Philadelphia 76ers

Sun, 08 Feb 2009 08:51

History of Philadelphia 76ers

Information about the NBA team Philadelphia 76ers.

The Philadelphia 76ers are a National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise that has attained relative success in the league. Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the 76ers are part of the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference. The Philadelphia 76ers, also known as the Sixers, have been the Playoffs in a total of 30 seasons, since the end of the 2007-08 season. Throughout franchise history, the Sixers have accumulated 11 Division Championship titles, nine Conference Finals titles, six NBA Finals appearances, and three NBA Championship titles. The Philadelphia 76ers also hold the title as the oldest franchise in the NBA.

The Philadelphia 76ers – early beginnings

Before the franchise was renamed to the Philadelphia 76ers, the team first played independently as the Syracuse Nationals. The Nationals would play against a number of other teams from around the country, including the Schenectady Pros, the New York Renaissance, and the Oswego Merchants. The Syracuse Nationals franchise, based in New York, was founded in 1939 and did not join a major league until 1946, when the team joined the National Basketball League (NBL). In the team's first three seasons as an NBL franchise, they were able to make it to the playoffs three times, but only made it as far as the Division Semifinals, in the 1948-49 season. When the NBL merged with the NBA, the Syracuse Nationals were one of the seven teams that were accepted into the professional league.

The Philadelphia 76ers – the Nationals in the NBA

The Syracuse Nationals made quite an impact in their first NBA season. After winning 51 games and losing only 13, the team made it to the 1950 NBA Playoffs. The Syracuse Nationals beat the then-Philadelphia Warriors in the Division Semifinals, then won the Division Finals against the New York Knicks to make it to the NBA Finals. The Minneapolis Lakers beat the Nationals in the Finals, but the Nationals proved that they were ready to be a top NBA contender. In the 14 seasons that the Syracuse Nationals team played in the NBA, they made it to the Playoffs every season and made it to the NBA Finals a total of three times, winning the NBA Championship title once in 1955.

Despite the strong performance of the Syracuse Nationals, the team was having a hard time raising enough money to be a profitable franchise. The team was competing against the New York Knicks for fans and support, but, being based in a medium-sized city, the team had a hard time generating enough money to fuel the franchise. In 1963, the Syracuse Nationals were bought, moved to Philadelphia, and renamed the Philadelphia 76ers. The major city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania did not have an NBA team at the time, because the Philadelphia Warriors moved to San Francisco in 1962. The name “76ers” came about because the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia in 1776 and the name was chosen through a voting contest.

The Philadelphia 76ers – early years as the 76ers

In the Sixers' early years in the NBA, the team was able to keep alive the Playoff-appearance streak started by the Syracuse Nationals. The franchise made it to the NBA Playoffs in their first eight seasons playing as the 76ers. During the team's first season, they were able to compile a record of 34 wins and 46 losses, which is approximately a 43% winning percentage. In the 1964-65 season, though, the Philadelphia 76ers acquired basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain.

Wilt was a dominant center who is known today as one of the greatest players in basketball history. In the 1966-67 season, Chamberlain helped the Sixers post their best ever franchise record with 68 wins and 13 losses, which is an 84% winning percentage. The record has earned them fourth place on the list of the teams with the all-time best NBA winning percentages for a single season. In that same season, Chamberlain led the franchise to its first NBA Championship title as the Philadelphia 76ers. The following season was also quite successful as the Sixers were able to put-up a winning percentage of nearly 76%, but they failed to make it past the Division Finals.

The Philadelphia 76ers – post-Wilt “the Stilt”

After the 1967-68 season, Wilt Chamberlain moved to the Los Angeles Lakers and the team felt the impact almost immediately. Although the team was able to make it to the NBA Playoffs in each of the three seasons following Chamberlain's departure, they were unable to make it past the Division Semifinals. The team struggled and missed the NBA Playoffs for the first time in franchise history in the 1971-72 season. It was the first of four seasons that the team would miss the Playoffs. In fact, the Sixers even recorded their worst season in franchise history during the four year period. In the 1972-73 season, the Sixers only had nine wins out of a total 82 games, resulting in a winning percentage of only 11%. It would not be until the 1975-76 season that the Sixers would make it back into the Playoffs and prove themselves as a dominant team once again.

The Philadelphia 76ers – the Doctor J era

In 1976, the Sixers acquired Julius Erving, who was nicknamed “Doctor J” for his impressive skills and precise style of play. While Erving played for the Sixers, from 1976 to 1987, the team never missed the Playoffs and, in fact, played some of their best basketball in franchise history. In his first season with the 76ers, Doctor J was able to lead the team to a 61% winning percentage, earning them a spot in the Playoffs. During the 1977 Playoffs, the Sixers beat Boston and Houston to make it to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Portland Trailblazers. The next shot that the Sixers got at the NBA Championship title was in the 1979-80 season, when they beat Washington, Atlanta, and Boston before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. The Sixers would get their hopes crushed by the Lakers again in the 1982 NBA Finals, in which the Lakers beat Philadelphia 4-2.

The Philadelphia 76ers – Moses Malone's “four, four, four”

In 1982, the Sixers were able to acquire Moses Malone, who is known as one of the best centers in NBA history. After winning the NBA Most Valuable Player award for his performance during the 1982-83 season, Malone predicted that the team would win “four, four, four,” to sweep the Playoffs and win the NBA title. The Sixers beat New York 4-0 in the Conference Semifinals, then beat Milwaukee Bucks 4-1 in the Conference Finals, and finally beat Los Angeles 4-0 in the NBA Finals to win the franchise's third and most recent NBA Championship title.

The Philadelphia 76ers – Sixers frustration

After winning the 1983 title, however, the Sixers would find themselves struggling once again. Despite the acquisition of NBA legend Charles Barkley in 1984, the team was unable to win another title. In the 1987-88 season, the team missed the Playoffs for the first time since 1975. Although they were able to make it to the Playoffs in 1989, 1990, and 1991, the 76ers would miss the Playoffs again in 1992. That also marked the year that Barkley would be traded, and for seven consecutive seasons between 1991 and 1998 the team would not make it to the Playoffs.

The Philadelphia 76ers – the Iverson era to the present

In 1996, the Sixers acquired Allen “The Answer” Iverson, who would mature into a team leader and help make the Sixers a premier contender once again. Iverson was able to bring the Sixers to the Playoffs for a total of six times between 1998 and 2005. In fact, in 2001, the team was able to make its first NBA Finals appearance since 1983 with the help of Allen Iverson. Still, the team has been unable to win another NBA Championship title. After Iverson's departure in 2006, the team has tried to rebuild itself into a strong competitor.

In the 2008-09 season, which is currently underway, the Sixers have some notable NBA stars, like Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand. The team has still struggled and, as of December 17, 2008, the Sixers are in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with a standing of 10 wins and 14 losses.