Golden Basketball Magazine
NBA Finals - Game 7
1960: St. Louis Hawks @ Boston Celtics
The 1959-60 NBA season is remembered as the debut of a sensational rookie named Wilt Chamberlain.
  • After three years at Kansas and a year touring with the Harlem Globetrotters, Wilt became a territorial pick of his hometown Philadelphia Warriors.
  • Despite 37.6 ppg and 27.0 rpg by Chamberlain, the 76ers could not overtake the Boston Celtics for the Eastern Division crown.

Final standings

Eastern Division
Team W L % GB
Boston Celtics 59 16 .787 --
Philadelphia Warriors 49 26 .653 10
Syracuse Nationals 45 30 .600 14
New York Knicks 27 48 .360 32
Western Division
Team W L % GB
St. Louis Hawks 46 29 .613 --
Detroit Pistons 30 45 .400 16
Minneapolis Lakers 25 50 .333 21
Cincinnati Royals 19 56 .253 27
  • The St. Louis Hawks breezed to the Western title since none of the other three division teams came close to a .500 record.
  • The playoffs began with a best-of-three series in each division between the #2 and #3 teams.
  • The Eastern matchup went as expected, #2 Philly besting Syracuse 2-1.
  • But the Western Division produced a surprise, as Minneapolis, led by their sensational rookie Elgin Baylor, beat the Detroit Pistons two straight.
  • The Western finals saw the Hawks roar back from a 3-1 deficit to edge the Lakers in seven games.
  • In the East, Boston dispatched the Warriors in six games.

So the Celtics met the Hawks in the finals for the third time in four years.

  • The series followed the 2-2-1-1-1 format starting in Boston since the Celtics had the better regular season record.
  • The teams had met nine times during the regular season with the Celtics winning six, including all five in Boston Garden.
    The Hawks had to play the finals with only a nine-man roster. Their veteran PG, Slater Martin, pulled a leg muscle in the Western finals against the Lakers. Owner Ben Kerner asked him to play with a shot of novacaine to kill his pain. The Hawks won the game and the playoff, but Martin was left on crutches. Unfortunately, teams could not change their rosters from round to round in the playoffs.
    Without Slater, the Hawks had no one to counter Boston's all-pro PG Bob Cousy. Martin was the only G in the league who could match Cousy's quickness. "Slater was the only one I used to call for help on," Bob said. "I used to tell my big people to set picks as often as they felt like it."
1960 St. Louis Hawks
# Player Pos. Hgt. Wgt. College Exp.
9 Bob Pettit C 6-9 205 LSU 6
11 Al Ferrari G 6-4 190  Michigan State   3
13 Larry Foust C 6-9 215 LaSalle 10
15 Johnny McCarthy G 6-1 185 Canisius 3
16 Cliff Hagan F 6-4 210 Kentucky 4
17 Si Green G 6-2 185 Duquesne 3
20 Bob Ferry C 6-8 230 St. Louis 1
22 Slater Martin G 5-10 170 Texas 11
25 David Piontek F 6-6 230 Xavier 4
34 Clyde Lovellette C 6-9 235 Kansas 7
Coach: Ed McCauley
1960 Boston Celtics
# Player Pos. Hgt. Wgt. College Exp.
6 Bill Russell C 6-10 215 San Francisco 4
14 Bob Cousy G 6-1 175 Holy Cross 10
15 Tom Heinsohn F 6-7 218 Holy Cross 4
16 John Richter C 6-9 225 NC State 1
17 Gene Conley F 6-8 225 Washington State 3
18 Jim Loscutoff F 6-5 220 Oregon 5
20 Gene Guarilia F 6-5 220 George Washington 1
21 Bill Sharman G 6-1 175 USC 10
23 Frank Ramsey G 6-3 190 Kentucky 2
24 Sam Jones F 6-4 200 No. Car. Central 3
25 K. C. Jones G 6-1 200 San Francisco 2
Head Coach: Red Auerbach

RESULTS OF FIRST SIX GAMES
# Date Place Winner Loser Winning Team
High Scorer
Losing Team
High Scorer
1 Mar.27 Boston Celtics 140 Hawks 122 Heinsohn 24 Hagan 25
2 Mar.29 Boston Hawks 113 Celtics 103 Pettit 35 Russell 40
3 Apr. 2 St. Louis Celtics 102 Hawks 86 Heinsohn 30 Pettit 23
4 Apr. 3 St. Louis Hawks 106 Celtics 102 Pettit 32 Ramsey/Sharman 20
5 Apr. 5 Boston Celtics 127 Hawks 102 Heinsohn 34 Hagan 28
6 Apr. 7 St. Louis Hawks 105 Celtics 102 Hagan 36 Russell 17
The finals matched Celtics coach Red Auerbach against one of his former players, Ed McCauley, who was in his second year as Hawks head man.
  • Game One: The Celtics took control by outscoring St. Louis 46-26 in Q2. Boston led 114-85 entering the final period and coasted to an 18-point victory.
  • Game Two: The Hawks announced to the world that they weren't going to roll over and play dead. Trailing 56-49 at the half, they outscored the Celts 64-47 in the final 24 minutes to even the series. Cousy played poorly, hitting only 3-of-17 FGs. He publicly offered to take himself out of the lineup. "I'm completely exhausted," he admitted. However, Auerbach told reporters, "I'll never pull him out."
  • Game Three: The favorites reaffirmed their dominance by thumping the Hawks 102-86 at Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis.
  • Game Four: The alternating pattern of wins continued as the Hawks, behind 57 points from forwards Bob Pettit and Cliff Hagan, evened the series again
  • Game Five: Back home, the Celtics outscored St. Louis in every period to romp 127-102. F Tom Heinsohn was Boston's high point man for the third time in the series. Cousy seemed his old self, with 21 points and ten assists. He left the court with the issue no longer in doubt to a standing ovation.
  • Game Six: Facing elimination back in St. Louis, the Hawks outscored the Celtics 36-12 in Q3 and held on to win 105-102.
    Feelings were running so high from the bruising series that the Celtics refused to travel on the same plane with the Hawks out of St. Louis after Game 6.
    Hawks owner Ben Kerner, breathing fire, cornered NBA President Maurice Podoloff after Game 6 to protest the appointment of Jimmy Duffy from Pawtucket RI as one of the two officials with Mendy Rudolph for Game 7. Kerner was pushing Sid Borgia, who was well-known as an official who would call against the home team. So mad that he flung an ashtray off the wall, Podoloff insisted that Duffy was the right man for the final game. Celtics owner Walter Brown said he and Kerner agreed on Rudolph and Duffy after Game 4. Kerner denied doing so.
    A check of the boxscores shows that the visiting team was called for more fouls than the home team only once in the series - Game 2.


Wilt Chamberlain 1960


Bob Cousy


Red Auerbach


Coach "Easy Ed" Macauley


Bob Pettit


Cliff Hagan


Tom Heinsohn

A capacity crowd of 13,909 jammed Boston Garden on a Saturday afternoon to see if the Celtics could win their third title in four years - the missing one going to the Hawks, who defeated the Celts in 1958. The game was telecast by NBC to the entire nation but blacked out in Boston.
The story is told that Russell sipped tea in the Celtics locker room prior to Game 7. Seizing a motivational moment, Auerbach asked his players, "Will you all look at Russell's little pinky? Isn't he delicate? Aren't we lucky to get his lesson in etiquette?" The comic moment seemed to release some of the tension the Celts felt.
  • Quarter 1
    The teams matched baskets the entire period. The Hawks sank 12, including Cliff Hagan's 40-footer at the buzzer, while the Celtics hit 11. But Boston had 30 attempts to St. Louis's 20.
    Hawks 30 Celtics 29

  • Quarter 2
    Ratcheting up their defense and finding the range on offense, the Celtics started with a 14-2 run. Even after Tom Heinsohn went to the bench with foul trouble, the onslaught continued. Hawks C Clyde Lovellette took a seat with foul trouble late in the period. Bill Russell, "freed of the octopus-like arms of his foe, had himself a ball." Russ, Sam Jones, and Frank Ramsey accounted for 29 straight points among them as the Celtics finished off an incredible 41-point quarter.
    Celtics 70 Hawks 53

Bill Russell goes up over Clyde Lovellette
  • Quarter 3
    After five minutes, Boston had stretched its lead to 87-65. The biggest lead of the day was 91-67 just before the end of the period. Hagan had his only good stretch of the game, scoring nine straight points
    Celtics 96 Hawks 78

Clyde Lovellette grabs the ball ahead of Gene Conley
  • Quarter 4
    The Celtics slowed down the pace, content to sit on a cushion that was far beyond the reach of the visitors. With 42 seconds left, Cousy and Russell left the court for the first time to a rousing ovation. Bob had 19 points and 14 assists. Bill contributed 22 points and an amazing 35 rebounds.
    FINAL: Celtics 122 Hawks 103
In the last minutes of the game, fans started coming out of the stands and ringing the playing area despite the efforts of the police. When the final horn sounded, fans hoisted Cousy on their shoulders and carried him from the floor. Other fans tried the same trick with Russell but couldn't lift him. Heinsohn managed to get through the crowd to shake hands with Hagan and Pettit.
ST. LOUIS HAWKS
  Min FG FT Rebs Ast Fouls Points
Bob Pettit 43 8-18 6-13 14 4 4 22
Cliff Hagan 39 7-17 5-5 5 0 4 19
Clyde Lovellette 41 8-19 2-3 7 4 4 18
Johnny McCarthy 40 7-11 2-2 1 2 4 16
Dave Piontek 19 3-7 5-6 6 2 2 11
Al Ferrari 10 0-1 0-0 1 1 0 0
Si Green 45 7-14 3-6 5 5 4 17
Bob Ferry 3 0-0 0-0 0 0 1 0
Total 240 40-87 23-35 39 18 23 103
BOSTON CELTICS
  Min FG FT Rebs Ast Fouls Points
Bob Cousy 47 8-25 3-4 6 14 1 19
Bill Russell 47 7-15 8-10 35 4 2 22
Bill Sharman 22 4-15 3-3 4 2 1 11
Tom Heinsohn 28 10-17 2-2 8 2 5 22
Frank Ramsey 43 11-20 2-3 13 0 5 24
Sam Jones 25 8-14 2-2 4 2 1 18
Gene Conley 17 2-6 1-2 7 1 6 5
John Richter 9 0-0 0-1 0 0 4 0
K. C. Jones 1 0-0 1-2 0 1 0 1
Gene Guarilia 1 0-2 0-0 1 1 0 0
Total 240 50-114 22-29 78 27 25 122
Postgame
  • The Celtics heaved Auerbach into the showers as soon as they reached the locker room. Then, while posing for pictures, they poured beer over his head. Red didn't mind the shampoo one bit. Spotting a victory cake with "Champs" in big green letters with the names of all the Celts surrounding the inscription, Red said, "Guess someone had plenty of confidence in us to have this cake all baked in advance. I'm sure happy we came through. It's wonderful."
  • Just then, Macauley came in to congratulate the winners. "You're a great team," Mac said, shaking hands with each player individually. "Sometimes you just can't win one."
  • "We just got hot," said Cousy. "Once we got ahead in the second period, it was routine. Everyone was doing his job. They're a well-coached team and held up surprisingly well, but we forced them to run with us and that was it."
  • "They had us in early foul trouble," said Ramsey. "But you could tell this team was up from the time you came in the door this morning. I dn't know about the other guys, but I think I'd have left the country if we'd ever lost this one."
  • Sharman: "It's much easier to get up for a game like this one. Besides the money, there's your pride and prestige to consider. Winning is a great thrill. I hope I'll get to play in a couple more before calling it quits. Our 10-man effort decided this one."
  • In the Hawks' locker room, Pettit said Russell played "what could be called one of the truly great games of all time."

1959-60 Boston Celtics
Participants in the 1960 NBA Finals who are in the Basketball Hall of Fame:
Hawks: Cliff Hagan, Clyde Lovellette, Coach Ed Macauley, Bob Pettit
Celtics: Coach Red Auerbach, Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, Frank Ramsey, Bill Russell, Bill Sharman


Russell shoots over Lovellette.


Sam Jones


Frank Ramsey