It wasn’t always this way. The 76ers used to roll out a team that played their hearts out, hated losing, captured the city’s spirit, engaged in rivalries, and were classy, dignified, and winners. The players took pride in the name, the city, and didn’t miss months for a stubbed toe, didn’t ride the pine while being paid millions because they had a cold, and played to win.
Ever since they moved from Syracuse, they had teams led by Wilt and Doc, and they won the NBA Championship twice in their first 15 years. They were a legitimate contender and a fun team to watch during the Barkley era and made the Finals again with a whole new roster in 2001. But that’s when basketball changed and unfortunately, Philly basketball changed. Rivalries were between stars and their rapper friends, teams began to tank for “generational” and “franchise” players to be taken #1, when those “elite” players could have been drafted later and without tanking. The NBA game became one of individuals, players had more say than the coach, and they worried more about endorsements and their next contract than winning.
This epitomizes the new Sixers “process,” and it’s been a complete failure. Better, harder working, and more mature players have slipped through their fingers each year and they have not developed a single player. The old stars of the Sixers are known throughout the sporting world. Their legacy includes Dr. Julius Erving, Wilt, “The Round Mound of Rebound,” Moses, “Chocolate Thunder,” and Andrew Toney, “The Boston Strangler.” But there are other players from each era of Sixers’ history that are forgotten, honest role players and behind the scene greats who sacrificed for the good of the team. They’re here, waiting to be called and remembered again…
15. Hal Greer
Hal Greer started his career with the Syracuse Nationals but in 1963, the team moved and became the Philadelphia 76ers. He joined Wilt Chamberlain and together formed a powerhouse team that ended the Celtics’ eight year championship run. Aside from being one of the great guards in history, he could score at will from anywhere on the floor. They won the NBA crown in 1967-68, he was a two time ALL-Star, and his #15 hangs in the rafters. He also had one of the strangest “ways” in the game by taking free throws with a jump shot. In 1982, Greer was inducted into the Hall of Fame and spent his entire career with the Sixers. But years later he suffered a serious stroke. He lives in Arizona with his wife, Mayme, and is as committed to his rehab as he was the game.
14. Aaron McKie
McKie was born in Philly, went to Simon Gratz High School, Temple University, and then played for the Sixers from 1997- 2005. He was a point guard, shooting guard, and small forward, or basically anything the Sixers needed. Though his career high was 11 points and 5 boards a game in 2001, he was the glue that held that team together. He became the first Sixer since Bobby Jones to win the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, backed up Eric Snow, Iverson, and also started. He was a throwback player to the old Sixers where guys dedicated themselves to the team and adjusted their game to make their teammates better.
His smarts, guts, and attitude were never forgotten by fans or the team, and in 2008 he joined the Sixers as an assistant coach. Then, in 2013, another Philly guy came full circle and was hired by the Temple Men’s basketball team under another Philly basketball legend, coach Fran Dunphy.
13. Bobby Jones
Bobby Jones won the Philadelphia fans’ hearts the only way a player can, by out hustling everyone on the court and being the first to dive for and come up with a lose ball. He as an NBA All Star four times, eight time All Defensive Star, a World Champion for the 1983 Sixers, won the 6th man award that year, and his #24 is retired. Before anyone questions Jones’s character as a player, he was the only player in sports history to explain to a ref that he, not another teammate, committed a foul, and the ref changed the call.
Larry Brown, Charles Barkley, and Julius Erving swore by Jones’ work ethic, humility, skill, character, and dedication. After he retired, he co-founded the religiously affiliated and non-profit, “2xsalt,” that supports underprivileged athletes. Bobby Jones is now coaching the middle school boys basketball team at Carmel Christian School in Charlotte.
12. World B. Free
Lloyd Bernard Free, a 2nd round pick by the Sixers in 1975, earned and adopted the name “World” coined by his Brooklyn friends for his incredible jumping, dunking, and flamboyant shooting style. Instead of calling him “all-city” or “all- state,” they called him “all- world” which later became “World.” In 1981, he officially changed his name, and he retired in 1988. He was one of the first players to isolate a defender and challenge them one on one, where he’d sometimes pull his unique and arching, soft jumper.
Free played for six different teams and averaged 20.3 points per game. Today, Free is with the Sixers as a director of player development and community ambassador in programs such as the “Summer Hoops Tour.”
11. Steve Mix
Mix, a 6’7″, 215 pound forward played for the Sixers from 1973-1982. He averaged 16 points and was a fan favorite for battling guys in the paint, where he earned the nickname “The Mayor.” Mix made it to the NBA Finals four times, three with the 76ers, but never won a title. The lone year he made the Finals not wearing red, white, and blue, he was a Laker when they lost to the Sixers. After he retired, Mix spent 22 years as a color commentator for the Sixers and was known for his brutal honesty in terms of his opinion of an individual’s play and effort on the court.
He and his wife moved to Florida, but retirement didn’t sit well with him, and Mix soon found a job as an usher for the New York Mets during Spring Training. He loves the work, talking to fans, and he’s still close friends with Erving and other Sixers.
10. Joe Bryant
Joe “Jellybean” Bryant was born in Philadelphia, went to Bartram High, La Salle University, and was drafted in the first round, 14th overall, by Golden State. Before his rookie year, he was traded to the Sixers where he spent four seasons. As a pro, he averaged almost 15 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, and retired in 1983. But then he went to Europe where he played until 1992.
When he returned to The Sates, he coached the women’s Varsity team at Akiba Academy in Lower Merion, and then found coaching jobs in the WNBA. He then moved across the pond and to Japan, where he coached the Tokyo Apache. He moved on to Italy with Sebastiani Rieti and the Bangcock Cobras. And, oh by the way, he’s the father of Kobe Bryant.
9. Clarence Weatherspoon
Clarence was drafted in the 1st round, 9th overall in 1992, by the Sixers. He was immediately dubbed “Baby Barkley” because of his paint presence, rebounding, and competitiveness. In his first 4 seasons in Philly, the fans loved the power forward who averaged over 15 points and 9 rebounds per game. He was then traded to Golden State and played over 900 games in the NBA.
He retired in 2004 and opened a music company called “2525 Entertainment.” He was soon sued by 2 clients, Donald Sharp, a.k.a. “Cadillac Don,” and Tiyon Rogers, a.k.a “J Money,” over royalties.
8. Clemon Johnson
Johnson was originally drafted by Portland but is remembered for being a key role player for the Sixers when they won the NBA Finals in 1983. He played center and power forward and would often relieve Moses Malone and play a hard, defensive game. Though he only averaged less than 6 points and 3 boards, he endeared himself to teammates and fans for his intensity, ability to play key minutes, and accepting his role.
He retired in 1998, played a few years in Europe, and returned to The States to teach economics and coach high school basketball in Florida. In 2007, he coached the men’s team at the University of Alaska and, in 2011, Johnson flew home to coach his alma mater, Florida A&M. But after an unsuccessful three seasons, the former NBAer was fired.
7. Chet Walker
“Chet the Jet,” was a starting forward on the 1966–67 Sixers, a team with Wilt, Greer, Billy Cunningham, and was arguably the greatest team in NBA history. He liked being “behind the scenes” and often let other players take the limelight. He was known as one of the best open court players, would draw double coverage and find the open man, and never shied away from contact. Along with being a World Champ, he was a seven time all star, scored over 18,000 points and was a lock from the line. After “Chet the Jet” retired, he wrote his memoir, “Long Time Coming: A Black Athlete’s Coming-Of-Age in America,” and acted in the classic T.V show “White Shadow.”
6. Shawn Bradley
Bradley, save for his team record 274 blocked shots, was the ultimate disappointment for the organization. He was 7’6″, wore the number 76, and was the 76ers first round, second overall pick in 1993.He never materialized as the next Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, and in his 3rd season, after turnovers, fouls, and a poor shooting percentage, the “experiment” ended and he was traded to New Jersey. But after he retired, Bradley returned to his roots and became a vice principal, counselor, and coach for the West Ridge Academy and troubled youth.
In 2010, Bradley threw his hat into politics and ran as a Republican for the Utah House of Representatives, but lost. He has participated in many charitable endeavors. In 2001, he donated $25 for each blocked shot to “Bryan’s House,” a facility for children affected by HIV and AIDS. He is a spokesman for the Children’s Miracle Network, and has participated in “Basketball Without Borders” with other NBA players. He has also included his family and worked to aid leprosy colonies in India through “The Rising Star Outreach.”
5. Dikembe Mutombo
In 2001, the Sixers traded for Mount Mutombo and rode the big man, Eric Snow, McKie, and Allen Iverson to the Finals, though they lost in five to the Lakers. In his short time in Philadelphia, he won over the city by going hard against the era of great centers like Duncan and Shaq. In the finals vs Shaq, Dikembe averaged over 16 points and 12 rebounds. But as quickly as the Sixers climbed, they fell, and the Nets traded for the big man.
If there ever was an athlete that won over fans it was the shy, quiet Mutombo who never gave an inch to the NBA Superstars. His post NBA life encapsulates everything the man was about as he started the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to improve life in the Congo and participated in Basketball Without Borders. He paid the expenses for the Zaire women’s basketball team during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta and is a member of the Special Olympics International Board of Directors. He fights to cure polio and the health of neglected people in the Congo. In 2012, the Mutombo Foundation, in partnership with his alma mater, Georgetown University, began a program for visually impaired children from low-income families in the Washington, D.C. area.
4. Ron Anderson
One of the biggest failures in Sixers history was not surrounding one of the most dynamic athletes and people in Philly sports history, Charles Barkley, with the pieces he needed. But one player that did complement “The Round Mound of Rebound” was the 6’7″, 215 pound, forward Ron Anderson. His best years were with the Sixers where he scored double figures in 4 seasons, including a career best of 15.2 points per game in 1989. He retired in 1994, and went across the Atlantic to play in Israel for Maccabi Tel Aviv, then to France to play for Le Mans SB, and Angers BC. While in France, he got married and played until he was 51 years old. He finally retired one year later, and moved back and settled in Voorhees, New Jersey.
3. Henry Bibby
Charles Henry Bibby was the starting point guard for UCLA when they won three straight NCAA championships in the early 1970’s under the legendary coach, John Wooden. Bibby, one of the quickest, slickest, and professional players to ever play for the Sixers, lead them to the Finals in 1977 where they lost to Portland. He was a prototypical point guard who was an assist machine, was fearless in the lane, and could shoot. He also had one of the great afros and moustaches of any player in the league. After he retired, he coached the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA, and in 2006, he became an assistant for the Sixers under another beloved Sixer, Maurice “Mo” Cheeks. He also went on to Coach in Memphis and Detroit.
2. Fred Carter
Fred Carter, another Sixer from Philadelphia, played for the disastrous Sixers 1973 team that went 9-73. Ouch! But the 6’3″ point guard lit up the city with his magic smile and never quit attitude. He was part of the Doc, Jones, McGinnis team that changed the face of the Sixers but was traded before the 1977 season where they went to the finals. In his career, he averaged just north of 15 points per game, and he retired in 1977. He went right into coaching and eventually joined the Sixers as an assistant from 1987-1993, and then spent the 1994 season as their head coach.
Carter began a successful career as a basketball analyst for ESPN, a co-host of “the NBA 2Night,” and is currently an analyst on NBA TV. Perhaps his finest moment came in 2007, where his number “33” was retired during the Mount St. Mary’s v. Loyola game in Knott Arena in Maryland. Back in the 1960s, Carter became the first African-American student on the campus when he began attending Mount St. Mary’s.
1. George McGinnis
McGinnis was a star the moment he he hit the hardwood and in 1976, the Sixers signed him and a new era began. The Wilt led Sixers era was over, and now it was time for Doc and big George to carry the torch. The city loved the massive, good natured forward who could go end to end with imposing speed and power. With the Sixers, he made 2 All Star games in 1976 and 1977, and with Doc and Caldwell Jones, lead the Sixers to the NBA Finals in 1977 where they lost to the Trail Blazers. When he retired from basketball, George took time to find himself in Denver and go hunting, skiing and fishing.
He lost himself in the mountains, traveled to Alaska, and in the late 80s returned to Indianapolis. He broadcasted high school and Pacer games, and in 1992 he founded an industrial distribution business, GM Supply. On April 1, 2017, it was announced that McGinnis was part of the 2017 class for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
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