8 Days: The Sixers Are Bad, But Will They Be '72-'73 Sixers Bad?

Thumbs up, Mad Dog. - By George Widman, AP

"It was clear we were the league's universal health spa," Carter said in 1998. "If teams had any ills, they got healthy when they played us." - Fred Carter

One spring day in 1970 Al Henry picked up his telephone in Madison, Wis. and heard a man who introduced himself as Jack Kiser of the Philadelphia Daily News say, "Congratulations! The 76ers have picked you 12th in the first round of the NBA draft."

Henry, a 6'9" center who had been the object of no more than cursory scrutiny by most pro clubs while playing for Wisconsin, answered, "Don't you mean I was the first player picked in the 12th round?" (Sports Illustrated; January 8th, 1973)

The Sixers will win more than nine games this season.

Double digit victories is our floor, and a 41-41 record accompanied by a #8 seed in the playoffs is our ceiling, because, well, Sixers. If we have learned anything as Sixers fans these past five centuries, it's that the #8 seed is always in play. Always.

There are too many teams with mediocre talent and tanking aspirations of their own - franchises also dedicated to the cause - that our Sixers can't help but stumble their way into the win column at least twelve or thirteen times this year. Winning an NBA game is a lot like a Brandon Jacobs one-yard touchdown plunge. It's not so much skill, but a matter of opportunity really. The Sixers have 82 chances to win ten games. When Willie Warren wills us to a win over Washington on a Wednesday in March, the Vatican won't classify it as a miracle. The Illumianti may be involved, sure. But that's a conspiracy, not a miracle.

I'm 100% certain the Sixers will win ten games.

I mean, I'm fairly certain of it. Well, I'm pretty sure. Ok, let me just say this. If the Sixers catch a break or two on the schedule, then ten wins isn't out of the question.

They're gonna win ten games, right? Right?

The 1972-1973 Sixers Sixers

Record: 9-73

Coach(es): Roy Rubin (4-47); Kevin Loughery (5-26)

Longest Losing Streak: 20 games

Best Player: "The Mad Dog" Fred Carter

Random Minutia: One of the Sixers' nine wins came against the 60-22 Milwaukee Bucks. A team led by Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and Oscar Robertson.  In the NBA, everybody makes a run.

Draft Pick the Following Year: #1 overall (Doug Collins)

Semi-Believable Dialogue from 1973:

"Please, Sue Ellen. Don't make me watch the Sixers again. Isn't there an ABA game on or something?"

"Sorry, Brad. I need to see how we develop under Loughery's tutelage."

The Sixers were just five seasons removed from winning 68 games and an NBA Championship. Wilt Chamberlain had ho-hummed his way to a half-decent 24/24/8 slash line. But the roster underwent a complete turnover since the championship run, and instead of restocking through the NBA draft, the Sixers Matt Millen'd their way into steady and absolute oblivion. By 1972, there was nothing in the cupboard; not even a diminutive Iroquois figurine to chip in ten minutes off the bench. When the Sixers selected Al Henry in 1970, players like Nate "Tiny" Archibald, Garfield Heard, and Niagara's own Calvin Murphy were still on the board. And I don't think I need to remind you of the untapped upside inside every Niagara alumnus.

Per the article, Al "The Tree" Henry, he of 4.0 PPG in two seasons , was one of the Sixers' most successful 1st round picks in that six year window. Along with Henry, the Sixers used first round picks on Craig Raymond, Shaer Halimon, Bug Ogden, and Dana Lewis, who, until five minutes ago, I thought were ESPN broadcasters brought into fill Pam Ward's shoes.

"Let's go down to the field with Shaer Halimon. He's with Akron head coach, Terry Bowden."

It's interesting to note that the article suggests that these draft picks were selected with, in part, through the aid of a computer.

"Unfortunately the 76ers neglected to ask Henry's opinion, relying instead on the less perceptive judgment of its scouts, who had fed their reports and statistics into a completer specially hired for the occasion. The machine spit out Henry's name as the man to take."  Get your head out of your Intel 4004 and watch the games, nerds.

Entering the 1973-1973 campaign, the Sixers head coaching job evolved into an unenviable position. Several candidates had already turned down the task. The Sixers eventually selected college coach, Roy Rubin.

"Rubin, a stellar college coach at Long Island University, was hired by Philadelphia prior to the beginning of the 1972-73 season - after the franchise literally put an ad in the paper." (Fox Sports; August 11, 2013)

Come again? Did you say the Sixers put an ad in the paper? Stop. Stop it. 1972 may as well have taken place on Mars. Can you imagine if that happened today? That would turn social media, and the world, on its ear. The internet would be flooded with parody cover letters and résumés. (See below). Levin would get a tattoo of three exclamation points stamped on his forehead (!!!).

"Are you sure you want to this, Mike?" we would ask. "Tattoos are forever."

SO OUR FLAGS. AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! HINKIEEEEEEE!!!!

Every tweet and post from Mike would be more and more illegible than the last. Intern GM Truthers would crawl out of from the holes where they've been hiding. Roy's cover letter to the Sixers HR Department would be written in three verses and a chorus. The Sixers front office would receive twelve résumés from the LB writing staff before lunch.

Experience

-Defeated all 30 teams in NBA Jam

-Owns Like Mike on Blu-ray

Skills

-Proficient with Microsoft Office and the Motion Offense

***In case you're wondering, my squad would strictly play a 1-3-1 zone on defense. Some team used a 1-3-1 against us in college intramurals, and they might as well have bound and gagged us. It would have taken us a month and a half to reach twenty***

From that same article:

The damage that was done to Rubin was harsh. Not only did he reportedly lose 45 pounds while coaching the 76ers (He once told the New York Times, "Some nights when we got beat and the losses mounted, my stomach became one big knot. I felt so humiliated.") - he never returned to basketball after the experience. Instead, he headed to Florida, where he owned an International House of Pancakes franchise. (Fox Sports; August 11, 2013

It's like tanking should come with a warning label: May lead to substantial weight loss; pancake house franchises. I'm not sure we're all ready for this. Someone may have to go on a Sam's Club run and stock up on Tums and Pepto. It's gonna be a grind, gents. I can't overemphasize the importance of a good night's sleep and staying regular.

The Sixers reeled off losing streaks of 15, 14, 20, and 13 games. Pythagorean Wins suggested the Sixers should have gone 15-67. So it could be said that they were really just unlucky. Misunderstood, even. But there was a light at the end of the tunnel. The Sixers added Doug Collins, George McGinnis, and Caldwell Jones in the 1973 Draft alone.

In 1974, the Sixers drafted trouble forward, Marvin Barnes, #2 overall, but he elected to sign with the ABA. In 1975, they picked Darryl Dawkins and World B. Free. A year later, they acquired Dr. J. Then it was game on.

The Sixers reached the finals in 1977. Just four years after finishing 9-73.

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