TSL NBA Playoffs Throwback Attack: The Big O Finally Gets His Chip, Thanks to Kareem

Perhaps the most famous coin flip in sports history.  After winning only 27 games during the franchise’s inaugural 1968-69 season, the Milwaukee Bucks won the rights to draft Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).

In only his second pro season, Kareem was already established as the game's premier center. He would lead the league in scoring at 31.7 ppg while snatching more than 16 boards. But to become a championship team the Milwaukee Bucks needed more than a dominating center, and they got exactly what they needed on April 21, 1970 when they traded two young players to the Cincinnati Royals for 10-year vet Oscar Robertson.

The Big O, who turned 32 early in the 1970-71 season, was past his prime when he came to Milwaukee, but his versatile skills and experience were enough to help the Bucks realize their potential. His relentless desire to earn a ring inspired Kareem and his Bucks teammates. Robertson ranked third in the league in assists at 8.3 apg and was the No. 2 scorer at 19.4 ppg. With a solid nucleus, Milwaukee posted a 66-16 record in only its third year of existence, and its second since getting Abdul-Jabbar.

The Bucks developed a machine-like efficiency that no other team could match.The team gave new meaning to the word efficiency and the emphasis on execution made Milwaukee one of the greatest offensive teams in league history. The Bucks led the league in scoring, yet were only 12th in field goals attempted. And they were the first team in league history to average better than 50 percent from the field.

While they performed flawlessly together on the court, the players weren’t particularly close off of it. Abdul-Jabbar was very private by nature and kept to himself. Robertson was the old-school veteran who didn’t shy away from being vocal. Some of the younger players gravitated to Robertson and looked to him for guidance.  In all, it was a blend of players at different points in their careers, but they knew how to get the job done as one unit.

They lost just one game apiece in playoff series against San Francisco and Los Angeles, then blitzed the Baltimore Bullets 4-0 in the NBA Finals. Robertson finally had his championship, and Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA Finals MVP, had the first of his six crowns.



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