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Significant changes seemed to be part of the norm in 1962-63. First, the Warriors moved from Philadelphia to San Francisco … and to the Western Division, causing the Cincinnati Royals to shift to the East. And the Chicago franchise swapped its name, from the Packers to Zephyrs.
As teams went through their changes, there was plenty of roster turnover, throughout the league. Celtics guard Bob Cousy, now 34, played his final season while rookies such as Zelmo Beaty (St. Louis), John Havlicek (Boston) and Dave DeBusschere (Detroit) spiced up the league.
But some things didn’t change.
The Celtics didn’t have a player score more than 20 ppg, yet they won 58 games and another Eastern title. The Lakers won 53 games and a second straight Western title. Wilt Chamberlain won another scoring title with 44.8 ppg, while also pulling down 24.3 rpg.
The Division Finals almost upstaged the NBA Finals, with both the Western and Eastern series going to a deciding seventh game. Boston belted Cincinnati, 142-131, in the East Game 7, while the Lakers held off a revived St. Louis team, 115-100, to advance to The Finals. The Celtics helped Cousy go out on a high note by taking leads of 2-0 and 3-1 in the series before closing out the Lakers in six games, with the clincher coming in Los Angeles.
Celtics coach Red Auerbach was all about winning, and the Celtics did little else during the early 1960s. But Auerbach was never the most popular coach with opposing coaches and players, due in part to his sideline manners and victory cigars.
“Any time you’re winning, you get criticism,” Auerbach said. “Nothing instigates jealousy like winning.”
One opposing player who didn’t mind Auerbach’s theatrics was Jerry West.
“Red was outspoken,” West said. “His sideline antics were funny. I happened to like him very much. When you talk to his ex-players, they all have great respect for him. I don’t know many players who would tell you that about their former coaches.”
Eastern Division semifinals
Cincinnati defeated Syracuse (3-2)
Western Division semifinals
St. Louis defeated Detroit (3-1)
Eastern Division finals
Boston defeated Cincinnati (4-3)
Western Division finals
Los Angeles Lakers defeated St. Louis (4-3)
Boston defeated Los Angeles Lakers (4-2)
Points — Wilt Chamberlain, San Francisco Warriors (44.8)
Assists — Guy Rodgers, San Francisco (10.4)
Rebounds — Wilt Chamberlain, San Francisco Warriors (24.3)
FG% — Chamberlain, San Francisco (52.8)
FT% — Larry Costello, Syracuse Nationals (88.1)
Most Valuable Player — Bill Russell, Boston Celtics
Rookie of the Year –Terry Dischinger, Chicago Zephyrs
Coach of the Year — Harry Gallatin, St. Louis Hawks
All-Star Game MVP — Bill Russell, Boston Celtics