Blast From The Past: October In NBA History

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By Henry L. Liao

Larry Bird

October 12, 1979 – Larry Bird received a standing ovation – a dove was released – as the Boston Celtics prized rookie was introduced to the Boston Garden fans minutes before his NBA debut. Bird went on to score 14 points in the Celtics’ 114-106 victory over the Houston Rockets. Late in the opening quarter, Boston guard Chris Ford knocked in the first three-point field goal in NBA history.

October 15, 1966 – Bill Russell became the NBA’s first black head coach when he was designated as player-coach for the Boston Celtics. Russell piloted the Celts to a 121-113 win over the San Francisco (now Golden State) Warriors at the Boston Garden. Russell, who coached for only three seasons with the Hub City squad, mentored the Celtics to a pair of NBA championships in 1968 and 1969.

Chris Ford
Chris Ford

October 15, 1966 – Matt Guokas Jr. played in his first game with the Philadelphia 76ers, marking the first time that a father-son combination had competed in the NBA. The elder Matt performed with the Philadelphia (now Golden State) Warriors during the 1946-47 season, helping guide the team to the title in the Basketball Association of America (BAA), the harbinger of the NBA. At the time of his son’s debut, he was a sportscaster for the Sixers.

October 18, 1974 – Nate Thurmond, a center for the Chicago Bulls, racked up 22 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists, and 12 blocked shots in a 120-115 overtime decision over the Atlanta Hawks at the Chicago Stadium. It was the first documented quadruple-double in NBA history. Alvin Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon, and David Robinson are the only other NBA players to have registered a quadruple-double in an NBA game. The NBA did not officially record stats for steals and blocked shots until the 1973-74 wars.

Tom and Dick Van Arsdale
Tom and Dick Van Arsdale

October 19, 1961 – Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors began a streak of 126 consecutive games with 20 or more points. The streak, which included an all-time league-high single-game record of 100 points against the New York Knickerbockers and a seven-game stretch of at least 50 points every time out, ended on January 19,1963.

October 21, 1979 – Chicago Bulls guard Sam Smith became the first player in NBA history to make a four-point play when he was fouled by the Milwaukee Bucks’ Brian Winters while hitting a triple with just 25 seconds left in the contest. Smith converted the bonus free throw for the fourth point but the Bucks came out on top, 113-111.

October 22, 1976 – Tom and Dick Van Arsdale played together in a game for the Phoenix Suns, becoming the first set of twin brothers to play for the same NBA club. The Suns, though lost to the New Orleans (now Utah) Jazz, 111-98. History repeated itself on February 22, 2013 as twins Marcus and Markieff Morris also played together for the Suns (following Marcus’ trade from Houston). Marcus started alongside Markieff on March 10, 2013 against his former team, the Rockets, making them the first set of twin brothers ever to start for the same NBA club.

Elmore Smith
Elmore Smith

October 28, 1973 – The Los Angeles Lakers’ Elmore Smith blocked 17 enemy missiles against the visiting Portland Trail Blazers to register an NBA record for most blocks in a regular-season game. The Lakers won, 111-98, as the 7-foot Smith, nicknamed “Elmore the Rejector,” posted a triple-double with his 17 blocks, 12 points, and 16 rebounds in 48 minutes of service. The NBA did not officially document stats for blocked shots and steals until the 1973-74 season.

October 29, 1961 – Oscar Robertson dished out a franchise-record 22 assists for the Cincinnati Royals (now Sacramento Kings) in a 139-132 decision over the Syracuse Nationals (the predecessors of the Philadelphia 76ers). “The Big O” went on to average a triple-double (30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 11.4 assists in 79 games for the Royals during the 1961-62 season. Russell Westbrook, now with the Los Angeles Lakers, would duplicate the triple-double feat in three of the last four seasons.

October 30, 1954 – The NBA adopted the use of the 24-second shot clock and the six team fouls-per-quarter limit.

October 31, 1950 – Earl Lloyd of the Washington Capitols became the first Black ever to play in the NBA.

Henry Liao
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