In 1972, the NBA had a one-on-one tournament for $15,000. They played by twos, to 20, win by four. There was a "take-it-out" line that was not the three-point line. The NBA: Where weird but sorta awesome used to happen.
The championship, between 6'11" Detroit Piston Bob Lanier and 6'3" Boston Celtic Jo Jo White, took place at halftime of Game 5 of the Finals at The Forum in Los Angeles. Your play-by-play team? Keith "Whoa, Nellie" Jackson and Bill Russell.
As you can see, Lanier ended up muscling White to his way to the title and the $15,000 cash prize, which was made up of — to my and to Keith Jackson's delight — 15,000 singles.
Why doesn't the NBA do this now? How much more interesting would NBA halftimes be if they showed you a pre-taped one-on-one game between All-Stars instead of softball interviews followed by highlights of the half you just watched? I'd love to see Al Horford play Deron Williams in a first-round matchup for a sizable cash prize (payable in singles). Not to go all Simmons on you, but how great would this be? To go all Simmons on you, think of the gambling!
Want to see and know more about this fascinating slice of NBA lore? Yesterday, Free Darko posted a clip of a one-on-one game between Atlanta Hawk Don May and New York Knick Jerry Lucas. And head over to APBR.org's forum to read some more about the tournament, and seemingly every other piece of NBA minutiae imaginable.