1964 stars threatened to boycott game

Of the 20 players in the NBA All-Star Game played on Jan. 14, 1964, at Boston Garden, 13 are in the Basketball Hall of Fame: Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, Jerry Lucas, Tommy Heinsohn, Hal Greer, Sam Jones, Chet Walker, Jerry West, Bob Pettit, Elgin Baylor, Walt Bellamy, Wilt Chamberlain and Lenny Wilkens, who is in the Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach.

Red Auerbach, who coached the East All-Stars 50 years ago to a 111-107 victory against the West, also is in the Hall of Fame.

Just hours before tipoff, the players took a strike vote to determine whether they would refuse to play unless the league agreed to implement a pension plan.

According to David Halberstam in "Breaks of the Game," the vote was 11-9 to strike, with Russell among the leaders of the pro-strike faction and Chamberlain among those who voted to play regardless.

Fifteen minutes before tipoff, NBA commissioner Walter Kennedy agreed to the pension demands, and pro sports had its biggest union victory by far.

And that would be yet another in what would become a long list of instances when Russell bested Chamberlian, in a close contest, when the stakes were highest.

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