Russell ended his playing career with his 11th championship in 13 seasons.

The Knicks had long been a league doormat, making the Playoffs just once from 1956 to 1966. But a couple of interesting developments had occurred in New York during the 1967-68 season that would have an impact down the road. Red Holzman, the former Hawks coach in Milwaukee and St. Louis, replaced Dick McGuire as Knicks coach in midseason and took the 15-22 Knicks to a 28-17 mark the rest of the way. Rhodes Scholar Bill Bradley of Princeton, Walt Frazier of Southern Illinois and Phil Jackson of North Dakota all made their rookie debuts. And in December, the Knicks made another important addition, obtaining Dave DeBusschere from Detroit for Walt Bellamy and Howie Komives.

But attention was focused on a much bigger trade, with Wilt Chamberlain going to the Lakers for Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark and Darrall Imhoff prior to the season. Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke figured the addition of Chamberlain to the tandem of Jerry West and Elgin Baylor would surely bring him a championship in the 14-team league, which had welcomed Milwaukee and Phoenix as expansion franchises. But it wasn't to be in 1969. The Celtics, widely written off due to advancing age, won just 48 games in the regular season, finishing fourth in the East. But they dumped Philadelphia, took the Playoff neophyte Knicks in six games, and stunned the basketball world by pulling out one last Championship, defeating the Lakers in seven games--the finale a two-point win in Los Angeles, as hundreds of balloons which had been held in netting near the ceiling in anticipation of a Lakers victory celebration never got a chance to be unleashed. It marked the Celtics' 11th championship in 13 seasons.

HAYES, UNSELD MAKE IMPRESSIVE DEBUTS
Two impressive frontcourtmen made their debuts in 1968: Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld. Hayes, a powerfully built forward for the San Diego Rockets, won the league scoring title as a rookie with 28.4 points and also averaged 17.1 rebounds. Unseld, the second pick (after Hayes) in the 1968 NBA Draft by Baltimore, became only the second player in NBA history to win both the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards simultaneously, following in Chamberlain's footsteps. Unseld averaged 13.8 ppg and was second in the NBA to Chamberlain with 18.2 rpg.