NBA - ATLANTIC
Arena: Wells Fargo Center
Coach: Doc Rivers
2021-2022 TEAM LEADERS
The Philadelphia 76ers have been one of the top franchises in the NBA for decades, with some of the game’s biggest names over the years suiting up for the red, white and blue. The current team has one of the leading MVP contenders in center Joel Embiid and another All-Star in Tobias Harris and should be in the mix late in the postseason.
There is still the issue of All-Star guard Ben Simmons, who isn’t playing despite being healthy after criticism for his play in the 2021 playoffs. Philadelphia is hoping the situation changes, but even without Simmons in the lineup, the 76ers are considered one of the top contenders for the Eastern Conference title.
The 76ers franchise began in 1946 as the Syracuse Nationals before moving to Philadelphia prior to the 1963-64 season and changing the team name. The team made the postseason in every one of its seasons as the Nationals, including three trips to the NBA Finals and a championship in 1954-55.
The success continued in Philadelphia, with Wilt Chamberlain helping the team challenge the Boston Celtics for many years. The 76ers usually came up short during the Celtics dynasty, but they broke through with another championship in 1967. After Chamberlain left, the team fell on hard times, including a league-record-worst nine-win season in 1972-73.
The acquisition of Julius Erving started another string of title-contending teams in 1976. The 76ers made the NBA Finals three times over six seasons, falling to the Portland Trail Blazers (1977) and Los Angeles Lakers (1980 and 1982). Another big trade, acquiring Moses Malone from the Houston Rockets, pushed the 76ers over the top, as they won the NBA title in 1983.
Unfortunately, that would be the last time the team would win an NBA title, with only one trip to the NBA Finals following the title through today. Guard Allen Iverson was the NBA MVP and led the 76ers to the 2001 NBA Finals, where they fell to the Lakers again.
The recent vintage of Philadelphia teams has been solid during the regular season but disappointing in the postseason. The 2001 run is the last time the 76ers have advanced to the conference finals.
2021-2022 Key Stats
The 76ers had the top regular;ar-season record in the Eastern Conference in 2020-21 but couldn’t make it to the Eastern Conference finals for the 20th straight season. Philadelphia has made the playoffs in each of the last four seasons but has yet to win more than one series in any of those years.
Joel Embiid will try to improve upon his second-place finish in the NBA MVP voting for the 2020-21 season. Embiid finished second behind Denver center Nikola Jokic in the final voting for the award.
Championships Won by the Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers have ruled the NBA roost three times over their history, though none since the 1982-83 season. The team defeated the Los Angeles Lakers – who had beaten Philadelphia in both the 1980 and 1982 NBA Finals – in four straight games to break their 16-year title drought, with Moses Malone earning Finals MVP honors.
Philadelphia took the 1967 NBA title by finally slaying the beast that was the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals – knocking out the eight-time defending NBA champion – and then defeating the San Francisco Warriors in the NBA Finals. Wilt Chamberlain led the way for the 76ers, who set an NBA record with 68 regular-season wins.
The franchise’s first title came as the Syracuse Nationals, as the team beat the Fort Wayne Pistons in seven games in the NBA Finals. George King’s free throw was the difference in a one-point victory in Game 7 for the Nationals.
Important Team Events
During the 1964-65 season, the 76ers made one of the most significant moves in their history, acquiring Wilt Chamberlain from the San Francisco Warriors for three players. Adding Chamberlain to future Hall of Famer Hal Greer in the 76ers’ lineup turned into a fantastic move, as the team became one of the best in the NBA, eventually winning the 1967 NBA title.
Another trade changed the team’s fortunes in 1976, as Julius Erving was acquired from the New York Nets as the ABA and NBA were merging prior to the 1976-77 season. Erving won the NBA MVP award in 1980-81 and led the 76ers to the NBA Finals four times before finally winning a title with the franchise in 1993. Erving was an All-Star in all 11 of his seasons with the 76ers, becoming one of the marquee players of the league.
Philadelphia had been to the NBA Finals in two of the past three seasons when it decided to acquire reigning league MVP Moses Malone from the Houston Rockets prior to the 1982-83 season. The move couldn’t have worked out better, as Malone won league MVP honors again in his first season in Philadelphia and helped the 76ers to the NBA title, earning NBA Finals MVP accolades as well.
The drafting of Joel Embiid in 2014 wasn’t looked upon as a brilliant move at the time, considering the Cameroon-born center played just one season at Kansas and suffered a stress fracture in his back that ended that campaign early. Embiid also underwent surgery on a broken bone in his right foot, causing him to drop from top pick status to be available at No. 3 for Philadelphia. But the 76ers took a chance, and after two seasons of not playing, Embiid was an instant force to start the 2016-17 season, and he continues to be one of the best big men in the game today.
There were seven players who spent time with the 76ers franchise that were named to the NBA’s recent 75th Anniversary team, and picking the best of the bunch isn’t an easy task. But for his sustained excellence both individually and of the team, Julius Erving would probably be considered the top player in Philadelphia 76ers history.
“Dr. J” made an immediate impact on the franchise when he was acquired prior to the 1976-77 season, leading the team to the NBA Finals and mesmerizing fans across the league with his acrobatic dunks. Erving would win an NBA MVP award, be named an All-Star 11 times, and help the 76ers to four Finals appearances, including the NBA title in 1983.
Hal Greer is the leading scorer in 76ers franchise history, having spent his 15-year NBA career with the team from 1958 to 1973. Greer was part of the highs and lows of the franchise, playing on the team that set the then-NBA record with 68 wins in 1966-67 and the one that set the dubious record of only nine regular-season victories in 1972-73.
Allen Iverson came to the 76ers as the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 1996 draft and immediately became one of the top scorers in the NBA. Standing just 6-0, Iverson was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1996-97 and NBA MVP in 2000-01, led the league in scoring four times, and took the 76ers to the 2001 NBA Finals.
The coach who has most regular-season and playoff victories with the Philadelphia 76ers is former player Billy Cunningham, who coached the team from 1977-78 to 1984-85. Cunningham took the 76ers to the NBA Finals in 1980, 1982, and 1983, winning the title in the last trip by sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers. Cunningham had 294 regular-season victories and 34 playoff wins.
Alex Hannum had two different stints as the team’s head coach, from 1960-1963 and from 1966-1968. Hannum was the head man for the team’s 1966-67 NBA title and went 257-145 in the regular season with the 76ers.
The 76ers reached the 2001 NBA Finals with coach Larry Brown at the helm, and he earned the NBA Coach of the Year award that season. Brown coached Philadelphia from 1997 to 2003, racking up 255 regular-season victories and 28 playoff wins.
Philadelphia 76ers Frequently Asked Questions
Hal Greer scored 21,586 points over his 15-year career with the 76ers, the most in franchise history.
The 76ers have had the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft four times, taking Doug Collins (1973), Allen Iverson (1996), Ben Simmons (2016), and Markelle Fultz (2017).
The 76ers franchise has won the NBA title three times (1955, 1967, 1983).
Billy Cunningham won 454 regular-season games as coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, easily the most in franchise history.
Three players have won the NBA MVP award while playing for the 76ers: Julius Erving (1980-81), Moses Malone (1982-83), and Allen Iverson (2000-01).