NBA Finals Game Seven; The History of the Final Game
The very first NBA Finals Game Seven in history was played in Rochester, NY in 1951. Edgerton Park Arena was home to the Rochester Royals, where 4 of the 7 games were played against the New York Knicks. Rochester pulled out the final win, ousting the Knickerbockers by 4 while 4200 fans cheered on the home team for bringing a title to the town.
The Royals moved to Kansas City not too long after that and eventually became the Sacramento Kings. The Knicks would have a good run at the Finals, but wouldn’t take their first title until 1970 — led by Walt Frasier and Willis Reed. That was won in a game 7 win against the Lakers at the formidable Madison Square Garden.
The year before the Knicks won their first, the Boston Celtics won their 8th straight title in a row. Bill Russell’s team beat the Lakers in a 7-game series at The Forum, tipping the scales by only 2 points. It was not only the first time a road team won in the finals, but it was also the same year that the first Finals MVP award was handed out. It was awarded to Jerry West, who was averaging 38 points a game throughout the series. It marks the only time the MVP award was handed out to a player on the losing squad.
The 1980’s only brought us two series that reached the 7 mark, one in ’84 and the other in ’88. Both games featured a Lakers’ team led by Magic Johnson. In the 14 games combined, Magic had double digit assists in all but one, recording an amazing 21 assists in game 3 of the ’84 finals. Larry Bird and the Celtics went on to win the ’84 finals with Bird taking home the MVP trophy.
James Worthy would get the nod in the ’88 finals as the Lakers defeated Isiah Thomas’s Pistons. Pat Riley, head coach of the Lakers, famously had said after their title run in ’87 that he “guaranteed another championship”. It was proven and Riley became the legendary coach that we know today.
A Rare Sight in the NBA
Michael Jordan’s Bulls never had a Game 7 in the Finals. They had a few to get to those 6 Finals appearances, but never in the Finals. The only time we had a game 7 in the finals in the 1990’s was the Knicks’ loss to the Rockets in ’94, Hakeem Olajuwon cementing himself into the Hall of Fame with an epic battle against Patrick Ewing. Since that battle, in the last 20 years there have only been 3 other Game 7’s in the Finals, the most recent coming in 2013 when the Heat, led by LeBron James, pulled it out against a Spurs team led by Tim Duncan.
In the last 67 years, the NBA Finals only reached a Game 7 18 times. Only 18! Most of those coming in the early years when the first rounds were only 5 games. Since all the rounds have became a 7 Game series, the number has dropped significantly. The fact that this series currently between the Cavaliers and the Warriors has reached 7 is more than most critics and pundits had believed earlier in the season. It has been an extremely entertaining series so far and Game 7 should not be much different.
As it approaches, it has the potential to be the highest rated Finals game in history. People are not only tuning in to see who takes home the championship, but it could signify a passing of the torch. The face of the NBA is at stake here, as LeBron gets older and Steph seems to get younger.
Curry has been seen as the heir apparent to the NBA Throne that King James self-proclaimed in his early days in Cleveland. But Curry has been kept relatively at bay so far this series. LeBron James on the other hand has thumbed his nose at the first ever unanimous MVP and had a series that has his critics fawning.
Last year, LeBron’s name came up for MVP even though he was on the losing end of the series. There’s a good possibility that happens again this year if the Cavs lose. But if they win, hands down LeBron gets the nod.
Sunday night marks the 19th Game 7 in the Finals. No matter who wins, it will be an epic game with historical proportions. If the Warriors win, the history books will reflect a 73 win season that they finished by winning a second title in a row. If the Cavs win, LeBron stays on top of his throne, high above Cleveland, crowned a champion again, for at least another year.
(NBA Finals Game Seven)