Written by Garrett Catalana – @GarrettCatalana
The Philadelphia 76ers have been one of the most successful franchises in the NBA during the team’s 52-year history in the City of Brotherly Love which includes two championships, Hall of Famers, superstars, and many playoff appearances. I am recognizing and ranking the best five 76ers players at each of the five positions in basketball: point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center.
1) Four factors went into play in creating this list: personal statistics, team success, longevity, and impact on the team and the city of Philadelphia.
2) Players are only ranked by their playing time in Philadelphia & not for any other teams in the NBA (ie Dikembe Mutombo)
3) Players who primarily played with the Syracuse Nationals (1946-1963) are not included on this list, so players like Dolph Schayes, Red Kerr, Lee Shaffer, Archie Clark, and Larry Costello will not appear in the ranking.
4) Most of the players who were selected were involved in the three most successful periods in 76ers basketball: 1964-1971, 1975-1987, and 1998-2003.
Without further ado, here is the list:
The five best shooting guards in Sixers history are some of the best scorers the NBA has ever seen. Some had extended periods of scoring prowess, while others had shorter stretches of high-volume scoring. This group also contains two of the greatest nicknames in Philadelphia sports history and two #1 overall draft selections.
1) Allen Iverson (12 seasons, 1996-2007; 2009-2010)
Resume: 2001 NBA MVP, 8-time All-Star (2000-2006, 2010), 3-time All-NBA 1st Team, 3-time All-NBA 2nd Team, 1-time All-NBA 3rd team, 1997 NBA Rookie of the Year, 4-time NBA scoring champion, 3-time NBA steals leader, appeared in 2001 NBA Finals, No. 3 retired by the 76ers
– No other player in the history of the 76ers can compare to Allen Iverson. No one else played with more passion, more ferocity, and more heart than Allen Iverson and no one represented the city of Philadelphia better than Allen Iverson. While many questioned his character and behavior, the man always gave it his all on the basketball court. Seen as a cultural icon to some and a menace to others, Iverson changed the game, both on the court and off the court (Practice?). While there was always a rocky relationship between Iverson and management, The Answer carried his teams places they shouldn’t have ever gone. The first overall pick in the 1997 draft, Iverson guided the Sixers to the NBA Finals in 2001 and was named the MVP of the regular season, and averaged 32.9 points per game in the playoffs. Though the Sixers would lose in the Finals to the Lakers in five games, Iverson made his mark with the franchise. He would never return to the Finals but Iverson showed during his entire NBA career that he was possibly pound-for-pound, the greatest player in NBA history. His jumper late in Game 1 of the Finals over Tyronn Lue and subsequent step-over is a moment no Sixers fan will never forget. His determination despite height limitations lead him to have his No. 3 retired by the 76ers, but it also paved the way to his eventually enshrinement into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
2) Hal Greer (15 seasons [5 with Syracuse], 1958-1973)
Resume: 10-time All-Star (1961-1970), 7-time All-NBA 2nd Team (1963-1969), NBA Champion (1967), 76ers all-time leading scorer, member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary Team, No. 15 retired by the 76ers
– Harold “Hal” Greer never had the flashiness of a Julius Erving or an Allen Iverson, but he was as consistent of a scorer as anybody in the league during his prime seasons. Commonly referred to as “Bulldog” by his teammates, Greer showed an expressionless demeanor, a hard-working attitude, and consistency throughout his entire NBA career. Greer was basically a guaranteed 20 point scorer every game. While going mostly unappreciated by the public, Greer had the utmost respect of his basketball peers. They raved about his signature jump shot that many argued was the best jump shot in the league. He was a starter on the 1967 championship team, as well as the 76ers all-time leader in points, games, minutes played, and made field goals. His No. 15 hangs has been retired by the team and he is perhaps the most underrated 76er of all-time.
3) Andrew Toney (8 seasons [all with PHI], 1980-1988)
Resume: Two-time All-Star (1983, 1984); NBA champion (1983)
Selected with the 8th overall pick in the 1980 NBA Draft from Louisiana-Lafayette, Andrew Toney was an electric scorer as well as an extremely clutch shooter. Many former players have said that Andrew Toney was one of the greatest players they ever played with or faced. He was well on his way to becoming a Hall of Famer until chronic foot injuries derailed his career and was forced to retire in 1988. Toney was a starter on the 1983 championship team, but his legacy in Philadelphia is that of being regarded as the “Boston Strangler.” Toney played his best whenever the Sixers played Larry Bird & the Boston Celtics in the playoffs. In Game 7 of the 1982 Eastern Conference Finals, Toney scored 34 points at the Boston Garden to put the Sixers in the NBA Finals, while averaging over 26 points during that series. He was set to lead the Sixers after the retirement of Julius Erving, but his feet wouldn’t let him, and It is a real shame 76ers fans couldn’t see Toney play longer in Philadelphia.
4) Doug Collins (8 seasons [all with PHI], 1973-1981)
Resume: 4-time All-Star (1976-1979), appeared in 2 NBA Finals (1977, 1980)
– Collins was chosen with the #1 pick of the NBA Draft by the 76ers in 1973 following the worst season in NBA history (9-73). After only appearing in 25 games his rookie season in 1973-1974, Collins paired up with other talented scorers that helped return the Sixers to contention. He made four straight All-Star appearances in the late-70s and was a consistent 18+ PPG scorer during the prime of his career. He was a starter on the 76ers team that lost in the 1977 NBA Finals & was forced to sit on the sidelines during the 1980 NBA Finals. Like Andrew Toney, injuries derailed his career, and he was forced to retire following the 1981 season. Collins later came back to coach the team from 2010 to 2013, which included two playoff appearances and a playoff series victory against the Bulls in 2012.
5) World B. Free (4 seasons, 1975-1978; 1986-1987)
Resume: Appeared in 1 NBA Finals (1977)
– Lloyd “World B.” Free was chosen by the 76ers in the 2nd round of the 1975 NBA Draft and became a spark plug off the bench and provided instant scoring. With help from other talented players already on the team, Free helped the 76ers reach the 1977 NBA Finals. In his two best seasons with the team, Free averaged 16 points off the bench. He was traded to the San Diego Clippers after the 1978 season for a 1984 1st round pick, which turned into Charles Barkley, who knew?Free returned to Philly later in his career for the 1986-1987 season, but only played 20 games. Today Free serves as a community ambassador for the 76ers and can be seen at every Sixers home game in a rather “wacky” wardrobe.