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Taking quick aim, Nellie fired. The ball hit the rim, bounced a few feet straight up and dropped back through the cylinder. The Celtics led by three and it was, in effect, all over. The Lakers had two more chances and missed both. Somehow, some way, the old men in the dark green uniforms had hung on.

In addition to Cooke, Lakers coach Butch van Breda Kolff had aided and abetted the enemy. With Chamberlain on the bench with five fouls, the coach had refused to put him back in during the final minutes because “we’re doing well enough without you.”

However, his boss remained the biggest unwitting contributor to the final gasp of the Celtics’ dynasty. Just like his balloons, Jack Kent Cooke was full of hot air.