By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
The history of the Philadelphia 76ers can be traced back to 1946, when Italian immigrant Danny Biasone paid $5,000 to start a National Basketball League (a forerunner to the NBA) in Syracuse, New York. The Syracuse Nationals soon emerged as a championship contender. Led by stars such as Dolph Schayes and Hilo-born Ephraim “Red” Rocha, the Nationals captured the 1955 NBA title, the first of three league championships won by the franchise. The team relocated to Philadelphia in 1963 and debuted its new nickname, the 76ers.
We took a deep dive into the franchise’s rich basketball history and came up with the 12 greatest players to ever wear a Nationals or 76ers uniform. This roster includes eight Hall of Famers. Take a look:
C – WILT CHAMBERLAIN: He played for the Sixers for four seasons (1965-68), leading the ball club to its first NBA championship in 1967. His numbers as a 76er were ridiculous: 27.6 points, 23.9 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game.
F – JULIUS ERVING: The most beloved 76er of them all. Arrived in Philly after the NBA-NBA merger in 1976 and became the league’s ambassador for the next 11 seasons. The 1981 NBA MVP. Helped Philadelphia to the franchise’s third NBA title in 1983. One of basketball’s greatest showmen.
F – CHARLES BARKLEY: “Sir Charles” is regarded as one of the greatest power forwards in league history. Barkley played eight seasons in Philly before being traded to Phoenix. Averaged 23.3 points and 11.6 boards in those eight seasons. The sometimes controversial, always entertaining Barkley had the misfortune of leading the franchise when the NBA was dominated by the Lakers, Celtics, Pistons and Bulls.
G – ALLEN IVERSON: “The Answer.” One of the NBA’s most influential players, Iverson led the league in scoring four times and was named MVP in 2001. Widely regarded as one of the toughest guards in league history. Just don’t ask him about practice.
G – HAL GREER: The 10x All-Star spent his entire 15-year career with the Nationals/76ers, averaging 19.2 points and 5.0 rebounds for the franchise. Along with Chamberlain, Greer led the 76ers to the 1967 league championship.
OFF THE BENCH:
C – MOSES MALONE: This Moses led the 76ers to the Promised Land. Arrived from Houston in 1982 and promptly led the Sixers to the 1982-83 league title. He was named regular-season MVP and NBA Finals MVP that season.
C – JOEL EMBIID: It took a while for Embiid to shed his injury history, but he’s blossomed into an MVP candidate. This season, the former Kansas Jayhawk is averaging 29.6 points and 10.9 boards per contest and has the 76ers near the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
F – BOBBY JONES. “The Secretary of Defense” was an All-Star player even when coming off the bench in Philly. He embraced his sixth-man role and was named the NBA’s “Sixth Man of the Year” during the team’s 1983 championship season. Was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team for eight straight seasons.
F – DOLPH SCHAYES: The 12x All-Star powered the franchise to the 1955 league championship. Schayes spent his entire 15-year career with Syracuse/Philadelphia, averaging 18.5 points and 12.1 rebounds a game.
G – MAURICE CHEEKS: The ultimate floor leader directed the 76ers during the height of the Erving-Moses-Toney era. Played 11 seasons in Philly and was a 4x All-Star and 4x NBA Defensive First-Team selection.
G – BEN SIMMONS: Like his teammate Embiid, Simmons is an elite two-way talent whose best years may still be ahead of him. If only he had a jump shot.
G – ANDREW TONEY: Barkley called Toney the best player he ever played with. Danny Ainge said thinking about Toney kept him awake at night. His best games were always against the Celtics, hence his nickname, “The Boston Strangler.” Lingering foot injuries cut his career short.
HONORABLE MENTION: Archie Clark, Doug Collins, World B. Free, Hersey Hawkins, George McGinnis.
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