|Dates May 1–10|
Champion New York Knicks
|Television ABC (U.S.)|
Start date May 1, 1973
|MVP Willis Reed
(New York Knicks)|
Announcers Keith Jackson and Bill Russell
Radio network Mutual (National) WNBC–AM (NYK) KFI (LAL)
Announcers Marv Albert and John Andariese (NYK) Chick Hearn and Lynn Shackelford (LAL)
Similar 1972 NBA Finals, 1970 NBA Finals, 1969 NBA Finals, 1959 NBA Finals, 1950 NBA Finals
The 1973 NBA World Championship Series was the championship series of the 1972–73 National Basketball Association (NBA) season, and the culmination of that season's playoffs. The Eastern Conference champion New York Knicks defeated the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers 4 games to 1. The series was an exact reversal of the prior year, with the Lakers winning Game 1 and the Knicks taking the next four games. Knicks center Willis Reed was named as the NBA Finals MVP.
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.
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' most recent NBA Championship to date. ABC televised its last NBA Finals, until 2003.
Knicks win series 4-1
This was the first NBA Championship win for Knicks 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.
This is, to date, the last time a New York City/Los Angeles NBA Finals series has taken place.
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.
New York Knicks