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:
Perhaps the greatest position in Sixers history, the center position has been the headliner for Sixers teams for years. This group has star power, scoring, defense, rebounding, and shot blocking prowess. Two of the 15 greatest players in NBA history have shined in 76ers uniforms while the other three provided unique skill sets that helped their Sixers squads win.
1) Wilt Chamberlain (4 seasons, 1964-1968)
MPG: 46.3; PPG: 27.6; FG%: 58%; RPG: 23.9; BPG: N/A
Resume: 3-time NBA MVP (1966, 1967, 1968), 4-time All-Star (1965-1968), 3-time All-NBA 1st Team, 1-time All-NBA 2nd Team, 2-time scoring champion, 3-time rebounding leader, 1-time assist leader (1968), NBA champion (1967), member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary Team, No. 13 retired by the 76ers
– Wilt Chamberlain was the most dominant force in NBA history. The NBA had to change the rules of the game because of how dominant Wilt was. He attended local Overbrook High School and played for the Philadelphia Warriors from 1959 to 1962, but was traded back to Philadelphia to the 76ers in 1965. While he only played four seasons for the Sixers, Chamberlain had the greatest impact in that short time than any other Sixer ever. In four seasons, he won three MVP awards, was a four-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA selection, and two-time scoring champion. He was the lead man of the 1966-1967 squad that was able to end the Celtics’ eight-year run of consecutive championships. Following the departure of head coach Alex Hannum in 1968, Chamberlain asked GM Jack Ramsay for a trade. Ramsay later traded Wilt to the Laker for Darrall Imhoff, Archie Clark, and Jerry Chambers. His No. 13 was retired by the 76ers in 1991.
2) Moses Malone (5 seasons, 1982-1986; 1993-1994)
MPG: 33.1; PPG: 21.0; FG%: 48%; RPG: 12.0; BPG: 1.3
Resume: 1983 NBA MVP, 4-time All-Star, 2-time All-NBA 1st Team, All-NBA 2nd Team (1984), NBA All-Defensive 1st Team (1983), 3-time rebounding leader, NBA champion (1983), member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary Team
– Coming off three NBA Finals losses in six seasons, the Sixers came to the conclusion that they needed a new big man that could contend with the Lakers’ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Celtics’ Robert Parish, deciding that Caldwell Jones and Darryl Dawkins weren’t up to the task. Sixers GM Pat Williams made the deal of the century, trading for 1982 NBA MVP Moses Malone from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Caldwell Jones and a 1988 first round pick. Malone was dominant in 1982-1983 (named league MVP), averaging 24.5 PPG, 15.3 RPG, and 2.0 BPG, as he delivered the Sixers to the Promise Land with a championship in 1983 defeating the Lakers in a sweep. When the playoffs were about to start, Moses famously said, “Fo, Fo, Fo,” meaning the Sixers would sweep their way throughout the playoffs. Moses was one game off, as the Sixers went “Fo, Fi, Fo,” sweeping the Knicks, beating the Bucks in five games, and sweeping the Lakers. Moses had taken the Sixers over the hump. He was an All-Star in all four seasons of his first stint with the team, and was named to the All-NBA team three times. In a move that shocked everybody, Sixers owner Harold Katz traded Malone, along with Terry Catledge and two-first round picks to the Bullets for Jeff Ruland and Cliff Robinson in 1986. While his No. 2 is not retired by the team, the Sixers would not have won their second championship in Philadelphia without Moses.
3) Caldwell Jones (6 seasons, 1976-1982)
MPG: 28.4; PPG: 7.2; FG%: 47%; RPG: 9.2; BPG: 1.9
Resume: Two-time All-NBA Defensive 1st Team, appeared in three NBA Finals (1977, 1980, 1982)
– “Pops” was the least flamboyant players of the late-70 Sixers, which included many “characters” during a wild period in NBA history. Jones was the leader of the 76ers defense for many years as he concentrated his game on defense, rebounding, and shot blocking. His hustle, determination, and professionalism were a trademark of his game as he was named to All-Defensive first teams in back-to-back seasons. In 1982, Jones was traded to the Houston Rockets for the #2 center in Sixers history, Moses Malone. Malone initially turned down the trade because he wanted to play with Caldwell, which spoke to how highly he thought of Caldwell as a player, but Jones had to be traded in order to bring Moses to Philly. After winning the championship the following season, the organization gave Jones a championship ring, showing how much he still meant to the team.
4) Darryl Dawkins (7 seasons, 1975-1982)
MPG: 23.1; PPG: 11.2; FG%: 56%; RPG: 6.7; BPG: 1.4
Resume: Appeared in 3 NBA Finals (1977, 1980, 1982)
– The wildest character on this list, Darryl “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins was drafted straight out of high school in 1975. In his seven seasons with the Sixers, Dawkins took the time to name his dunks, write poems, and break backboards. Always known for his high percentage shooting, Dawkins got more minutes over time with added mental and physical maturity. The man from the Planet Lovetron was a key member of three Sixers teams that went to the NBA Finals.
5) Theo Ratliff (1998-2001; 2008-2009)
MPG: 29.4; PPG: 10.0; FG%: 50%; RPG: 6.9; BPG: 2.9
Resume: All-Star (2001), All-NBA Defensive 2nd Team (1999)
– Theo Ratliff was acquired in a trade that sent Jerry Stackhouse to the Pistons in 1998 as part of a flurry of moves by Larry Brown to rebuild and strengthen his team. Ratliff became a fixture on the 76ers team that returned to the playoffs for the first time since 1991, and was a key member of the team that reached the 2001 NBA Finals. Ratliff was known for his shot blocking ability, as he still ranks 4th in team history in blocks in just five seasons with Philadelphia. He was a top-10 shot blocker in the league three straight years from 1998 to 2001. His strong play on the defensive side of the ball led to his only career All-Star appearance in 2001. Unfortunately for Ratliff, he was injured prior to the All-Star break and was unable to play the rest of the season. He was traded to the Hawks at the trade deadline for another defensive anchor, Dikembe Mutombo. Mutombo helped the Sixers down the stretch and in the playoffs, but without Ratliff, the team would have not even been close to reaching the Finals.
There is my list, so let me know what you think of it. Go Sixers!