Dates: April 23-May 5
Winner: Celtics, 4-3
Lakers vs. Celtics is never lacking in star power, but Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell all fighting for championship glory, ended in even more dramatic fashion than usual. The home team won each of the first six games in this series, the most notable being Sam Jones' jumper off the famed picket fence play in a Celtics Game 4 victory to tie the series. So the Lakers were expected to defend their home with a championship on the line in Game 7. In fact, team owner Jack Kent Cooke had already planned the celebration, leaving a program for the festivities in every seat as ballons hovered over the court in anticipation of the final buzzer.
Before tip off, Russell told West, “Those fucking balloons are staying up there.” And that they did. An ill-timed spat between Wilt and his coach and an incredibly lucky shot from Don Nelson sealed the final championship for Russell's Celtics, which was perhaps their sweetest. Jerry West would have to settle for a Finals MVP trophy instead, the only time a player from the losing team received the award.