The Lost Finals MVP: 1957
What a series, what candidates
UPDATE ON OCTOBER 6, 2021
After a couple months of reflection, I have decided to split this MVP award between just Bill Russell and Tom Heinsohn. Sorry, Bob Pettit. Everything I said on how awesome you are still stands.
Well, this was one of the great series played in NBA history.
This seven-game confrontation between the Boston Celtics and St. Louis Hawks was full of on-court drama, upfront story lines, and underlying context that just suffused the entire affair marking it as the beginning of a new era in the league.
I’ll give better attention to all of that jazz another day, but the main candidates for the Lost Finals MVP award are Boston rookies Bill Russell and Tom Heinsohn plus St. Louis young gun Bob Pettit.
Honestly, all three are deserving winners of the award as they each brought their own benefits and flaws to the series.
So you know what?
That’s right, fuck it!
I’m giving the 1957 Lost Finals MVP to all three of ‘em.
This series began with a 125-123 double overtime victory by St. Louis over Boston.
This series ended with a 125-123 double overtime victory by Boston over St. Louis.
In that final game (a Game 7 remember!) the lead changed 38 times and the score was tied 20 times.
Typically in an NBA Finals, it’s easy to push aside anyone from the losing team. It’s why George Yardley lost out to Paul Arizin for the 1956 Lost Finals MVP. However, I can’t reasonably disqualify Pettit just because his team lost the series when they lost by two damn points in a double overtime Game 7.
Furthermore, since I don’t have the game footage to accurately see who contributed the most in this series, I can’t tease out whether Heinsohn or Russell meant more to Boston in these games. I mean, I suspect Russell’s defense gave him an edge over Heinsohn, but Heinsohn was also Boston’s best offensive player in the series and appears to have significantly outplayed Russell on that end.
Can’t tell for sure without that video, though.
Also, I can’t tell whether either actually outplayed Pettit cuz Bob was sinking buckets left and right like a mad man. Although both teams were stacked, Pettit still carried a bigger load on the Hawks than either Russell or Heinsohn did on the Celtics.
STATS FOR THE SERIES
BOB PETTIT: 30.1 PPG, 18.3 RPG, .388 FG%, .745 FT%
TOM HEINSOHN: 24.0 PPG, 12.6 RPG, .404 FG%, .708 FT%
BILL RUSSELL: 13.3 PPG, 22.9 RPG, .356 FG%, .488 FT%
Going back to Game 7, it’s an accurate distillation of the dilemma I’m in.
Pettit led all scorers with 39 points (and had 19 rebounds). Russell led all rebounders with 32 boards (and had 19 points). Heinsohn split the difference by having 37 points and 23 rebounds.
Don’t worry things only get more annoying.
Heinsohn fouled out in the second overtime, but managed to score eight of Boston’s 22 points in the extra periods to keep them in the contest.
You can see Heinsohn below after fouling out and then after the team won the game.
There’s also this blurb from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat concerning Bill Russell (plus the unexpected buckets from old ass Arnie Risen, the Lost Finals MVP of 1951).
Gosh darn it. How many blocks does “repeatedly blocked shots” translate to?! That could help me, fellas.
At least I know from other news accounts that Russell had saved Boston’s ass by swatting a Jack Coleman shot in the second OT. Bob Cousy turned the block into a bucket on the other end by Frank Ramsey giving Boston a 124-121 lead.
And Pettit himself was clutch. With six seconds left in regulation, he calmly sank two free throws to tie the score at 103 and send the game to overtime.
And this is just shit from Game 7!
I mulled over who should get the award for several days and I quit.
As far as I’m concerned, they all get the award until I get video footage of all seven games to make a more informed decision.
Man,I don't know Bill Russell blocked Coleman in the second OT before!
He actually blocked the Hawk's forward in the last second of the fourth quarter,sent the game to the first OT,learning from John Taylor's book.