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1973 NBA Finals
Team Coach Wins
New York Knicks Red Holzman 4
Los Angeles Lakers Bill Sharman 1
Dates: May 1-10
MVP: Willis Reed
(New York Knicks)
Eastern Finals: Knicks defeat Celtics, 4–3
Western Finals: Lakers defeat Warriors, 4–1

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 defending NBA champion and 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 to win their second NBA championship. Knicks center Willis Reed was named as the NBA Finals MVP. It was the third meeting between the two teams in the NBA Finals in four seasons.

1973 NBA Playoffs

Los Angeles Lakers (Western Conference Champion) New York Knicks (Eastern Conference Champion)
60–22 (.732)

1st Pacific, 2nd West, 3rd Overall

Regular season 57–25 (.695)

2nd Atlantic, 2nd East, 4th Overall

Defeated the (3) Chicago Bulls, 4–3 Conference Semifinals Defeated the (3) Baltimore Bullets, 4–1
Defeated the (4) Golden State Warriors, 4–1 Conference Finals Defeated the (1) Boston Celtics, 4–3

How They Got Here

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 removed from 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 the first two games 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 as Walt Frazier averaged 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 at home to the Knicks. Even rarer was the fact that this was a Game 7 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 Result Site
Game 1 Tue. May 1 Los Angeles Lakers 115 - New York Knicks 112 at Los Angeles
Game 2 Thu. May 3 New York Knicks 99 - Los Angeles Lakers 95 at Los Angeles
Game 3 Sun. May 6 New York Knicks 87 - Los Angeles Lakers 83 at New York
Game 4 Tue. May 8 New York Knicks 103 - Los Angeles Lakers 98 at New York
Game 5 Thu. May 10 New York Knicks 102 - Los Angeles Lakers 93 at Los Angeles

Knicks win series 4-1

Trivia

  • This was the first NBA Championship win for Knick players Jerry Lucas and Earl Monroe.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Preceded by
1972
NBA Finals
1973
Succeeded by
1974
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