The NBA Time Machine: 1963

Published December 26, 2022

The NBA Time Machine:

The Bay

Room For Two?

After the ’62 season, investor Franklin Mieuli purchased majority shares of the Philadelphia Warriors and made the decision to relocate to California. He wanted to put a stop to the decline in fan attendance they received in their long-term home, which seemed ludicrous given the allure of Wilt Chamberlain. They settled in the San Francisco Bay Area, subsequently becoming the San Francisco Warriors.

They were the second team to be based in the The Golden State after the Los Angeles Lakers. Because of this extreme change of placement, they were moved to the NBA‘s Western Division – this was the first time a team had changed division since the Central Division was removed in 1951.

To maintain balance, the Ohio-based Cincinnati Royals switched places with the Warriors and made the Eastern Division their home. This put them in a competitive position, now head-to-head with the rising Syracuse Nationals and dynasty Boston Celtics.

Not everyone on the team was fond of the change – Paul Arizin took it as an opportunity to retire after a fruitful ten-year career, and Tom Gola insisted on being traded to the New York Knicks. This hurt the Warriors greatly, as they had now lost two perennial All-Stars. The offense was never more dependent on their former M.V.P., and their perimeter defense saw a laughable regression. Because of this, the franchise finished with a losing record for its first time since drafting Chamberlain.


The Chicago Packers changed names to the Chicago Zephyrs and began playing in Chicago Coliseum. Due to sustained poor play during their inaugural year, they once again received good draft utilities and selected big man Bill McGill and eventual Rookie of the Year Terry Dischinger with two top ten picks.

Rookie Recognition

A new award was introduced – the All-Rookie Team. This was a parallel to the All-NBA Team, but exclusively for players in their first year – unlike All-NBA, it was not based on position whatsoever. This was the first newly implemented honor since the Most Valuable Player award in 1956.

Standout Players

Bill Russell

For the seventh season in a row, Russell’s Celtics were the number one ranked team in the NBA. He enjoyed his fourth M.V.P. award as a result – this made him the first player in league history to receive the honor for three consecutive years. Considering his continued leaps as a playmaker and acquiring of the All-Star Game MVP, it was safe to call this one of his best years yet.

Elgin Baylor

Now free of his military obligations, Baylor enjoyed a full eighty-game season and continued to leave his mark as a basketball elite. He hit new levels of efficiency, seemingly preferring precision to volume and improving his outside scoring.

Wilt Chamberlain

With Paul Arizin and Tom Gola gone, the Warriors looked shaky. They were more dependent on Wilt than ever, and he did his job through leading the league in scoring and rebounding once again. Despite this, the newly relocated franchise failed to exceed thirty-one wins.

Oscar Robertson

The Royals’ scoring continued to thrive behind Robertson’s genius playmaking. His numbers were less flashy than his sophomore year, but he shot over 50% for the first time in his career. He was the first – and at this point, only – guard to achieve such.

Bob Pettit

Now in his thirties, the two-time M.V.P. remained a consistent force. The Hawks returned to winning basketball, even with a declining Hagan – Pettit embraced the role of a high-usage first option, which was something he hadn’t done since 1957.

Jerry West

West enjoyed yet another phenomenal season before going down with a hamstring injury in the last couple months. Regardless, he was undoubtedly one of the most talented guards the league had seen – him and Baylor had transformed Los Angeles into a perennial contender.

Around the League

Team Standings

An asterisk (*) indicates that the team qualified for the playoffs.

Eastern DivisionWLWestern DivisionWL
Boston Celtics*5822Los Angeles Lakers*5327
Syracuse Nationals*4832St. Louis Hawks*4832
Cincinnati Royals*4238Detroit Pistons*3446
New York Knicks2159San Francisco Warriors3149
Chicago Zephyrs2555

Fun Facts

  • The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers seemed prepared to embrace a new rivalry with one another.
    • Besides meeting in the Finals twice, they also led their respective divisions for the second consecutive year.
  • Even with franchise great Dolph Schayes long past his best days, the Syracuse Nationals feasted and bore a top-tier offense.
    • Hal Greer and sophomore Lee Shaffer were the primary contributors – Greer had become the best shooting guard in the NBA.
  • While still terrible, the Chicago Zephyrs were actually not the worst team around – that title went to the New York Knicks, who lacked dominance on either end of the floor.
    • This delayed the Knicks’ aspirations to have a winning season during the 60’s decade.
  • The San Francisco Warriors‘ move to California was tough on morale – their thirty-one wins was the lowest total for the franchise since 1954.
  • A true rarity, the St. Louis Hawks produced a high seed despite playing with a noticeably slow pace.
    • This highlighted the consistency of their veterans, who kept the team level-headed and committed to reversing their errors from the previous season.

Notable Movement


The player stats listed are based on their last tenure, whether it be with their former team or the previous season.
Name(s) under the “Top Draft Picks” section with a plus (+) opted to play in another league instead of the NBA this season.

Name(s) under the “Top Draft Picks” section with an asterisk (*) were selected with a territorial draft pick.
p – points
r – rebounds
a – assists

Top Draft Picks

Chicago Zephyrs
New York Knicks
St. Louis Hawks
Detroit Pistons
Syracuse Nationals
Cincinnati Royals
San Francisco Warriors
Los Angeles Lakers
Boston Celtics
Chicago Zephyrs
Bill McGill
Paul Hogue
Zelmo Beaty
Dave DeBusschere*
Len Chappell
Jerry Lucas*
Wayne Hightower
Leroy Ellis
John Havlicek
Terry Dischinger


June 1962Clyde LovelletteSt. Louis HawksTradedBoston Celtics(20.9p/8.8r/1.7a)
August 29, 1962Gene ShueDetroit PistonsTradedNew York Knicks(19p/4.7r/5.8a)
December 5, 1962Willie NaullsNew York KnicksTradedSan Francisco Warriors(16.9p/8.7r/1.9a)
December 5, 1962Tom GolaSan Francisco WarriorsTradedNew York Knicks(13p/7r/3.5a)

Other Personnel

June 12, 1962Coach Jim PollardChicago PackersFiredRecord: 18-62
July 24, 1962Coach Jack McMahonChicago ZephyrsHiredRecord: 12-26
December 28, 1962Coach Slick LeonardChicago ZephyrsHiredRecord: 13-29
April 13, 1963Coach Dick McGuireDetroit PistonsResignedRecord: 34-46


PlayerTeam(s)Notable Accomplishments
Paul ArizinPhiladelphia Warriors1x Champion
4x All-NBA
10x All-Star
1x All-Star Game MVP
2x Scoring Leader
Carl BraunNew York Knicks
Boston Celtics
1x Champion
2x All-Team
5x All-Star
Ray FelixBaltimore Bullets
New York Knicks
Los Angeles Lakers
1x All-Star
1954 Rookie of the Year
Larry FoustFort Wayne Pistons
Minneapolis Lakers
St. Louis Hawks
2x All-NBA
8x All-Star
1x Rebounds Leader

League Leaders

If a stat is not listed, it was not recorded at the time. As time goes on, this section will begin to include steals per game, blocks per game, etc.


PPG – points per game
RPG – rebounds per game
APG – assists per game
FG% – field goal percentage (percentage of shots that hit)
FT% – free throw percentage (percentage of foul shots that hit)

PPGWilt Chamberlain (44.8)
Elgin Baylor (34)
Bob Pettit (28.4)
Oscar Robertson (28.3)
Walt Bellamy (27.9)
RPGWilt Chamberlain (24.3)
Bill Russell (23.6)
Walt Bellamy (16.4)
Bob Pettit (15.1)
Elgin Baylor (14.3)
APGGuy Rodgers (10.4)
Oscar Robertson (9.5)
Bob Cousy (6.8)
Si Green (5.8)
Lenny Wilkens (5.1)
FG%Wilt Chamberlain (52%)
Walt Bellamy (52%)
Oscar Robertson (51%)
Bailey Howell (51%)
Terry Dischinger (51%)
FT%Larry Costello (88%)
Richie Guerin (84%)
Elgin Baylor (83%)
Tom Heinsohn (83%)
Hal Greer (83%)



East / Cincinnati Royals beat Syracuse Nationals, 3-2
The first playoff series between these two franchises was a huge toss-up. The Nationals were a better-constructed squad, but Cincinnati had a superstar power in Oscar Robertson that couldn’t be doubted.

Hal Greer set the tone in Game 1 with thirty-two points and a win, followed by a blowout from Cincinnati two days later. Robertson delivered a forty-one point triple double and Twyman dropped thirty-one of his own. The two teams continued to trade wins until a tiebreaker was forced, set to happen in Syracuse.

The Nationals ended up falling apart on their own home court, unable to limit Robertson who delivered yet another triple double. His supporting cast all played great as well, leaving the Nationals hopeless – even with Lee Shaffer playing his heart out with forty-five points. Greer struggled all night, which rendered a Nationals win impossible.
West / St. Louis Hawks beat Detroit Pistons, 3-1
St. Louis returned to the post-season like they never left, handing the Pistons two quick blowout losses. Bob Pettit immediately left a mark with seventy-three points in the first two games, and Cliff Hagan stepped up in the first as well.

The Pistons managed to avoid a sweep thanks to double-digit scoring from six of their players in Game 3 – conversely, Pettit carried the Hawks’ scoring tremendously. Not interested in an upset, he followed up with a thirty-five point, thirteen rebound game to finish the series on a victory. The only great performance from Detroit that night was of Don Ohl, who surely resembled a star player in his third season.

Division Finals

East / Boston Celtics beat Cincinnati Royals, 4-3
As a member of the Eastern Division, the Royals were required to prepare for war with the Celtics. It was a battle of offense vs. defense, and the latter’s representatives were looking to win their fifth straight championship.

The Royals shocked fans at the Garden with an upset win in Game 1, mounting a comeback behind Robertson’s heroics. The Celtics responded through limiting his supporting cast in a Game 2 victory, given he could not be stopped. It can be assumed head coach Charles Wolf then gave Cincinnati a long talk afterwards, as the entire – yes, the entire – team scored in double digits to take a 2-1 lead shortly after.

Boston managed to take the next two games to go up 3-2 and possibly finish business on the road. They failed to accomplish such, as the Royals’ offense was just too red-hot to contain. The anticipated Game 7 ended up being a guard battle for the ages, with Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson scoring forty-three points and Boston’s Sam Jones scoring forty-seven. The Celtics eventually emerged victorious, creating a gap in the third quarter that their opponents could not recover from.
West / Los Angeles Lakers beat St. Louis Hawks, 4-3
Home court played a major role in this series, with both teams only grabbing wins on their turf the entire way.

The stars contributed as necessary in practically every game, with Cliff Hagan looking relatively good in particular. After a poor regular season, Hawks fans were warmed by his upped production. On the contrary, Jerry West showed no signs of slowing down after his seven-week absence from the game – both sides were locked in.

After nonstop win-swapping, Game 5 was the momentum changer for the matchup. Los Angeles stomped on their opponents in a blowout where none of the opposition could buy a bucket. Jerry West and Elgin Baylor cruised the entire time, whereas St. Louis’ two All-Stars combined for only nineteen points – and almost all were produced from free throws.

St. Louis forced Game 7 behind better games from Pettit and Hagan, but it was to no avail – the one-two punch of Baylor and West could not be held back from another trip to the Finals.


Boston Celtics beat Los Angeles Lakers, 4-2
An unsurprising rematch between these two storied franchises had incredibly high stakes. If the Celtics won the championship, they would surpass the Lakers for the most trophies in league history – the opposite would protect the California team’s Minneapolis-born legacy.

Boston jumped to a quick 2-0 lead, playing effective defense and riding off Sam Jones’ bucket-getting ability. The two-guard was looking excellent in this year’s playoffs, silently becoming their top scoring threat. West and Baylor had enough and defended their court with a combined seventy points the next day, feeling revitalized back in California.

West struggled heavily in a match that would eventually result in L.A. going down 1-3, while Tom Heinsohn delivered a beefy thirty-five points. The Lakers prolonged the series thanks to dominance from their superstars once more, now hoping to schedule a tiebreaker against the odds.

Ultimately, they could not overcome their demons – outscored by sixteen points in the second quarter, L.A. had to play catch-up throughout Game 6 and never made their mark. The Celtics saw victory behind a balanced team win, and once again rose to the top of the NBA. They had now joined the New York Yankees and Montreal Canadiens as the only major American sports franchises to grab five championships in a row.
The Boston Celtics win the 1963 NBA championship!


Name(s) under the “All-Stars” section with an asterisk (*) were listed as the MVP of the All-Star Game that year. Those with “(IR)” next to their name were chosen to replace an injured star.

Major Awards

Rookie of the YearMVP
Terry DischingerBill Russell


All-NBA First TeamAll-NBA Second Team
Oscar Robertson
Jerry West
Elgin Baylor
Bob Pettit
Bill Russell
Bob Cousy
Hal Greer
Bailey Howell
Tom Heinsohn
Wilt Chamberlain


Eastern All-StarsWestern All-Stars
Bob Cousy
Wayne Embry
Tom Gola
Johnny Green
Hal Greer
Richie Guerin
Tom Heinsohn
Red Kerr
Oscar Robertson
Bill Russell*
Lee Shaffer
Jack Twyman
Elgin Baylor
Walt Bellamy
Wilt Chamberlain
Terry Dischinger
Bailey Howell
Rudy LaRusso
Tom Meschery
Don Ohl
Bob Pettit
Guy Rodgers
Jerry West
Lenny Wilkens
East beats West, 115-108


All-Rookie Team
Zelmo Beaty
Dave DeBusschere
Terry Dischinger
John Havlicek
Chet Walker

All-Time Championship Leaderboard

The Baltimore Bullets (1947-1954) won the championship in 1948, but are defunct. As a result, they are not listed.

Celtics61957, 1959
1960, 1961
1962, 1963
Lakers51949, 1950
1952, 1953
Warriors21947, 1956

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