I've written about this before, and I'll recap when I get back to my files.
Originally Posted by DatAsh
This was the season after Cousy retired. All eyes were on Russell to see just how much the Celtics would falter without their star PG. Not only did they not falter, they actually improved, going up by 1 win and .55 SRS. Their defense improved yet again, even though it was already at an unimaginably, almost otherworldly level to begin with(11.5 points better than league average, and 5.6 points better than the second best team).
Correct. The narrative going into the season was that we would find out who was more instrumental to the Celtics' success, as Cousy won nothing before Russell and six with Russell, but now Russell wouldn't have Cousy, so the focus would be on Russell to see if he could lead the team to another title without Cousy, and with Cincinnati having taken them the distance the previous year.
Then, the team did better
without Cousy, with everyone acknowledging they were a better team, they beat out Cincinnati for the Division title, and then rolled through everyone in the postseason. Jerry West said in '69 I believe it was, that not only did the Celtics get better without Cousy, but the '64 Celtics were the greatest team he'd ever seen to that point in time. So, yes, with all that, it would be odd that not only did Russell not win MVP, but he finished a distant third, with that year's voting being a large deviation from the previous three years and the following year. But there's a story behind that, which I will elaborate on later.