NBA History
NBA History

Season Review: 1967-68

Bill Russell leads the Celtics back to championship glory as player-coach

NBA.com Staff

Aug 24, 2017 12:41 AM ET

Boston's dead? Not so fast, say Bailey Howell and the Celtics.

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The NBA added two more franchises to the mix for the 1967-68 season as the Seattle SuperSonics and San Diego Rockets joined the West. (San Diego would become the Houston Rockets before the 1971-72 season.) Detroit shifted to the Eastern Conference and the NBA, now a 12-team league, played its first 82-game schedule.

The prosperity that the NBA was enjoying was not lost on several outside observers, who figured the time was right for a second, competing pro hoops league.

Thus, the ABA was born, with 11 teams playing a 78-game schedule. Major cities which had been unable to attract an NBA franchise like Dallas, Denver, Houston and Oakland now claimed teams in the ABA. The league gained credibility with the naming of NBA legend George Mikan as its first commissioner, and NBA star Rick Barry's decision to sign with the Oakland Oaks.

As for the NBA, Detroit's Dave Bing became the first guard to lead the league in scoring (27.1) since 1948. In the playoffs, the Celtics rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the Eastern finals over Philly, then defeated the Lakers in six games for their 10th title.

Player-coach Bill Russell claimed his first championship. He played 292 minutes in the championship series, setting a record for a six-game Finals. His teammate, John Havlicek, played the second-most minutes ever in a six-game Finals, notching 291.

Bailey Howell, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound forward who was a five-time All-Star nearing the end of his career, arrived in Boston just in time to see the Celtics' eight-year reign atop the NBA end. But he was determined to bring a title back to Boston after Philadelphia's triumph the previous year.

"Everywhere we went, especially in Philadelphia, they had a chant: `Boston's dead. Boston's dead. The dynasty is over,'" Howell said. "Everywhere we went, the fans were real vocal. But it just made you more determined, really. It helped you to play. When you get some help like that from opposing fans, it's really a lift."

1:45
In 1968, the Celtics again emerged as the NBA's championship winner.

PLAYOFFS

Eastern Division semifinals
Philadelphia defeated New York (4-2)
Boston defeated Detroit (4-2)

Western Division semifinals
San Francisco defeated St. Louis (4-2)
Los Angeles defeated Chicago (4-1)

Eastern Division finals
Boston defeated Philadelphia (4-3)

Western Division finals
Los Angeles defeated San Francisco (4-0)

NBA Finals
Boston defeated Los Angeles (4-2)

SEASON LEADERS

Points -- Dave Bing, Detroit Pistons (27.1)
Assists -- Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers (8.6)
Rebounds -- Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers (23.8)
FG% -- Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers (59.5)
FT% -- Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati Royals (87.3)

AWARD WINNERS

Most Valuable Player -- Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia 76ers
Rookie of the Year -- Earl Monroe, Baltimore Bullets
Coach of the Year -- Richie Guerin, St. Louis Hawks
All-Star Game MVP -- Hal Greer, Philadelphia


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