Written by Garrett Catalana – @GarrettCatalana
In this five part series, we will breakdown the best player to ever wear each number for the Philadelphia 76ers/Syracuse Nationals franchise. The series will run from early August to training camp in October.
If you missed Part I, here is the link.
So, without further ado, here is part two of the series: 11-20.
11: Caldwell Jones
– 7.2 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.9 BPG
– 27.0 WS, 7.6 VORP
– Starting center for playoffs teams every year with PHI, including 1977, 1980, and 1982 Eastern Conference champion teams
– Caldwell Jones was originally selected by the 76ers in the second round of the 1973 NBA Draft out of Albany State, but he chose to sign with the upstart ABA instead with the San Diego Conquistadors. Jones played in the ABA until 1976, playing with the Sails, Kentucky Colonels, and Spirits of St. Louis, when he signed with the 76ers. Along with other ABA stars George McGinnis and Julius Erving, Jones helped the Sixers reach the 1977 NBA Finals as the defensive anchor. On a team that had multiple personalities and characters, Jones was the least flamboyant of the bunch, as he did all the dirty work on the back line, focusing on rebounds and protecting the basket. During his six years in Philadelphia, Jones made the playoffs every year with the team, and made the NBA All-Defensive First Team in 1981 and 1982. Just in the playoffs alone, Jones had to face off against Hall of Famers Bill Walton, Moses, Malone, Dave Cowens, Elvin Hayes, Wes Unseld, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bob Lanier, and Robert Parish.
12: Johnny Dawkins
– 10.7 PPG, 5.7 APG, 1.1 SPG
– 13.4 WS, 0.7 VORP
– Starting point guard for Sixers playoff team in 1990
– Johnny Dawkins was originally selected with the 10th overall pick by the San Antonio Spurs in the 1986 NBA Draft, but made his way to the Sixers in a trade in 1989. That trade sent away the best point guard the team has ever had in Mo Cheeks, along with Christian Welp and David Wingate in exchange for Dawkins. The main crux of the trade was to replace the aging Cheeks with the younger Dawkins, a two-time All-American at Duke. Dawkins was very good in his first season in Philadelphia, as the Sixers went 53-29, the team’s second highest win total in the last 30 years. Alongside Charles Barkley, Hersey Hawkins, Mike Gminski, and Rick Mahorn, Dawkins and the Sixers won their first round playoff matchup against the Cavaliers, but lost to the eventual champions Chicago Bulls in five games in the next round. The next season, however, Dawkins only played in four games because of a foot injury, as the Sixers won 44 games. Dawkins would play in Philly for three more seasons until being waived in 1994.
13: Wilt Chamberlain
– 27.6 PPG, 23.9 RPG, 6.8 APG
– 71.2 WS
– Starting center on 1967 NBA champions team
– #13 jersey retired on March 18, 1991
– 1967 NBA champ, 4-time All-Star, 3-time MVP, 3-time All-NBA first team, 1-time All-NBA second team, member of NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member (1978)
– 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.
14: Henry Bibby
– 10.1 PPG, 4.6 APG, 1.0 SPG
– 15.8 WS, 0.4 VORP
– Starting point guard for Sixers playoff teams in 1977, 1978, & 1979
– Henry Bibby was probably better known as the Sixers player with the huge afro and porno moustache, but he was a very solid point guard during his four seasons as the point guard in Philadelphia in the late 70s. Bibby only missed one game in four seasons and was the orchestrator of a fast-running, high-scoring offense that featured some of the best scorers in the entire league, like George McGinnis, Doug Collins, Julius Erving, and World B. Free. He appeared in two NBA Finals with the team & was a model of consistency running the point.
15: Hal Greer
– 1958-1973 (Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers)
– 19.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.0 APG
– 102.7 WS
– Starting shooting guard on 1967 NBA champions team
– #15 jersey retired on November 19, 1976
– 1967 NBA champ, 10-time All-Star, NBA All-Star Game MVP (1968), 7-time All-NBA Second Team, 76ers all-time leading scorer, member of NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member (1982)
– 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.
16: Red Rocha
– 1951-1956 (Syracuse Nationals)
– 11.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG
– 22.9 WS
– Starting center on 1955 NBA champions team
– All-Star (1952)
– Going all the way back to the team’s Syracuse Nationals days is Red Rocha, a 6’9 185 pound center originally from Hawaii. The Nats traded for Rocha in 1951 from the Baltimore Bullets in exchange for future Sixers coach Alex Hannum, to compliment the team’s superstar Dolph Schayes in the frontcourt. The move paid off as Rocha was named an All-Star in his first season with the team and was the starting center when the team won its only championship in Syracuse in 1955.
17: Togo Palazzi
– 1956-1960 (Syracuse Nationals)
– 8.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG
– 4.9 WS
– Only seven Nationals/Sixers have ever worn #17 and no particularly stands out, but since Mr. Palazzi had the most win shares of the group, he is our pick. The Celtics sold him to the Nationals in 1956 and he played in Syracuse until 1960, when he signed with the Scranton Miners of the Eastern Pennsylvania Basketball League. Palazzi played 187 games and the Nationals made the playoffs every year that he was on the team.
18: Darrall Imhoff
– 11.3 PPG, 9.6 RPG
– 14.1 WS
– Starting center on back-to-back playoffs teams (1969, 1970)
– Just like #17, not many players (six) have worn #18 for the franchise, so Darrall Imhoff wins by default. Imhoff only played in Philadelphia for two seasons after being acquired from the Lakers in the lopsided Wilt Chamberlain trade and it’s safe to say that Imhoff couldn’t match Wilt’s production. With Imhoff at center, the Sixers lost to Bill Russell’s Celtics and Lew Alcindor’s Bucks in the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. He was traded to the Cincinnati Royals in 1970 for Connie Dierking and Fred Foster.
19: Raja Bell
– 2001 (as #19)
– 1.0 PPG, 0.2 RPG, 0.2 SPG
– -0.1 WS
– Only two players have ever worn #19 in franchise history: Raja Bell and Furkan Aldemir. While Process Trusters love Furkan and his rebounding, Bell gets the nod because of his impact in the 2001 playoffs for the Sixers. Bell signed with the Sixers late in the 2001 season out nowhere, previously playing for the Yakima Sun Kings of the CBA. Due to injuries to George Lynch and Aaron McKie, Bell was forced into action in 15 of the team’s 23 playoff games, where he had a couple of strong performances. Bell played a key role in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Bucks when he scored 10 points in the 2nd quarter that rallied the Sixers to an Eastern Conference championship. He had a huge moment in the Sixers’ Game 1 win over the Lakers in the Finals when the Sixers were down 99-94 with just 2:20 left in overtime. The shot clock was running low with Bell holding the ball at the high post guarded by two Lakers. Bell was able to utilize his pivot foot to spin back into the lane for a scoop layup to bring the Sixers to within three points. That layup sparked a 13-2 Sixers run to end the game, giving the Sixers the Game 1 victory. Bell played in 74 games the next season for the Sixers (as #11) before signing with the Mavericks as a free agent. He later played for the Jazz, Suns, Bobcats, and Warriors.
20: Doug Collins
– 17.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.3 APG
– 38.0 WS, 8.5 VORP
– 4-time All-Star, starting shooting guard on 1977 Eastern Conference champions, #1 overall pick in 1973
– With stiff competition from Dave Gambee, Ron Anderson, and Eric Snow, Doug Collins is the pick for the best #20 in franchise history. 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. 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.
Stay tuned for Part III of the series, #21-30.