Round: NBA Finals
Final score: Celtics: 108, Lakers: 106
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The most famous anecdote about Game 7 of the 1969 Finals is nevertheless the most important: Lakers’ owner Jack Kent Cooke, assuming his team would prevail, had balloons put up in the rafters prior to the game and had them ready to drop when the Lakers knocked off the aging Boston Celtics. Bill Russell, ever the competitor, noticed the slight during warmups and barked at Jerry West, “Those [expletive deleted] balloons are staying up there.” And stay up there they did. The Celtics opened up a 91-76 lead entering the fourth quarter before the Lakers came storming back to make it a one-point game with 1:33 to go.
Boston’s Don Nelson had a fortuitous bounce go his way off the back iron, though, and some sloppy Laker play allowed the Celtics to win their 11th championship shortly thereafter.