Just as the season was about to begin, the ABA's two strongest teams, the New York Nets and Denver Nuggets, applied for admission into the NBA, signalling the beginning of the end for the upstart league. While ABA teams would not enter the NBA for another year, the NBA moved to facilitate the get-together by naming as its third Commissioner Larry O'Brien, replacing the retired Walter Kennedy. O'Brien was a prominent political figure whose office as chairman of the Democratic National Committee had been the scene of the famed Watergate burglary, and who was reknowned for his negotiating skills and political acumen.

On the court, the Warriors team that had been considered a fluke by many refuted that belief by winning a league-high 59 games. Boston, which had acquired shooting guard Charlie Scott from Phoenix for Paul Westphal, won 54 games to top the Eastern Conference. A bombshell trade took place, with Milwaukee trading Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the Lakers for Elmore Smith, Brian Winters, Junior Bridgeman and Dave Meyers. While Abdul-Jabbar was named MVP again after averaging 27.7 points and a league-leading 16.9 rebounds per game, the Lakers went 40-42 and missed the Playoffs.

The Celtics defeated Buffalo and Cleveland to reach the Finals in the East. In the West, upstart Phoenix, with Rookie of the Year Alvan Adams, beat Seattle and defeated heavily-favored Golden State in seven games to reach the Finals. Boston won its second title in three years and 13th overall in a six-game Finals that is most remembered for a remarkable triple-overtime Game 5 which Boston captured, 128-126.

In sport, there are a few games that seem to linger forever in the memory. While not a title-clinching game, Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals is one.

At the close of the second overtime, John Havlicek hit a 15-foot jump shot for an apparent 111-110 victory. Jubilant Celtics fans swarmed the court, but the officials ruled one second remained on the clock. After clearing the court, Paul Westphal called a timeout the Suns didn't have, which produced a technical free throw for Boston, but also moved the ball to halfcourt. After Jo Jo White hit the T, Phoenix inbounded to forward Gar Heard, who launched a 20-footer which swished through, stunning the Celtics and sending the game into a third OT. However, Boston won 128-126, as reserve forward Glenn McDonald scored six points down the stretch.