- 1977 NBA Finals
NBA Finals summary
year = 1977
runnerup_games = 2
Portland Trail Blazers
champion_games = 4
May 22- June 5
(Portland Trail Blazers)
television = CBS (U.S.)
Brent Musberger, Rick Barry, and Steve "Snapper" Jones
Julius Erving, Bill Walton
referees_1 = Game 1:
John Vanakand Earl Strom
referees_2 = Game 2:
Richie Powersand Joe Gushue
referees_3 = Game 3:
Darell Garretsonand Jake O'Donnell
referees_4 = Game 4:
Don Murphyand Manny Sokol
referees_5 = Game 5:
Darell Garretsonand Earl Strom
referees_6 = Game 6:
Jake O'Donnelland Richie Powers
ECF result = 76ers defeat Rockets, 4-2
WCF result = Blazers defeat Lakers, 4-0The 1977 NBA World Championship Series was the championship round of the
1976-77 NBA season. The Portland Trail Blazersof the Western Conference played against the Philadelphia 76ersof the Eastern Conference, with the 76ers holding home-court advantage. Their 4 regular season meetings had been split evenly, 2-2, with neither side winning away from home. The series was played under a best-of-seven format, so the first team to win four games would win the series and become the league champions.
The 1976-77 NBA season started with the merging of the ABA into the NBA. Portland had benefited from the dispersal draft where they acquired power forward
Maurice Lucasto partner with Bill Walton, and Philadelphia had signed ABA All-Star and 3-time ABA MVP Julius "Dr. J" Erving, who had taken the New York Netsto the ABA title the previous year. While it was no surprise that Philadelphia had made it to the championship series, having posted the best record in the east (50-32, #1), Portland's appearance in the finals was a mild surprise. Portland, a team that was founded only seven years earlier, was not only making its playoffs debut with its first winning season (49-33, #3), but amazingly it was also making its finals debut after sweeping the mighty Los Angeles Lakersand league legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar4-0 in the Western Conference Finals.
The series quickly went 2-0 in favor of Philadelphia, but over the next four games, Portland mounted an unheard-of series comeback that has rarely been seen in professional sports.
Rollen Frederick Stewart, "
Rainbow Man", made his first major appearance during this series.
"Trail Blazers win series 4-2"
Game 1 started with a Dr. J windmill slam dunk off the opening tip, and never got much better for the Blazers, who committed 34 turnovers. Erving scored 33 points and
Doug Collinshad 30, as the 76ers won 107-101. Walton finished with 28 points and 20 rebounds.
Game 2 was an easy win for the 76ers at 107-89, who at one point scored 14 points in under 3 minutes. In the final 5 minutes, however, Philadelphia's
Darryl Dawkinsand Portland's Bob Gross both went up for a rebound and wrestled each other to the floor. Dawkins and Gross squared off and both benches cleared, including the coaches. In the middle of the fray, Maurice Lucas, in an act of team unity and in support of Gross, slapped Dawkins from behind and challenged him. Dawkins and Lucas were ejected, and Doug Collinsneeded four stitches after he caught a punch from Dawkins that had missed its target. Dawkins and Lucas were each fined $2,500. This brawl is commonly looked upon as the turning point in this series, as the Blazers unified and showed the Sixers that they wouldn't be humiliated.
The series moved to Portland for the next two games, and game 3 got underway following a few tense moments as Lucas approached the Philadelphia bench before the game and offered his hand in friendship to Dawkins and the 76ers. The Blazers offense took charge of the game, and posted a 42-point fourth quarter to win 129-107. Lucas had 27 points and 12 rebounds, and Walton contributed 20 points, 18 rebounds, and 9 assists.
Philadelphia attempted to utilize
George McGinnisand Caldwell Joneson the inside for Game 4, but Walton had other ideas, going on a shotblocking frenzy. Portland quickly led the game by 17 points and never looked back, scoring 41 points in the 3rd quarter and winning 130-98, the largest margin of victory in a game 4 in NBA history.
Game 5 returned to Philadelphia with the series tied 2-2. Philadelphia spent much of the first half fouling the Blazers, racking up 22 personal fouls and sending the half-time score into the 40s. The Blazers added another 40 points to their total in the 3rd quarter, and with a little over 8 minutes left in the game, Portland led 91-69. Erving rallied his team late in the fourth, scoring 37 points himself, but ultimately lost 110-104. Portland set numerous rebounding records for its team, 59 (48 defensive, team record) in all which stood until
1985, 24 (20 defensive, another team record) of which belonged to Walton alone, whose team record still stands.
Portland, now leading the series 3-2, arrived back home for Game 6 in the middle of the night to a crowd of 5,000 fans waiting at the airport. With just 48 minutes separating the Blazers from their first championship, "Blazermania" had gripped the city. Philadelphia kept the game close throughout the first quarter, but were down by 15 at halftime after the Blazers netted 40 points in the 2nd quarter. Erving tried in vain to force a game 7 for his team, scoring 40 points, but Bill Walton's 23 rebounds and 8 blocks kept the game in Portland's hands, as Philadelphia's George McGinnis missed the game-tying shot with seconds left sent for a heart stopping 109-107 Portland win.
Bill Walton was named finals MVP and was called "an inspiration" by the defeated Julius Erving. Maurice Lucas later said of Walton's post-game thrown jersey that was sent into the rushing crowd of fans, "if I had caught the shirt, I would have eaten it. Bill's my hero."
Portland was rewarded two trophies for winning the NBA Championship: The
Walter A. Brown Trophy, which was only kept by the winning team for only a year until the next NBA Finals; and a newly designed trophy later to be known as the Larry O'Brien Trophywhich was now to be kept by the winning team with a new one produced at every NBA Finals since. The Walter A. Brown Trophywas retired shortly after this game.
1977 NBA Playoffs
* [http://nbafinals.com/media/blazers/182-198WPages.pdf Portland Trail Blazers Playoff Records]
* [http://www.nba.com/history/finals/19761977.html NBA History: Walton, Lucas Ignite 'Blazermania']
* [http://www.basketball-reference.com/leagues/NBA_1977.html 1977 NBA Season Summary - Basketball-Reference.com]
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