The Philadelphia 76ers (often referred to as the Sixers) are a professional basketball team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They play in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Originally known as the Syracuse Nationals, they are one of the oldest franchises in the NBA. After their move to Philadelphia, a contest was held to decide on their new name. The winning name, chosen by Walter Stalberg, was the "76ers", as a "tribute to the gallant men who forged this country's independence" in 1776.
|Arena||Syracuse Armory Building (1946–49)
State Fair Coliseum (1949–51)
Onondaga County War Memorial (1951–63)
Civic Center-Convention Hall
The Palestra (1963-1967)
The Spectrum (1967-1996)
Wells Fargo Center (1996-present)
|Team colors||Red, Royal Blue, White
|Owner(s)||Joshua Harris, Adam Aron, David Blitzer, Martin Geller, David Heller, Travis Hennings, James Lassiter, Marc Leder, Michael G. Rubin, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Erick Thohir, Art Wrubel|
|General manager||Sam Hinkie|
|D-League affiliate||Delaware 87ers|
|Championships||3 (1954–55, 1966–67, 1982–83)|
|Conference titles||9 (1949–50, 1953–54, 1954–55, 1966–67, 1976–77, 1979–80, 1981–82, 1982–83, 2000–01)|
|Division titles||5 (1976–77, 1977–78, 1982–83, 1989–90, 2000–01)|
|Retired numbers||8 (2, 6, 10, 13, 15, 24, 32, 34, Microphone)|
The Philadelphia 76ers (often referred to as the Sixers) are a professional basketball team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They play in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Originally known as the Syracuse Nationals, they are one of the oldest franchises in the NBA. After their move to Philadelphia, a contest was held to decide on their new name. The winning name, chosen by Walter Stalberg, was the "76ers", as a "tribute to the gallant men who forged this country's independence" in 1776.
The 76ers have had a rich history, with many of the greatest players in NBA history having played for the organization, including Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, and Allen Iverson. They have won three NBA championships, with their first coming as the Syracuse Nationals in 1955. The second title came in the 1966–67 season, a team which was led by Chamberlain. The third title came in the 1982–83 season, won by a team led by Erving and Malone. They have only been back to the Finals once since then, during the 2001 campaign, led by Iverson, only to lose to the Los Angeles Lakers, 4–1. They won game 1 in OT (overtime) but lost the next 4.
In 1946, Italian immigrant Danny Biasone sent a $5,000 check to the National Basketball League offices in Chicago, and the Syracuse Nationals became the largely Midwest-based league's easternmost team. The Syracuse Nationals began play in the NBL in the same year professional basketball was finally gaining some legitimacy with the rival Basketball Association of America that was based in large cities like New York and Philadelphia. While in the NBL with teams largely consisting of small Midwestern towns, the Nationals put together a 21–23 record, finishing in 4th place. In the playoffs, the Nats would be beaten by the fellow upstate neighbor Rochester Royals in 4 games.
In their second season, 1947–48, the Nationals would struggle, finishing in 5th place with a 24-36 record. Despite their struggles, the Nats would make the playoffs, getting swept by the Anderson Duffey Packers in 3 straight games.
Several teams begin to leave the NBL for the BAA as the foundation for an absorption was laid. Staying in the NBL, the Nationals sign Al Cervi to be player coach as Dolph Schayes makes his professional debut, leading the Nats to a winning record for the first time with a record of 40–23. In the playoffs the Nationals would make quick work of the Hammond Calumet Buccaneers, winning the series in 2 straight games. However, in the semifinals the Nats would fall to the Anderson Duffey Packers for the second straight season in 4 games. In 1949, the Nationals were one of seven NBL teams that were absorbed by the Basketball Association of America to form the NBA.
The Nationals were an instant success in the NBA winning the Eastern Division in the 1949-1950 season, with a league best record of 51–13. In the playoffs the Nationals would continue to play solid basketball beating the Philadelphia Warriors in 2 straight. Moving on to the Eastern Finals the Nationals would battle the New York Knickerbockers beating their big city rivals in a 3-game series. Moving on to the NBA Finals the Nationals would face fellow NBL alum Minneapolis Lakers. In Game 1 of the Finals the Nats would lose just their 2nd home game of the season 68–66. The Nats would not recover as they fell behind 3 games to 1 before falling in 6 games.
Despite several teams leaving the NBA for the National Professional Basketball League, beore the 1950-1951 season, the Nationals decided to stay put. In their second NBA season the Nationals played mediocre basketball all season finishing in 4th place with a record of 32–34. However, in the playoffs the Nats played their best basketball of the season as they stunned the 1st place Philadelphia Warriors in 2 straight taking Game 1 on the road in overtime 91–89. However, in the Eastern Finals the Nationals would be beaten by the New York Knickerbockers in a hard fought 5-game series losing the finale by just 2 points.
Al Cervi, playing less and coaching more, emphasized a patient offense and a scrappy defense, which led the league by yielding a stingy 79.5 points per game, as the Nationals won the Eastern Division in the 1951-1952 season, with a solid 40–26 record. In the playoffs the Nats would knock the Philadelphia Warriors off again in a 3-game series. However, in the Eastern Finals the Nats would fall to the New York Knickerbockers again dropping the series in 4 games.
The Nationals would finish in 2nd place in a hard fought 3-way battle for first place in the Eastern Division for the 1952-1953 season, with a record of 47–24. In the playoffs the Nationals would face the Boston Celtics dropping Game 1 at home 87–81. Needing a win in Boston to keep their hopes alive, the Nationals would take the Celtics deep in to overtime before losing in quadruple OT 111–105, in what remains the longest playoff game in NBA history.
The Nationals acquire Alex Groza and Ralph Beard as the Indianapolis Olympians folded leaving the NBA with just 9 teams for the 1953-1954 season. Once again the Nationals would battle for the Division title falling 2 games short with a 42–30 record. In the playoffs the Nats would win all 4 games of a round robin tournament involving the 3 playoff teams from the East. In the Eastern Finals the Nats would stay hot beating the Boston Celtics in 2 straight games. However, in the NBA Finals the Nationals would lose to the Minneapolis Lakers in a hard fought 7-game series where the 2 teams alternated wins throughout.
With the NBA struggling financially and down to just 8 teams Nationals owner during the 1954-1955 season Danny Biasone suggested the league limit the amount of time taken for a shot thus speeding up a game that often ended with long periods of teams just holding the ball and playing keep away. Biasone calculated a 24-second shot clock would allow at least 30 shots per quarter speeding up the game and increasing scoring. The Shot Clock was an instant success as scoring was up 14 points per game league wide. In the first season of the shot clock the Nats would take first place in the East with a 43–29 record. After a first round bye the Nats would beat the Boston Celtics in 4 games to reach the NBA Finals for the 2nd straight season. In the finals the Nats would get off to a fast start, lead by (led by forward Dolph Schayes), and took the first 2 games at home against the Fort Wayne Pistons. However, as the series moved to Fort Wayne the Pistons would spark back to life taking all 3 games to take a 3–2 series lead. Back in Syracuse for Game 6 on the Nats kept Championship hopes alive by beating the Pistons 109-104 to force a 7th game at home. Game 7 would be as tight as the series as George King sank a free throw to give the Nats a 92–91 lead in the final seconds. King would then steal inbound pass to clinch the NBA Championship for the Nationals.
Coming off their NBA Championship the Nationals struggled during the 1955-1956 season, needing a tiebreaker over the New York Knickerbockers to avoid finishing in last place and make the playoffs with a 35–37 record. However, in the playoffs the Nats would stun the Boston Celtics winning the first round series in 3 games by taking the final 2 games. In the Eastern Finals the Nationals played solid basketball again as they pushed the Philadelphia Warriors to a decisive 5th game. However, the Nationals' reign as champions would end with a 109–104 loss in Philadelphia.
The Nationals would get off to a slow start as coach Al Cervi is fired and replaced by Paul Seymour. Under Seymour the Nats would rebound and finish the 1956-1957 season in 2nd place with a record of 38–34. In the playoffs the Nats would have trouble knocking off the defending champion Philadelphia Warriors advancing to the Eastern Finals with 2 straight wins. However, the Nats would be swept in 3 straight games by the eventual champions, the Boston Celtics.
Fort Wayne and Rochester had moved on to Detroit and Cincinnati for the 1957-1958 season, leaving the Syracuse Nationals as the last small town team in the big city NBA. That would not matter on the court as the Nats held their own finishing in 2nd place with a 41–31 record. However, in the playoffs the Nationals would fall in the first round as they lost a 3-game series to the Philadelphia Warriors.
Despite a mediocre 35–37 record for the 1958-1959 season the Nationals would make the playoffs again by finishing in 3rd place. In the playoffs the Nationals would once again rise to the occasion sweeping the New York Knickerbockers in 2 straight to reach the Eastern Finals, where they gave the eventual champion Boston Celtics all they could handle, alternating wins before falling by 5 points in Game 7.
Playing in a league now dominated by superstars like Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics, Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors and Bob Pettit of the St. Louis Hawks, the Nationals hold their own posting a solid 45–30 record, while finishing in 3rd place after the 1959-1960 regular season. However, in the playoffs the Nats would lose a 3-game series to Chamberlain and the Warriors.
With Lakers relocating from Minneapolis to Los Angeles before the 1960-1961 season, the Syracuse Nationals became the last old NBL team to still be playing in their original city in the NBA. The Nationals would go on to make the playoffs again by finishing in 3rd place with a 38–41 record. The Nationals would prove to be dangerous in the playoffs as they stunned the Philadelphia Warriors in 3 straight games. However, in the Eastern Finals the Nats would be knocked off once again by the eventual champion Boston Celtics in 5 games.
Dolph Schayes missed 24 games during the 1961-1962 season and fails to lead the team in scoring for the first time in 14 years, as Hal Greer leads the way with 22.8 ppg. The Nats would go on to finish in 3rd place again with a 41–39 record. In the playoffs the Nats would drop their first 2 games to the Philadelphia Warriors on the road. Facing elimination the Nats would win the next 2 games to force a 7th game in Philadelphia. However, in Game 5 the Warriors would prove too strong as they end the Nats season with a 121–104 victory.
With an aging team the Nationals were expected to fade, however with the scrappy play of Johnny Kerr the Nationals remained a strong contender finishing in 2nd place for the 1962-1963 season, with a record of 48–32. In the playoffs the Nationals would face the Cincinnati Royals, getting off to a 2–1 series lead. However, needing a win to advance to the Eastern Finals again the Nationals would lose 2 straight dropping the decisive 5th game at home in overtime 131–127.
The playoff overtime loss on March 26, 1963 would prove to be the last game for the Syracuse Nationals, as investors Irv Kosloff and Ike Richman purchased the team from Danny Biasone moving the team to Philadelphia to become the 76ers, filling the void left by the Warriors. Syracuse was the last of the medium-sized cities housing an NBA Team, but it was too small for a professional team to be profitable. The NBA thus returned to Philadelphia one year after the Warriors had left for San Francisco. Schayes was named head coach, a post he held for four years (the first as player-coach).
For their first four years in Philadelphia, the 76ers played mostly at the Philadelphia Arena and Civic Center-Convention Hall, with an occasional game at The Palestra at the University of Pennsylvania.
In the 1964–65 season, the 76ers acquired the legendary Wilt Chamberlain from the Warriors; Chamberlain had been a high school legend at Overbrook High School in Philadelphia and began his career with the Warriors while they still played in Philadelphia. The 76ers would push the Celtics to seven games in the semifinals, with the 76ers trailing 110–109 in Game 7. After Hal Greer's pass was stolen by John Havlicek—an infamous blow to 76ers fans, rubbed in by fabled Celtics announcer Johnny Most when he yelled into the microphone "Havlicek stole the ball!"—the Celtics went on to beat the Los Angeles Lakers and win the NBA Championship. On December 3, 1965 in the midst of a game at the Boston Garden, co-owner Ike Richman suffered a heart attack and died courtside.
Led by head coach Alex Hannum, the 76ers had a dream season as they started 46–4, en route to a record of 68–13, the best record in league history at the time. Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, and Hal Greer, along with all-stars Chet Walker, Lucious Jackson and Wali Jones led the team to the semifinals. This time the 76ers beat the Celtics in five games. In Game Five of that series, as the 76ers went to victory and the NBA Finals, Philadelphia fans chanted "Boston is dead!"—a symbol that the Celts' eight-year reign as NBA champion had ended. The Finals were almost anticlimactic, with the Sixers ousting the Warriors in six games to give them their second NBA Championship. The 1966–67 Sixers were voted the best team in league history during the NBA's 35th anniversary celebration. Since then, the record has been broken twice, by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers (69) and 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72), both of whom also won championships in their respective seasons.
In the 1967–68 season, with a new home court in the form of The Spectrum to defend their championship, once again the 76ers made it back to the NBA Playoffs and in the rematch of the previous year's semifinals, the 76ers held a 3–1 series lead over the Celtics, before the Celtics staged a dramatic comeback to beat the Sixers in seven games.
At the end of the season, the 76ers dealt Chamberlain to the Los Angeles Lakers for Archie Clark, Darrall Imhoff and Jerry Chambers. At the time, the trade appeared to make some sense from the Sixers' perspective. Chamberlain was making noises about jumping to the American Basketball Association, and GM Jack Ramsay didn't want to risk letting Chamberlain walk away for nothing. Nonetheless, the Sixers didn't get nearly enough in return. The Chamberlain trade sent the Sixers into a freefall, which Ramsay accelerated by subsequent divestiture of All Star forward Chet Walker to the Chicago Bulls.
While the rapidly declining 76ers continued to contend for the next three seasons, they never got past the second round. In 1971–72—only five years after winning the title—the 76ers finished 30–52 and missed postseason play for the first time in franchise history.
The bottom fell out in the 1972–73 season. For all intents and purposes, the season ended when Cunningham bolted to the ABA, leaving the Sixers with a roster of Greer and little else. The 76ers lost their first 15 games of the season, and a few months later set a then-record 20-game losing streak in a single season. Their record following the 20-game losing streak was 4–58, and the team at that point had just lost 34 of 35 games. The 76ers finished the season with a 9–73 record, leading the skeptical Philadelphia press to call them the "Nine and 73-ers". Under Coach Roy Rubin the 76ers went 4-47. As it turned out, it was his first and last NBA coaching job. He was succeeded by player-coach Kevin Loughery, who went 5-26 the rest of the way. The 76ers finished an NBA-record 59 games behind the Atlantic Division champion Boston Celtics. The nine wins by the 1972–73 squad is the fourth fewest in NBA history, and remains the fewest for a full 82 game season. The 73 losses, although threatened several times, remains the all-time low-water mark for any NBA franchise. The 76ers' 0.110 winning percentage was a record worst at the time, and is still the second lowest in NBA history. This record was broken by the 2011-2012 Charlotte Bobcats which was shortened due to a lockout. (That Bobcats team finished 7-59, for a .106 winning percentage.) Only six seasons earlier, the 76ers had set the NBA record for most wins in a season. The 76ers of 1972-73 is considered to be the worst team that ever played in NBA history.
The next year, the 76ers would hire Gene Shue as their head coach and they slowly came back. In the 1975–76 season, the 76ers acquired George McGinnis from the Indiana Pacers of the ABA (after the Knicks tried to sign him, not knowing that the 76ers owned his rights). With him, the 76ers were back in the playoffs after a five-year absence, and even though they lost to the Buffalo Braves in three games, a "Doctor" would come along and get the team healthy enough to stay in perennial contention. During this period, however, one last personnel misjudgment had effects when the team used the fifth pick overall in the 1975 draft to select Darryl Dawkins directly from high school. The immensely talented and physically imposing Dawkins seldom, if ever, lived up to his great potential in part because of a perpetual adolescence.
The Sixers finally came all the way back in 1976-77, in large part due to a byproduct of the ABA-NBA merger. The ABA's last champions, the New York Nets, were facing having to pay almost $5 million to the Knicks for "invading" the New York area on top of the $3.2 million expansion fee for joining the NBA. When the Sixers offered to buy the contract of the Nets' franchise player, Julius Erving, for $3 million—roughly the cost of NBA membership—the Nets had little choice but to accept. Soon afterward, Kosloff sold the Sixers to local philanthropist Fitz Eugene Dixon, Jr., grandson of George Dunton Widener and heir to the Widener fortune.
Led by Erving, the 76ers began an exciting ride for the fans of Philadelphia, beating their long-time rival from Boston in a seven-game playoff to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. There, they defeated the Houston Rockets, led by future 76er Moses Malone, in six games to advance to the NBA Finals. In the Finals, they sprinted to a 2-0 series lead over the Bill Walton-led Portland Trail Blazers—who were coached by former Sixers coach/general manager Jack Ramsay—only to drop the next four games in a row to give the Blazers the title.
That led to the 1977–78 motto of "We owe you one", which would ultimately backfire when they lost in the conference finals that season to the Washington Bullets, who went on to win the NBA championship. In the next four seasons, the 76ers would fall short of the NBA Championship, even after Shue handed the coaching reins to former great Billy Cunningham. In the 1980 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, they lost, four games to two. In Game Six, rookie Magic Johnson played center for the Lakers in place of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (who was out because of a sprained ankle sustained in Game Five) and scored 42 points. In the 1981 Eastern Conference Finals, the 76ers opened a 3–1 series lead over the Celtics only to see Boston come back and win the series in seven games. The following season, the 76ers again faced the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, and again jumped to a 3–1 series lead only to see Boston forge a 3–3 series tie. The 76ers were given little chance of winning as they faced the Celtics in Game Seven at Boston Garden. This time, they played angry but inspired basketball, pulling away to a 120–106 victory. In the game's closing moments, the Boston Garden fans began chanting "Beat L.A., Beat L.A.", an incredible moment in basketball history. Although they lost in the NBA Finals, the 76ers began the 1982–83 season with great momentum. All they needed now was Moses to lead them to the promised land of the NBA championship.
Harold Katz bought the 76ers from Dixon in 1982. On his watch, the final piece of the championship puzzle was completed before the 1982–83 season when they acquired center Moses Malone from the Houston Rockets. Led by Hall of Famer Julius Erving and All-Stars Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, and Bobby Jones they dominated the regular season, winning 65 games in what is still the second most winning year in franchise history. Malone was named League MVP, and when reporters asked how the playoffs would run, he answered, "four, four, four"—in other words, saying that the 76ers needed to win four games in each of the 3 rounds. The media misinterpreted this and assumed Moses was predicting that the 76ers would sweep all three rounds to win the title, with the minimum 12 games. Malone's accent made his boast sound like "fo', fo', fo'."
However, the 76ers backed up Malone's boast. They made a mockery of the Eastern Conference playoffs, first sweeping the New York Knicks and then beating the Milwaukee Bucks in five games. The 76ers went on to win their third NBA championship (and second in Philadelphia) with a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers, who had defeated them the season before. Malone was named the playoffs' MVP. The 76ers didn't quite fulfill Malone's prediction, as their run was actually "fo', fi', fo" ("four, five, four")--a loss to the Bucks in game four of the Eastern finals being the only blemish on their playoff run. Nonetheless, their 12–1 playoff record is tied for the least number of losses in league history with the 2000–2001 Lakers, who went 15–1 en route to the NBA Title, coincidentally beating the 76ers in the Finals (after suffering their only defeat that postseason in Game 1). The Philadelphia-based group Pieces Of A Dream had a minor hit in 1983 with the R&B song "Fo-Fi-Fo", which title was prompted by Malone's quip. This also marked the last championship in Philadelphia until the Phillies won the 2008 World Series.
After a disappointing 1983–84 season, which ended with a five-game loss to the upstart New Jersey Nets in the first round of the playoffs, Charles Barkley arrived in Philadelphia for the 1984–85 season. For the next eight seasons, Barkley brought delight to the Philadelphia fans thanks to his humorous and sometimes controversial ways. The Sixers returned to the Eastern Conference Finals in Barkley's rookie season, but lost to the Boston Celtics in five games. Following the season, Matt Guokas replaced Billy Cunningham as head coach, and led the 76ers to the second round of the playoffs in 1985–86, where they were defeated by the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games.
On June 16, 1986, Katz made two of the most controversial and highly criticized personnel moves in franchise history, trading Moses Malone to Washington and the first overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft (which had been obtained from the San Diego Clippers in a 1979 trade for Joe Bryant) to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In return, the 76ers received Roy Hinson, Jeff Ruland, and Cliff Robinson, none of whom played more than three seasons with the team. Cleveland, meanwhile, turned their acquired pick into future All-Star Brad Daugherty. The 76ers returned to the playoffs in 1986–87, but were defeated in the first round by Milwaukee, three games to two. Erving announced his retirement after the season. In 1987–88, with the team's record at 20–23, Guokas was fired and replaced by assistant Jim Lynam. Lynam finished the season 16–23, and overall Philadelphia finished 36–46, failing to reach the post-season for the first time since 1974–75. Philadelphia selected Charles Smith with its first pick in the 1988 NBA Draft, then traded his rights to the Los Angeles Clippers for their first pick, Hersey Hawkins. In five seasons with the 76ers, Hawkins would average 19 points per game, and was the team's all-time leader in three-point field goals attempted and made when he was traded to the Charlotte Hornets for Dana Barros, Sidney Green and draft picks in 1993.
In 1988–89, Philadelphia returned to the playoffs after a one-year absence, but were swept in the first round by the New York Knicks. In 1989–90, Barkley finished second in the league's MVP voting, as the Sixers won the Atlantic Division title. After defeating Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs, Philadelphia faced Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the second round. The 76ers fell to the Chicago Bulls in five games, and would do the same in 1991 after sweeping the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. In 1991–92, the 76ers missed the playoffs for the just the second time during Barkley's eight seasons in Philadelphia. On June 17, 1992, Barkley was traded to the Phoenix Suns for Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry, and Andrew Lang, a deal that was met with harsh criticism.
Lynam relinquished his head coaching position to become general manager following the 1991–92 season, and hired Doug Moe to fill the vacancy. Moe's tenure lasted just 56 games, with the Sixers posting a 19–37 record. Popular former player and longtime assistant coach Fred Carter succeeded Moe as head coach in March 1993, but could only manage a 32–76 record at the helm. Following the 1993–94 season, the 76ers hired John Lucas in the dual role of head coach and general manager. The enthusiastic Lucas had been successful as a head coach for the San Antonio Spurs, and Philadelphia hoped he could breathe new life into the 76ers. It proved disastrous, as the team went 42–122 in its two seasons under Lucas. The acquisition of unproductive free agents such as Scott Williams and Charles Shackleford, players at the end of their careers such as LaSalle Thompson, Orlando Woolridge, and Scott Skiles along with stunningly unwise high draft picks such as Shawn Bradley and Sharone Wright were also factors in the team's decline. In fact, Wright would only play four seasons in the NBA while Temple product Eddie Jones—drafted 4 slots below Wright in 1994 by the L.A. Lakers—had 16 productive seasons as an NBA player.
Starting with the 1990–91 season, and ending with the 1995–96 season, the 76ers had the dubious distinction of seeing their win total decrease each year. The nadir was the 1995–96 season, when they finished with an 18–64 record, the second-worst in franchise history. It was also the second-worst record in the league that year, ahead of only the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies but behind the Toronto Raptors, who were also in their inaugural season. That season would turn out to be their last in The Spectrum. Katz, unpopular among fans since the 1986 trades, sold the team to Comcast Spectacor, a consortium of Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider and Comcast Corporation, at the end of the 1995–96 season. Snider had been the Sixers' landlord since gaining control of the Spectrum in 1971. Pat Croce, a former trainer for the Flyers and Sixers, took over as president.
Many 76ers fans call these years "The Dark Ages". However, after many years of misfortune, there was a bright spot. The team won the lottery for the top pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. Questions remained, but with the first pick, the Sixers found their "Answer": Allen Iverson.
With new ownership and Iverson in place, and the 76ers moving into the CoreStates Center, things seemed to finally be heading in a positive direction. Croce fired Lucas as both coach and general manager. Johnny Davis was named head coach, while Brad Greenberg took over as general manager. Iverson was named Rookie of the Year, but Philadelphia's overall improvement was minimal, as they finished with a 22–60 record. 76ers top brass felt changes had to be made after the 1996–97 season. Changes came in the form of the firings of Davis and Greenberg and the unveiling of a new 76ers team logo and jerseys. To replace Davis, Larry Brown was hired as head coach. Known for a defense-first approach and transforming unsuccessful teams into winners by "playing the right way", Brown faced perhaps his toughest coaching challenge. He often clashed with Iverson, but the 76ers improved to 31 wins in 1997–98. Early in the 1997–98 season, the Sixers traded Jerry Stackhouse, who had been the third overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft, to the Detroit Pistons. In exchange, Philadelphia received Aaron McKie and Theo Ratliff, defensive standouts who would have an impact in the team's resurgence. Another key figure in the team's rise, Eric Snow, was added in a trade with the Seattle SuperSonics in January 1998.
Prior to the 1998–99 season, the 76ers signed George Lynch and Matt Geiger, but a lengthy lockout delayed the start of the season, which was shortened to 50 games. During the season, Philadelphia acquired Tyrone Hill in a trade with Milwaukee. The team began its resurgence during this strike-shortened season, finishing with a 28–22 record and the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, marking the first time since 1991 the team reached the postseason. In the first round, Philadelphia upset the Orlando Magic, three games to one, before being swept by the Indiana Pacers. The following season, the Sixers improved to 49–33, fifth in the East. Again, the Sixers won their first round series in four games, this time defeating the Charlotte Hornets. For the second straight year, they were defeated by Indiana in the second round, this time in six games. Though the team was moving in a positive direction, Iverson and Brown continued to clash, and their relationship deteriorated to the point where it seemed certain Iverson would be traded. A rumored trade to the Los Angeles Clippers fell through, but a complicated four-team deal that would've seen Iverson sent to Detroit was agreed upon, only to see it dissolve due to salary cap problems. When it became clear Iverson was staying in Philadelphia, he and Brown worked to patch things up, and the team would reap the benefits in 2000–01.
During the 2000–01 season, the 76ers got off to a hot start by winning their first ten games, and their record would eventually swell to 41–14. Larry Brown coached the Eastern Conference All-Stars, and Allen Iverson was named MVP of the All-Star Game. Shortly before the All-Star break, Theo Ratliff was lost for the season with a wrist injury, one that would later prove to be devastating to his future career. Feeling the team needed an established center to advance deep into the playoffs, Philadelphia acquired Dikembe Mutombo from the Atlanta Hawks in a deal that sent Ratliff, Nazr Mohammed, Toni Kukoč, and Pepe Sanchez to Atlanta (Sanchez was reacquired later in the season after the Hawks waived him). In total, the 76ers went 56–26 to clinch their first Atlantic Division title since 1989–90, and were top seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
In the first round of the playoffs, Philadelphia faced Indiana yet again. In Game One, the 76ers wasted an 18-point lead and lost, 79–78, when Reggie Miller hit a three-pointer in the closing seconds. Philadelphia fought back, however, and took the next three games to win the series. In the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Sixers squared off against the Toronto Raptors and their superstar, Vince Carter. The teams alternated wins in the first four games, with Iverson scoring 54 points in Philadelphia's Game Two victory. After winning Game five but losing game six, the team won game seven after Vince Carter missed a jump shot that sent the 76ers to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks. After the 76ers and Bucks split the first two games of the series, it was learned Iverson would miss Game Three due to various nagging injuries that had plagued him late in the season. Though most predicted a Milwaukee cakewalk, the 76ers kept the game close before falling, 80–74. Despite the loss, Philadelphia seemed to gain momentum in the process, and they would win Games Four and Five. Milwaukee would build up a 33-point lead in the third quarter of Game Six, but the 76ers would make a furious fourth-quarter rally before falling 110–100. Iverson, who had struggled in the series up to that point, scored 26 points in that final quarter to finish with 46 on the night, and appeared to have gotten a second wind. In Game Seven, the Bucks jumped out to a 34–25 second quarter lead before seldom-used reserve Raja Bell scored 10 points to spark a 23–4 run that gave Philadelphia the lead for good. Iverson scored 44 points, and the 76ers pulled away in the second half, winning by a 108–91 score, putting them in the NBA Finals for the first time since 1983. Their opponent would be the Los Angeles Lakers, who had run up an 11–0 record in the first three rounds of the playoffs, and were expected by many to make quick work of the 76ers. Because of a seemingly meaningless loss to the lowly Chicago Bulls in the regular season finale (both the Sixers and the Lakers finished with identical 56–26 records, but Los Angeles was awarded a higher seed based on tiebreakers), the 76ers had to open a series on the road for the first time in the 2001 playoffs.
In Game One, the Lakers jumped out to an 18–5 lead, but the 76ers stormed back to take a 19-point lead in the second half. Los Angeles fought back to force a 94–94 tie at the end of regulation. The Lakers scored the first five points of the overtime period, but the 76ers went on a 13–2 run to end the game, winning by a 107–101 score. Iverson hit a go-ahead three-pointer in the extra period, and followed that with a jump shot after which he infamously stepped over Tyronn Lue after making the basket. Eric Snow hit a running jump shot in the waning seconds with the shot clock expiring to clinch the stunning victory. Los Angeles would win Game Two, 98–89. In Game Three, Shaquille O'Neal fouled out late in the fourth quarter, and the 76ers pulled to within a point with less than a minute to play. Robert Horry, however, hit a clutch three-pointer in that final minute, and the 76ers would lose, 91–86. The Lakers wrapped up the NBA title with a 100–86 win in Game Four and a 108–96 win in Game Five. The 2000–01 76ers featured the NBA's MVP (Iverson), the NBA's coach of the year (Brown), the Defensive Player of the Year (Mutombo), and the Sixth Man of the Year (Aaron McKie).
The 76ers went into the 2001–02 season with high expectations, but were able to produce only a 43–39 record, sixth in the Eastern Conference. In the first round of the playoffs, Philadelphia was defeated by the Boston Celtics, three games to two. In 2002–03, the 76ers sprinted to a 15–4 start, but a 10–20 swoon left them 25–24 at the All-Star break. After the break, the 76ers caught fire, winning nine in a row at one point, and 23 of their last 33 to finish at 48–34, earning the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Iverson scored 55 points in the playoff opener against the New Orleans Hornets, and the Sixers went on to win the series in six games. In the second round, the Detroit Pistons ended Philadelphia's playoff run in a frustrating six-game series that saw the 76ers lose twice in overtime, and once on a last-second shot in regulation.
On Memorial Day, 2003, Brown abruptly resigned as head coach, taking over the reins in Detroit a few days later. Brown's Pistons would win the 2004 NBA Championship over the Los Angeles Lakers, in some ways avenging his loss to them in 2001. After being turned down by Jeff Van Gundy and Eddie Jordan, the 76ers hired Randy Ayers, an assistant under Brown, as their new head coach. Ayers lasted only 52 games and was fired with the team's record at 21–31. Chris Ford took over, but the 76ers finished the 2003–2004 season at 33–49, missing the playoffs for the first time in six years. Iverson, who was at odds with Ford throughout the interim coach's tenure, played only 48 games in a stormy, injury-plagued season.
For the 2004–2005 season, Philadelphia native Jim O'Brien was named head coach. Iverson was moved back to point guard and flourished, having arguably his finest season. He also impressed many with his willingness to get other players involved in the offense. During this season, Philadelphia acquired Chris Webber in a trade with the Sacramento Kings, with the hopes that the team had at long last found a consistent second scoring option to compliment Iverson. Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia's first-round pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, was named to the All-Rookie First Team, and the 76ers returned to the postseason with a 43–39 record. In the first round, they were defeated in five games by the defending NBA Champion Pistons, coached by Larry Brown.
Though the 2004–05 76ers exceeded many on-court expectations, there was a great deal of behind-the-scenes tension between O'Brien, his players, and the front office. Shortly after the season ended, O'Brien was fired and replaced by the popular Maurice Cheeks, who played for the team from 1978–89, and was the starting point guard for the 1983 NBA Champions. However, the coaching change did not help team's fortunes for the 2005–06 season. A 2–10 stretch in March doomed them to missing the playoffs for the second time in three years with a 38–44 record.
With the opening of the 2006–07 season, the 76ers started out hot, going 3–0 for the first time since making it to the Finals five years previously. However, they stumbled through the first half of the season and couldn't quite recover, finishing 35–47, good for 3rd in the Atlantic Division, and 9th in the Eastern Conference (tied with Indiana).
On December 5, 2006, disappointed with the direction the team was headed, Allen Iverson gave the 76ers management an ultimatum: find players who will help support me or trade me. This was confirmed via an in-game interview with team owner, Ed Snider.
On December 19, 2006, Allen Iverson, along with Ivan McFarlin, were sent to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for guard Andre Miller, forward Joe Smith, and two first-round draft picks. Then, on January 11, Sixers GM Billy King announced that the Sixers and aging forward Chris Webber had agreed to a buyout of the remainder of his contract. The Sixers would pay Webber $36 million over the next 1½ seasons, which is $7 million less than he would have been paid to play. After the buyout, the Sixers waived Webber, making him a free agent. Webber signed with the Detroit Pistons shortly thereafter.
The moves allowed the 76ers to make Iguodala the unquestioned leader of the team, and evaluate whether they saw him as a franchise player. The Sixers had started the year 3-0, then went 5-10 before Iverson left the team. They would stumble out to an eight-game losing streak with Iverson deactivated, however were able to finish the season on a high note, going 30-29 for the remainder of the season. They finished the year 35-47.
The Sixers drafted Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets SF Thaddeus Young with the 12th pick, traded with the Miami Heat for 21st pick Colorado State PF Jason Smith, traded with the Portland Trail Blazers for 42nd pick Vanderbilt SG/SF Derrick Byars, and then finally traded with the Utah Jazz for Providence PF Herbert Hill.
With Iguodala, the Sixers clinched a playoff berth with a win over the Atlanta Hawks on April 4, 2008. It was their first postseason appearance since 2005, as well as the first in the post-Iverson era. However, they were eliminated by the Pistons in six games, with Detroit winning the series 4–2. Even with this elimination, many fans considered this to be a successful season, considering that the Sixers were 12 games under .500 in early February and went on to have a run that led them to the playoffs and a 40–42 record.
On July 9, 2008, the 76ers signed power forward Elton Brand to a 5 year, $79.795 million-dollar contract. They were able to sign him after trading Rodney Carney, and renouncing their rights to all their unrestricted free agents. Brand had originally opted out of his contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, looking to re-sign with them. But Elton saw that the 76ers offered him more money (he regarded their offer as the "Philly-Max"), and a better chance at winning an NBA Championship playing in the Eastern Conference. This move has been the subject of controversy since there were rumors that he and Baron Davis had made a friendly agreement to play together for the Clippers. Later the team signed free agent point guard Royal Ivey of the Milwaukee Bucks, Kareem Rush from the Indiana Pacers, and then signed former Sixer Theo Ratliff after Jason Smith's injury. Donyell Marshall was signed on September 2, 2008 after he stated that he wanted to go back home to his agent and end his career in the city of brotherly love. Rush, Ivey, Ratliff and Marshall were all paid the veteran's minimum wage because of their one-dimensional play, but they were to be contributors to a team on the rise. During the offseason they also re-signed valuable restricted free agents Louis Williams and Andre Iguodala for 5 yr/$25 million and 6 yr/$80 million, respectively.
However, the Sixers couldn't find the form that pushed them to the playoffs last year. The Sixers started the year with an uninspiring 9–14 record before firing head coach Maurice Cheeks on December 13. Assistant GM Tony DiLeo took over and the Sixers gradually improved. They finished the season with a 41–41 record, with a 32–27 record under DiLeo. Brand's first season with the Sixers ended early with a right shoulder injury that required surgery. Despite the loss of Brand, the Sixers earned a playoff berth with a 95-90 win against the Detroit Pistons on April 4, 2009, at home.
In the first round, they faced the Orlando Magic. Three of the first four games of the series provided late-game heroics. Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young made game-winning shots in Games 1 and 3, respectively, while Orlando's Hedo Türkoğlu provided the game-winner in Game 4. Just like in the previous year's playoffs, the Sixers led 2–1 after three games. But the Magic went on to win three straight to eliminate the Sixers from the playoffs.
It was also during the season that the Sixers played one home game at their old home, the Wachovia Spectrum. The Sixers won 104–101 over the Chicago Bulls on March 13, 2009. The game was played to provide the final curtain call on the Spectrum, which was scheduled to be imploded on New Year's Eve 2009.
Following the playoff loss, Tony DiLeo returned to his front office job, creating a head coaching vacancy. Former Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan was introduced as the 76ers' new coach on June 1, 2009. For the 2009 offseason, the Sixers drafted UCLA point guard Jrue Holiday with the 17th pick. The Sixers also traded power forward Reggie Evans to the Toronto Raptors for a three-point specialist, small forward Jason Kapono, who had won back-to-back three-point shootouts in 2007 and 2008. This offseason also marked the return of the 1977–1997 76ers logo, along with a redesigned court and new uniforms updating the 1982–83 jerseys.
On December 2, 2009, the Philadelphia 76ers announced that they had signed Allen Iverson to a one-year prorated $1.3 million non-guaranteed contract. The 76ers were 5–13 at the time and had lost Louis Williams for at least 30 games to injury. Iverson made his "re-debut" for the 76ers against the team he was traded to, the Denver Nuggets, to a thunderous ovation from the sell-out crowd, scoring 11 points, six assists and five rebounds.
However, the euphoria that greeted Iverson's return to the 76ers faded quickly. On February 22, Iverson announced he was leaving the 76ers indefinitely to attend to his daughter's illness, and a few weeks later the 76ers announced that Iverson would not be returning for the rest of the season.
The 76ers finished the season with a record of 27–55, its first 50-loss season since 1998. Most cited the reason behind this as the players' inability to play within Eddie Jordan's Princeton offense, with several players unhappy with his system. Hours after the 76ers' last game at Orlando on April 14, the team fired Jordan after only one season. He was the fourth coach to be fired after one season or less since Larry Brown left the team in 2003.
On May 20, 2010, TNT analyst Doug Collins was named head coach of the 76ers. Collins played for the Sixers for his entire NBA career after being the first overall pick in the 1973 draft, and had previously coached the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, and the Washington Wizards. The 76ers had the sixth-best odds at receiving the top pick in the 2010 draft, and they managed to land the second overall pick, beating out the Warriors, Kings, Timberwolves, and Nets, who all had better odds. They used that draft pick to select Ohio State University's Evan Turner.
The Sixers started the season with an uninspiring 3–13 mark, but started turning things around, going 37-23 to go on to a 40-36 record, but a depressing 1-5 finish doomed them to a 7th seed in the playoffs with a 41-41 record. They clinched a playoff berth on April 1, 2011, their third in the last four years. The 76ers valiantly competed, but because of the 1-5 stretch, the Sixers had to face the heavily-favored Miami Heat in the first round, and ultimately fell to them in five games. Although they lost the series, Doug Collins was praised for turning around a lottery team in his first season, as well as winning a playoff game when many pundits predicted that the Sixers would be swept.
On July 13, 2011, Comcast-Spectacor reached an agreement to sell the 76ers to an investment group led by Apollo Global Management co-founder Joshua Harris. Harris' group paid $280 million for the franchise. The sale did not include any ownership stake in the Flyers or Comcast Sportsnet. The Sixers will continue to play their home games at the Wells Fargo Center for the foreseeable future. Rapper Will Smith (a Philadelphia native) and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith are notable minority owners. The new ownership group decided to retain Head Coach Doug Collins and President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn. Ed Stefanski, who served as the team's General Manager since 2007, was relieved of his duties.
The 2011–12 NBA season was delayed into December and the Sixers did not hold their home opener until January 6, 2012. The home opener marked the debut of an improved in game presentation at the Wells Fargo Center. Hip Hop was retired as the team's mascot.
The Sixers had their best start since the 2000-01 season with a 20-9 record start, battling for the Eastern Conference's best record and taking a firm division lead. The Sixers however would finish the season 15-22, giving them a 35-31 record for the year. Attributed to their lack of a true go-to-scorer, the 76ers lost hold of the top three seed and division championship that they held for most of the season, by going on the losing steak. Nevertheless, they clinched their fourth playoff berth in the last five years on the penultimate playdate of the season.
Philadelphia earned the eighth seed in the 2012 NBA playoffs, facing off against the 1st seeded Chicago Bulls. Philadelphia improved from their struggles at the second half of the regular season, beating an injury-plagued Chicago 4-2 to win their first series since 2003. This was only the fifth time in NBA history that an eight seed has beaten a one seed. They then faced their rival, the Boston Celtics, in the second round, and were eliminated 4-3. The Sixers would once again face criticism for their lack of a true scorer, as they were not able to keep pace with the Celtics' scoring. They were however given credit for winning the regular season series against Boston and forcing the playoff series to seven games against the powerhouse Celtics, who had won the last four division championships in a row.
In an effort to re-tool for the upcoming season, The 76ers selected Maurice 'Mo' Harkless, and Arnett Moultrie (via trade with Miami) in the 2012 NBA Draft. The Sixers then used their amnesty clause on Elton Brand, traded for Dorell Wright, and signed Nick Young, Kwame Brown, Royal Ivey, and re-signed Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen. They also allowed Lou Williams and Jodie Meeks to leave through free agency.
On August 9, 2012, the 76ers agreed to a four-team trade with the Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets. In the trade that would send six-time All-Star Dwight Howard to the Lakers, Philadelphia agreed to send 2011 first round pick Nik Vučević, 2012 first round draft pick Maurice Harkless, and a future first round draft pick to Orlando, as well as All-Star swingman Andre Iguodala to Denver. In exchange, they received Jason Richardson from the Magic and All-Star Center Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Sixers started the 2012-13 NBA season with high expectations with the help of Andrew Bynum and the growth of the young Sixers. However, Bynum's debut with the 76ers took a hit when he was sidelined for precautionary reasons, in relation to the Orthokine knee procedure he received during the offseason. At first it looked like Bynum would be out only shortly, but little success in healing and setbacks pushed Bynum's return date further and further. As a result of many setbacks, on March 19, the Sixers announced that Bynum would have season-ending surgery on both knees. Bynum wasn't the only Sixer to suffer through injuries. On February 8, Jason Richardson also went through a season-ending knee surgery. Jrue Holiday, Thaddeus Young, Nick Young, and Royal Ivey also had injuries that sidelined them for weeks. By the end of the season, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes were the only Sixers to play in every game during the season. The Sixers started the season 12-9 but stumbled through a tough stretch and couldn't recover. The Sixers finished the season 34-48, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
On April 18, it was announced that Doug Collins has resigned as 76ers coach. He will however stay on the team as an adviser. Soon after, general manager Tony DiLeo had "cut ties" with the team. On May 11, it was announced that Sam Hinkie, who had previously worked with the Houston Rockets, will replace DiLeo as general manager.
While team colors have changed somewhat over the years, with emphasis alternating between blue, white, red, and even black and gold, the 76ers have always been closely identified with the logo featuring the number 76 with 13 stars arranged in a circle above the number 7 to represent the original 13 American colonies. The logo portrays the patriotic nature of the United States, prominently featuring the colors red, blue and white, and Philadelphia's reputation as the birthplace of American independence. The logo was used from 1962–77, after which it was slightly modified to feature the full team nickname and a basketball adorning the logo. This iteration was used from 1977–97. The 76ers also had an alternate logo with the '76' wordmark inside the silhouette of the Liberty Bell with 'Philadelphia' on top.
Uniforms during this era varied between blue and red. During much of the 1960s, the abbreviated city name 'PHILA' adorned the uniforms, ranging from fancy and contemporary two-tone script to classic block lettering, the latter of which was used during their 1967 title run. Blue was the primary road color during the 1960s, but for the 1970–71 season, red became the primary away color, with the away uniform featuring 'PHILA' and the block numbers in blue with white trim. Player names were also added as part of the NBA mandate. A uniquely-designed home uniform was used in the second half of the season, featuring a script 'Seventy Sixers' wordmark in red with blue trim, the only time the full team name was used on the uniform. From 1971–78 they returned to blue as the primary road color, with the more popular moniker 'SIXERS' written in Art Deco lettering. With various adjustments from block lettering to Bookman Old Style font, this version with stars in side stripes stayed until 1978. The uniforms from 1978–91 was a classic nod to their 1967 uniforms, except that the road color is red and the home lettering is blue with red trim. The name 'SIXERS' was featured in block lettering. This uniform was used in their 1983 title run. From 1991–94, the Sixers followed other teams in designing more graphic-laden uniforms by featuring a streaking blue splash with tricolored stars heading up to the word 'SIXERS' in Helvetica and in either red (home) or white (away). In addition, the word 'PHILADELPHIA' was added atop the team name. From 1994–97, the Sixers return to a more basic uniform design, featuring a more ornate lettering. The team name is in red (home) and white (away), with numbers in blue.
In the 1997–98 NBA season, the Sixers drastically changed their logo and colors, apparently in an effort to appeal to a more youthful, hip-hop oriented culture. The iconic 76 logo was dropped, and a new logo was introduced, featuring a bigger 76ers wordmark, with a single star behind the number 7 and a streaking basketball below. More controversially, gold and black became the primary logo colors, with red, white and blue being reduced to accent colors only. Uniforms were primarily white (home), and black (away), with slight adjustments in the home logo lettering (gold from 1997–2000, black from 2000–09), trim and piping. Until the 2005–06 season, player names featured a red trim, before dropping it altogether and shrunk the font size in the 2006–07 season; the alternates adopted this design that season, with the regular uniforms following suit the next season. A blue alternate uniform was used from 1999–2006, while a red alternate uniform, featuring a return to the 'PHILA' script in then-current lettering, was used from 2006–09. This logo and color scheme were used until the 2008–09 NBA season.
During the 2008–09 season, while the previous logo was still in use, the original 'Stars and Stripes' 76 logo was revived to coincide with the team's 60th anniversary (counting the Syracuse years). The previous 1977–97 logo was reintroduced, with the addition of a red square and 'Philadelphia' inside a blue rectangle below it, although the partial logo without the square, city name and rectangles was also used. Uniform colors for this anniversary edition were white only, using the 1978–91 design. The anniversary uniforms proved so popular that they inspired the team to return to the old logo and color scheme full-time in the 2009–10 season, with red away uniforms completing the ensemble. This variation featured different striping patterns, team name in blue and numbers in red on the home uniforms, and monotone script. This combination continues to represent the 76ers to the present. A blue alternate uniform, which mirrors that of the red away uniform, was unveiled before the 2012–13 season.
Philadelphia 76ers roster
|Philadelphia 76ers retired numbers and honorees|
|6||Julius Erving||F||1976–87||April 18, 1988|
|10||Maurice Cheeks||G||1978–89 1||February 6, 1995|
|13||Wilt Chamberlain||C||1965–68 2||March 18, 1991|
|15||Hal Greer||G||1963–1973, 1958–73 3||November 19, 1976|
|24||Bobby Jones||F||1978–86||November 7, 1986|
|32||Billy Cunningham||F||1965–76 4||December 17, 1976|
|34||Charles Barkley||F||1984–92||March 30, 2001|
|1963–1985 5||March 25, 1986|
All-time Leading Scorer
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