Since being founded in 1946 (joined the NBA in 1949), the then Syracuse Nationals (moved to Philadelphia in 1963) have certainly established a foundation that cements its history among the all-time great franchises in NBA history. With three championships (1954-55, 1966-67, 1982-83), and ten Hall of Famers, the franchise has been able to constantly maintain relevance in the ever-changing landscape of professional basketball.
Having won the Eastern Conference nine times (most recently in 2001-01), the list of all-time great 76ers is a lengthy one – with ample contenders vying for a spot in the franchise’s Top Five list. A few that failed to make the list include, Hall-of-Famers, Charles Barkley, Billy Cunningham, Dolph Schayes, and Chet Walker. It would also seem unfit to list the greatest 76ers of all-time without writing the names “Bobby Jones” and “Maurice Cheeks.”
Without further ado, and after much debate, here are the Top Five Philadelphia 76ers of All-Time:
5) Allen Iverson
The only member of this list who was unable to win a championship, Iverson played for the 76ers from 1996 to 2006. In that time he won Rookie of the Year, led the league in scoring four times, and was an eleven time All-Star.
Iverson is mostly known for his ability to create his shot, and get to the basket, despite his small frame. He was able to carry the 76ers to an Eastern Conference Championship in 2000-01 despite a lack-luster supporting cast. The team went on to lose 4-1 to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals; however, Iverson dropped 48 in game one, giving the Sixers a win in Los Angeles – and the Lakers only playoff loss that season.
Iverson may be rated higher given more talent around him (numbers 4-1 on this list are composed of two sets of championship winning duos).
4) Hal Greer
Despite the laughter that may arise after watching his free throw technique (was known for shooting an actual jump-shot at the line – effectively), Greer still remains the franchise’s leader in games played, minutes played, field goals made (and attempted), and points scored (eat your heart out, Allen Iverson).
Beginning his career on the Syracuse Nationals, Greer was a ten time All-Star, made the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time team in 1996, and has had his number “15” retired in Philadelphia. He is also a member of the Hall of Fame.
Greer is most known for his supporting role in the franchise’s 1966-67 Championship. It was a title run that ended Bill Russell’s eight year championship reign in which Greer lead the team in scoring at 27.7 points-per-game. He made a living off of double teams in the post – giving him open looks consistently.
3) Julius Erving
Maybe one of the most iconic basketball players on all-time, Dr. J found a home in Philadelphia late in his career. After a spell in the ABA, the Doctor joined the 76ers in 1976 and made the All-Star team every single season thereafter. He won the league’s MVP in 1981, and was also named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time team. His number is retired by both the 76ers, and the Brooklyn Nets. He is also a member of the Hall of Fame.
Dr. J took the Sixers to four NBA Finals; however, was unable to bring one home until the arrival of:
2) Moses Malone
Despite only four years in Philadelphia, Malone made a definite impact on the franchise. His arrival in 1982-83 instantly lead to a league MVP (end of a back-to-back run of MVPs – only player to accomplish this on different teams), and Finals MVP.
He was the missing piece that, an aging, Dr. J needed to finally compete with the current front-court dominant Lakers and Boston Celtics. That season, Malone led the league in rebounding and was fifth in scoring. The team went 12-1 in the playoffs – a feat that disappointed Malone’s caveman-mumble-like prediction of “Fo’, Fo’. Fo’.”
1) Wilt Chamberlain
Again, despite not making a career as a Philadelphian, Wilt dominated the game alongside Bill Russell for a long time. His run in Philadelphia was dominant and resulted in a NBA Championship in 1966-67.
That season, Wilt had taken heat in the offseason for only caring about scoring (hinting as to why Russell was able to top Wilt every year in the postseason). Wilt then, predicted, and went out and led the league in assists – beating Russell and winning a title in the process. Wilt never lead the league in scoring after that (had the previous seven seasons).
- Dave Hilts
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