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Today in Sports History: 4/30 – Milwaukee Bucks Win 1971 NBA Championship

Today in sports history (1971), the Milwaukee Bucks won their first NBA Championship in franchise history. The win came over the Washington Bullets in a 4-0 sweep. The Bucks were the hot up-and-coming team, as they drafted UCLA center Lew Alcindor, later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Bucks signed aging veteran guard Oscar Robertson. Adding these two to a roster of Greg Smith, Jon McGlocklin and Bob Dandridge gave the Bucks a team to notice.

At the time, the Bucks were in the Western Conference and were the first west team to win the championship since the Saint Louis Hawks in 1958. This championship also marked the first time that an expansion team won the draft since the expansion draft was held. The Milwaukee Bucks also have the record for the fastest team to win a championship in their respective sport, as the Bucks were incorporated in 1968.

Milwaukee Bucks today in sports history
Credit: NBA.com

Milwaukee Bucks Win 1971 NBA Championship

While Alcindor was only two years into his NBA career, he was a force to be reckoned with. Alcindor averaged 31.7 and 16 rebounds per game. Those were his second-highest totals in points and rebounds in his career.

The Baltimore Bullets game into Game 1 two days removed from their Eastern Conference battle with the Knicks. With Baltimore’s quick turnaround, the Bucks were able to take control of the game early and not look back. The biggest story from this game was that Bullets’ star Gus Johnson did not play, due to an injury he suffered against the Knicks. The Bucks won Game 1, 98-88, behind 31 and 17 from Alcindor.

In Game 2, the Bullets once again did not perform to their high standards. Baltimore shot just 31% from the field, while the Bucks shot 51%. Earl Monroe finished the game shooting 4/18 from the field. The Bucks won this game, 102-83, behind 27 and 24 from Alcindor.

Game 3 was a little closer, as the final score showed that the Bucks won 107-99. This time though, the leading scorer for the Bucks was Dandridge, with 29 points.

In the closeout Game 4, the Bucks once again got out to an early lead and did not look back. In this game, Robertson led the team with 30 points, while Alcindor was limited to just 12 rebounds.

It really is a shame that the Bucks only got one championship in their short window with Alcindor and Robertson. The void was eventually filled, when the Giannis Antetokounmpo brought a championship back to Milwaukee 50 years later. Slam magazine recently ranked the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks as the fifth-best team in NBA history.


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