Who Were the Best NBA Players of the 1960s? These Guy, Without a Doubt.

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The “Swinging Sixties”. Hippies roamed wild and the air was infused with the distinct smell of Mexican weed. Neil Armstrong became the first man ever to walk on the moon famously proclaiming,”One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” (No steps for women, though. Although contraception was approved in 1960 in what was a giant leap for us all!)
Meanwhile, back on Earth. In the sports landscape the NBA was experiencing a huge boost in popularity. The Boston Celtics became the most dominant franchise in sports history. They won all but one championship in the 60s. That is an unprecedented feat that has never been duplicated. The NBA now had legitimate stars. Games were rough, fouls were actually fouls and there was no such thing as “flopping”.
The 60s were an unforgettable era dominated by two of the biggest big men of all-time (in stature and in personality). Here is a breakdown of the top five players of the 1960s.

5 Elgin Baylor

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Baylor was an all-star every year during the 60s. He was known as the most athletic, flashy and acrobatic player of the decade and his game was ahead of its time. He played above the rim and was known for his amazing array of moves. He could shoot over you, dunk on you or dribble past you at the drop of a dime. He went off for a then record 61 points in a Game 5 NBA Finals game against the Celtics who were known as a stellar defensive team. Baylor averaged 27 points and13 rebounds during the 1960s.

4 Oscar “The Big O” Robertson

After winning the Rookie of the Year award during the ’60-’61 season Mr. Robertson became the only player to average a triple-double over an entire season during the ’61-’62 season (averaging 31 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists). A triple-double is the hardest feat to accomplish in a single game, so averaging it over a whole season is absurd. To this day Robertson is the all-time leader in the triple-double category with 181. “The Big O” was an all-star every season in the 60s and was MVP of the all-star game in ’61, ’64 and ’69. He was also the NBA MVP in 1964. Enough said.

3 Jerry “Mr.Clutch” West

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There are two significant reasons that place Jerry West in the #3 spot ahead of the two guys below. Numberone: His silhouette is literally the NBA logo! Number two: He is the only Caucasian guy to make this list or even be close to consideration for this list. Standing at 6’2, Mr. West was known as Mr. Clutch for his uncanny ability to make game-winning baskets in crucial situations. He even nailed a buzzer beating 60-footer to tie an NBA finals game in what was one of numerous clutch shots he accumulated during his illustrious career. He was the NBA Finals MVP in ’69 and an all-star in every season in the 60s. West averaged 28 points and six assists during the 1960s and will forever be remembered for his smooth play, pretty jump-shot, knack for making the big shot, flawless hair and his silhouette which will represent the NBA as long as it exists.

2 Bill Russell

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If Mr. Russell had slept with 20,001 women he might have a righteous argument as to who should really be #1 on this list. Russell averaged 13 points and 20 rebounds during the Celtic’s reign. But whenever an argument arises as to who is great and who is not, championships will always be a huge factor. When it comes to rings Russell totaled nine in the 60s and 11 in his career. That is more than any player in NBA history. And he was the unquestioned star of his championship teams (sorry Robert Horry your seven rings do not carry a significant amount of weight as you were a role player on those three teams). He was the MVP in “61, ’62, ’63 and ’65. He also made the all-star team every year in the 1960s. Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain were head and shoulders above everybody that played in the 60s.

1 Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain

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He would be number one on this list just on the basis of his claim of having slept with 20,000 women! But on the court Chamberlain was an even better scorer than he was in the bedroom (if that is possible). He averaged 50.4 points per game in the ’61-’62 season, in which he also scored 100 points in a single game (the all-time record). His Philadelphia 76ers accounted for the only championship the Celtics did not claim in the 60s. Just in the 60s alone he led the league in scoring seven times, rebounding eight times, free throws attempted nine times (they could not stop him so they fouled him constantly), field goal percentage seven times and even led in minutes played eight times (all that sex did not seem to wear him out at all, the man was a beast). If all that is not enough to claim the top spot, then nobody will ever be worthy.

The “Swinging Sixties” was a turning point for the National Basketball Association. As the Celtics were solidifying their dominance the NBA’s popularity was soaring, setting the table for future stars as well as the stars of today. These are undoubtedly the biggest stars of the 1960s, wouldn’t you agree?

Rolando Rodriguez is a California State University alumni. He is currently a freelance writer for the Daily Breeze where he covers local high school sports. Mr.Rodriguez is an avid sports fan who closely follows MLB, NBA, NFL, MMA and boxing.

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