Game||Date||Home Team||Score||Road Team|
|Game 1||April 24 (Fri.)||New York Knicks||124-112 (1-0)||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Game 2||April 27 (Mon.)||New York Knicks||103-105 (1-1)||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Game 3||April 29 (Wed.)||Los Angeles Lakers||108-111 OT (1-2)||New York Knicks|
|Game 4||May 1 (Fri.)||Los Angeles Lakers||121-115 OT (2-2)||New York Knicks|
|Game 5||May 4 (Mon.)||New York Knicks||107-100 (3-2)||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Game 6||May 6 (Wed.)||Los Angeles Lakers||135-113 (3-3)||New York Knicks|
|Game 7||May 8 (Fri.)||New York Knicks||113-99 (4-3)||Los Angeles Lakers|
Knicks win series 4-3
Two seconds, one second, West throws it up.... he makes it! West threw it up and makes it over half-court! The ball-game is tied, Jerry West made it through the other side of the mid-court stripe.—Los Angeles Lakers announcer Chick Hearn calling Jerry West's half-court shot to force overtime of Game 3 of the NBA Finals
Now here comes Willis... and the crowd is going wild!—New York Knick radio announcer Marv Albert describing Willis Reed's entrance prior to Game 7 of the NBA Finals
I think we see Willis coming out!—ABC analyst Jack Twyman describing the same moment