As a Net, Dr. J dunked Denver in the ABA finals. Then, before making a tricky move to Philly, he was a major reason the ABA finally netted a merger with the NBA.
Phoenix seemed to have fortune on its side. After finishing only third in its division, it upset the defending NBA champion Warriors in the Western conference finals. But even the Cinderella Suns could not make Boston's run for its 13th title an unlucky one, the Celtics winning in six games, in the ABA, the Nets used a full-court press to up-end the Nuggets for their second championship—and the league's last. Shortly after the playoffs, the NBA and a four-team remnant of the ABA agreed to merge.
Celtic coach Tom Heinsohn steamed in arenas and ads.
Dave Cowens left the Suns' Alvan Adams gaping in the NBA finals, then he left the Celtics gasping by taking a leave of absence.
With David Thompson doing his stuff, Denver got off to a mile-high start that left its new rivals in the NBA feeling low down.
Heady Slick Watts led the NBA in both steals and assists.
Super fans helped the Suns rise very unexpectedly in the West.
Two coups for Bob McAdoo: leading the NBA scorers, then shuffling from Buffalo.
Shunning litigation for negotiation, NBA Commissioner Larry O'Brien molded the merger ending his league's war with the ABA.
Indiana of the Big Ten dominated the season from start to finish, opening with an 84-64 rout of defending champion UCLA and closing with an NCAA title-clinching 86-68 victory over Michigan. In between, the Hoosiers, who were led by Player of the Year Scott May at forward, 6'11", 255-pound Center Kent Benson and muscular Guard Quinn Buckner, won all 30 of their games by an average of 17.2 points. Even in the NCAAs only Alabama gave the Hoosiers any trouble, before losing 74-69.
Led by tricky Rickey Green, Michigan joined Indiana in an all-Big Ten national final.
A rapacious rebounder, Benson sometimes even snatched the ball from Hoosier star May.
Even without John Wooden, Richard Washington led the Bruins to a 28-4 record.
Virginia, sixth in the ACC's season, treated Carolina and the other league powers cavalierly in the postseason tournament.
Led by the likes of leggy Guard Mike Dabney, Rutgers was the unbeaten hotshot of the East until it lost twice in the NCAA finals.