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YouTube Gold: 1955 NBA All-Star Game

The league was pretty primitive by today’s standards

Sharman All Star MVP
NEW YORK - 1955: Bill Sharman #21 of the Boston Celtics is awarded the NBA All Star MVP Trophy after the 1955 NBA All Star Game at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York.
Photo by NBA Photo Library/NBAE via Getty Images

In 1955, the NBA was still new, less than a decade old and a few years from the transformational rivalry between Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. Its future was far from certain.

Prior to Russell’s arrival in 1957 and the speed that the Boston Celtics brought to the league, it was pretty slow and bland. Some elements were recognizable in this clip from the 1955 All-Star game though. There is a jump ball to start the game, you see a 24-second clock and, naturally, at least one guy is standing still with his hands out, demanding the ball.

Some things never change.

We only recognize a couple of players here. Bob Cousy is pretty obvious and we’re pretty sure we recognize Dolph Schayes, who was also had distinct features. The mostly bald guy might be Bob Pettit and we think the guard wearing #21 may be Bill Sharman, but we’re not really sure.

When you look at these guys and the very retro style of play, you can imagine how Russell exploded like an atomic bomb in 1957, immediately revolutionizing the league. And just two years later, Chamberlain would bring his astonishing athleticism. Add in Elgin Baylor (1958) and Jerry West (1960) and while Connie Hawkins and Julius Erving would later shift it again, the basic template was set.