Basketball

The Rise of a Giant: Could the 76ers Return the Ring to Philly?

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The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the oldest remaining NBA teams, having been formed in 1946. Originally located in New York and called the Syracuse Nationals, they relocated to Philly in 1963. By that point, the team was in need of a makeover, not just in terms of their name, but also in terms of their line-up. A 76ers return on investment was important as the owners sought to build in Philadelphia.

The shake-up proved to be a good move, and the 76ers won their second trophy – the first since moving to Philadelphia – at the end of the 1966/67 season. With their new star player, Wilt Chamberlain, leading the way, not only did they brush the Warriors aside in six games, but the team were also voted the best in league history at the NBA’s 35th anniversary ceremony. The success was not to be repeated, unfortunately, until 1983 when the 76ers claimed their third NBA title. Since then, they have only made it to the finals once more, in 2001, under the leadership of Allen Iverson and coached by Larry Brown.

76ers Top Players

Over their many seasons, the 76ers have been home to some of basketball’s greats, many of whom spent their entire careers in Philly. One such player was Hal Greer, who played alongside Wilt Chamberlain. He even scored more points that Chamberlain during the 66/67 playoffs, although it is often the captain who gains all the plaudits. Greer was drafted in 1958 and stayed with the 76ers when they moved to Philly, retiring in 1973 after an impressive 15-year career in which he scored 21,586 points and played in 10 consecutive All Star Games.

After Greer and Chamberlain came Julius Erving, possibly the greatest player in 76ers history. In 11 seasons he made 11 All Star Teams – a 100% record – which is a true testament to the consistency of his excellent gameplay. Even towards the end of his career he was still averaging 16.8 points, a very respectable tally. For the 1982/83 season, Erving was joined by former Houston Rockets MVP Moses Malone, who proved to be the cherry on the top of a team already filled with great players. That was the last year the 76ers won the championship.

More rebranding and a rapid turnover of coaching staff in the late 1990s also coincided with the team winning the lottery for the first pick of the 1996 NBA draft; their choice was Allen Iverson who went on to win Rookie of the Year and cement himself a place in 76ers history. While he is the only name on this list not to have been part of a championship winning team, he has a long list of individual achievements including being in 6 All-Star Teams and an MVP. Unfortunately, his skills weren’t enough to stop the 76ers from heading down a road of disappointing results and bad performances.

Recent Seasons

Things have been looking up for 76ers fans in recent years. In the 2017/18 season the team finished the conference in 3rd place having experienced a franchise record-breaking 16-game winning streak. They beat Miami Heat in the first round of the Playoffs to net their first playoff series victory for six years.

A number of new players followed, including Tobias Harris, who joined star player Joel Embiid, drafted in 2014, at the top of the club’s points table. The 76ers finished the 2018/19 season as third seed, but the following season saw them drop down to sixth, after getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.

New Hopes

Eager to reverse this drop in fortunes the club hired a new manager in the form of Doc Rivers, who had just parted company with the LA Clippers. Rivers is no stranger to the Atlantic Division, having won it with the Boston Celtics in 2008. The 76ers hope he can bring them the same success that he brought to their rivals.

Following hot on his heals was the news of three new players: Eight-time All Star Dwight Howard, Seth Curry – the 2nd most accurate 3-point shooter in history, and 22-year-old youngster Tony Bradley. This is a team who are hungry to show the sport what they are capable of.

Before these announcements, many sports books hadn’t given the 76ers much of a chance, with some of the lowest odds off all teams. That was a huge blow, considering they were touted as title contender’s last season. With the 76ers currently at the top of the Eastern conference and looking like the surprise of the season, their chances are looking better with every week that goes by.

With the legislations in many states including New Jersey allowing their citizens to place a sports bet on teams like 76ers, there’s a chance we may see the this team become a quick favourite if their performance this season continues.

Is a 76ers Return to the Top Possible?

Last season, the 76ers had the league-best home record with only 2 losses. It was their woeful away record which caused them problems. The lack of fans this season will probably reduce the difference between the atmosphere of home and away games, which could be a great help to the 76ers. With a proven coach, an influx of star players, and a winning start to build on, this year might well be the 76ers return to shine once again.

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Michael has been in sports media for a decade, as founder of Last Word On Sports INC, owner at MMA Sucka, and now in an admin role at Overtime Heroics. He is an avid football fan, both NFL and Premier League.