Two momentous events in NBA history occurred prior to the 1954-55 season. George Mikan, who had been the standard-bearer as the league gained a foothold in the public consciousness, announced his retirement.
But if anything could overshadow the departure of the game’s greatest player, it was the adoption of the 24-second clock and an accompanying limit on the number of fouls a team could commit in a quarter.
Syracuse owner Danny Biasone and his GM, Leo Ferris, came up with the shot clock idea, which along with the team foul limit, created the pro basketball game we know today.
Biasone will always have a place in NBA history as the man who invented the shot clock. His name has become synonymous with the clock, even to generations of basketball fans who never saw the 1950s. It was one of those rare ideas which worked immediately, completely and permanently. Scoring shot up immediately, from 79.5 ppg to 93.1.
“Danny Biasone saved the NBA with the 24-second rule, make no mistake about that,” said former NBA coach and referee Charlie Eckman.
While team scoring soared, individual point totals did not, with the increased points seeming to come from across the team. Neil Johnston won another scoring title by averaging 22.7 points, while Bob Cousy averaged 21.2 points and Paul Arizin, back from military service, 21.0.
With Mikan gone, the opportunity was never better for Syracuse, and the Nationals won what would prove to be their only championship in that city, defeating Fort Wayne in seven games. In Game 7, Syracuse’s George King made one of two foul shots with 12 seconds left, then stole the ball to seal a 92-91 victory.
Eastern Division semifinals
Boston defeated New York (2-1)
Western Division semifinals
Minneapolis defeated Syracuse (2-1)
Eastern Division finals
Syracuse defeated Boston (3-1)
Western Division finals
Fort Wayne defeated Minneapolis (3-1)
Syracuse defeated Fort Wayne (4-3)
Points — Neil Johnston, Philadelphia Warriors (22.7)
Assists — Bob Cousy, Boston Celtics (7.8)
Rebounds — Neil Johnston, Philadelphia Warriors (15.1)
FG% — Larry Foust, Ft. Wayne Pistons (48.7)
FT% — Bill Sharman, Boston Celtics (89.7)
Rookie of the Year — Bob Pettit, Milwaukee Hawks
All-Star Game MVP — Bill Sharman, Boston Celtics