Professional Basketball at Cincinnati Gardens



Cincinnati Royals
National Basketball Association
1957 - 1972 


History of Cincinnati Royals

1957/58 – The Royals played their first game ever in Cincinnati on October 26, 1957 at Cincinnati Gardens.  The Royals would end a 2-year playoff drought by finishing in 3rd place with a record of 33-39. Helping to lead the way is Maurice Stokes who finishes second in rebounding averring 18.1 boards per game. In the final game of the regular season on March 12th Stokes suffered a scary injury when his head hit the hardwood floor in a game in Minneapolis against the Lakers. Despite being knocked unconscious Stokes would play in the first playoff game against the Detroit Pistons just 3 days later. On the flight home after losing to the Pistons, Stokes suddenly fell ill and was rushed to the hospital upon landing. As the Pistons completed a 2-game sweep over the Royals, Stokes would lapse into a coma, where he would lie unconscious for several weeks. Test would determine that he suffered encephalopathy, a traumatic brain injury that damaged his motor control center. The injury would leave Maurice Stokes as quadriplegic without the ability to speak. Teammate Jack Twyman would serve as Stokes legal guardian until his death in 1970, arranging for benefit games and golf tournaments to help the Stokes family deal with medical bills.

1958/59 - The Royals would get off to a horrible start losing 15 of their first 18 games as Coach Bobby Wanzer is fired, and replaced by Tom Marshall. The Royals would go on to finish in last place with a league worst 19-53 record.

1959/60 - Despite Jack Twyman finishing 2nd in the league in scoring with 31.2 ppg the Royals struggles continues as they again finished dead last with an awful record of 19-56. Following the season the Royals would use a territorial draft pick select University of Cincinnati star Oscar Robertson.



1960/61 - Oscar Robertson would make an immediate impact winning the Rookie of the Year by nearly averaging a triple double averaging 30.5 ppg, 10.1 boards and 9.7 assists per game. However the Royals would fall 1 game short of a trip to the playoffs as they finished in last place with a record of 33-46.

1961/62 - Led by Oscar Robertson who averaged a triple double on the season as all 5 starters averaged double digits points per games as the team ended a 4-year playoff drought while posting a record of 43-37 good enough for 2nd place. However, in the playoffs the Royals would be stunned by the Detroit Pistons in 4 games.

1962/63 - With the Warriors moving to San Francisco the Royals are shifted from the Western Division into the Eastern Division. In their first season in the East the Royals posted a 42-38 record finishing in 3rd place. In the playoffs the Royals would win their first series in 11 years as they stunned the Syracuse Nationals with overtime win on the road in Game 5. In the East Finals the Royals would give the Boston Celtics all they could handle winning 2 of their first 3 games before bowing out in 7 games.


1963/64 - Cincinnati welcomed Ohio State star Jerry Lucas who was the Royals territorial selection in the NBA Draft. The combination of Lucas and Oscar Robertson gave the Royals a formidable one-two punch. In their first season together the pair combined to average 49.1 points, 27.3 rebounds, and 13.6 assists. Lucas, who pounded the boards for 17.4 rebounds per game and was named NBA Rookie of the Year. While, the "Big O" was named MVP with a career high 31.4ppg, while leading the league in assists, as the Royals finished in 2nd place with a 55-25 record. In the playoffs the Royals would beat the Philadelphia 76ers in a 5-game series to set up a rematch with the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Finals. However, once again the Celtics would prove too much capturing the first 3 games on the way to an easy victory in 5 games. 

1964/65 - The duo of Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas continued to be strong as Robertson average 30.4 ppg while Lucas pulled down an incredible 20 rebounds per game as the Royals finished in 2nd place with a 48-32 record. However, in the playoff the Royals would be stunned by the Philadelphia 76ers in 4 games.

1965/66 - Center Happy Harriston had a solid 2nd season averaging 14.1, while Oscar Robertson averaged 31.3 ppg and Jerry Lucas pulled down 21.1 boards per game. However the Royals would take a step backward finishing in 3rd place with a record of 45-35. In the playoffs the Royals were on the verge of ending the Boston Celtics 7-year Championship reign, as they took 2 of the first 3 games in a 5-game series. However the Celtics would win the next 2 games on the way to their 8th straight title. Following the season Les Harrison who owned the team from its start in Rochester in 1945 sells the team to brothers named Max and Jeremy Jacobs.

1966/67 - The Royals would get off to a slow start winning just 9 of their first 25 games, as they posted a 39-42 record. However, by finishing in 3rd place they managed to sneak into the playoffs where they were beaten by the Philadelphia 76ers in 4 games.

1967/68 - Under new Coach Ed Jucker the Royals were an offensive juggernaut scoring more the 130 points 13 times. However they would still struggle below .500 all season, and missed the playoffs despite winning 8 of their final 12 games to post a record of 39-43.

1968/69 - Oscar Robertson continued to be one of the league premier point guards leading the league in assists with 9.8 per game. However, the Royals would miss the playoffs for the second year in a row while finishing in 5th place with a 41-41 record. Following the season they would name Boston Celtics legend Bob Cousy as their new head coach.

1969/70 - New Coach Bob Cousy immediately started to reshape the team by trading Jerry Lucas to the San Francisco Warriors for Jim King and forward Bill Turner. No one was sacred to Cousy, who also attempted to engineer a swap that would have sent Robertson to the Baltimore Bullets for Gus Johnson. The Big O exercised his right to nix the trade. By the time the season had entered the home-stretch run, "the Running Royals" seemed to be getting the hang of Cousy's system. Cincinnati topped the 110-point mark in each of the campaign's final 21 contests, and during a six-game span in mid-February the team averaged 127 points. However, ten Royals would still fall short of the playoffs as they landed in 5th place with a 36-46 record. Following the season Oscar Robertson would be traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for Flynn Robinson and Charlie Paulk. The Big O had put up remarkable numbers in 10 seasons with the Royals, averaging 29.3 points, 10.3 assists, and 8.5 rebounds.

1970/71 - The Royals were a quick, young team that included Norm Van Lier, a second-year guard who led the league in assists with 10.1 per game, and draft picks Sam Lacey and Nate "Tiny" Archibald. The club continued its fast-breaking, high-scoring ways and was held below 100 points only four times all season while breaking the 130 mark 11 times. The team's 116.0 scoring average was good for 3rd place in the NBA. Unfortunately, Coach Bob Cousy, who came out of retirement briefly, was no defensive wizard, and opposing teams racked up 119.2, as the Royals finished in 3rd place in the newly formed Central Division with a record of 33-49. 

1971/72 - The Royals continued to struggle missing the playoffs for the 5th year in a row with a terrible record of 30-52. Prior to the season the Royals were sold to a group of 10 Kansas City businessmen, who paid $5 million for the team, who decided to move the team following the season to the Midwest where they would be reborn as the Kansas City-Omaha Kings.

information courtesy of Sports E-cylopedia

Copyright 2014 The Cincinnat Gardens