BASKETBALL—NBA: Even with all those underdogs winning in the playoffs, the biggest news was the Milwaukee Bucks' agreement with Lew Alcindor for a five-year, $1.4 million contract (as opposed to the New York Nets' belated $3.25 million attempt). In the playoffs the only favorite to win even one game was ATLANTA, which took two, beating San Diego 107-98 and 116-114 in the Western Division. The West's other match-up pitted highflying Los Angeles against SAN FRANCISCO, which finished the season 14 games behind the Lakers but which beat them 99-94 and 107-101 on the Lakers' home court. Jeff Mullins managed to match Jerry West's 36 points while Rudy LaRusso whipped Elgin Baylor (laboring with a sore knee) 32-12 to give San Francisco the first game, and Nate Thurmond's 27 points pulled the Warriors in front in the second. Said Thurmond, "Against the Lakers. I play for pride...." Over in the East both favorites succumbed to those playing for pride, as third-place NEW YORK beat Baltimore twice (113-101, 107-91) and aging but not ancient BOSTON defeated Philadelphia 114-100 and 134-103. The Knicks' wins were mostly the result of balanced teamwork (Walt Frazier and Dick Barnett scoring highs of 26 and 27). The Celtics relied on John Havlicek's 35 points and Bill Russell's 15 rebounds and 12 blocks in the first game and just money playing in the second to give Boston its sixth and seventh victories over the 76ers in nine games this year. The final standings in the regular season were: BALTIMORE (57-25), PHILADELPHIA (55-27), NEW YORK (54-28), BOSTON (48-34), CINCINNATI (41-41), DETROIT (32-50), MILWAUKEE (27-55) in the East; and LOS ANGELES (55-27), ATLANTA (48-34), SAN FRANCISCO (41-41), SAN DIEGO (37-45), CHICAGO (33-49), SEATTLE (30-52), PHOENIX (16-66) in the West. League statistic titles went to one rookie and three oldtimers. ELVIN HAYES led in scoring with 2,327 points and a 28.4 per-game average. WILT CHAMBERLAIN was the field-goal percentage leader (.583) and had the best rebounds-per-game average (21.1). Wilt also became the alltime NBA high scorer (27,098 points) and played in his 787th consecutive game without fouling out—a league record. LARRY SIEGFRIED topped the foul shooters (.864), and OSCAR ROBERTSON had the most assists (772), 9.8 per game.
ABA: Not to be outdone, the two-year-old league that lost Alcindor decided it was man enough to file an antitrust suit against the NBA, asking for what amounted to "...millions and millions of dollars" damages for players and fans the NBA has allegedly kept the ABA from getting the past two seasons. Meanwhile, going into the final week of play, INDIANA (44-33) was in first for the third straight week, upping its winning streak to unlucky 13 before losing to Oakland, while KENTUCKY (40-34) slipped a bit by losing two of three. MIAMI (40-35) reversed the Colonels' record to stay in third, MINNESOTA (36-40) split four and NEW YORK (17-59) lost three to up its losing streak to 12. The Nets did come close to a win, though, when they lost to the Pipers 117-115 after the lead had changed hands 19 times. In the Western Division, OAKLAND (57-18) won three and lost one, and NEW ORLEANS (44-32) moved into second place as James Jones became the second ABA player to go over 2,000 career points. DENVER (43-34), with Larry Jones (who a week earlier had become the first ABA player to go over 2,000) benched early in the week because of a pulled hamstring, won only one of four and slipped to third. The bottom of the division remained the same as DALLAS (40-35) won all three games, LOS ANGELES (33-42) one of four and HOUSTON (22-54) one of five.
BOWLING—DICK WEBER won his first tournament in 37 months, the PBA's $45,000 New Orleans Lions Open, defeating Bill Allen of Fresno, Calif. 247-221. Said Weber, "It's like winning the first tournament all over again."
BOXING—JERRY QUARRY handily outpointed Buster Mathis in a 12-round heavyweight fight at Madison Square Garden, Buster winning no more than two rounds on any card and splitting his trunks up the back. By his own admission, Quarry has had better nights, but Buster had none worse; he was a great, pitiful figure, unwilling to fight, unable to hide.
April 7, 1969
FENCING—PENN's NORMAN BRASLOW and JAMES WETZLER won the saber and épée titles in the NCAA championships at Raleigh, N.C., and the Quakers won their first title since 1953 with 54 points, 11 more than Harvard. TONY KESTLER of Columbia took the foil championship.
GOLF—BUNKY HENRY, a former Georgia Tech placekicker. won the $200,000 National Airlines Open at Miami, despite a triple bogey, with a 278.
HOCKEY—NHL: MONTREAL (46-19-11) and ST. LOUIS (37-25-14) won divisional championships, the Canadiens for the second straight year (pages 52 and 74). BOSTON (42-18-16) finished three points back in second, and NEW YORK (41-26-9) another nine behind in third. TORONTO (35-26-15) took the fourth playoff position ahead of DETROIT (33-31-12), and CHICAGO (34-33-9) finished last for the first time in 12 years, despite Bobby Hull's record 56th goal and five goals by Kenny Wharram in two games. OAKLAND (29-36-11), which finished in last place a year ago, moved up to second in the West, and PHILADELPHIA (20-35-21), first last year, wound up third. The West's fourth playoff berth went to LOS ANGELES (24-42-10), even though the Kings lost four of their last five games. MINNESOTA (18-43-15) and PITTSBURGH (20-45-11), with its best week-four wins and a tie—since last year, tied for last.
The U.S.S.R., despite two losses to fired-up Czechoslovakia, won the world amateur championship in Stockholm for the seventh consecutive year. The U.S.S.R., Sweden and Czechoslovakia had identical 8-2 records, but the Russians won on a superior performance in goals scored and goals allowed (59-23 to Sweden's 45-19 and Czechoslovakia's 40-20).
HORSE RACING—Favorites won the 1‚⅛-mile $132,200 Santa Anita and $121,800 Florida Derbies (page 22), MAJESTIC PRINCE ($2.60) finishing eight lengths ahead of Mr. Joe F., the biggest winning margin in the race's 32 runnings; TOP KNIGHT ($4.20), whose owner, Steven B. Wilson, had died earlier in the week in Miami, won by five lengths over Arts and Letters at Hialeah.
Highland Wedding (100-to-9), a 12-year-old gelding owned by T.H. McKoy Jr. of Philadelphia and Charles Burns of Canada and ridden by Eddie Harty of Ireland, won the $65,000 Grand National at Aintree, England by 12 lengths over 50-to-1-shot Steel Bridge.
MOTOR SPORTS—CALE YARBOROUGH of Timmonsville. S.C. won NASCAR's Atlanta 500 for the third year in a row.
SKIING—DENVER won its 12th NCAA championship at Steamboat Springs, Colo., scoring 388.6 points to runner-up Dartmouth's 372.
SWIMMING—In the NCAA championships at Bloomington, Ind. (page 67), 10 American, 12 NCAA and 11 meet records fell, but because the pool was only 25 yards long, instead of the required 50 meters, no world records were established. The new American marks are: 1,650-yard freestyle by HANS FASSNACHT of Long Beach State (15:54.2); 400-yard individual medley by FASSNACHT (4:07.7); 200-yard backstroke by CHARLIE HICKCOX of Indiana (1:53.6); 200-yard freestyle by MARK SPITZ of Indiana (1:39.5); 500-yard freestyle by SPITZ in trials (4:33.2): 100-yard breaststroke by DON McKENZIE of Indiana (58.3); 200-yard butterfly by JOHN FERRIS of Stanford (1:49.6); 400-yard freestyle relay by USC (3:02.8); 800-yard freestyle relay by USC (6:49.5); 400-yard medley relay by INDIANA (3:25.8). Obviously, INDIANA took the meet, with another record—427 points, the highest total ever, and equaled the nine wins in 18 events set by Ohio Stale in 1954.
TENNIS—ANDRES GIMENO of Spain beat Arthur Ashe 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-8, 9-7 in a three-hour final to take the first $25,000 Madison Square Garden Open.
TRACK & FIELD—JIM RYUN won the mile (4:07.8) and half mile (1:51.0) in his first outdoor appearance this year as KANSAS beat host UCLA 91-63 in a dual meet. DICK RAILSBACK of UCLA won the pole vault with an exceptional 17'3".
WRESTLING—IOWA STATE won the NCAA title at Provo, Utah (page 72), led by 137-pound DAN GABLE, who scored his fifth straight pin, over Marty Willigan of Hofstra in the finals.
MILEPOSTS—DIED: LUCIEN BIANCHI, 34, Belgian auto racer; when his Alfa Romeo went off the track and hit a telegraph pole during a practice run at Le Mans, France. Bianchi won at Le Mans last year.