For the 2K heads among us, nostalgia is a big sales point of the yearly basketball series. Entire game modes, including the yet-to-be-topped Jordan Challenge in 2K11, have been built around the return of some of the game’s legends to the digital space. This year, it appears we’re getting a different twist on the usual fare, and every NBA team will also come equipped with an All-Time Team, comprised of the best players in each franchise’s history.
Since it’s Friday in August, I figured we could have a little fun with this, and select an all-time team of our own for the Sixers, regardless of who the 2K team ends up choosing. Here’s who I would select for the starting five; feel free to yell at me/select your own team in the comments.
Point guard: Allen Iverson
I knew one thing heading into this exercise—Iverson was going to be on the squad. But the positional designation messed with my head a bit, because it shapes how you select the other backcourt slot.
Theoretically, you could run out a backcourt of Iverson and say, Mo Cheeks, and that might actually be a better fit in some respects, with Cheeks playing more of the table-setter role alongside Iverson. But for the sake of this exercise, I was trying to get the “best” five out there, not necessarily the best fitting. Truthfully, if I was trying to build a more well-rounded team, I might leave off Iverson altogether, and attempt to find some less shot-happy players around the other big guns.
But really, how do you not include Iverson on an all-time Sixers team? Assuming we could get him to show up on time, his ability to take guys on one-on-one and generate free throws holds up in any era.
Shooting Guard: Hal Greer
Because he played in the shadow of another member of this group, Greer never gets the respect he deserves in all-time conversations. But he’s one of the franchise’s best players any way you slice it, and a no-brainer for the selection at shooting guard.
With all due respect to the Boston Strangler himself, Andrew Toney, Greer’s longevity gives him the nod here. A 10-time consecutive All Star during the prime of his career, Greer averaged a cool 19-5-4 on 45 percent shooting, and his 80 percent mark from the free-throw line suggests he probably could have expanded the range out to three if he played in a different era.
I don’t know that Greer, at 6’2”, would be able to do as much damage against more modern competition. But you can’t knock his legacy and his accomplishments in his era, so he gets the nod here.
Small Forward: Julius Erving
Of all the players in the franchise’s history, I think Erving stands at the top as their most “iconic” player. He was (and is) one of the coolest guys to ever be associated with the franchise, both because of his highlights on the court and his personality off it.
The only shame of Erving’s career is that he didn’t get to spend all of his early years in Philadelphia. From all accounts, he was absolutely electric during his ABA years with the Virginia Squires and New York Nets, averaging a ridiculous 27.3-15.7-4 line in relative obscurity during his age-21 season with the Squires. Yes, the ABA’s numbers were inflated, but unconscious gunner Doc would have been a sight to behold, as was his gigantic ‘fro.
In any case, he’s easily the franchise standard-bearer on the wing, so write his name down in permanent ink.
Power Forward: Charles Barkley
These days, Barkley is mostly spoken of to highlight how godawful the trade return was when the Sixers moved him before the 1992-93 season. That shouldn’t overshadow what he was able to accomplish during eight seasons in Philadelphia, which included a run in the late 1980’s that saw him selected to six straight All-Star teams.
Barkley is and was a difficult player to build around because of his diminutive size at the power forward spot, but he remains one of the most unique athletes the game has ever seen, dominating the glass in spite of his lacking height. I would argue you will see another Michael Jordan before you see another Charles Barkley, because the former is a prototype that lends itself to duplication, while the latter is a one-of-a-kind-model.
His grab-and-go game off defensive rebounds was a precursor to what you see bigger players—like Blake Griffin and Ben Simmons—doing today.
Center: Wilt Chamberlain
Could it have been anyone else? Caveats about the era aside, Chamberlain is probably the most dominant basketball player ever, even as the sport underwent changes during his time that were almost explicitly made to slow him down.
The bulk of Chamberlain’s career actually came as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors, so his Sixers career is technically fairly brief. Fortunately, it came at his absolute apex; the ‘67 Sixers team he led to a championship is widely seen as one of the greatest teams ever, and Chamberlain’s 24.1-24.2-7.8 statline on 68 percent shooting that year is one of the most absurd accomplishments in the history of sports.
Moses Malone deserves an honorable mention here—he accomplished a ton in the short time he was in Philadelphia—but nobody quite lives up to the Stilt.