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1971–72 NBA season

1971–72 NBA season
League National Basketball Association
Sport Basketball
Number of teams 17
TV partner(s) ABC
Regular season
Season MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Milwaukee)
Top scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Milwaukee)
Eastern champions New York Knicks
  Eastern runners-up Boston Celtics
Western champions Los Angeles Lakers
  Western runners-up Milwaukee Bucks
Champions Los Angeles Lakers
  Runners-up New York Knicks
Finals MVP Wilt Chamberlain (L.A. Lakers)

The 1971–72 NBA season was the 26th season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the Los Angeles Lakers winning the NBA Championship, beating the New York Knicks 4 games to 1 in the NBA Finals.

As the 25th anniversary of the founding of the modern NBA, the league unveiled a new logo, inspired by the logo of Major League Baseball, to commemorate the occasion. It features the white silhouette of a basketball player dribbling, framed by red and blue. Jerry West of the Los Angeles Lakers was used as the model for the logo. Coincidentally, Jerry West would win the only NBA Championship of his career during the season.

Notable occurrences

  • The San Diego Rockets relocate to Houston, Texas and become the Houston Rockets.[1]
  • The San Francisco Warriors are renamed the Golden State Warriors as the team moves across the San Francisco Bay to Oakland.[1]
  • The 1972 NBA All-Star Game was played at the Forum in Inglewood, California, with the West beating the East 112-110. To the delight of the home crowd, Jerry West of the Lakers wins the game's MVP award, making a basket at the buzzer to win the game.
  • The Lakers' 69 wins set a new record for most regular season wins in NBA history. This mark would stand for 24 seasons, until it was bettered by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.[1]
  • The Lakers' Elgin Baylor announced his retirement nine games into the season. That night, the Lakers began a winning streak that would last for two months, totaling 33 games. That streak still stands as the longest winning streak in the history of major American professional team sports.[1]
  • The current NBA logo, which features the silhouette of Jerry West, made its debut. The blue/red pattern was adopted from the Major League Baseball logo.
  • This is the first season the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers did not make the playoffs.

Regular season

The Los Angeles Lakers came into the season returning a strong squad from their playoff run a year before. Nine games into the season, Elgin Baylor announced his sudden retirement after 13 seasons. Despite Baylor's retirement, the Lakers went on a 33-game winning streak. The Lakers completed two undefeated months, going 14–0 in November and 16–0 in December. After winning their first three games in January, the Lakers lost 120–104 to the Milwaukee Bucks. On March 20, 1972, the Lakers beat Golden State by a record 63 points (162–99), a mark that would stand until 1991, when Cleveland beat Miami by 68 points (148–80). The Lakers finished the season with a record 69 wins, which would stand until the 1995–96 season when the Chicago Bulls won 72 regular season games.[1]

The defending champion Milwaukee Bucks won 63 games on the play of renamed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, formerly Lew Alcindor. The Celtics, led by point guard Jo Jo White and 32-year-old swingman John Havlicek won the Atlantic division with 56 wins. Boston had recovered from the retirement of Bill Russell, K. C. Jones and Sam Jones by winning 12 more games than the previous season.


In the first round, the Lakers swept the Bulls and Milwaukee defeated Golden State. New York eliminated the Bullets and Boston won against the Atlanta Hawks. In the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers lost game 1 versus the Bucks at The Forum 116–72, but a Lakers squad led by assist champion Jerry West, leading scorer Gail Goodrich, and veteran Wilt Chamberlain beat Milwaukee in six games. In the Eastern Conference Finals, New York defeated the top-seed Celtics in five games.[1]

In the NBA Finals, New York won game 1 very easily, but Los Angeles won game 2 106–92 to even the series. In game 3, the Lakers jumped out to a 22-point lead and regained home-court advantage with a 107–96 win. In game 4, the Knicks forced overtime. At the end of regulation, Wilt Chamberlain was called for his fifth foul. In his first 12 seasons, he had never fouled out of a game. Chamberlain did not foul out and led the Lakers to a 116-111 victory, but he broke his wrist in the overtime period. The Lakers held a 3–1 series lead going into game 5 in Los Angeles. In game 5, Chamberlain played despite his injury. The score was tied at 53 in the first half, but the Lakers outscored the Knicks 61–47 in the second half to win the game and the NBA Championship, 114–100.[1]

Notable trades

To Baltimore Bullets
Mike Riordan, Dave Stallworth, 1973 first-round pick, 1976 second-round and first-round picks
To New York Knicks
Earl Monroe

Final standings

By division

Atlantic Division W L PCT GB Home Road Neutral Div
y-Boston Celtics 56 26 .683 32–9 21–16 3–1 15–3
x-New York Knicks 48 34 .585 8 27–14 20–19 1–1 11–7
Philadelphia 76ers 30 52 .366 26 14–23 14–26 2–3 6–12
Buffalo Braves 22 60 .268 34 13–27 8–31 1–2 4–14
Central Division W L PCT GB Home Road Neutral Div
y-Baltimore Bullets 38 44 .463 18–15 16–24 4–5 9–9
x-Atlanta Hawks 36 46 .439 2 22–19 13–26 1–1 9–9
Cincinnati Royals 30 52 .366 8 20–18 8–32 2–2 11–9
Cleveland Cavaliers 23 59 .280 15 13–28 8–30 2–1 9–11
Midwest Division W L PCT GB Home Road Neutral Div
y-Milwaukee Bucks 63 19 .768 31–5 27–12 5–2 13–5
x-Chicago Bulls 57 25 .695 6 29–12 26–12 2–1 12–6
Phoenix Suns 49 33 .598 14 30–11 19–20 0–2 7–11
Detroit Pistons 26 56 .317 37 16–25 9–30 1–1 4–14
Pacific Division W L PCT GB Home Road Neutral Div
y-Los Angeles Lakers 69 13 .841 36–5 31–7 2–1 21–3
x-Golden State Warriors 51 31 .622 18 27–8 21–20 3–3 14–10
Seattle SuperSonics 47 35 .573 22 28–12 18–22 1–1 12–12
Houston Rockets 34 48 .415 35 15–20 14–23 5–5 9–15
Portland Trail Blazers 18 64 .220 51 14–26 4–35 0–3 4–20

By conference

# Eastern Conference
Team W L PCT
1 z-Boston Celtics 56 26 .683
2 y-Baltimore Bullets 38 44 .463
3 x-New York Knicks 48 34 .585
4 x-Atlanta Hawks 36 46 .439
5 Philadelphia 76ers 30 52 .366
5 Cincinnati Royals 30 52 .366
7 Cleveland Cavaliers 23 59 .280
8 Buffalo Braves 22 60 .268

# Western Conference
Team W L PCT
1 z-Los Angeles Lakers 69 13 .841
2 y-Milwaukee Bucks 63 19 .768
3 x-Chicago Bulls 57 25 .695
4 x-Golden State Warriors 51 31 .622
5 Phoenix Suns 49 33 .598
6 Seattle SuperSonics 47 35 .573
7 Houston Rockets 34 48 .415
8 Detroit Pistons 26 56 .317
9 Portland Trail Blazers 18 64 .220


  • z, y – division champions
  • x – clinched playoff spot

Playoff bracket

  Conference Semifinals Conference Finals NBA Finals
  1  L.A. Lakers 4  
4  Chicago 0  
  1  L.A. Lakers 4  
Western Conference
    2  Milwaukee 2  
2  Milwaukee 4
  3  Golden State 1  
    W1  L.A. Lakers 4
  E3  New York 1
  1  Boston 4  
4  Atlanta 2  
1  Boston 1
Eastern Conference
    3  New York 4  
2  Baltimore 2
  3  New York 4  


Game Date Winner Score Site
Game 1 April 26 (Wed.) New York Knicks 114-92 at Los Angeles
Game 2 April 30 (Sun.) Los Angeles Lakers 106-92 at Los Angeles
Game 3 May 3 (Wed.) Los Angeles Lakers 107-96 at New York
Game 4 May 5 (Fri.) Los Angeles Lakers 116-111 at New York
Game 5 May 7 (Sun.) Los Angeles Lakers 114-100 at Los Angeles

Lakers win series 4-1

Statistics leaders

Category Player Team Stat
Points per game Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Milwaukee Bucks 34.8
Rebounds per game Wilt Chamberlain Los Angeles Lakers 19.2
Assists per game Jerry West Los Angeles Lakers 9.7
FG% Wilt Chamberlain Los Angeles Lakers .649
FT% Jack Marin Baltimore Bullets .894

NBA awards

Note: All information on this page were obtained on the History section on or Basketball


  1. ^ a b c d e f g " history". Retrieved 2009-06-24. 

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