Click here to Skip to main content
NBA HISTORY
In winning both the MVP and Rookie of the Year, Wes Unseld averaged 13.8 points and 18.2 rebounds.
In winning both the MVP and Rookie of the Year, Wes Unseld averaged 13.8 points and 18.2 rebounds.
Dick Raphael/NBAE/Getty Images

Season Review: 1968-69


Posted Mar 2 2013 10:40PM

PREVIOUS SEASON || NEXT SEASON

When Wilt Chamberlain got traded for the second (and final) time in his career -- this time to the Lakers -- he and the L.A. faithful had championship dreams. Yet once again, the Celtics dashed the hopes of Chamberlain (and the Lakers).

This was a season when two rookies made huge waves. The San Diego Rockets' Elvin Hayes won the scoring title after averaging 28.4 points, while Baltimore's Wes Unseld joined Chamberlain as the only players to win the MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season. Unseld averaged 13.8 rebounds and was second only to Chamberlain with 18.2 rebounds.

Two new franchises -- the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks -- made their debut as expansion franchises. Walt Bellamy set a record for games played, too. Bellamy, who began the season with New York before a trade sent him to Detroit, ended up playing 88 games because the Knicks had a busier early season schedule.

The Knicks had long been a league doormat, making the playoffs just once from 1956-66. But a couple of interesting developments had occurred in New York 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 to reach the playoffs.

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 Bellamy and Howie Komives.

Once the playoffs began, Boston and Los Angeles romped through the competition to set up The Finals. L.A. held home court advantage and, with the series tied 3-3, felt confident as Game 7 at The Forum approached. Owner Jack Kent Cooke had set up balloons in the ceiling to be released when the Lakers won it all. But Boston ended up making Los Angeles pay, thanks to a friendly bounce of a Don Nelson jump shot that all-but clinched the title.

Jerry West finished with 42 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in the Game 7 loss and was named Finals MVP, the first and only time the award has gone to a member of the losing team. Though the Celtics had won their 11th title in 13 seasons, it wasn't all good times in Boston. Three months after winning the title, Bill Russell announced his retirement.

68-69.jpg
Playoffs

Eastern Division semifinals

New York defeated Baltimore (4-0)
Boston defeated Philadelphia (4-1)

Western Division semifinals

Atlanta defeated San Diego (4-2)
Los Angeles defeated San Francisco (4-2)

Eastern Division finals

Boston defeated New York (4-2)

Western Division finals

Los Angeles defeated Atlanta (4-1)

NBA Finals

Boston defeated Los Angeles (4-3)

Season leaders

PPG -- Elvin Hayes, San Diego Rockets (28.4)
FG% -- Wilt Chamberlain, L.A. Lakers (.583)
FT% -- Larry Siegfried, Boston Celtics (.864)
Assists -- Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati Royals (9.8)
Rebounds -- Wilt Chamberlain, L.A. Lakers (21.1)

Award winners

Most Valuable Player -- Wes Unseld, Baltimore Bullets
Rookie of the Year -- Wes Unseld, Baltimore Bullets
Coach of the Year -- Gene Shue, Baltimore Bullets
All-Star Game MVP -- Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati Royals
Finals MVP -- Jerry West, L.A. Lakers

SEARCH NEWS
LATEST VIDEOS
photoThrough the Lens: USA Basketball Pracice, Day 2
Take a super slow-motion look at the second day of practice for USA Basketball.
photoAll-Access: Paul George at USA Basketball Practice
Listen in as Paul George wears a mic to the second day of USA Basketball practice.
photoTop 10 Plays: 2014 NBA Summer League
Check out the top 10 plays from the Orlando and Las Vegas 2014 NBA Summer League.
photoAll-Access: Kyrie Irving at USA Basketball Practice
Go behind-the-scenes with Kyrie Irving as he participates in USA Basketball practice.
photoSekou Smith on the Central Division
Sekou Smith talks about the new competitive balance in the Central Division.

Copyright © NBA Media Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved. No portion of NBA.com may be duplicated, redistributed or manipulated in any form. By accessing any information beyond this page, you agree to abide by the Privacy Policy / Your California Privacy Rights and Terms of Use. | Ad Choices Ad Choices

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