We have reached the 1960s on our second NBA Tuesday miniseries, as we examine the Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards that didn’t exist at the time. We hope you have fun on this second journey through NBA history as we see it, and remember to check out the first miniseries entry on this year for context, as well.
Remember, it took until 1969 for the NBA to award a Finals MVP trophy—and until 1983 (!) for the league to identify a DPOY. Thank goodness we are here to fill in the historical gaps, right? It’s what we do best … so, on with the greatest show on WordPress!
1960 NBA FINALS MVP: Bill Russell, C, Boston Celtics
This was the second of eight consecutive NBA titles for the Boston Celtics, so get used to it. Beating the St. Louis Hawks in 7 games, though, was no easy feat this time around for the Celtics—even if Game 7 was a 122-103 victory for the home team. This was a tough series for both teams. So, who was the MVP?
Four players dominated the series, two for Boston and two for St. Louis: Celtics power forward Tom Heinsohn, Boston center Bill Russell, Hawks PF Bob Pettit, and St. Louis small forward Cliff Hagan. Among this quartet, however, it was Russell who owned the glass—and by extension, the whole court—in Game 7 as he scored 22 points, grabbed 35 rebounds, and dished out 4 assists while only committing 2 fouls. That was obviously the huge difference in the deciding game.
Overall, in the championship series, Russell averaged 16.7 ppg, 24.9 rpg, and 3.0 apg to lead Boston to its second straight title and third crown over the last four seasons. This is his second straight Finals MVP nod from us, too.
1960 NBA DPOY: Wilt Chamberlain, C, Philadelphia Warriors
Along with Russell (8.93 Defensive Win Shares), Philadelphia Warriors rookie center Wilt Chamberlain (8.02 DWS) stood out among all players in the NBA on defense. We have to decide between the two for this award. Both teams played in the Eastern Division, with Boston finishing 10 games ahead of Philly in the standings. So Russell’s defensive prowess wasn’t even necessary for the Celtics to win the division.
Meanwhile, the Warriors finished 4 games ahead of the Syracuse Nationals for second place, so Chamberlain’s defense was the difference between home-court advantage in the Eastern semifinals, which Philadelphia won in 3 games with that edge. So, for that reason, we will give this nod to Wilt the Stilt: He led the NBA in rebounding, with 27.0 boards per game, and he committed just 2.1 fouls per game in the process.
Check in every Tuesday for our NBA awards historical analysis on The Daily McPlay!