The 2011 NBA Playoffs are underway. What better way to celebrate than 20 fun facts?
BY MIKE ROSE
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had small — but memorable — acting roles in Airplane! (1980) and Fletch (1985). The Lakers won NBA titles the years those movies were released.
During the 1975 NBA Finals, Golden State played its home games at the Cow Palace in San Francisco because its regular arena in Oakland was booked. The Cow Palace was not available for certain days during the series, which had an unusual 1-2-2-1-1 format.
Long Island native Julius “Dr. J” Erving led the New York Nets to the final ABA title in 1976 and then led the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals in 1977. Erving and the 76ers lost to Bill Walton and the Portland Trail Blazers in six games.
Knicks nemesis Reggie Miller holds the career playoff marks for most three-pointers attempted (820) and made (320).
Of the four ABA teams that were absorbed by the NBA in 1976 (San Antonio Spurs, Nets, Denver Nuggets and Indiana Pacers), the Spurs were the first to appear in an NBA Finals. The Spurs are also the only former ABA team to win an NBA title, beating the Knicks in 1999.
In Boston’s epic 128-126 triple overtime win over Phoenix in Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals, Glenn McDonald (No. 30, top left), a little-used reserve for the Celtics, scored eight points in overtime, including six in the third overtime and the final two points of the game. He would play just nine more games in his NBA career before getting released by the Milwaukee Bucks the following season.
Gene Conley (left) won a World Series title as a pitcher with the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 and won three NBA titles with the Boston Celtics from 1959-61, making him the only athlete to win titles in two of the four major sports.
Of the nine NBA players with seven or more championships, Robert Horry is the only one who didn?t play for the Boston Celtics. Horry won two titles with the Houston Rockets (1994-95), three with the Los Angeles Lakers (2000-02) and two with the San Antonio Spurs (2005 and 2007).
Bill Fitch was the head coach of the Celtics when Boston beat the Houston Rockets in the 1981 NBA Finals. When the Celtics played the Rockets again in the 1986 NBA Finals, Fitch was the coach of the Rockets.
Of the 16 coaches in this year’s playoffs, five never played professionally in either the NBA or ABA: San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, Orlando’s Stan Van Gundy, Erik Spoelstra of Miami, Indiana’s Frank Vogel and Tom Thibodeau of Chicago.
Seven current franchises have never made an appearance in the NBA Finals: Clippers, Nuggets, Hornets, Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Raptors and Bobcats.
The 1962 NBA Finals saw two great individual performances. Elgin Baylor scored 61 points in a L.A. Lakers win in Game 5 against the Boston Celtics. Bill Russell grabbed 40 rebounds – tying his own record in an NBA Finals game – in Boston’s Game 7 win.
There have been eight sweeps in NBA Finals history. The L.A. Lakers, who have the most NBA Finals appearances in history with 31, have been swept the most times (3).
Michael Jordan’s jumper against Utah’s Byron Russell in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals gave Chicago an 87-86 win and the title. It was Chicago’s last title of the dynasty years and Jordan’s final points in the NBA Finals for his career. Jordan finished with 45 points in that Game 6.
Before Game 7 of the 1969 NBA Finals, Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke (pictured) had the Forum rafters filled with balloons to celebrate when the Lakers beat the Boston Celtics to win the championship. They didn’t.