NBA History
NBA History

Season Review: 1972-73

Defense and teamwork lead the Knicks back to championship glory

NBA.com Staff

Aug 24, 2017 12:35 AM ET

Willis Reed and the Knicks cement their place in New York lore with their second title in four seasons.

PREVIOUS SEASON | NEXT SEASON

The defense-oriented New York Knicks were so well-balanced that none of their players finished the 1972-73 season among the individual stats leaders except for Bill Bradley, who finished fifth in free-throw percentage.

Adding to that balance was guard Earl Monroe, whom the Knicks acquired earlier in the previous season, teamed with Walt Frazier in the backcourt to wreak havoc on opposing guards.

During the regular season, 6-foot-1 Nate "Tiny" Archibald pulled off the amazing by leading the league in scoring (34 ppg) and assists (11.4 apg). His Kings, who had moved from Cincinnati (where they were the Royals), divided their home games between Kansas City, Mo., and Omaha, Neb. Though the Kings finished 36-46 and were one of the league's worst teams, Archibald still accomplished his feat while also playing a league-leading 46 minutes a game.

While the Kings had their bright spot in Archibald, there surely wasn't anything positive in Philadelphia this season. Losing star forward Billy Cunningham to the upstart ABA, the Sixers suffered through a 9-73 season -- the worst finish in league history.

Boston seemed like the title favorite during the season as it rolled up a franchise-record 68 wins and boasted the league's MVP, center Dave Cowens. In the playoffs, they breezed past the Hawks in six games, setting up a showdown with the Knicks.

The Knicks made it look easy. Bradley, Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere, Monroe and Frazier lead the charge and Jerry Lucas and Phil Jackson -- two key reserves -- helped the Knicks waltz past Baltimore in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Although it went seven games, the Knicks-Celtics conference finals had its fair share of blowouts and close calls. Yet in Game 7, the Knicks won 94-78 at Boston Garden to return to The Finals.

In The Finals, the Knicks dropped Game 1 to the Lakers, then won four straight closely contested games for the Knicks' second NBA title. It was the last Finals appearance for all-time great center Wilt Chamberlain. For his career, Chamberlain had taken three different teams to seven Finals appearances, winning twice.

PLAYOFFS

Eastern Conference semifinals
Boston defeated Atlanta (4-2)
New York defeated Baltimore (4-1)

Western Conference semifinals
Golden State defeated Milwaukee (4-2)
Los Angeles defeated Chicago (4-3)

Eastern Conference finals
New York defeated Boston (4-3)

Western Conference finals
Los Angeles defeated Golden State (4-2)

NBA Finals
New York defeated Los Angeles (4-1)

SEASON LEADERS

Points -- Nate Archibald, K.C./Omaha Kings (34.0)
Assists -- Nate Archibald, K.C./Omaha Kings (11.4)
Rebounds -- Wilt Chamberlain, L.A. Lakers (18.6)
FG% -- Wilt Chamberlain, L.A. Lakers (72.7)
FT% -- Rick Barry, Golden State Warriors (90.2)

AWARD WINNERS

Most Valuable Player -- Dave Cowens, Boston Celtics
Rookie of the Year -- Bob McAdoo, Buffalo Braves
Coach of the Year -- Tom Heinsohn, Boston Celtics
All-Star Game MVP -- Dave Cowens, Boston Celtics
Finals MVP -- Willis Reed, New York Knicks


Copyright © 2017 NBA Media Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved.

Privacy Policy | Accessibility and Closed Caption | Terms of Use |

NBA.com is part of Turner Sports Digital, part of the Turner Sports & Entertainment Digital Network.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. A Time Warner Company.