1951 NBA Finals

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1951 NBA Finals
Rochester Royals Les Harrison 4
New York Knicks Joe Lapchick 3
DatesApril 7–21
Hall of FamersRoyals:
Bob Davies (1970)
Red Holzman (1986, coach)
Bobby Wanzer (1987)
Arnie Risen (1998)
Harry Gallatin (1991)
Dick McGuire (1993)
Nat Clifton (2014)
Joe Lapchick (1966, player)
Les Harrison (1980, contributor)
Pat Kennedy (1959)
Eastern FinalsKnicks defeated Nationals, 3–2
Western FinalsRoyals defeated Lakers, 3–1
← 1950 NBA Finals 1952 →

The 1951 NBA World Championship Series was the championship round of the 1951 NBA Playoffs, which concluded the National Basketball Association 1950–51 season. The Western Division champion Rochester Royals faced the Eastern Division champion New York Knicks in a best-of-seven series with Rochester having home-court advantage.

Rochester won the first three games, two at home, but New York won the next three, two at home. It was the first BAA or NBA Finals (spanning 1947 to 1951)[a] that extended to a seventh-game conclusion, a 4-point win by Rochester at home on Saturday, April 21.

The seven games were played in fifteen days, beginning Saturday and Sunday, April 7 and 8, in Rochester and incorporating one game in Rochester on each following weekend. Three Wednesday or Friday games were played in New York City. The entire postseason tournament spanned 33 days in which both Rochester and New York played 14 games.[1]

The Royals appeared in their first NBA finals by defeating the Fort Wayne Pistons in the semifinals and the two-time defending champion Minneapolis Lakers in the division finals while the Knicks defeated the Boston Celtics in the semifinals and the Syracuse Nationals in the division finals. This was the first finals appearance for both teams, and the first Finals with two teams that had not made a finals appearance since the 1947 BAA Finals.

Series summary[edit]

Game Date Home team Result Road team
Game 1 April 7 Rochester Royals 92–65 (1–0) New York Knicks
Game 2 April 8 Rochester Royals 99–84 (2–0) New York Knicks
Game 3 April 11 New York Knicks 71–78 (0–3) Rochester Royals
Game 4 April 13 New York Knicks 79–73 (1–3) Rochester Royals
Game 5 April 15 Rochester Royals 89–92 (3–2) New York Knicks
Game 6 April 18 New York Knicks 80–73 (3–3) Rochester Royals
Game 7 April 21 Rochester Royals 79–75 (4–3) New York Knicks

Royals win series 4–3

The Rochester / Cincinnati Royals / Kansas City / Sacramento Kings won their first ever NBA Championship.


This was the first and to date last title for the Rochester Royals, who would move to Cincinnati for the 1957–58 NBA season. The Royals would spend 15 years mired in mediocrity before moving to Kansas City in 1972, changing their name in the process to the Kings. One notable highlight was their appearance in the 1981 NBA Playoffs, in which their 40-42 team reached the Conference Finals before losing to the Houston Rockets who also had a 40–42 record. The Kings moved to Sacramento in 1985. The team reached the conference finals in the 2002 NBA Playoffs, their closest to reaching the NBA finals in recent years. The Royals/Kings have the longest NBA title drought, and also the longest Finals appearance drought in NBA history and actively in all of the American major four pro sports leagues.

This would be the Knicks first of three consecutive appearances in the Finals, but they would lose all three times. They would not return to the Finals until 1970, which they won.


  1. ^ The Basketball Association of America (BAA) played three seasons, 1946–47 to 1948–49, all with postseason tournaments that concluded in best-of-seven series. The NBA recognizes BAA history as part of its own, sometimes without comment.[2]
     The NBA was actually created by 1949 merger of the BAA and its older competitor, the National Basketball League. There were 12 NBL championships, all finally decided by a best-of-three or best-of-five series.


  1. ^ "1950–51 NBA Season Summary". Basketball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2015-03-04.
      Select "Previous Season" from the heading for 1949–50, and so on. Select "Finals" from League Playoffs for the daily schedule of the final series, and so on.
  2. ^ "NBA Season Recaps". NBA History (nba.com/history). July 1, 2014. Retrieved 2015-03-04.

External links[edit]