Wouldn’t 40 years be a nice, round number to end the Sixers’ championship drought?
On the night the NBA named its All-Star starters, 11-time NBA All-Star (and five-time ABA All-Star) Julius Erving attended the Sixers Youth Foundation gala at 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. He also shared his perspective on the 2022-23 Sixers.
“I think this team has a very good chance,” Erving said Thursday night. “They’re a pretty confident group, a pretty deep group. Now it’s a matter of making that chemistry work and sustaining it come playoff time. A lot of people overlook the regular season, but I think you hone your talent during the regular season and build greater confidence. And you learn the nuances of what it takes to be successful at a late stage. It’s hard to win against a really good team four times out of seven times, but I think the Sixers are capable of doing that.”
Erving, 72, was effusive in his praise of 22-year-old Tyrese Maxey.
“Everything about him (is impressive). His persona, his attitude, his energy, his ability,” Erving said. “He’s as capable of scoring as any player in the league. He’s a different type of version of Allen Iverson. Iverson was fearless, and I see that in Maxey. And Maxey probably has a little more floater in his game.”
If head coach Doc Rivers happens to ask, it sounds like Erving would endorse continuing to use Maxey as a scoring-focused sixth man.
He’s reminded of the Sixers’ bench crew circa 1977.
“Back in the day, we had what they called the Bomb Squad,” Erving said. “It was World B. Free, Joe Bryant, Steve Mix coming off the bench and getting theirs. I think Philly has a version of that with Maxey coming off the bench — that’s very big. He’s the leader. And Shake Milton coming off the bench. These guys are capable of scoring … of being starters on other teams.”
At last year’s All-Star Game, Erving was honored as a member of the NBA’s 75th anniversary team. Erving said he was unsure whether the 1982-83 championship team would have an official reunion this year, but he expected “some kind of planning will take place” after All-Star weekend. He mentioned that he sometimes plays golf with former teammate Andrew Toney, who also lives in Atlanta.
Being back in Philadelphia gave Erving a similar feeling to the city’s incredible success across sports in 1980, he said.
“When I turn the radio on, all I hear about is Atlanta sports. So it’s so nice to come back to Philadelphia and hear that buzz,” Erving said. “I was here last weekend … the town is crazy. Everybody’s feeling themselves. I just want everybody to stay safe. Stay safe and stay focused.”