23 Haziran 2010 Çarşamba

Bill Russell

Foto: Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images

Game 7, 1969 NBA Finals. The Lakers have lost six NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics, but for the first time in the history of the rivalry the L.A. guys have home-court advantage. Game 7 is being played in the Forum.

Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke is so sure that his team is finally going to win a title that he orders the rafters filled with balloons. As soon as the Lakers win, Cooke wants the balloons released as his pep band plays “Happy Days Are Here Again.”

Celtics player/coach Bill Russell walks into the Forum before the game, looks up in the rafters and says, “Those balloons are gonna stay up there a hell of a long time.”

To this day, Jerry West remains furious over Cooke’s blunder. The owner had ceded the emotional edge to Russell and his Celtics, who promptly sealed the Lakers in their private hell despite West’s furious effort with 42 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists.

Roland Lazenby

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