Eastern champions Boston Celtics
Western champions Los Angeles Lakers
Start date 1967
Number of teams 12
|TV partner(s) ABC|
Eastern runners-up Philadelphia 76ers
Champion Boston Celtics
Number of games 82
Finals champion Boston Celtics
|League National Basketball Association|
Top scorer Dave Bing (Detroit Pistons)
Season MVP Wilt Chamberlain (Philadelphia 76ers)
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.
The 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 four leading scorers: Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham, and Chet Walker. Philadelphia led the league at 122.6 points per game, scoring 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 still had one of his best seasons. 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. Chamberlain also led the entire NBA in assists. His 702 passes for scores were more than even Oscar Robertson that year. Chamberlain'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. Chamberlain 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 strong bench as well made the Lakers an improved contender from seasons past.
x – clinched playoff spot
Note: Prior to the 1969–70 season, league leaders in points, rebounds, and assists were determined by totals rather than averages.