New York, Los Angeles feeling the Spirit of ’76

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was NBA MVP in 1975-76, the last season neither Los Angeles nor New York had a team reach the playoffs.

Forty days and forty nights is a Biblical reference.

But 40 years is a basketball reference, at least for our purposes.

Odds are, for the first time in four decades, the NBA playoffs will not feature a team from either New York or Los Angeles this spring.

Considering both New York and Los Angeles now have two teams each — the Knicks and the Nets in The Big Apple and the Lakers and the Clippers in The City of Angels — that’s quite an underachievement.

The last time those two markets were not part of postseason play in the NBA was the 1975-76 season.

Back then, the two cities had only one team each — the Knicks in NYC and the Lakers in LA.

New York had a roster that included the likes of Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Bill Bradley, Spencer Haywood and sixth-year forward Phil Jackson.

The Knicks, coached by Red Holzman, ended up 38-44.

Los Angeles boasted the ul-guy who became and remains the sport’s all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in his sixth NBA season, along with the likes of Gail Goodrich, Lucius Allen, Cazzie Russell and eighth-year guard Pat Riley.

Abdul-Jabbar was named NBA Most Valuable Player that season, averaging 27.7 points, 16.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.

The Lakers, coached by Bill Sharman, finished 40-42.

New York was represented in postseason play at the professional level, though, as the New Jersey Nets won the final American Basketball Association championship in 1976 before the league merged with the NBA and New Jersey (now the Brooklyn Nets), the San Antonio Spurs, the Denver Nuggets and the Indiana Pacers joining the NBA on Aug. 5, 1976.

Previous to the 1975-76 season, the last time neither New York or Los Angeles was part of the NBA playoffs was in the 1957-58 campaign, when the Lakers were still playing in Minneapolis.

The best hope of extending the two cities’ skein of playoff appearances is in the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers (38-33), who stand 10th in the Western Conference, 2.5 games behind the Utah Jazz (41-31), who currently occupy the eighth and final playoff spot.

The Lakers (31-40) trail the Jazz by 9.5 games, with only 11 contests to play.

In the East, both the Knicks (26-46) and the Nets (23-49) have been eliminated from playoff contention.