The 1959-60 Boston Celtics were typical of the teams that would win eight consecutive championships and 11 in 13 years during sports' greatest dynasty. They were a selfless unit that featured balanced scoring, remarkable depth and a defensive mainstay and rebounding force in Bill Russell. They were guided by Red Auerbach, now in his 10th season at the helm in Boston, where "Celtic Pride" was the catch phrase for a team spirit and unity that set the Celtics apart from others in the tightly knit, eight-team league.
Russell, who had led the league in rebounding in his first three season, averaged 24.0 rpg in 1959-60, finishing second behind Wilt Chamberlain's 27.0. Nobody knows how many shots he blocked or altered, because such statistics were not kept in those days, but Russell anchored an effective team defense where the other Celtics overplayed their men and funneled everything toward the middle, knowing Russell was there to block their way.
The offense was well-balanced, with six players scoring in double figures and four getting 18 ppg or more. Forward Tommy Heinsohn led the scorers at 21.7 ppg, eighth in the league, followed by guards Bob Cousy (19.4 ppg and a league-leading 9.5 assists per game) and Bill Sharman (19.3 ppg) and Russell (18.2 ppg). Also in double figures were Frank Ramsey (15.3 ppg) and reserve guard Sam Jones (11.9 ppg), while K.C. Jones and Gene Conley, a 6-8 former major league pitcher, were other valuable bench players.
The Celtics compiled a 17-game winning streak en route to a 59-16 regular-season record that was 10 games better than their nearest competitor, Philadelphia, which featured rookie center Wilt Chamberlain, who had led the league with 37.6 ppg and 27.0 rpg and received both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors. But not even a superstar of Chamberlain's magnitude could offset Boston's overall team strength, and the Celtics defeated the Warriors in six games in the Eastern Division Finals.
That matched the Celtics against the St. Louis Hawks in the NBA Finals for the third time in four years. The Hawks, despite losing long-time playmaker Slater Martin to leg and hamstring injuries in midseason, reached the Finals by beating the Minneapolis Lakers in a tough seven-game series. For awhile they kept pace with the deeper, more talented Celtics, and the teams split the first four games. But Boston easily won Game 5 at home 125-102, and even though the Celtics dropped the next game in St. Louis 105-102, few questioned the outcome of Game 7. Boston won handily, 122-103, as Russell had 22 points and a whopping 35 rebounds, helping the Celtics dominate the boards 83-47. It was Boston's second straight championship and the team was off on its string of eight in a row.