The Sixers, to this date, have lost their two previous games, games that they should have won. I'm not going into great detail because this post is meant to try to bring a positive spin on things. We will look at the three basketball championships the the Sixers won. One was won as the Syracuse Nationals and the other two as the Philadelphia 76ers.
This season, the Sixers were the Nationals so of course they will be referred to as the Nationals. This season was included an NBA milestone being accomplished, thanks to the Nats' owner.
With the NBA struggling financially and down to just 8 teams Nationals owner 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 Natswould take first place in the East with a 43-29 record.
They would carry that momentum through the playoffs.
The top three teams in each division made the playoffs, andthe division winners each received a bye to the division finals. Syracuse took the bye and then thumped Boston, three games to one, to reach the NBA Finals, for the 2nd straight season, against Fort Wayne, a young team that had outgunned Minneapolis and Rochester. The seven-game Finals was a classic; the largest margin of victory was only seven points. Nats would get off to a fast start taking 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 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 Natsa 92-91 lead in the final seconds. King would then steal inbound pass to clinch the NBA Championship for the Nationals. The series and the shot clock infused the league with excitement.
Here are the regular season stats as well as the playoff stats.
Alex Hannum took control of what turned out to be one of the finest teams of all time. Hannum instructed Chamberlain to pass more and shoot less in 1966-67. Chamberlain's average dipped to 24.1 points per game, the first time in eight years he hadn't won the scoring title. But he may have been more effective than ever, ranking first in field goal percentage (.683), first in rebounding (24.2 rpg), and third in assists (7.8 apg).
The team was simply awesome. Walker (19.3 ppg) and Cunningham (18.5) were deadly from the corners, and Luke Jackson(8.9 rpg) was active in the paint. Greer was a master scorer and play-maker, finishing with averages of 22.1 points and 3.8 assists per game. The other guard was Jones (13.2 ppg), and top reserves included rookies Matt Guokas and Billy Melchionni and veteran Larry Costello.
The team won 45 of its first 49 games, flattening most of the opposition en route to a 68-13 regular-season record, setting a new NBA single season record. They finished eight games ahead of the Celtics, who managed 60 wins for the year. In the playoffs the 76erswould easily knock off the Cincinnati Royals to set up a rematch with the Boston Celtics, who had not lost a playoff series in nine years. However, not even the Celtics could stop the 76ers this time as they jumped out to a 3-0 series lead before advancing to the NBA Finals in five games, ending the Celtics' hopes for a ninth-straight title.
The NBA Finals would be a battle of Philadelphia as the 76ers took on the San Francisco Warriors who played in Philly from 1946-1962. Game 1 would be tough for the 76ers who needed overtime for a 141-135 win. But in terms of the series, Philadelphia's championship, which was Chamberlain's first, was almost anticlimactic. The 76ers overwhelmed the San Francisco Warriors in six games to take the crown. That Sixers team has since been recognized as one of the greatest ever. As part of the NBA's 35th-anniversary celebration in 1980, the 1966-67 Sixers were voted the best team in NBA history. Cunningham, Guokas, and Costello each would go on to coach in the league while Chamberlain piloted a team for one season in the ABA.
Here are the regular season stats and playoff stats. Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, and Chet Walker made the All Star team. Chamberlain was also MVP and on the All NBA first team. Greer made second team. They were 3rd best defensive out of 10 teams and ranked first offensively.
The Sixers needed a center, and after the 1981-82 season they went out and got a great one. Moses Malone, who had become the dominant man in the pivot at Houston, came to the Sixers through a trade that was prompted by his free agency. After Malone signed a lucrative offer sheet with Philadelphia, Houston matched the offer and then traded Malone to the Sixers for Caldwell Jones and a 1983 first-round draft choice.
Malone's arrival gave the 1982-83 team a starting five for the ages: Erving (21.4 ppg), Bobby Jones(9.0 ppg, often off the bench), Malone (24.5 ppg, 15.3 rpg), Toney (19.7 ppg), and Cheeks (6.9 apg, 184 steals). Clint Richardson, Clemon Johnson, and Marc Iavaroni also played valuable roles.
Malone was a force in the middle taking the MVP award as the 76ers took the Division with a league best record of 65-17. Heading into the playoffs Moses Malone would proclaim "Fo, Fo, Fo," meaning they would sweep their way through the playoffs. In the first round Moses looked like a prophet as the 76ers easily swept the New York Knicks in four straight games. Prepared to face the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals again the 76ers had to be a little surprised as the Celtics were upset by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round. However, the 76ers would not be deterred as they beat the Bucks in five games. Moving on to the NBA Finals the 76ers were matched up against the Los Angeles Lakers again. This time things would be much different as Moses Malone dominated the series leading the 76ers to an overwhelming four game sweep as the 76ers claimed their second NBA Championship. Moses Malone who fell one game short of his prediction that the 76ers would sweep through the playoffs was named NBA Finals MVP.
Here are the regular season stats and playoff stats. Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Maurice Cheeks, and Andrew Toney (off the bench) were All Stars. Erving was the MVP of the game. Bobby Jones wins NBA's first Sixth Man award. Erving and Malone were on All NBA first team. Malone, Jones, and Cheeks made defensive team but I have to mention the Boston Strangler Andrew Toney. They were 7th of 23 teams on offense and defense.
So that's that. I wasn't alive for any of these championships but I hope to live to see one, some day. Until then, I will continue to watch this current team transform into greatness.