Sixty numbers for 60 NBA years
Sixty years ago today, a future guard for St. Peter's College in Jersey City named
It just so happens, though, that Rinaldi shares his birthday with the NBA itself. Sixty years ago today, on Aug. 3, 1949, the league as we know it -- well, kind of as we know it -- came into being when the two reigning hoops organizations blended into one.
Traditionally, the NBA marks its BC vs. AD point as 1946-47, when the Basketball Association of America began play. That's why it celebrated its 50th anniversary at the 1997 All-Star Game in Cleveland and why last season was considered its 63rd. But it's important not to underestimate the impact of the BAA's merger with the older National Basketball League three years later.
Neither the NBL nor the BAA was thriving at the time. The NBL had most of the game's biggest names, including
Newly christened as the NBA, the unified league ballooned to 17 teams in 1949-50 -- the Lakers won their second consecutive championship -- then scaled down to 11 clubs for '50-51. Franchises came and went after that, from as few as eight to the current 30, but the die was cast. Advancements and enhancements came ridiculously fast -- the shot clock,
2. People forget that Russell was the second player drafted in 1956, going to Boston when Celtics boss
3. The three-point field goal was adopted for the 1979-80 season, and Boston's
4. Number of ABA franchises that survived the merger on June 17, 1978: San Antonio, Denver, Indiana and New York (later renamed New Jersey).
6. Auerbach spent the sixth pick in the '78 draft on Indiana State's
8. In 2002-03, the Detroit Pistons played eight overtime games and won them all. In '79-80, the Golden State Warriors played eight OT games and lost them all. Both are records, for most overtime games in a season without a loss or a victory, respectively.
9. Years that the American Basketball Association survived as an NBA alternative, driving up players' salaries through bidding wars for their services and bringing a red-white-and-blue basketball, a dunk contest and funk to center stage in pro hoops. No one handled all three better than
10. Losses for the Chicago Bulls in '95-96. Which means they won an NBA-record 72 times. This is also the Arabic numeral for "X," which is what former Bulls coach
11. Jersey number worn by both
12. No NBA player has made more three-pointers in a game than
14. In the second quarter of San Antonio's 157-154 victory over Denver on April 15, 1984, Spurs guard
15. Years between NBA Finals featuring the Lakers and the Celtics, 1969-84.
17. Championships by the Boston Celtics. This includes 11 in a stretch of 13 seasons beginning in 1957.
18. Months that the American Basketball League survived from 1961 into '63. Though short-lived, the ABL -- founded by
19. From 1966 through '84, a coin flip between the teams with the worst records in each conference determined the draft's No. 1 pick. The coin came up tails 12 times, heads just seven. Also, the team calling the flip guessed right just seven times.
20. Percent of their games from which
21. Numbers retired by the Boston Celtics, including No. 18 for both
22. Number of playoff triple-doubles by which
23. One hundred-eighty-six players have worn No. 23, according to basketball-reference.com, but
24. Seconds to shoot, thanks to the introduction of the shot clock for 1954-55. In the first game played with one, Rochester beat Boston 98-95 on Oct. 30, 1954. Average team scoring jumped from 79.5 to 93.1 in one year.
25. Points scored by Detroit's
26. In the 1979 playoffs, six of the 11 series went the distance and the six clinching games were decided by a total of 26 points.
28. Kobe sank 28 field goals in 43 tries, seven of them from three-point range, en route to scoring 81 points against Toronto on Jan. 22, 2006. It ranks second all-time in points scored to Chamberlain's 100-point bar-setter 44 years earlier.
29. In 1965, the Baltimore Bullets were 29-9 at home, 4-25 on the road and 5-8 at neutral sites. Then they got swept from the playoffs by St. Louis, losing twice at home and once on the road.
30. Most assists in an NBA game (
31. Best No. 31 ever? Got to be
32. Chamberlain, despite notorious problems at the foul line throughout his career, shot 32 free throws and made 28 on March 2, 1962. Added to his 36-of-63 field-goal shooting, the Dipper finished with 100 points against the Knicks in Hershey, Pa.
33. With a 134-90 spanking of the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 7, 1972, the Los Angeles Lakers won for the 33rd consecutive time, an NBA record.
34. In 34 road games in the NBA Finals, Milwaukee (4-1), Chicago (12-6) and San Antonio (7-4) are the only franchises with winning records. Everybody else is a combined 112-217, .340. That includes the Celtics (27-31, .466) and the Lakers (33-53, .384).
35. The Miami Heat didn't score 100 points in a game in 2001-02 until a 102-96 victory over the Lakers in L.A. on Jan. 16, 2002. Their streak of 35 games in double digits is the NBA's longest.
36. Total franchises played for by the NBA's three most-traveled performers:
37. Fewest points, two teams, in an NBA game: Fort Wayne 19, Minneapolis 18 on Nov. 22, 1950.
39. With Cavaliers coach
40. Bill Russell grabbed 40 rebounds, a Finals record, in Game 2 of the 1960 series against St. Louis. Two years later, in OT against the Lakers, he grabbed 40 again.
41. You say
43. Sacramento went the equivalent of a full road schedule (plus) without winning, losing its last 37 in 1991-92 and its first six in '92-93.
45. Jordan's alternate jersey number, worn briefly upon his return from Retirement No. 1 in the spring of 1995.
46. At All-Star weekend in Phoenix last season, Oklahoma City's
48. Blame it on the sun: New York (20) and Ft. Wayne (28) combined for the fewest rebounds, two teams, in an NBA game. The 1955 game was played on Valentine's Day in Miami.
49. Alaska, 49th in joining the United States, last in NBA players produced. Only Miami guard
52. Larry Bird's playoff winning percentage (32-20, .615) as a head coach, in 52 games for Indiana, is better than Auerbach's (.589),
54. People actually thought the Utah Jazz, with home-court advantage and free from Finals jitters, had a chance to beat Chicago in 1998. Until Utah scored 54 points, an NBA playoff record low, in losing Game 3 at the United Center.
55. Grabbing 55 rebounds in a game always was a bigger thrill, Wilt Chamberlain said, than scoring 100 points. Probably because he did it against Boston and rival/friend Bill Russell on Nov. 24, 1960.
56. Who's the best ever to wear No. 56? Er, take your pick:
57. In 1999, soon after winning their first NBA championship, the San Antonio Spurs selected
58. When the 2008-09 season opened, there were 58 former ACC players on NBA rosters, more than from any other college conference.
59. While Philadelphia (9-73) was sputtering to the worst record in NBA history in 1972-73, the Boston Celtics were going 68-14. That left the Sixers 59 games behind in the Atlantic Division.
60. Candles on the NBA's birthday cake today.