Season by Season
1965 to 1966
Celtics Win Eighth Straight
As Auerbach Retires
The Celtics had fought off the challenge of the 76ers
in the previous year's Eastern Division Finals, but Philadelphia was
ready to cause more problems for Boston this season. A rookie forward
from North Carolina named Billy Cunningham made an immediate contribution,
averaging 14.3 ppg and joining Wilt Chamberlain, Chet Walker and Lucious
Jackson up front, Hal Greer and second-year man Wali Jones manned the
backcourt. During the season, the 76ers beat the Celtics six times in
10 meetings, and eventually won 55 games, taking the Eastern Division
title away from the Celtics for the first time in 10 years. Chamberlain
led the league in scoring for what would prove to be the last time,
averaging 33.5 ppg and becoming the NBA's all-time leading scorer, passing
For the Playoffs, though, the Celtics had added incentive: Red Auerbach
had announced that he would retire from the bench to the front office
after the season. Boston recovered from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Cincinnati
in five games, then moved on to play Philadelphia, which had been resting
for two weeks. The 76ers proved rusty and the Celtics disposed of them
in five games, costing Coach Dolph Schayes his job in Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, the Lakers sweated out a seven-game Western Finals series
over the Hawks to advance to meet Boston. LA took the opener in overtime
in Boston, but the Celtics won the next three and, though the Lakers
fought back to tie the series, Boston gave Auerbach his desired sendoff,
his eighth straight NBA title.
AUERBACH NAMES RUSSELL HIS SUCCESSOR
Auerbach handed over the reins to his most able hands -- Bill Russell.
In addition to having some of the best players in the world at the time,
Auerbach had beaten opponents for years with mind games, always knowing
what buttons to push to frustrate or even infuriate the opposition. When
the Lakers took Game 1 of the 1966 Finals in overtime, Auerbach pulled
out a trump card, announcing that Bill Russell would succeed him as head
coach of the Celtics. Russell would become the first black head coach
in a major American sports league.
The bombshell announcement had the desired the effect: the inspired
Celtics went on to capture an eighth straight NBA Championship, the
ninth for Boston in 10 seasons.
NBA History Season by Season
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