If there was one guy in the Wells Fargo Center to ask about Andrew Toney, it was the guy who finally led the Sixers to the Promised Land. If you want to know, you go ask Moses.
Andrew came back to Philly, but he just never stopped, said Hall of Famer Moses Malone about the reclusive ex-Sixers star, Toney.
Back in town along with Julius Erving, Earl Cureton and Bobby Jones from the 1983 NBA Championship team, Malone took a few moments to talk about the old days. But even then, what everyone wanted to know about was Toney.
Reportedly back at a Sixers game for the first time since his playing career ended prematurely because of a foot injury, Toney seemingly has buried the decades long grudge against the organization that was spurred on by the poor treatment he received from former owner Harold Katz.
In his first five seasons with the Sixers, Toney averaged more than 20 points per game, made two all-star teams, got to the Eastern Conference Finals three times and the NBA Finals twice. He was rewarded with a big contract (for the time), but appeared in just six games during the 1985-86 season because of stress fractures in his foot. The problem never got much better and Toney played two more abbreviated seasons before he packed it in at age 30.
But before that he was derided and belittled by Katz, who didnt believe Toney was really injured and even went as far as to make the player undergo drug tests. When his playing days in Philadelphia ended, Toney never stepped foot at another Sixers game
Until Friday night.
Toney did not take part in the brief, pregame ceremony, nor did he show up for the media availability with his old teammates, either. But Toney, who these days works as an elementary school teacher in suburban Atlanta, was introduced to the crowd during the second quarter of the game.
Obviously, the crowd went crazy.
Andrew finally made his mind that he had to come back and see the fans, Malone said. He knows they love him.
For those lucky enough to have seen Toney in his prime, they know that he was The Truth. Called the Boston Strangler for the way he wrecked the Celtics during the postseason as well as the Silent Assassin, Toney was on the way to a Hall of Fame career until the injuries came. He was the second-leading scorer on the Sixers the year they won the championship, but the most-feared player on the team.
Larry Bird said Toney was the best clutch player he had ever seen and Charles Barkley claimed he was the best teammate he ever had.
Malone doesnt disagree, either.
Andrew was tough, man, Moses said. He had a way to get it done. He played with a lot of heart and he loved the game. If youre like that youll be the best.
And the elusive great one finally returned, too. If you blinked, though, you missed it
Kind of like Andrew Toneys entire career.
E-mail John R. Finger at firstname.lastname@example.org.