By Matt Johnson @mattytheole on September 4, 2014
When it comes to storied franchises in the NBA, few have fared better over the years than the Philadelphia 76ers. One of the league’s most celebrated organizations, the 76ers have been home to Hall of Famers ranging from Wilt Chamberlain and Charles Barkley while racking up 11 division titles, nine Eastern Conference titles and three NBA championships in their 68-year history. Here are five coaches who helped lead the 76ers to prominence.
Jim Lyman guided the 76ers for four-plus years, racking up 194 regular season wins while making three playoff appearances. Lyman’s best season as Philadelphia coach came in 1990 when he led the 76ers to an Atlantic Division title, a regular season record of 53-29 and a berth in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Larry Brown took over from Johnny Davis in 1997 and led Philadelphia back to the playoffs after a seven-year absence during the 1998-99 campaign. Brown was also at the helm for Philadelphia’s last appearance in the NBA Finals in 2001 where they fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. For his career, Brown went 255-205 in six years as head coach.
Alex Hannum enjoyed two stints as 76ers coach, the first coming from 1960-1963 before returning to the franchise in 1966 and leaving again in 1968. During his five combined seasons as the team’s coach, Philadelphia went 257-145, qualifying for the playoffs each year. Hannum’s career highlight came in 1967 when the 76ers went 68-13 while winning their second NBA title.
Al Cervi built the 76ers into a contender almost immediately after being named the franchise’s second coach in 1948. Under Cervi, Philadelphia went 277-187 in eight seasons, qualifying for the playoffs seven times. Cervi also led 76ers to three NBA Finals appearances while winning the team’s first title in 1955 by defeating the Fort Wayne Pistons in a thrilling seven-game series.
No Philadelphia coach has enjoyed more success than Billy Cunningham. When he finally left the franchise after the 1985 campaign, Cunningham had racked up a regular season record of 456-200, eight playoff appearances and three trips to the NBA Finals. His 1983 team, which went 65-17 during the regular season, claimed Philadelphia’s third NBA title with a dominating sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers.
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