The Daily McPlay celebrates the NBA this week with an entry that doesn’t feature the Boston Celtics as the champions! Shocker … Welcome back to our second NBA Tuesday miniseries, where we are analyzing the Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards that didn’t exist at the time. And soon, we will be adding ABA analysis to our weekly efforts soon, as well.
Remember to check out the first miniseries entry on this year for context, if you want, before reading on about a change of the guard, somewhat, in basketball history.
1967 NBA FINALS MVP: Wilt Chamberlain, C, Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers kept the Celtics from the Finals, and in the process, the 76ers beat the San Francisco Warriors in six games to win the NBA title. Four 76ers scored at least 19.7 points per game, and none of them was named Wilt Chamberlain—who led all players in the series with 28.5 rpg. He also paced all players in the matchup with 6.8 apg, too. At age 30, he was coming into his own, so to speak.
And that makes him our Finals MVP, since he sacrificed scoring for the benefit of the team here, in a Bill Russell kind of way. Ironic, considering all the comparisons between the two big men at the time. Chamberlain contributed 17.7 ppg in the Finals, too, on top of the rebounds and assists. That’s a pretty dominant effort from the Philly center, and he didn’t even need extraordinary minutes to do it, either.
1967 NBA DPOY: Wilt Chamberlain, C, Philadelphia 76ers
Russell topped the league in Defensive Win Shares again (9.22), with Chamberlain coming in second place (7.03). But the result still was the 76ers beating out the Celtics for the Eastern Division title by 8 games as both teams cruised into the postseason. Russell was the “better” defensive guy, but Chamberlain’s play had more value, in terms of deciding the playoff seeding and the division crown.
With a 24.2 rpg average, the Stilt was the best in the NBA there, even while dropping his fouls per game down to 1.8—his lowest mark in four seasons. He really was entering his prime as an all-around player, and it is reflected in the team’s performance, too. This is Chamberlain’s first “double double” in this series, by the way, joining George Mikan, Dolph Schayes, and Russell in that category of brilliance.