The Lost Finals MVP: 1962

A clash of the titans

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Oh look, the Boston Celtics engaged yet again in one of the greatest NBA Finals ever. Just like in 1957, they won the seventh game in overtime.

Also like before, the opponent had a performer who merits strong consideration for being the Finals MVP.

Monsieur Elgin Baylor was ridiculous.

One of the all-time great Finals performances from Elgin as he averaged (averaged!) 40.6 PPG, 17.9 RPG, and 3.7 APG. On the road in Game 5, Baylor led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 126-121 win with 61 (SIXTY-ONE!) points.

A playoff scoring record then and still the NBA Finals scoring record now.

(NOTE: PERSONALLY, I still consider Baylor’s 61 points the true single-game playoff scoring record. Michael Jordan would later score 63 points in a playoff game, but he needed double overtime to do it.)

With that victory, the Lakers gained a 3-2 series lead as they headed home to California. Boston was on the ropes and Baylor was looking like he would indeed be the Finals MVP and give the Lakers franchise their first title since George Mikan was the mainstay in Minneapolis.

But that man Bill Russell had a say in the matter.

On the road in LA, Russell was an all-around menace: 19 points, 24 rebounds, and 10 assists. His effort thwarted Baylor (34 points, 15 rebounds) and Jerry West (34 points) in a 119-105 Boston win.

Then in Game 7, Russell had the game of his life.

30 points and 40 rebounds in a 110-107 overtime win.

(For the record Baylor had 41 points and 22 rebounds in Game 7, but only shot 13-40 from the field).

Russell’s points led all Celtic scorers. Obviously his rebounds led everybody on both teams as he tied his own Finals record for boards in a game. His 8-14 FG shooting was great for the era, but amazing considering pretty much everyone else on the floor sucked.

We’ve already seen Baylor’s horror, but everyone not named “Bill Russell” (8-14) or “Jerry West” (14-30) was terrible as the teams combined to shoot 33.9% as folks left and right had the yips.

Looking at you, Frank Selvy.

Even more remarkable was the fact that Russell shot 14-17 from the free throw line. That’s 82.4% for a career 56% FT shooter. Great time to sink your freebies, Russ.

With that titanic performance in one of the great playoff series ever played, Bill Russell secured the Celtics’ fourth straight title and his third straight Lost Finals MVP.

His final numbers for the series: 22.9 PPG, 27.0 RPG, 5.7 APG, .543 FG%, and .742 FT%

Still more titles and Finals MVPs to come for Russell.