I fell in love with basketball at a young age. Even though I didn’t fully understand the game like I do now, I noticed early on that some players stood out as if they radiated a glowing aura, and those were the players I was drawn to.
As a kid growing up in Michigan, this realization started with Chris Webber and the Fab Five. They had it all; the attitude, baggy shorts, bald heads, black socks and matching black Nike Air Force Max’s. There was something different about Webber, though. He let it be known that he was the man after dunking on somebody, running back on defense and scowling the whole way down the floor. I didn’t know how to explain it at the time, but I remember thinking “I want to be like him.”
Back then, I thought C-Webb was the first player to epitomize the early 90’s Hip Hop attitude on the basketball court, but it wasn’t until later I learned that his style of play was inspired by his idol, a man named Charles Barkley. That was when I started to do my homework about the game’s history and its players, and that was when I became a Sixers fan.
I was enamored with the Philadelphia 76ers as a young fan because the Sixers’ history is filled with icons who had that it-factor — that flavor, that style, that indescribable thing that made me feel something when I watched them play. It wasn’t only what they did on the floor that made them special, but it was also how they did it.
Every player in the NBA can dunk the basketball to some degree, but no one can dunk that thing like Julius Erving. Players today can grab a rebound here and there, but no one is clearing the boards like Moses Malone night after night. Some players can intimidate their opponents, but no one could instill fear on the court like Charles Barkley. The league has seen many talented big men, but no one is dominant enough to score 100 points like Wilt Chamberlain. Every team has had a franchise player, but there will never be another Allen Iverson.
Contributing for Liberty Ballers is an exciting opportunity because, as a fan and a writer, I know that the city of Philadelphia gets it. This city and its fans know what greatness looks like on the basketball court; the names and numbers hanging in the rafters at the Wells Fargo Center can attest to the city’s contributions to the sport.
Nonetheless, the past is the past. It’s important to remember that although the Sixers’ legendary history is one that deserves celebration, it isn’t where the team’s story ends. The team’s past triumphs as well as its failures might be cemented in history, but the team’s greatness isn’t fixed in a bygone era. Rather, the Sixers’ story is continuous, and it’s happening right now.
Season after season, new pages are written for it (some are better than others, to be sure). It isn’t a perfect story, but it’s ours, and we eagerly pour over every detail because we care about what happens next. As the Sixers’ story continues to unravel during my time at Liberty Ballers, I’m looking forward to this season and experiencing the team’s next chapter alongside Sixers fans everywhere.