Recently I watched the Game 7 of the 1962 NBA Finals and it was… painful to watch. The game-play was so slow and without any scheme, based only on completely random jump-shots. No crossovers, no pick-and-rolls, no backdoor cuts, not a single catch-and-shooter coming off a screen, literally nothing. It was just like when you go to a park and every random guy who gets the ball, sprints at the other end and shoot it without thinking too much. It was a Boston Celtics vs. Los Angeles Lakers game, and the full rosters were:
Boston Celtics; Bill Russell, Sam Jones, Tom Heinsohn, Bob Cousy, Tom Sanders, K.C. Jones, Frank Ramsey, Jim Loscutoff, Gary Phillips, Carl Braun, and Gene Guarilia.
Jerry West and Elgin Baylor were highlighting the roster for the Lakers. The other ones playing were Rudy LaRusso, Frank Selvy, Jim Krebs, Ray Felix, Tom Hawkins, Hot Rod Hundley, Bob McNeill, Howie Joliff and Wayne Yates.
We get that there are quite some huge names that left a footprint on the game, in the great Bill Russell or “the logo” Jerry West, but we must admit that the level of basketball was very low. It looked like they didn’t have a coach or one single practice before the game. No wonder that Bill Russell won 11 NBA Finals.
However, it is interesting to observe how things changed through the years, and how sports science and technology helped to develop the quality of the game. The all kinds of ball-handling drills, the special exercises that are improving players’ athleticism and jumping abilities, the film sessions, team doctors, medication, all those are some important factors that weren’t existing back in the “Bill Russell days”. Another interesting perspective that can be perceived is the evolution factor, a thing that can be seen not only in every branch of society through time, but in sports as well. As much as the time have gone by in the ’50s, ’60s, 70’s and so on, the bio-mechanics changed by every new inch of medical progression.