AP WAS THERE: Celtics cap run with 11th title in 13 seasons
LOS ANGELES — The Boston Celtics’ dynasty with Bill Russell finally comes to an end but in championship fashion with their 11th title in 13 seasons. Russell served as player-coach. The Celtics pushed the Los Angeles Lakers to seven games and prevent the planned celebration with a 108-106 win as Don Nelson’s jumper in the final seconds wound up the winning margin. As part of its coverage of the NBA and its 75th season, The Associated Press is republishing verbatim the story on the Celtics capping their amazing run on May 5, 1969:
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
May 5, 1969: The Boston Celtics’ dynasty with Bill Russell finally comes to an end but in championship fashion with their 11th title in 13 seasons. Russell serves as player-coach with Sam Jones retiring after the season to coach in college. The Celtics push the Los Angeles Lakers, seen as “unbeatable” going into the Finals, to seven games and prevent the planned celebration with a 108-106 win as Don Nelson’s jumper in the final seconds provided the winning margin.
By BOB MYERS
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The reign of the Boston Celtics continues in the National Basketball Association and frustration remained the key word for the Los Angeles Lakers today.
The well-balanced Celtics defeated the Lakers, 108-106, in the seventh and deciding game of the series Monday night. They did it on the friendly home court of the Lakers at the Forum before a record Forum crowd of 17,568.
It marked the 11th time in the past 13 years that Boston carried off the NBA championship, and the sixth time the Lakers came up short against Boston.
Capt. Elgin Baylor of the Lakers summed it up very well when he said, “It becomes very discouraging the way Boston seems to tantalize us and then always come through in the clutch. They outplayed us in the third quarter and took the game away from us.”
Player-coach Bill Russell of the winners, having made this his 11th winning season, took it all calmly — but happily.
“Comradeship, friendship, teamwork — that is the Celtics,” said Russell.
Boston’s John Havlicek put his team in front in the opening seconds and the Celtics were never behind from there on. Los Angeles tied it at 2-2 and then 4-4 on shots by Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain.
Boston led by as much as 14 points in the first quarter but Los Angeles kept clawing back and trailed by only 59-56 at the half.
One minute 50 seconds into the third period Keith Erickson’s free throw tied it up at 60-60 and it appeared the Lakers might roll on.
The hope evaporated as Havlicek, Don Nelson and Sam Jones, the latter playing his final game, put 11 points on the scoreboard in a matter of minutes and cruised out in front, 71-60.
“I think the turning point came at this point,” said Havlicek. “They came on strong but we put together 10 or 15 points.”
Going into the fourth quarter, it was Boston, 91-76.
“We had opportunities all over the place,” said Laker coach Bill van Breda Kolff, “but we just couldn’t do it. I really thought we had a chance to win it in the beginning of the third period because we were getting good shots, but the game just turned around instead. The ball just appeared to bounce their way.”
But the Lakers weren’t dead as ol’ Sam Jones said later, “They just kept coming back.”
West, apparently not bothered by a pulled hamstring in his left leg, accounted for 14 points in about five minutes to narrow the Celtic margin to 103-100.
But Laryr Siegfried, Nelson and the awesome Havlicek stormed back to put the game really out of reach, 106-102 with less than 24 seconds remaining.
West won the Sport Magazine award — a Dodge R-T car — as the outstanding player of the series. His 556 points in the prolonged NBA playoffs bettered the 521 set by Rick Barry, then of San Francisco’s Warriors, three years ago.
Said West, “The award should have gone to a player on the winning team.”
The consensus: Havlicek.
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By The Associated Press