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1967–68 NBA season

1967–68 NBA season
League National Basketball Association
Sport Basketball
Number of teams 12
TV partner(s) ABC
Regular season
Season MVP Wilt Chamberlain (Philadelphia)
Top scorer Dave Bing (Detroit)
Eastern champions Boston Celtics
  Eastern runners-up Philadelphia 76ers
Western champions Los Angeles Lakers
  Western runners-up San Francisco Warriors
Champions Boston Celtics
  Runners-up Los Angeles Lakers
NBA seasons

The 1967–68 NBA season was the 22nd season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the Boston Celtics winning the NBA Championship, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 4 games to 2 in the NBA Finals.

Notable occurrences

Season recap

The season took place amidst a time of great turmoil in the United States. First, the Vietnam War raged, dividing the country into different camps. Meanwhile, the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr. began to grow more militant and angry. This too divided the country and poised America for 1968, a year of anguish that would come to affect even the NBA, including its growing number of black players.

This star-crossed season began with the Philadelphia 76ers, the dominant winners from a year ago who had ended Boston's dynasty, looking very good to repeat under coach Alex Hannum and superstar Wilt Chamberlain. The Sixers had six scorers over 11 per game, and were again based around their fearsome foursome of Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham and Chet Walker. Philadelphia led the league at 122.6 points per game, sinking more field goals and free throws than any other NBA team. They posted a league-high 62 wins in 82 NBA games, now the league standard.

Chamberlain cut his scoring back again to 24.3 per game, but perhaps had his greatest season ever. Typically, he again led the league in rebounds, minutes played, and field goal accuracy at 59.5%. His 932 free throw tries, another NBA high, helped offset his poor shooting there also.

But the 7' 1" 285-pound athlete also shut critics up by leading the entire NBA in assists. His 702 passes for scores were more than even the great Oscar Robertson that year. Wilt's penchant for passing even produced a rare event—a triple-20. 20 points, 20 rebounds and 20 assists all in the same NBA game on February 2, 1968. Wilt alleges he also blocked 12 shots in that game. If so, it could be one of possibly 15 quadruple-double games or more that marked his playing days as a Philadelphia 76er. Blocked shots were not then an official NBA statistic. So the truth about this will never be truly verified.

Three other NBA teams won 50 or more games this year, getting some easy ones at the expense of the new clubs in Seattle and San Diego. The St. Louis Hawks, now fully recovered from the retirement of Bob Pettit, posted 56 wins to win the NBA's West Division. Rich Guerin's club got strong rebounding from their front line and got 20-point scoring from All-Pro point guard Lenny Wilkens and center Zelmo Beaty. The Hawks did have seven scorers over ten points per game, but lost Lou Hudson to military service for 35 games, which slowed them down. The Hawks again also had the league's top-rated defense. Following the season, the Hawks would relocate to Atlanta.

The Boston Celtics faced surprising criticism this year, but won 54 games in Bill Russell's second season as player/coach. The 6' 10 225-pound 33-year-old led his team again from his center spot, ranking third in rebounds and shots blocked and quietly finishing tenth in NBA in assists just behind teammate John Havlicek. Havlicek played more guard than forward this year and was an all-star with his strong all-around game. He was one of three 20-point scorers along with Sam Jones and Bailey Howell. Seven Celtics averaged ten points.

The Los Angeles Lakers won 52 games behind the now-legendary tandem of Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. West battled injuries again but scored 26.3 points per game, made 51% of his shots from the floor and averaged six assists. He again also had several steals each game, but steals, like blocks, were not an official stat yet. Baylor added 26 points per game of his own and was ninth in NBA rebounds. Center play was still a weakness, but Laker guard Archie Clark added 20 points per game and defense to boost the team. A solid bench as well made the Lakers an improved contender from seasons past.

Final standings

Eastern Division

Eastern Division W L PCT GB Home Road Neutral Div
x-Philadelphia 76ers 62 20 .756 27–8 26–12 9–0 29–11
x-Boston Celtics 54 28 .659 8 28–9 21–16 5–3 24–16
x-New York Knicks 43 39 .524 19 20–17 21–16 2–6 19–21
x-Detroit Pistons 40 42 .488 22 21–11 12–23 7–8 15–25
Cincinnati Royals 39 43 .476 23 18–12 13–23 8–8 18–22
Baltimore Bullets 36 46 .439 26 17–19 12–23 7–4 15–25

Western Division

Western Division W L PCT GB Home Road Neutral Div
x-St. Louis Hawks 56 26 .683 25–7 22–13 9–6 31–9
x-Los Angeles Lakers 52 30 .634 4 30–11 18–19 4–0 28–12
x-San Francisco Warriors 43 39 .524 13 27–14 16–23 0–2 24–16
x-Chicago Bulls 29 53 .354 27 11–22 12–24 6–7 11–29
Seattle SuperSonics 23 59 .280 33 10–21 7–24 6–14 15–25
San Diego Rockets 15 67 .183 41 8–33 4–26 3–8 11–29

x – clinched playoff spot

Statistics leaders

Category Player Team Stat
Points Dave Bing Detroit Pistons 2,142
Rebounds Wilt Chamberlain Philadelphia 76ers 1,952
Assists Wilt Chamberlain Philadelphia 76ers 702
FG% Wilt Chamberlain Philadelphia 76ers .595
FT% Oscar Robertson Cincinnati Royals .873

Note: Prior to the 1969–70 season, league leaders in points, rebounds, and assists were determined by totals rather than averages.

NBA awards


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