The 1968-69 season of the NBA was an exciting one, featuring new stars and up and coming teams, but in the end things ended in the same way that they always seemed to end.
One of the biggest changes in the NBA in that season was the dismantling of the 76ers. The 76ers were recently the NBA Champions and looked like a team that could challenge the Celtics and Lakers for the Championship for years to come. Before the season started their coach Alex Hannum decided to leave the NBA to coach in the NBA. He received a more lucrative deal and jumped ship. He was not the only part of their team that left. Wilt Chamberlain would demand a trade out of his hometown.
Chamberlain loved playing in Philly until he received a large amount of criticism for losing to the Celtics the year before. He decided that he could not stand playing there anymore without the support of his hometown. After demanding a trade the 76ers were able to work out a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. Wilt Chamberlain would go to Los Angeles to join future Hall of Famers Jerry West and Elgin Baylor.
The NBA had never really seen a team with the star power that the Lakers had and many people assumed that they would walk through their opponents. As the season wore on it appeared that everyone's suspicions were true. The Lakers would go on to finish atop the Western Division by a margin of 7 games with a 55-27 record. The Atlanta Hawks were the only team in the vicinity of the Lakers in the division, going 48-34 on the season. Only one other team in the entire division managed to finish at or above .500 on the season. The San Francisco Warriors would finish with a 41-41 record.
The Eastern Conference featured a new top dog. The Baltimore Bullets leaped up the standings and took the honors of the best regular season record in the NBA. They finished with a 57-25 record on the season. The 76ers still managed to come in second in their division with 55 wins despite losing their two leaders. The Knicks would finish in 3rd place with a solid record of 54-28 on the season. The last team to make the playoffs in the division would be the Boston Celtics. They finished with just 48 wins and in 4th place in the division. Despite the fact that they did not have a great record, nobody was counting them out for the championship with their track record.
History began to repeat itself as the Lakers and the Celtics pushed through their opponents en route to the Finals. The Knicks and Hawks were both put out in the round leading up to the Finals, leaving the Lakers and Celtics to battle it out yet again.
While the Lakers now had someone to battle against Bill Russell, they were not able to overcome the Celtics. The series would go down to the wire, but the Celtics would take the NBA Championship with a 4 wins and 3 losses in the Finals.