The NBA Time Machine: 1967

Published March 9, 2023

The NBA Time Machine:

Ten Teams

Back In Chicago

After the Chicago Zephyrs moved to Baltimore in 1963, the NBA was without a team in the promising mid-west market once more – it only took them a few years to commit to the idea again, now choosing to host the Chicago Bulls.

With the Bulls in town, the league now had ten teams for the first time in fourteen years. They occupied the already watered-down Western Division, further worsening its competition. This also meant the Baltimore Bullets now occupied the East – a much-appreciated relief for their personnel, who no longer had to travel cross-country to meet half of their rivals.

As usual with fresh teams, the Bulls participated in an expansion draft. However, the most notable pickup was perennial All-Star Guy Rodgers, who had been acquired in a trade with the San Francisco Warriors. He was integral to the impressive thirty-three-win season Chicago put together, as his experienced playmaking took pressure off of less comfortable teammates.

Playoff Power

Due to the increase in league size, the playoffs were re-formatted. The following changes were made:

  • Four teams from each division made the playoffs, as opposed to three.
  • The first seed in each division no longer received a “bye”, and were required to compete in the first round.
  • This increased the playoffs series total from five to seven.

This shift in structure arguably increased the competitiveness of the post-season, but slightly disincentivized pushing for a first seed.

Record Winners

The Philadelphia 76ers finished last season on a disappointing note, bowing out to their rival Boston Celtics in a gentleman’s sweep upset. Philly responded by building the greatest campaign in league history – they soared past their contemporaries to a sixty-eight-win total, ranked as the best offense, and only lost two games at home.

There were two major reasons for this advancement – first was the hiring of the accomplished coach Alex Hannum, who boasted a championship and three Finals appearances to his name. Hannum had coached Wilt Chamberlain in San Francisco, and was a large component of the Stilt’s then-most successful season to date.

The other catalyst was Chamberlain’s willingness to alter his playing style behind Hannum’s advice. His scoring average dropped by almost ten points, but he committed to being an elite playmaker – his 7.8 assists per game was good for third in the league. Chamberlain’s shot selection was also refined, shooting an unbelievable sixty-eight-percent from the field that crushed the previous record of fifty-four-percent – also set by him.

Emerging Rival

A number of rival leagues had sprouted around the nation at this point, but the NBA was too storied and solidified – nothing could truly knock it down. However, a particular competitor was founded this year – the American Basketball Association (ABA), of whom basketball great George Mikan was the commissioner.

It didn’t make noise remotely close to that of its established rival, but the inter-league ties – as well as new gimmicks – garnered the interest of some players.

Bay Is Booming

Western Division antics were at an all-time high, with five teams present and only one soaring above the rest. The team in question was the San Francisco Warriors, who improved by nine games and finished top three league-wide.

Sophomore Rick Barry led the NBA in scoring with a ballistic 35.6 points per game, and center Nate Thurmond had now blossomed into one of the best defenders around. It was reasonable to say the Warriors ran California at this moment – since their arrival, this was the first instance in which they finished with a winning record and the Los Angeles Lakers didn’t.

Standout Players

Wilt Chamberlain

Despite a disappointing end to the previous season, Philadelphia let nothing demotivate them. Wilt Chamberlain led the team to a historic winning pace – despite averaging a steep career low 24.1 points per game, his playmaking and efficiency hit unprecedented levels. He became the first player to shoot over sixty-percent from the field.

Rick Barry

Regardless of an already lethal rookie campaign, Barry elevated to an unbelievable level in ’66-67. The Warriors improved by nine wins, grabbed the first seed in the West, and looked like dark horse contenders. He also led the league in points per game, becoming the first player besides Wilt Chamberlain to do so since 1959.

Bill Russell

Russell had a taxing year, taking over coaching duties for the Celtics while also having to maintain his superstar image. He sacrificed scoring production for efficiency and playmaking, taking advantage of the improved Celtics offense. The reigning champions ultimately finished with the third sixty-win season in franchise history.

Oscar Robertson

While the Royals struggled – amassing their first losing record since Robertson’s rookie season – the former M.V.P. had another fine run. He averaged over thirty points and ten assists for the fifth time in seven attempts.

Willis Reed

Reed was silently blossoming into a future superstar. He became increasingly comfortable sharing the frontcourt with Walt Bellamy, leading New York in both points and rebounds. The most intriguing storyline was the Knicks seeing the playoffs – their last visit was in the fifties.

Jerry West

Strangely enough, the return to form for Elgin Baylor wasn’t enough to keep the Lakers afloat. They were nine games worse, but West continued to lead them to a playoff berth despite injury bugs – his continued improvement as a playmaker influenced that outcome.

Around the League

Team Standings

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

Eastern DivisionWLWestern DivisionWL
Philadelphia 76ers*6813San Francisco Warriors*4437
Boston Celtics*6021St. Louis Hawks*3942
Cincinnati Royals*3942Los Angeles Lakers*3645
New York Knicks*3645Chicago Bulls*3348
Baltimore Bullets2061Detroit Pistons3051

Fun Facts

  • The Philadelphia 76ers’ regular season was the greatest to date.
    • They broke the record for most wins (62), set by the Boston Celtics in the 1964-65 season.
    • They broke the long-standing record for win percentage (.817), set by the Washington Capitols in the league’s inaugural year.
  • The Cincinnati Royals’ losing record was the franchise’s first since 1961, when they initially acquired Oscar Robertson.
  • For the first time in league history, more teams with losing records made the playoffs than vice versa.
    • This highlighted the severe gap between the contenders and every other competitor.
  • For the first time since acquiring Bill Russell, the Boston Celtics finished with an offensive rating above league average.
    • Defense had always singlehandedly won them games, but they were now notable on both ends of the floor.

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.

p – points
r – rebounds
a – assists

Top Draft Picks

New York Knicks
Detroit Pistons
San Francisco Warriors
St. Louis Hawks
Baltimore Bullets
Cincinnati Royals
Los Angeles Lakers
Boston Celtics
Philadelphia 76ers
Chicago Bulls
Cazzie Russell
Dave Bing
Clyde Lee
Lou Hudson
Jack Marin
Walt Wesley
Jerry Chambers
Jim Barnett
Matt Guokas
Dave Schellhase


September 1, 1966Bailey HowellBaltimore BulletsTradedBoston Celtics(17.5p/9.9r/2a)
September 7, 1966Guy RodgersSan Francisco WarriorsTradedChicago Bulls(18.6p/5.3r/10.7a)
January 16, 1967Rudy LaRussoLos Angeles LakersTradedDetroit Pistons(12.8p/7.8r/1.7a)

Other Personnel

May 2, 1966Coach Dolph SchayesPhiladelphia 76ersFiredRecord: 55-25
May 2, 1966Coach Alex HannumPhiladelphia 76ersHiredRecord: 68-13
May 3, 1966Coach Red KerrChicago BullsHiredRecord: 33-48
May 28, 1966Coach Paul SeymourBaltimore BulletsResignedRecord: 38-42
November 3, 1966Coach Mike FarmerBaltimore BulletsFiredRecord: 1-8
November 3, 1966Coach Buddy JeannetteBaltimore BulletsAppointed (Interim) Record: 3-13
December 5, 1966Coach Gene ShueBaltimore BulletsHired Record: 16-40
March 7, Dave DeBusschereDetroit PistonsResignedRecord: 28-45
March 7, 1967Coach Donnie ButcherDetroit PistonsHired Record: 2-6


PlayerTeam(s)Notable Accomplishments
Tom GolaSan Francisco Warriors
New York Knicks
1x Champion
1x All-NBA
5x All-Sta
Cliff HaganSt. Louis Hawks1x Champion
2x All-NBA
5x All-Star
Red KerrPhiladelphia 76ers
Baltimore Bullets
1x Champion
3x All-Star
Willie NaullsSt. Louis Hawks
New York Knicks
San Francisco Warriors
Boston Celtics
3x Champion
4x All-Star
Woody SauldsberryPhiladelphia Warriors
St. Louis Hawks
Chicago Zephyrs
Boston Celtics
1x Champion
1x All-Star
1958 Rookie of the Year
Jack TwymanCincinnati Royals2x All-NBA

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)

PPGRick Barry (35.6)
Oscar Robertson (30.5)
Jerry West (28.7)
Elgin Baylor (26.6)
Wilt Chamberlain (24.1)
RPGWilt Chamberlain (24.2)
Nate Thurmond (21.3)
Bill Russell (21)
Jerry Lucas (19.1)
Bill Bridges (15.1)
APGGuy Rodgers (11.2)
Oscar Robertson (10.7)
Wilt Chamberlain (7.8)
Jerry West (6.8)
Howard Komives (6.2)
FG%Wilt Chamberlain (68%)
Walt Bellamy (52%)
Bailey Howell (51%)
Oscar Robertson (49%)
Willis Reed (48%)
FT%Adrian Smith (90%)
Rick Barry (88%)
Jerry West (87%)
Oscar Robertson (87%)
Sam Jones (85%)



East / Boston Celtics beat New York Knicks, 3-1
New York’s first playoff appearance in nearly a decade was a brutal matchup against the reigning champions. This would serve as a big test for both the young Willis Reed and veteran Walt Bellamy – this was the former’s first post-season appeareace, and the latter’s second.

They were ill-prepared for the intricacy of Boston’s defense, getting blown out in Game 1 and warded off in the next despite an efficient thirty points from Reed. The Knicks managed a home win to deny defeat, holding Boston to thirty-three-percent shooting while Reed and Bellamy combined for sixty-one points. These efforts were ultimately trivial, though – Sam Jones ended matters with fifty-one in a close-out victory, stunning Madison Square Garden.
East / Philadelphia 76ers beat Cincinnati Royals, 3-1
Since the division first seeds did not receive a “bye” in the playoffs anymore, Wilt Chamberlain and company were forced to face the Cincinnati Royals. They were coming off of a rough regular season campaign. but still had two All-Stars that could put up a fight.

The 76ers perhaps underestimated Cincinnati a bit too much, giving up a win at home amidst a fierce duel between Oscar Robertson and Chamberlain. They proceeded to win three straight to take the series – the Royals supporting cast did not provide enough firepower on offense to complement Robertson, and Chamberlain was doing whatever he wanted. In Game 3 he dropped an absurd 16/30/19 stat-line in a blowout victory.

What was perhaps the most surprising narrative of the series was Robertson’s passiveness – he only reached his seasonal scoring average in one of four games, and dropped a measly twelve points on terrible efficiency in the decisive Game 4. The Royals had now failed to win a playoff series for the third straight year.
West / San Francisco Warriors beat Los Angeles Lakers, 3-0
The Warriors entered as overwhelming favorites. This was not just because of their superior record – the Lakers were also missing Jerry West to injury. The post-season looked bleak for L.A., but it was still unwise to count out a team coming off of consecutive Finals appearances.

San Francisco shut down any comparisons between the Californian franchises with a quick three-game sweep. Star players Rick Barry and Elgin Baylor both struggled in the first two matches, but the Warriors’ defense gave them a fighting chance. Once Baylor managed to escape his shooting slump – dropping thirty-seven in Game 3 – Barry mirrored him to secure a victory. Jerry West even attempted to play, but could only log one minute before the pain caught up to him.
West / St. Louis Hawks beat Chicago Bulls, 3-0
The Bulls had posted the best run by an expansion franchise in a very long time – the fact they were even in the playoffs was remarkable. With that considered, it was completely unsurprising that they grabbed zero series wins.

Their offense was abysmal, with Bob Boozer being the only person to step up his game. Meanwhile, St. Louis had two All-Stars and a hungry rookie in Lou Hudson – considering the difference in personnel quality, there was little to no opportunity for competitiveness in this matchup.

Division Finals

East / Philadelphia 76ers beat Boston Celtics, 4-1
In a sharp reversal of the previous year, the 76ers opened the series murdering the Celtics’ dreams of an easy brawl. Philadelphia looked comfortably more prepared for a championship – Wilt Chamberlain outplayed Bill Russell at every stage, their supporting cast was better, and nobody but John Havlicek was getting anything going for Boston.

The Celtics managed to avoid a sweep thanks to sixty-three combined points from Havlicek and Sam Jones – as well as a rare Chamberlain off-night – but their efforts were futile. The closing performance from the 76ers was one of the most vengefully dominant in league history. Five players – Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Chet Walker, Wali Jones, and Billy Cunningham – scored over twenty points, and Chamberlain dropped a triple-double while holding his long-time rival to two field goals.

Tides had changed, and the 76ers were the new kings of the East. The Celtics’ championship streak of eight years had ended in abrupt fashion.
West / San Francisco Warriors beat St. Louis Hawks, 4-2
Both of these Western teams had swept their first-round matchups, which set up an interesting dynamic for the second round. Would the Warriors follow trends and advance to the Finals? Or would the Hawks pull off an upset, which was unfamiliar territory for the franchise?

Whatever the result would be, it would need to involve road wins. And that was something neither team could buy for over a week – the series was split 2-2 as both squads dominated on their respective floors. Rick Barry and rookie Lou Hudson had started off hot and progressively cooled down, with the former sitting most of a Game 4 loss due to a mid-game injury.

Complications meant nothing to the scoring champion, though – he bounced back amidst consecutive Warriors victories, sending the Hawks home behind a forty-one piece in the comforts of The Bay.


Philadelphia 76ers beat San Francisco Warriors, 4-2
The 1967 Finals was an exciting one for basketball fans – for the first time in a decade, there was a new Eastern representative. The Warriors also returned to the highest stage for the first time since 1964. What spiced up the narrative even further was that Wilt Chamberlain was facing his former franchise – they rebuilt quickly following his absence, and it put so much more pressure on the chase for his first title.

Matters begun as expected – Rick Barry scored in volume, Nate Thurmond was fierce inside, and Hal Greer got buckets on buckets. Chamberlain approached this matchup with a remarkable IQ – knowing the quality of Thurmond’s rim protection, he limited his field goal attempts and got teammates involved with ten assists. This had been the story of Philly’s success up to this point, and worked in the first two games.

The Warriors took a match at home behind fifty-five points from Rick Barry. They lost two nights later despite him scoring over forty yet again – his performance was generational, but the 76ers roster was just so much better. Thurmond’s impact was limited as well, being held to a pedestrian offensive impact when facing Chamberlain.

San Francisco managed a road win to avoid defeat, and nearly forced Game 7 until a collapse in the clutch awarded Philadelphia their coveted fourth victory. It was a balanced winning effort led by Chamberlain’s twenty-four points and twenty-six rebounds, and silenced critics nationally. The Big Dipper now had a championship to his name, and the 76ers won it all for the first time since their move to Pennsylvania.
The Philadelphia 76ers win the 1967 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 YearMVPCoach of the Year
Dave BingWilt ChamberlainJohnny Kerr


All-NBA First TeamAll-NBA Second Team
Oscar Robertson
Jerry West
Elgin Baylor
Rick Barry
Wilt Chamberlain
Hal Greer
Sam Jones
Jerry Lucas
Willis Reed
Bill Russell


Eastern All-StarsWestern All-Stars
Wilt Chamberlain
Hal Greer
John Havlicek
Bailey Howell
Jerry Lucas

Don Ohl
Willis Reed
Oscar Robertson
Bill Russell
Chet Walker
Rick Barry*
Elgin Baylor
Bill Bridges

Dave DeBusschere
Darrall Imhoff
Guy Rodgers
Jerry Sloan
Nate Thurmond
Jerry West
Lenny Wilkens
West beats East, 135-120


All-Rookie Team
Dave Bing
Lou Hudson
Jack Marin
Erwin Mueller
Cazzie Russell

All-Time Championship Leaderboard

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

Celtics91957, 1959
1960, 1961
1962, 1963
1964, 1965
Lakers51949, 1950
1952, 1953
Warriors21947, 1956
76ers21955, 1967

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