Welcome back to NBA Tuesday on the Daily McPlay, where we’re examining the Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards for both professional basketball leagues in 1975. This represents the penultimate season for the ABA, so we’ll be bidding adieu to that league soon. But for now, the red, white, and blue ball lives on!
Remember to check out the first miniseries entry on this year for context, because knowledge is power.
1975 NBA FINALS MVP: Rick Barry (original, confirmed)
The Golden State Warriors swept the Washington Bullets in the NBA Finals, with GSW small forward Rick Barry earning MVP honors at the time. And we’re going to confirm it without much conversation, as Barry’s 29.5 ppg average dwarfed the next-best effort among his teammates (11.5 ppg). For the record, the Miami Greyhound also tossed in 5.0 apg, 4 rpg, and 3.5 spg, too. Easiest analysis in some time!
1975 ABA FINALS MVP: Artis Gilmore (original, confirmed)
The Kentucky Colonels dropped the Indiana Pacers in 5 games to win their only NBA title, and center Artis Gilmore took home the MVP honors. He was part of a two-headed attack, with power forward Dan Issel, for the Colonels, but he was the stronger half. Playing 1.8 minutes more per game than his partner, Gilmore posted an insane 25.0 ppg and 21.0 rpg. Is that a double double double? Award confirmed.
1975 NBA DPOY: Sam Lacey
The top trio of defensive guys were Bullets PF Elvin Hayes (8.16 Defensive Win Shares), Washington C Wes Unseld (6.60), and Kansas City-Omaha Kings C Sam Lacey (6.26). The two teammates eliminate each other from consideration, and Lacey’s team made the postseason by 6 games. That just about wraps up this award for Slammin’ Sam.
His stat line: 14.2 rpg (11.4 on the defensive end), 2.1 bpg, and 1.7 spg. Throw in 3.4 fpg, and Lacey was pretty much everywhere for the Kings. The fact he added 5.3 apg has nothing to do with this award, per se, but it does show how he turned his defensive prowess into an offensive asset.
1975 ABA DPOY: Gilmore
The two best teams in the Eastern Division were the Colonels and the New York Nets, both with 58 victories, tied for the lead in the standings. And each team had its defensive leader: Gilmore for Kentucky (8.27 DWS) and Julius Erving for New York (7.26). No one else in the ABA came close to these two guys for defensive presence.
We give the nod to Gilmore, then, again … for the third time. His numbers—16.2 rpg, 11.1 rpg on the defensive end, 3.8 fpg, and 3.1 bpg—continue to show how his abilities helped the Colonels succeed both in the regular season and the playoffs. This is why he is in the Hall of Fame.