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1973 NBA Finals

1973 NBA Finals
New York Knicks Red Holzman 4
Los Angeles Lakers Bill Sharman 1
Dates May 1–10
MVP Willis Reed
(New York Knicks)
Television ABC (U.S.)
Announcers Keith Jackson and Bill Russell
Radio network KFI (LAL)
Announcers Chick Hearn and Lynn Shackelford (LAL)
Marv Albert (NYK)
Hall of Famers Knicks:
Bill Bradley (1983)
Jerry Lucas (1980)
Dave DeBusschere (1983)
Willis Reed (1982)
Phil Jackson (2007, coach)
Earl Monroe (1990)
Walt Frazier (1987)
Wilt Chamberlain (1979)
Gail Goodrich (1996)
Pat Riley (2008, coach)
Jerry West (1980)
Red Holzman (1986)
Bill Sharman (1976, player/2004, coach)
Eastern Finals Knicks defeat Celtics, 4-3
Western Finals Lakers defeat Warriors, 4-1
NBA Finals

The 1973 NBA World Championship Series pitted the New York Knicks of the Eastern Conference against the Los Angeles Lakers of the Western Conference for the NBA championship. The series was an exact reversal of the prior year, with the Lakers winning Game 1 and the Knicks taking the next four games.

Road to the finals

The Los Angeles Lakers entered the 1973 NBA Playoffs as co-favorites in the West with the Milwaukee Bucks, but both teams faced inspired opponents in the first round. The Chicago Bulls gave the Lakers all they could handle before the Lakers came from behind in Game 7 to take the series. The Lakers next faced the Golden State Warriors for the Western Conference Championship (the Warriors had upset the Bucks in six games). In Game 1, the Lakers won by 2, and in Game 2 the Lakers won by 10. In Game 3 at Oakland, the Lakers routed the Warriors 126-70, but the Warriors won Game 4 to send the series back to Los Angeles. In the Forum, the Lakers took Game 5 and advanced to their fourth NBA Finals series in five seasons.

One year after their NBA Finals loss, the Knicks were back in the playoffs. For some of the Knicks, including Jerry Lucas and Earl Monroe, this was probably their last shot at an NBA title. In the first round they paired against the Baltimore Bullets. The Knicks won Game's 1 and 2 in New York, but lost Game 3 at Baltimore (in that game, the Bullets used a strange lineup of two centers and three guards). New York would take Games 4 and 5 Walt Frazier averaging 20 points per game in this series. In the Conference Finals, the Knicks faced none other than the 68-14 Boston Celtics, who had the league's best record. The Celtics won Game 1 at the Boston Garden, but the Knicks stunned the Celtics in Game 2 with a big 129-96 victory. The Knicks eventually held a 3-1 series lead before Boston came back with two critical wins. However, that had to be done without their star John Havlicek, who was nursing an elbow injury. The loss would come back to haunt the Celtics as they lost again, in Game 7 at home to the Knicks. Even rarer was the fact that this was lost on their home court.

Series summary

After losing the first game, the Knicks reeled off four straight wins to reclaim the NBA title, exactly like the Lakers did in 1972. This is the Knicks' last NBA Championship to date. ABC televised its last NBA Finals, until 2003.

Game Date Home Team Score Road Team
Game 1 Tue. May 1 Los Angeles Lakers 115-112 (1-0) New York Knicks
Game 2 Thu. May 3 Los Angeles Lakers 95-99 (1-1) New York Knicks
Game 3 Sun. May 6 New York Knicks 87-83 (2-1) Los Angeles Lakers
Game 4 Tue. May 8 New York Knicks 103-98 (3-1) Los Angeles Lakers
Game 5 Thu. May 10 Los Angeles Lakers 93-102 (1-4) New York Knicks

Knicks win series 4-1

This was the first NBA Championship win for Knick players Jerry Lucas and Earl Monroe.

Game 5 of the 1973 Finals was Wilt Chamberlain's last game played in the NBA. Chamberlain scored the last points of the game, and of his career, on an uncontested fast break dunk shot with one second remaining.

This would be the last NBA Finals appearance for the Lakers until 1980; the Knicks would not make it back to the NBA Finals until 1994.

In popular culture

These Finals were cited by Sam Tyler (played by Jason O'Mara) as a treasured memory of his father on the U.S. version of the TV series Life on Mars.

Team rosters