|1971–72 NBA season|
|League||National Basketball Association|
October 12, 1971 – March 26, 1972|
March 28–April 23, 1972 (Playoffs)
April 26–May 7, 1972 (Finals)
|Number of games||82|
|Number of teams||17|
|Top draft pick||Austin Carr|
|Picked by||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|Season MVP||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Milwaukee)|
|Top scorer||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Milwaukee)|
|Eastern champions||New York Knicks|
|Eastern runners-up||Boston Celtics|
|Western champions||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Western runners-up||Milwaukee Bucks|
|Champions||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Runners-up||New York Knicks|
|Finals MVP||Wilt Chamberlain (L.A. Lakers)|
The 1971–72 NBA season was the 26th season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the Los Angeles Lakers winning the NBA Championship, beating the New York Knicks 4 games to 1 in the NBA Finals.
As the 25th anniversary of the founding of the modern NBA, the league unveiled a new logo, inspired by the logo of Major League Baseball, to commemorate the occasion. It features the white silhouette of a basketball player dribbling, framed by red and blue. Jerry West of the Los Angeles Lakers was used as the model for the logo. Coincidentally, Jerry West would win the only NBA Championship of his career during the season.
|Team||1970–71 coach||1971–72 coach|
|Los Angeles Lakers||Joe Mullaney||Bill Sharman|
|San Diego/Houston Rockets||Alex Hannum||Tex Winter|
|Team||Outgoing coach||Incoming coach|
|Detroit Pistons||Bill Van Breda Kolff
The Los Angeles Lakers came into the season returning a veteran squad from their playoff run a year before. Nine games into the season, aging and oft injured Elgin Baylor announced his retirement after 13 seasons. He was replaced at the starting small forward spot by Jim McMillian, who would go on to average 18 points per game, third best on the team. Despite Baylor's retirement, the Lakers went on a 33-game winning streak. The Lakers completed two undefeated months, going 14–0 in November and 16–0 in December. After winning their first three games in January, the Lakers lost 120–104 to the Milwaukee Bucks. On March 20, 1972, the Lakers beat Golden State by a record 63 points (162–99), a mark that would stand until 1991, when Cleveland beat Miami by 68 points (148–80). The Lakers finished the season with a record 69 wins, which would stand until the 1995–96 season when the Chicago Bulls won 72 regular season games.
The defending champion Milwaukee Bucks won 63 games on the play of renamed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, formerly Lew Alcindor, and Oscar Robertson. The Celtics, led by second year center Dave Cowens, point guard Jo Jo White and 32-year-old swingman John Havlicek won the Atlantic Division with 56 wins. Boston had recovered from the retirement of Bill Russell, K. C. Jones and Sam Jones by winning 12 more games than the previous season.
In the first round, the Lakers swept the Bulls and Milwaukee defeated Golden State. New York eliminated the Bullets and Boston won against the Atlanta Hawks. In the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers lost game 1 versus the defending champion Bucks at The Forum 93–72, a game that saw the Lakers score only 8 points in the third quarter. However, the Lakers led by assist champion Jerry West, leading scorer Gail Goodrich and veteran Wilt Chamberlain would win 4 of the next 5 games and beat Milwaukee in six games. In the Eastern Conference Finals, New York defeated the top-seed Celtics in five games.
In the NBA Finals, New York won game 1 very easily, but Los Angeles won game 2 106–92 to even the series. In game 3, the Lakers jumped out to a 22-point lead and regained home-court advantage with a 107–96 win. In game 4, the Knicks forced overtime. At the end of regulation, Wilt Chamberlain was called for his fifth foul. In his first 12 seasons, he had never fouled out of a game. Chamberlain did not foul out and led the Lakers to a 116–111 victory, but he broke his wrist in the overtime period. The Lakers held a 3–1 series lead going into game 5 in Los Angeles. In game 5, Chamberlain played despite his injury. The score was tied at 53 in the first half, but the Lakers outscored the Knicks 61–47 in the second half to win the game and the NBA Championship, 114–100.
||To Baltimore Bullets
Mike Riordan, Dave Stallworth, 1973 first-round pick, 1976 second-round and first-round picks
|To New York Knicks|
|x-New York Knicks||48||34||.585||8||27–14||20–19||1–1||11–7|
|y-Los Angeles Lakers||69||13||.841||–||36–5||31–7||2–1||21–3|
|x-Golden State Warriors||51||31||.622||18||27–8||21–20||3–3||14–10|
|Portland Trail Blazers||18||64||.220||51||14–26||4–35||0–3||4–20|
|3||x-New York Knicks||48||34||.585|
|1||z-Los Angeles Lakers||69||13||.841|
|4||x-Golden State Warriors||51||31||.622|
|9||Portland Trail Blazers||18||64||.220|
|Conference Semifinals||Conference Finals||NBA Finals|
|Game 1||April 26 (Wed.)||New York Knicks||114–92||at Los Angeles|
|Game 2||April 30 (Sun.)||Los Angeles Lakers||106–92||at Los Angeles|
|Game 3||May 3 (Wed.)||Los Angeles Lakers||107–96||at New York|
|Game 4||May 5 (Fri.)||Los Angeles Lakers||116–111||at New York|
|Game 5||May 7 (Sun.)||Los Angeles Lakers||114–100||at Los Angeles|
Lakers win series 4–1
|Points per game||Kareem Abdul-Jabbar||Milwaukee Bucks||34.8|
|Rebounds per game||Wilt Chamberlain||Los Angeles Lakers||19.2|
|Assists per game||Jerry West||Los Angeles Lakers||9.7|
|FG%||Wilt Chamberlain||Los Angeles Lakers||.649|
|FT%||Jack Marin||Baltimore Bullets||.894|
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