3. 1955 championship
The 1955 NBA season saw the Syracuse Nationals tie for the league’s best record in the regular season at 43-29. The Lakers were still in Minneapolis, the Hawks in Milwaukee, and the Warriors still in Philadelphia. This was the first season the shot clock was put into action. The Baltimore Bullets also folded 14 games into the season.
Other than the Baltimore Bullets folding and the scheduling having to be redrawn, the season ran without a hitch.
When the postseason came, the Nationals found themselves with home-court advantage throughout the entire postseason. Being the top seed in the East the Nationals got a bye into the Conference Finals. There they easily handled Bob Cousey, Red Auerbach, and the rest of the Boston Celtics. This set up a meeting with the Fort Wayne Pistons in the NBA Finals.
Fort Wayne’s arena thought there was no way they could make the NBA Finals so they booked the arena for other events. This meant all of Fort Wayne’s “home” games were played in Indianapolis.
That proved to not matter too much as the home team won every game of the series. The series stretched out 7 games and the Nationals won Game 7, 92-91, despite trailing 41-24 earlier.
It is thought that Fort Wayne players were working with gamblers to throw Game 7 and in-turn, the series. The Pistons turned the ball over twice late and committed a foul to give the Nationals free throws to win the Finals. The first turnover was a palming violation with 18 seconds left. Then, with three seconds left the Pistons turned it over again to lose the series.
George Yardley, who committed the palming violation, called out his teammates for throwing the game. Namely, Andy Phillip, who made the turnover with three seconds left. This plot is thought to have been carried out by multiple Pistons players, including Yardley and Phillips. As well as Frankie Brian, who committed the late foul to give the Nationals their first ever title.