5 NBA regular seasons better than 2016-2017
#5 – 1976-1977
The NBA merged with the ABA and welcomed four new teams: San Antonio Spurs, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets, and Brooklyn Nets (back then they were called the New York Nets). The merger also brought Julius Erving into the NBA. He went on to win MVP of the All-Star Game. This year, the NBA got 42 triple-doubles from Russel Westbrook, but thirty years ago, the NBA got the doctor.
#4 – 1969-1970
The first year after Bill Russell retired turned out to be much better than anyone anticipated thanks to the arrival of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor). He averaged 29 points on 52-percent shooting. The MVP went to the Knicks’ Wills Reed. He also won the All-Star MVP and Finals MVP. Before Game 7 of the NBA Finals, Reed made a legendary entrance into Madison Square Garden despite a serious injury. That doesn’t count, however, since this article is about the regular seasons.
#3 – 1961-1962
This was the season where Oscar Robertson posted 41 triple-doubles (the record Russell Westbrook broke). Also in ’61-’62, Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50.4 points per game and 25.7 boards. Neither one took home MVP honors. The trophy went to Bill Russell. He averaged nearly 19 points, more than 23 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. Other stars that had a great regular season include Elgin Baylor (38.3 points per game), Bob Petit (31.1 points per game), and Jerry West (30.8 points per game).
#2 – 1998–99
A lockout shortened this season to 50 games. It was awesome. Teams played back-to-back-to-back games. The regular season was just fourth months long. Every night there was a bunch of games on the NBA League Pass. Players today probably would have quit by mid-March, but guys were tougher back then. The easiest way to improve the NBA, or any league other than the NFL, is to shorten the regular season. It will never intentionally happen, but in 1999 labor strife gave us a 50-game regular season and it was glorious.