Ahead of the Curve
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People are strange.  So sang Jim Morrison & The Doors on their 1967 hit single.

And no hoopsters were ever so strange as the 1974 Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics.

A match-up of NBA juggernauts of the time, the 1974 finals featured a plethora of greats that included Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dave Cowens, Oscar Robertson and John Havlicek.

The series went the distance and treated (or mistreated) home-town fans to the most bizarre of outcomes: the road team won every contest.

Who needs home cookin' anyway?  Apparently not the old Buck-a-roos and Celtics.

Airline food must've been tasty back in 1974, or maybe it was McDonald's new burger sensation, the Big Mac that satisfied these road warrior's midnite cravings.

Whatever the reason, both the Celtics and Bucks were at their best when battling in hostile territory and their backs up against the wall.  You might call it the Gary Cooper / High Noon syndrome: the more desperate the situation, the better the performance.

I was a kid in 1974, preoccupied with sugar, TV and girls.  News of this amazing series flew well under my radar.  But I suspect most non-gambling adults were equally oblivious.

Were such a strange NBA finals to happen today, only a breaking-story on Tiger Woods or Brett Favre would create more buzz.

The game seven final in Milwaukee saw Boston come away with the victory and exact a small revenge for the 1952 departure of their beloved baseball Braves to the Brew City.

It denied Bucks' fans that elusive second championship and started these Celtics on their way to being one of the NBA's all-time great teams.  Cowens & Company would win a second title in 1976 in another classic series against the Phoenix Suns where the Celtics once again proved road-tough by clinching in Arizona.

The Suns and Bucks had both joined the NBA in 1968 and the following year took part in the coin flip giving draft rights to UCLA's super center Lew Alcindor.

Milwaukee would never again reach the finals.  The Big O retired, Bobby Dandridge went to the Bullets, Alcindor headed back to Los Angeles and the Bucks' 1st-rounders Benson & Buckner were a bust.  In LA, Kareem would win more NBA titles, take up acting (Airplane!) and play second fiddle to the Stradivarius that was Magic Johnson.

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