76ers

Picking the ultimate Sixers team

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Picking the ultimate Sixers team

Listen, we've all got some time on our hands right now. 

So I decided to spend some of mine thinking about the ultimate 15-man roster of all-time great Sixers players.

I approached this exercise as if we were entering the team in a tournament and had to win it on the court. With that being the case, this is not a list of the 15 best players in franchise history, but rather 15 who could play a specific role and help the team win. There are 11 Hall of Famers, a pair of current All-Stars and a couple names that may surprise you. I also picked a specific season for each player to help put that player in a place and time. 

On to the list:

Starters 

2000-01 Allen Iverson (31.1 PPG, 4.6 APG, 2.5 SPG, 42.0 FG%)
We always wondered what it would've been like to see Iverson in his prime alongside another superstar. This fictional squad gives us that chance. Imagine how Iverson's efficiency could skyrocket without the threat of constant double teams. On the other hand, would he be able to deal with being the second or third offensive option at times? 

2019-20 Ben Simmons (16.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 8.2 APG, 58.5 FG%)
Yes, Ben Simmons. I love the idea of Simmons' size and defensive versatility next to Iverson in the backcourt. And can't you close your eyes and imagine Simmons streaking down the floor, drawing multiple defenders and kicking it out to Iverson for wide-open shots?

1979-80 Julius Erving (26.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 4.6 APG, 2.2 SPG)
This is Dr. J in his prime at age 29, his highest-scoring season in the NBA. You're getting one of the best athletes to ever play the small forward position and a perfect wing to run with Simmons.

1982-83 Moses Malone (24.5 PPG, 15.3 RPG, 2.0 BPG)
If the point is to win the game, it's hard not to put Malone in the starting lineup.  The 1982-83 NBA MVP and Finals MVP is the greatest offensive rebounder in the history of basketball, leading all NBA players by over 2,000 offensive rebounds. It's one of the most unbreakable records in the game. You barely have to run any plays for Malone and he's still going to produce through sheer will and physical talent.

1966-67 Wilt Chamberlain (24.1 PPG, 24.2 RPG, 7.8 APG, 68.3 FG%)
This is what legends look like. Under head coach Alex Hannum, Chamberlain changed his game in the 1966-67 season, becoming an incredible facilitator from the center position while still putting up 24 points and 24 rebounds per game with unbelievable efficiency. That 1966-67 team went 68-13 in the regular season and dethroned the eight-time defending champion Celtics on the way to the franchise's first NBA championship in Philadelphia.

Reserves 

1981-82 Maurice Cheeks (11.2 PPG, 8.4 APG, 2.6 SPG)
The consummate old-school floor general, Cheeks is the perfect point guard to run a second unit that is full of 20-point scorers. There are fit issues with Simmons offensively and potentially with Iverson in a small backcourt. But there's enough defense on this team that a few minutes of a Cheeks/Iverson combo isn't going to hurt you too much on that end of the court. On the offensive end, that speed would be electrifying.

1967-68 Hal Greer (24.1 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4.5 APG, 47.8 FG%)
In terms that current fans can understand, Hal Greer was a bucket. The second-leading scorer on the iconic 1966-67 championship team, Greer was even better the next season. His quickness and outside shooting will be vital off the bench.

1969-70 Billy Cunningham (26.1 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 4.3 APG)
If you've never seen Billy Cunningham highlights, check out YouTube and you'll see a guy that looks a lot like a left-handed version of Larry Bird. At 6-foot-6, Cunningham wasn't quite as tall as Bird, but he had the same great floor vision and ability to score in a variety of ways. 

1990-91 Charles Barkley (27.6 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 4.2 APG, 57.0 FG%)
This is Barkley at age 27, two years before the trade to Phoenix. He's not quite the ferocious rebounder he was when he entered the league, but he's a superior all-around player and scorer. It would be fun to have the younger version of Barkley crashing the boards with relentless abandon, but this Barkley is a better perimeter player and fits better with the rest of the roster.

2018-19 Joel Embiid (27.5 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 1.9 BPG)
Imagine Joel Embiid and Charles Barkley at the scorer's table ready to check in for Moses Malone and Wilt Chamberlain. The amount of talent is staggering. Embiid's size and ability to protect the rim would allow Barkley, Cunningham and others to crash the offensive glass and take chances defensively. With this kind of talent around him, it would be interesting to see how Embiid might improve as a passer.

1981-82 Bobby Jones (14.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.5 BPG)
If you really want to lock down the opposition, play Bobby Jones and Ben Simmons on the perimeter. It's nearly impossible to make the Basketball Hall of Fame as a defense-first player, but that's exactly what Jones did. At 6-foot-9, he can guard anyone on the floor and make game-changing plays whenever the need arises. Plus, he's good for a jaw-dropping block or dunk every game. Go look up how he posterized Bird.

1966-67 Chet Walker (19.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.3 APG)
Chet "The Jet" Walker was instant offense for the 1966-67 champions and that's exactly what he brings this team off the bench. With so much playmaking around him, Walker's job is to get buckets. He can do that in spades thanks to his signature pull-up jumper.

1983-84 Andrew Toney (20.4 PPG, 4.8 APG, 52.7 FG%)
The Boston Strangler. A playoff assassin. You want this guy on your side when it's winning time.  He's also one of those guys who'd probably take and make a lot more three-pointers in today's era. 

1994-95 Dana Barros (20.6 PPG, 49.0 FG%, 46.4 3-PT%, 89.9 FT%)
Barros may seem like an odd inclusion, but this team could use a little bit more three-point shooting and Barros remains the franchise's all-time leader in three-point shooting percentage. His 1994-95 campaign is one of the best shooting seasons any Sixers player has ever had.

2000-01 Dikembe Mutombo (11.7 PPG, 12.7 RPG, 2.5 BPG)
There may not be a need for another Hall of Fame center on this roster, but it's hard not to include Mutombo, one of the best defensive big men to ever play the game. Imagine the intrasquad scrimmages with Chamberlain, Embiid, Malone and Mutombo battling it out inside.

Head Coach: Alex Hannum
It would probably be weird to have Cunningham coach himself, so let's have a Hall of Fame coach in Hannum lead this squad. Hannum was the leader of the 1966-67 championship team that ran roughshod through the NBA.



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Kobe Bryant's 7 best NBA moments in Philly

Kobe Bryant's 7 best NBA moments in Philly

We are paying tribute to a legend. 

NBC Sports Philadelphia will re-broadcast three of Kobe Bryant's landmark games Monday night — the 2008 Olympic gold medal game at 6 p.m., followed by Bryant's final game in Philadelphia at 8 p.m. and the 2012 Olympic gold medal game at 10:30 p.m. 

Bryant honed his Hall of Fame talents at Lower Merion High School and sharpened his skills and competitiveness in the Sonny Hill League and on playgrounds across the Delaware Valley. 

Bryant had his share of highs and lows as a professional in his hometown. 

He played 17 regular-season games in Philadelphia, finishing with a 7-10 record and a 22.8 scoring average. More importantly, he had a perfect 3-0 record in postseason games in Philadelphia, with all three wins coming in the Lakers' 4-1 series victory over the 76ers in the 2001 NBA Finals. Bryant averaged 25.7 points in those three games and captured the second of his five career NBA championships. 

Here's a look back at some of Bryant's most memorable moments in Philly. 

First NBA game in Philadelphia — Nov. 26, 1996
Bryant played his first professional game in his hometown as an 18-year old reserve, scoring 12 points in 21 minutes in a 100-88 Lakers win. He shot 4 of 10 from the field, 2 of 5 from three-point range and made both of his free throw attempts.  

Bryant's rookie counterpart Allen Iverson finished with 16 points on 6 of 27 shooting and 10 assists. Former Temple star Eddie Jones and Shaquille O'Neal each had a game-high 23 points for the Lakers. 

Bryant came off the bench in 65 of the 71 games he played as a rookie, averaging 7.6 points in 15.5 minutes per game. 

NBA Finals — June 2001
The Lakers and Sixers arrived in Philadelphia for Games 3, 4, 5 of the 2001 NBA Finals with the series even at one game apiece. The 22-year old Bryant famously proclaimed that he was coming to Philly to "cut their hearts out."

The Lakers went on to win the next three games in Philadelphia to secure their second straight NBA championship. 

Game 3 was the closest of the three games — the Lakers won 96-91 behind Bryant's 32 points. He had 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in a 14-point win in Game 4 before closing out the series with 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in a 12-point win in Game 5. 

2002 All-Star Game MVP — Feb. 10, 2002
Bryant's "cut their hearts out" comment was still fresh in the minds of Sixers fans eight months later when the 2002 All-Star game was played in Philadelphia. Bryant was booed throughout the night, but he fed off the negative energy to score a game-high 31 points and win the first of his four career All-Star Game MVP awards. 

He was subsequently booed during the All-Star MVP presentation and admitted that his feelings were hurt by the frosty reception from his hometown crowd.  

Bryant averaged 25.2 points during that 2001-2002 season and led the Lakers to a third straight NBA championship. 

44-point outburst — Dec. 20, 2002 
Bryant's best game in Philadelphia came 10 months after that 2002 All-Star Game, when he posted 44 points and 10 assists in a 107-104 loss to the Sixers. He shot 16 of 35 from the field, 2 of 5 from three-point range and made all 10 of his free throw attempts. 

Iverson led the Sixers to victory with 32 points, nine steals and five assists. Keith Van Horn had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. 

The 2003 Lakers came up short in their quest for a fourth straight NBA title, losing to the Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals.

Snapping the streak — Dec. 21, 2007
Bryant and the Lakers got their first regular-season win in Philadelphia in nearly eight years, beating the Sixers 106-101 to snap a six-game losing streak at the formerly named Wachovia Center.

Bryant had 19 points in the win, but Andrew Bynum stole the show with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Andre Miller led the Sixers with 21 points and eight assists. 

The 2007-2008 season marked the first of three straight trips to the NBA Finals for Bryant and the Lakers. They would lose the 2008 Finals to the Celtics before beating the Magic in 2009 and winning a rematch with Boston in 2010. 

Last great performance in Philadelphia — Dec. 16, 2012
This was Bryant's last vintage performance in his hometown. The 34-year old Bryant had 34 points and six assists in a 111-98 win over the Sixers. Nick Young led the Sixers with 30 points, while Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes each scored 16 points. 

Bryant's 2012-2013 campaign ended with a torn Achilles tendon late in the 80th game of the regular season. The Kobe-less Lakers were swept by the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. 

This turned out to be Bryant's last great season. He averaged 27.3 points, 6.0 assists and 5.6 rebounds to earn First Team All-NBA honors in his 17th NBA season. 

Final game in Philadelphia — Dec. 1, 2015
Bryant's last game in Philadelphia came nearly 14 years after he was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game. That proved to be plenty of time for old wounds to heal. He was showered with applause and tributes in his Philly farewell, and for a while it looked like he would deliver one final great performance in his hometown. 

Bryant opened the game by hitting 3 of his first 4 three-point attempts, whipping the Wells Fargo Center into a frenzy. But at 37 years old, Bryant eventually ran out of gas and finished 7 of 26 from the field in a 103-91 loss to a Sixers team that entered the game with an 0-18 record. 

Bryant scored 20 points and finished his 20th and final NBA season with a 17.6 scoring average.

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Sixers Talk podcast: Will Sixers have a chip on their shoulder if playoffs happen?

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Sixers Talk podcast: Will Sixers have a chip on their shoulder if playoffs happen?

On this edition, Danny Pommells and Paul Hudrick discuss:

(2:12) — Questioning Joel Embiid's fitness is like beating a dead horse; will the Sixers have a chip on their shoulder?
(13:22) — Charles Barkley calls Moses Malone trade a disaster to his career.
(20:20) — Would the season being cancelled be worse than watching our most hated rival winning the Finals?

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