1970s: Review

Teams in the Finals

The 1970s were an interesting decade for the NBA, as no team emerged as a dominant force. Eight different teams won championships, and the league competed for talent with the ABA. Teams to win single championships included the Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trailblazers, Washington Bullets, and Seattle SuperSonics.

Two teams managed to win multiple championships. The New York Knicks emerged to win the first titles in team history, and the Boston Celtics added two trophies to an extremely decorated franchise resume.

As for the teams that came up short in the decade, the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns were the only two to make their way to the championship series and lose without also winning a title.

Teams on the Rise

After the NBA-ABA merger, four new teams entered the league, loaded with young talent. The San Antonio Spurs, led by George Gervin, and the Denver Nuggets, led by David Thompson, were two teams to emerge as contenders as the decade came to a close.

Other teams that made their mark on the league late in the 1970s included the Houston Rockets, led by Moses Malones, and the Phoenix Suns — especially after the latter made their way to the Western Conference Finals in 1979.

Teams that Missed Their Shot

The teams that came up regrettably short in the decade included the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, and the Buffalo Braves. The first two made their way to conference championship series and lost, while the Braves featured an MVP winner in Bob McAdoo in 1975.

Players of Recognition

The most successful player of the decade by far was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, known earlier in his career as Lew Alcindor. His five MVP awards in the decade tied Bill Russell for the most in NBA history.

Players whose greatness appeared to fade in the 1970s include Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, John Havlicek, Willis Reed, Rick Barry, and Oscar Robertson.

Young players who appeared to be the future of the NBA include Houston’s Moses Malone, Denver’s David Thompson, Philadelphia’s Julius Erving, Portland’s Bill Walton, Seattle’s Dennis Johnson, and San Antonio’s George Gervin.

Other players of note in the 1970s include Atlanta’s Lou Hudson, Boston’s Jo Jo White and Dave Cowens, Chicago’s Bob Love and Nate Thurmond, Detroit’s Dave Bing and Bob Lanier, New Orleans’ Pete Maravich, Seattle’s Jack Sikma, and Washington’s Wes Unseld, Earl Monroe, and Elvin Hayes.

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