Unearthed Sixers media guide cover gems
The late Harvey Pollack, the man who kept score for Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game and made Chamberlain the "100" sign that he held in an iconic post-game photograph, was a legendary statistician for the Sixers. His son, Ron Pollack, is a longtime member of the Sixers' statistical team. He's in possession of plenty of old media guides from his father's collection and passed them along to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Serena Winters.
(All photos courtesy of Ron Pollack)
Dolph Schayes made his 12th and final All-Star appearance for the Syracuse Nationals in that 1961-62 season, and he led the league in free throw percentage for the third time (89.7 percent). The Hall of Fame power forward later coached the Sixers, earning Coach of the Year honors for the 1965-66 season. He was a true “face of the franchise.”
The two players featured on this media guide are George McGinnis and Doug Collins. Julius Erving had been a star attraction in the ABA but hadn’t played a game yet for the Sixers, so he didn’t make the cut — perhaps the fact that there weren’t yet any dazzling action photos of him in a Sixers uniform was a deterrent. That 1976-77 team took a 2-0 lead over the Trail Blazers in the Finals but then dropped four straight games.
Dr. J was at his peak heading into the 1979-80 season. He averaged 26.7 points that year, leading the Sixers to a 59-win regular season and an Eastern Conference title. This was the NBA’s first season with the three-point shot. The Sixers made 27 of them all year, shooting 21.6 percent from long distance.
This is not only arguably the best team in Sixers history, but maybe one of the best teams ever. After losing to the Lakers in the Finals, the Sixers knew Erving needed help to finally get his first NBA ring. All they did was get him the reigning NBA MVP Moses Malone in a trade with the Rockets.
Stacked with Hall of Famers in Erving, Malone, Maurice Cheeks and Bobby Jones, and two-time All-Star Andrew Toney, the Sixers were dominant in the regular season, posting a 65-17 record. Though Malone boldly and famously predicted “fo’, fo’, fo’” when asked about his playoff prediction, it was actually four, five, four. An incredible run nonetheless.
Perhaps it was fitting that Malone graced the cover of this media guide. It was his last season as a Sixer as the team moved him in an ill-fated trade to the Bullets the following offseason. In head coach Matt Guokas’ first season, the team went 54-28 but was eliminated in the second round by the Bucks.
It was Dr. J’s farewell tour, but it was also Charles Barkley’s breakout season. The Round Mound of Rebound made his first All-Star Game and led the league in rebounding in his third NBA season. The team itself started to slip, finishing with a 45-37 record and suffering a first-round playoff exit.
As the perplexed expressions of Cheeks and Barkley helpfully suggest, the Sixers were coming off a difficult year. Their 12-season streak of appearing in the playoffs had been snapped in 1987-88, Guokas was fired as head coach in the middle of the year, and Jim Lynam took over. They returned to the playoffs in 1988-89 but got swept by the Knicks. Barkley was eighth in the NBA in scoring (25.7 points per game) and second in rebounding (12.5).
This is where things started to go very south for the Sixers. Outside of Barkley and guard Hersey Hawkins, this team simply lacked talent. It finished 35-47 and failed to make the playoffs. Barkley was traded to the Suns in the offseason.
It is nice to see a young Coach Lynam at the helm, though.
With all due respect to Hawkins, who was an All-Star in 1990-91 and a damn good player, you know it’s going to be a tough year when he’s the star on your media guide. The Sixers finished 26-56 amid a stretch of futility.
In case you needed a reminder, Shawn Bradley is very, very tall. The No. 2 pick in the 1993 draft, the 7-foot-6 Bradley averaged 9.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.2 blocks across 107 games as a Sixer. The Grizzlies selected Penny Hardaway with the third pick in that draft.
So many Sixers greats on this cover. Dr. J, Wilt, Mo Cheeks, Billy C. and … Spoon?! Clarence Weatherspoon was billed as the next Barkley, but in reality, he was just a solid player who put up numbers on an atrocious team. The only positive on this Sixers squad was All-Star Dana Barros … who left in free agency in the offseason.
This Sixers team only won 22 games under Johnny Davis, but it was the most exciting season the team had since Barkley was traded. Rookie Allen Iverson and second-year stud Jerry Stackhouse produced hope that maybe the Sixers could bust out of this long playoff drought. Though it would take the hiring of Larry Brown and the trading of Stackhouse to achieve it, it happened a couple years later.
The decision to focus solely on Iverson, the reigning Rookie of the Year, and Brown, hired as head coach in the offseason, was smart marketing. The Sixers won 31 games in 1997-98, nine more than the year prior, and traded Stackhouse to the Pistons mid-season.
Iverson was the star, as always, but the Sixers had some nice complementary pieces at this point. The team split the Iverson-Larry Hughes “Flight Brothers” duo up in February of 2000 and sent Theo Ratliff to Atlanta in the Dikembo Mutombo deal a year later, but Eric Snow and Matt Geiger were still around for the Sixers’ run to the Finals in 2000-01. They fell to the Pacers in the playoffs for a second straight year in 1999-00.