Golden Basketball Magazine
NBA Finals - Game 7
1962: Los Angeles Lakers @ Boston Celtics

The 1961-62 NBA season is remembered for the incredible performance by Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors.
  • Owner Eddie Gottlieb wanted to maximize the use of his star player in order to attract bigger crowds. So Wilt played all but eight of the Warriors' 3,890 minutes for the season.
  • He took 3,159 shots, nearly one per minute played, and scored an astounding 4,029 points. Included was an incredible 100 point game against the Knicks.
  • The closest anyone has come to that record is Michael Jordan, who scored 3,041 points in 1986-87.

The Warriors finished second in the Eastern Division, 11 games behind the Celtics. But Philly nearly upended Boston in the Division Finals.

  • In Game Seven at Boston Garden, the Celts contained Wilt only to have rookie PF Tom Meschery explode for a personal season-high of 32.
  • The Warriors led 81-80 after three quarters.
  • With 10 seconds left, Boston led by three, but Wilt dunked over Russell and was fouled. He sank the free throw for his 22nd point to tie the game at 107.
  • But Sam Jones sank a jump shot with two seconds left to give the Celtics the chance to win their fourth straight NBA championship and their fifth in six years.
    The Eastern finals was a contentious series. Meschery and Celtics F Tom Heinsohn, who guarded each other, scuffled. The other Boston F, Jim Loscutoff, pinned back Meschery's arms, and Heinsohn landed a right cross that put six stitches above the rookie's eye. In Game 5, Chamberlain exchanged words and shoves with Sam Jones. Fearing the giant, Jones grabbed a photographer's stool at the edge of the court and waved it at Wilt. Players from both teams joined the fray. Punches were thrown and Loscutoff rushed Philly G Guy Rodgers, who turned and ran.

The story out west was the Los Angeles Lakers.

  • In their second season in California after moving from Minneapolis, the Lakers improved from 36-43 in '61 to 54-26 in '62, good enough to cop the Western Division crown.
  • They did this despite star F Elgin Baylor being called into reserve duty with the Army at Fort Lewis, Washington. He was able to appear in only 48 regular-season games, playing mostly on weekends or with an occasional pass. His 38.2ppg was second in the league to Wilt's mind-boggling 50.4.
  • While Baylor was an established star, Jerry West was a rising star. The 6'2" second-year guard from West Virginia averaged 30.8ppg and played solid defense.

Final standings

Eastern Division
Team W L % GB
Boston Celtics 60 20 .750 --
Philadelphia Warriors 49 31 .613 11
Syracuse Nationals 41 39 .513 19
New York Knicks 29 51 .363 31
Western Division
Team W L % GB
Los Angeles Lakers 54 26 .675 --
Cincinnati Royals 43 37 .538 11
Detroit Pistons 37 43 .463 17
St. Louis Hawks 29 51 .363 25
Chicago Packers 18 62 .225 36

The top three teams in each division made the playoffs, with the #2 finisher meeting #3 in a best-of-five for the right to meet the division champion.

  • Division Semifinals
    Warriors over Nationals 3-2
    Pistons over Royals 3-1
  • Division Finals
    Celtics over Warriors 4-3
    Lakers over Pistons 4-2
1962 Los Angeles Lakers
# Player Pos. Hgt. Wgt. College Exp.
11 Frank Selvy SG 6-3 180 Furman 7
14 Ray Felix C 6-11 220  Long Island U.  9
20 Tom Hawkins SF 6-5 210 Notre Dame 3
22 Elgin Baylor SF 6-5 225 Seattle 4
32 Jim Krebs C 6-8 230 SMU 5
33 Hot Rod Huntley SG 6-4 185 West Virginia 5
35 Rudy LaRusso PF 6-7 220 Dartmouth 3
44 Jerry West PG 6-2 175 West Virginia 2
52 Bob McNeill PG 6-1 170 St. Joseph's 2
54 Howie Jolliff PF 6-7 218 Ohio 2
55 Wayne Yates C 6-8 235 Memphis 1
Coach: Fred Schaus
1962 Boston Celtics
# Player Pos. Hgt. Wgt. College Exp.
4 Carl Braun PG 6-5 180 Colgate 13
6 Bill Russell C 6-10 215 San Francisco 6
14 Bob Cousy PG 6-1 175 Holy Cross 12
15 Tom Heinsohn PF 6-7 218 Holy Cross 6
16 Tom Sanders SF 6-6 210 NYU 2
18 Jim Loscutoff F 6-5 220 Oregon 7
20 Gene Guarilia F 6-5 220 George Washington 3
21 Gary Phillips PG 6-3 190 Houston 1
23 Frank Ramsey G 6-3 190 Kentucky 7
24 Sam Jones F 6-4 200 No. Car. Central 5
25 K. C. Jones G 6-1 200 San Francisco 4
Coach: Red Auerbach

RESULTS OF FIRST SIX GAMES
# Date Place Winner Loser Winning Team
High Scorer
Losing Team
High Scorer
1 Apr. 7 Boston Celtics 122 Lakers 108 S. Jones 24 Baylor 35
2 Apr. 8 Boston Lakers 129 Celtics 122 West 40 Heinsohn 27
3 Apr.10 Los Angeles Lakers 117 Celtics 115 Baylor 39 Russell 26
4 Apr.11 Los Angeles Celtics 115 Lakers 103 Russell 21 Baylor 38
5 Apr.14 Boston Lakers 126 Celtics 121 Baylor 61 Heinsohn 30
6 Apr.16 Los Angeles Celtics 119 Lakers 105 S. Jones 35 Baylor/West 34

West passes to Baylor over Sanders.
The Lakers took the lead in games twice during the finals.
  • Game One: The Celtics used a 35-22 third quarter advantage to extend their 60-52 halftime lead to 95-74. They coasted to the 122-108 victory despite Baylor's 35 points.
  • Game Two: The visitors bounced back with a 129-122 triumph based largely on a 43-23 advantage in the second quarter. West and Baylor scored 76 between them, 59% of the Lakers' total. Russell grabbed 23 rebounds and scored 23 points in a losing cause.
  • Game Three: The record crowd of 15,180 that packed the Los Angeles Sports Arena were rewarded with a thrilling 117-115 victory to take a two-to-one lead in the series. West tied the game with a basket with four seconds left. Then he deflected Sam Jones's inbound pass to Bob Cousy with four seconds left, grabbed the ball on the run, and drove for the winning layup at the buzzer.
    Coach Auerbach contended that there was no way West could have dribbled 30' to score the final basket in only three seconds.
  • Game Four: The Celtics dampened the euphoria of Lakers fans by with a 115-103 victory to even the series.
  • Game Five: Back in Beantown in the 2-2-1-1-1 format (which was designed for two finalists from the Northeast, not one on each coast), Baylor gave his best Wilt the Stilt imitation by scoring an astounding 61 points, almost half of the Lakers' 126 and a finals record. The Celts led 99-93 heading into the final 12 minutes but were outscored 33-22 by LA down the stretch. Baylor also snatched 22 rebounds, second only to Russell's 29. If the opponents double-teamed him, Elgin was an expert passer. And Satch Sanders could not stop him one-on-one.
  • Game Six: Facing elimination back in L.A., the Celtics trailed at halftime 65-57. But with their backs to the wall, they responded with a 34-16 third period to take a lead they never relinquished. 119-105 was the final score with Sam Jones sinking 17 of 27 shots to lead all scorers with 35, one more than both West and Baylor.

Bill Russell shoots over Jim Krebs.
A bulging crowd of 13,909 jammed Boston Garden on Wednesday night, April 19.
  • Quarter 1
    Obviously tense and tight, both teams started slowly. The Lakers didn't score their first points until 2 1/2 minutes elapsed. The Celtics offense struggled because both Bob Cousy and Tommy Heinsohn were not hitting from the floor (11-for-38 between them). To make matters worse Cousy, normally one of the NBA's better free throw shooters, would sink only two of ten. His right hand ligament injury obviously impaired his shooting, but Coach Auerbach kept his captain in action for 44 of the 53 minutes.
    The lead switched sides five times and the game was tied seven times, and neither team got more than four points ahead.
    Known as the best sixth man in the league, Frank Ramsey entered the fray at the 8:02 mark with the score 12-10 Lakers. He resumed his series-long duel with Baylor on both ends of the court. The Celts tied the game at 17, and each team score five the rest of the period.
    Celtics 22 Lakers 22

  • Quarter 2
    Both teams picked up the offensive pace, but neither could gain more than a six-point lead throughout the period. Boston led 38-32 midway through the period and would keep that advantage the rest of the way. LA held Sam Jones to a single basket, but he would explode for 25 in the second half and overtime.
    Celtics 53 Lakers 47
  • Quarter 3
    Boston extended its lead to 67-59 before the Lakers went on a 16-8 run to tie the score at the end of the period. Included in the run were seven straight points by West.
    Suffering through a 3-for-13 game, Heinsohn was roundly booed when replaced late in the period.
    Celtics 75 Lakers 75
  • Quarter 4
    The Celtics lost three forwards with six fouls during the quarter: Satch Sanders, Jim Loscutoff, and Heinsohn in that order. Baylor had a field day driving on them, forcing his defender to either let him score or foul him.
    Still, Boston maintained the lead. LA closed to 98-96 with 1:14 on the clock when Krebs fouled Ramsey. The "Kentucky Colonel," a money player, sank both to make it 100-96. But Selvy canned two baskets to tie the game with 0:18 remaining. The second one came on a put back after West stole the ball but missed the layup. On Boston's next possession, Ramsey tried a driving hook shot for the go-ahead bucket but missed when bumped by Rudy LaRusso. Nothing was called as the Boston bench went berserk. Schaus called timeout with five seconds left. He set up Baylor as the first option, West as the second, and whoever else was open as the third. Hot Rod Hundley, in the game to handle the ball, had dreamed the night before that he would make the winning shot. With Baylor and West covered, Hundley moved into the open for a good shot. But Selvy was open on the left baseline. Cousy, who was guarding him, gambled by doubling West. So Hundley rifled a pass to Selvy as Couz rushed back to cover him. Frank's seven-footer hit the rim and fell away with four seconds to play. Russell went so high to collar the rebound that he made himself nauseated. Big Bill would finish with 40 rebounds, equalling his own playoff record.
    Celtics 100 Lakers 100
    "Selvy thought Bob Cousy fouled him," said Baylor. "I thought Cousy fouled him. He took the shot from a spot where he was very proficient. Cousy said he never fouled him. I was in a position to get the offensive rebound, but somebody behind me shoved me out of bounds right into the referee. There was no foul call there, either. I looked around and saw Russell and Sam Jones behind me." Years later, Elgin saw the game film and confirmed what he had suspected. Jones had shoved him out of bounds. Sam later admitted to Baylor that he did it.
    On the Celtics bench, trainer Buddy LeRoux poured icewater over Russell's neck. Asked later how he felt at that point, Bill replied, "I just sat there and felt the cold and man, I can't tell how I felt. Tense, that's it. Tense."
  • Overtime
    The Lakers felt good heading into the extra period since they were undefeated that season in overtime games. Another source of hope was the fact Ramsey fouled out thirty seconds after play resumed. Baylor converted the pair of free throws to put the visitors ahead 102-100.
    The Old Redhead (Auerbach) dug into his bag of coaching tricks. He moved Sam Jones to a corner and gambled with Gene Guarilia in place of Ramsey. Both moves paid off as Guarilia did a good job on Baylor. The Celts scored the next five on Russell's dunk and Sam's three-point play.
    The Lakers suffered a blow when Baylor fouled out with 3:11 left. The rousing ovation his departure evoked from the Celtics fans was a tribute to Elgin's greatness. The Boston lead was 109-103 with a minute to play.
    When Cousy was fouled in the last minute, Auerbach lighted his victory cigar and removed his jacket in preparation for the post-game heave into the showers by his players. But not so fast, my friend. Cousy sank only one of three tries from the line, and Tom Hawkins scored twice for LA around an offensive foul on Jones to cut the lead to three with 0:20 left. Cousy pulled out every trick in his dribbling bag for 13 seconds, and time was called. Then Bob killed the last seven seconds with some more "fancy dribbling."
    FINAL: Celtics 110 Lakers 107

View a video of part of the second half of the seventh game.

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LOS ANGELES LAKERS
  Min FG FT Rebs Ast Fouls Points
Elgin Baylor 51 13-40 15-21 22 4 6 41
Jerry West 53 14-30 7-9 6 0 4 35
Frank Selvy 49 2-10 6-8 8 4 3 10
Jim Krebs 41 4-11 0-0 13 0 6 8
Rudy LaRusso 36 3-10 1-3 11 0 6 7
Tom Hawkins 10 2-3 0-0 2 4 4 4
Ray Felix 12 0-2 2-4 1 3 3 2
Howie Jolliff 9 0-2 0-0 2 0 2 0
Hot Rod Hundley 4 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 0
Total 265 38-108 31-45 65 16 34 107
BOSTON CELTICS
  Min FG FT Rebs Ast Fouls Points
Bill Russell 53 8-18 14-17 40 4 2 30
Sam Jones 47 12-31 3-4 8 3 2 27
Frank Ramsey 33 4-11 15-16 5 2 6 23
Bob Cousy 47 8-25 3-4 6 14 1 19
Tom Heinsohn 22 3-13 2-3 3 2 6 8
Tom Sanders 27 3-11 0-0 7 0 6 6
Jim Loscutoff 11 3-8 0-0 8 0 6 6
K. C. Jones 20 1-4 0-0 3 0 2 2
Carl Braun 4 0-3 0-0 0 0 1 0
Gene Guarilia 4 0-1 0-0 1 0 1 0
Total 265 37-113 36-50 82 20 36 110

Postgame

  • Both Laker coach Fred Schaus and owner Bob Short came to the Boston locker room to congratulate every Celtics player.
  • Celtics G Carl Braun, a 15-year NBA veteran who would soon announce his retirement, observed the game from the bench except for the four minutes he played. He couldn't contain his admiration for his teammates. Asked why the Celtics are champions for the fourth year in a row, Carl replied, "It's because these guys never know when they are beaten. That Los Angeles team is as good a team as most people ever would want to see. But they've gone home now, and they know they were beaten by the best. If the two teams played 365 days a year, the games would still be close. But the Celtics would always win that last one."
  • Cousy was still sprawled out on the bench in his uniform after everyone else had showered and dressed. "It's the mental fatigue that makes each game so much tougher, together with the lack of rest between games." Asked if he thought the Celtics would win in overtime, Bob answered, "I'll admit I doubted it. We had mostly little men. But Baylor missing those shots helped. He was bound to miss, wasn't he? Man, that's the law of averages going for you. Then Sam got hot, and we pulled it out."
  • Coach Schaus said, "Gosh, how can you point to any difference between the teams? If the shot (by Selvy) falls, we're the champions. It didn't, so they're the champions - a great team. That was the difference, one shot. If we played again, it would go seven games, and maybe we'd win, but you don't know."
  • "The breaks," said Jerry West shaking his head. "That was the difference. ... There were so many instances over the seven games."
  • Selvy sat and stared, disconsolate. He told reporters, "I would trade all my points for that last basket. It was a fairly tough shot. I was almost on the baseline."
  • Hundley was also upset, lamenting that he should have taken the shot at the end of regulation, just as he dreamed.

Wilt Chamberlain


Tom Meschery


Sam Jones


Jim Loscutoff


Guy Rodgers


High-flying Elgin Baylor


Russell rebounds.


Frank Ramsey



Gene Guarilia guards Jerry West.


Cousy drives around Selvy.


Russell shoots around Krebs.


Baylor over Sanders.


Cousy drives past West.


Baylor tries to drive around Russell.


Cousy sizes up the defense.


Sam Jones guards Baylor.


Cousy dishes off in front of Krebs.


Rudy LaRusso


Russell and Auerbach rejoice.


Carl Braun

1961-62 Boston Celtics

1961-62 Los Angeles Lakers
Participants in the 1962 NBA Finals who are in the Basketball Hall of Fame:
Lakers: Elgin Baylor, Jerry West
Celtics: Coach Red Auerbach, Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Sam Jones, Bill Russell, Tom Sanders