For our second NBA Tuesday miniseries, we examine the Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards that didn’t exist at the time, as you know. Remember to check out the first miniseries entry on this year for context, while you’re here. This is one stretch of professional basketball history which is a bit tedious, thanks to the Boston Celtics.
Not much we can do about that, so apologies in advance … read on!
1963 NBA FINALS MVP: Bill Russell, C, Boston Celtics
In a Finals rematch, the Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers in six games this time to claim another NBA championship. Weirdly, the Lakers outscored Boston in the series, by almost two points per game. But it was the Celtics winning the close ones—and the title. Los Angeles got more of a team effort than it did the prior year, but the Boston roster was still too deep.
The two best players on the floor were Celtics center Bill Russell and Lakers small forward Elgin Baylor, and even though L.A. outscored Boston, as noted above, we’re going to go with Russell again for the Finals MVP due to his all-around game: 20.0 ppg, 26.0 rpg, and 5.3 apg. Baylor had more of an impact with 33.8 ppg, 15.0 rpg, and 4.0 apg, but Russell is the reason the Celtics were able to overcome it.
This is his third Finals MVP nod from us (1959, 1960)—and probably not the last, either.
1963 NBA DPOY: Bill Russell, C, Boston Celtics
Russell finished with 12.55 defensive Win Shares in the regular season, and the next player on the list posted just 5.76 DWS. Once again, the big man proved his prowess in stopping opposing teams from scoring by a huge margin. There can be no doubt about this award for Russell and his 23.6 rpg and 2.4 fpg. Compiling a DWS mark so much higher than everyone else just cements it all.
This is Russell’s fifth DPOY nod from us (1958, 1959, 1961, 1962)—and probably not his last, either.
Check in every Tuesday for our NBA awards historical analysis on The Daily McPlay!