Most of the people watching the NBA Finals featuring the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat are big time basketball fans. They’re also LeBron James and Kevin Durant fans. Of course, the people from Oklahoma City and Miami are fans of their respective teams.
It’s always nice to have a rooting interest. If you’re a Philadelphia 76ers fan, you can easily be Thunder fans in this series. And this doesn’t have anything to do with Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook. It has everything to do with Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks and assistant coach Maurice Cheeks.
Brooks is a great story. He was undrafted coming out of the University of California, Irvine in 1987 and had to go to the CBA and even the World Basketball League before getting his chance to play in the NBA. The Sixers were his first team. Jimmy Lynam was the head coach at the time. Brooks had to make the team and the 5-foot-11 point guard was quite a fan favorite. He played with the Sixers from 1988 to 1990. Charles Barkley and Rick Mahorn were his teammates during those years.
He played 10 NBA seasons with a number of teams including the Sixers as well as the Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Rockets. In 1994, he played on the Rockets NBA championship team.
In 2000, Brooks started his coaching career as a player/assistant with the Los Angeles Stars of the American Basketball Association. The following season, he was the head coach of the Southern California Surf of the ABA.
Like his playing career, Brooks had to work his way up the professional ladder. He held assistant coaching jobs with Sacramento and Denver before joining the Thunder’s staff as an assistant in 2008 where he worked under P.J. Carlesimo. He was named interim head coach during the 2008–2009 season and was given the job permanently in 2009.
Since becoming the Thunder’s head coach, Brooks has emerged as one of the best coaches in the league. This is just his third season on the job. In 2010, he was named the NBA Coach of the Year after his second season. Last year, he guided Oklahoma City to the NBA’s Western Conference Finals before losing to the Dallas Mavericks, the eventual league champions. Now, Brooks has the Thunder in the championship round.
Good point guards make great decisions, and bringing Cheeks on board as an assistant was certainly a good one. Cheeks was a fan favorite with the Sixers. In 1983, he led the Sixers to the NBA championship, playing alongside Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones. He should land in the Hall of Fame some day. He has a lot of experience. He was a long time assistant with the Sixers under head coaches John Lucas, Johnny Davis and Larry Brown. He had two stints as a head coach with the Portland Trail Blazers (2001–05) and the Sixers (2005–08). In 2008, Cheeks was let go as the Sixers head coach.
It’s nice to see him on the sidelines again. Westbrook is the point guard for the Thunder. His play as the team’s floor general has been impressive throughout the postseason. You can see where he has benefited from the knowledge and experience of Brooks and Cheeks as well as veteran backup Derrick Fisher.
It’s nice to see two guys make a small market team into one of the elite franchises in the NBA. If the Thunder can beat the Heat for the league title, Brooks and Cheeks could wind up with rings not only as players, but as coaches, too. For Philly fans, that’s something worth rooting for.
Team celebrates half century in Philadelphia
The Philadelphia 76ers are celebrating their 50th season in Philadelphia this year. Before coming to Philly and becoming the 76ers in 1963, the franchise was known as the Syracuse Nationals and played there for 14 seasons, winning an NBA title in 1955.
Since then, the Sixers have won two NBA championships in Philadelphia in 1967 and 1983. The franchise has produced a lot of outstanding players such as Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Billy Cunningham, Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson.
The Philadelphia Tribune has selected 50 players over the last half century who should bring back some great memories for fans.
7-1, 275 pound center
Chamberlain was undoubtedly one of the greatest players of all time. He led the 76ers to an NBA championship in 1966-67. He averaged 24.1 points a game that season. That team was voted one of the top 10 greatest teams in NBA history.
6-6, 200 pound forward
Erving was one of the game’s most spectacular players. He guided the Sixers to the 1983 NBA title. Fans will always remember his spectacular dunk over Lakers guard Michael Cooper.
6-10, 275 pound center
Malone was the missing piece to the Sixers championship puzzle in 1983. He was a great scorer and rebounder. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001.
6-6, 220 pound forward
Cunningham was one of the greatest sixth men in NBA history. He averaged 18.5 points a game for the 76ers 1966-67 championship team. He won a championship as a player and coach in the Sixers organization.
6-2, 175 pound guard
Greer was a tremendous shooter from 15 feet. Once he got his feet set he rarely missed a shot. He was a key player on the Sixers 1966-67 championship team.
6-61/2, 215 pound forward
Walker was recently inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He was a great player on the Sixers 1966-67 championship team. Walker was known for backing his man down and shooting the fade away shot.
6-5, 250 pound forward
Barkley was a special player with his size. He had the ability to get position around the basket against anybody. Barkley could really jump and dunk the basketball and was a great rebounder. During the 1985-86 season, he grabbed 1,026 rebounds.
6-0, 175 pound guard
Iverson was a scoring machine. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. He could break his man down and take the ball to the basket like no other. Iverson led the 2001 Sixers to the NBA Finals. He was an MVP and four-time NBA scoring champion.
6-1, 180 pound guard
Cheeks was a great floor general. He looked for the open man. He didn’t turn the ball over. A lot of fans will remember the dunk he had in the final game of the Sixers NBA championship series victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in 1983.
6-3, 185 pound guard
Toney had a great first step off the dribble. He could shoot from long range. Unfortunately, injuries to both feet shortened his career. Toney was a big part of the Sixers 1983 championship team. In 1982 he scored 34 points against the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to lead the Sixers to victory.
6-2, 180 pound guard
Jones played in the backcourt with Hal Greer on the Sixers 1966-67 NBA championship team. He was a great ballhandler, shooter and defender. Jones was a hometown favorite. He was a big star at Overbrook High and Villanova.
6-9, 210 pound forward
Jones was a tremendous defensive player. He usually guarded the opposing team’s best scorer. He was the sixth man on the Sixers 1983 NBA championship team.
6-9, 250 pound forward
Jackson was a rugged rebounder. If Wilt Chamberlain didn’t get the rebound, that meant Jackson usually had it. He was the starting power forward on the Sixers 1966-67 NBA championship team.
6-2, 175 pound guard
Clark was known for his shake and go moves. He used to make some terrific moves to the basket. Clark also played in the Baker League during the summer months.
6-6, 180 pound guard
Collins was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1973 NBA Draft. He did a great job of getting open for his shots. He moved well without the ball. He was a good shooter. He played on the Sixers 1976-77 team that reached the NBA Finals. He’s now the Sixers head coach.
6-8, 235 pound forward
McGinnis helped put the Sixers back on the NBA map. McGinnis and Julius Erving led the Sixers to the NBA Finals in 1977. He was known for his one hand push shots. He could handle the ball, too.
6-6, 207 pound guard
Iguodala was traded to the Denver Nuggets this past summer. He spent eight seasons with the Sixers. Iguodala had arguably his best season last year, leading the Sixers to a first round playoff series win over the Chicago Bulls. He was named to the all-star team and won a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic basketball team.
6-5, 209 pound guard
McKie played eight years with the Sixers. He was a real fan favorite growing up in Philly playing at Simon Gratz and Temple. In 2001, he was named the NBA Sixth Man of the Year. He also helped the Sixers get to the NBA Finals. He’s now an assistant coach with the Sixers.
7-2, 260 pound center
Mutombo was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2001. He was a great shotblocker and rebounder. He played on the Sixers team that reached the 2001 NBA Finals.
6-11, 217 pound center
Jones was a terrific defender. He had great timing in terms of shotblocking. He played on three Sixers teams that went to the NBA Finals.
6-11, 250 pound center
Dawkins was known for his spectacular dunks. In fact, he had names for some of his dunks like Chocolate Thunder, Spine-Chiller Supreme and Sir Slam. He played on some of the Sixers best teams.
World B. Free
6-2, 185 pound guard
When he first came to Philly, he was known as Lloyd Free. He’s now World B. Free. He used to shoot those rainbow jumpshots. He was a magnificent scorer. He scored 17,955 career points.
6-7, 215 pound forward
Anderson was one of the great sixth men in the Sixers organization. He played with Charles Barkley and Rick Mahorn.
6-3, 185 pound guard
Carter played on the Sixers 1972-73 team that had a horrible 9-73 record. He was the best player on that team. He averaged 20.0 points a game that season. Carter also played with Doug Collins and George McGinnis on the Sixers 1975-76 playoff team that lost to the Buffalo Braves in a best of three games series.
6-10, 260 pound center
Mahorn and Charles Barkley formed one of the toughest frontcourts in the NBA. They were known as “Thump and Bump.” Mahorn was a very physical player around the basket.
6-9, 250 pound forward
Gilliam was a great low post player. He was a good scorer. He played three seasons with the Sixers. He played with Charles Barkley and Rick Mahorn. Gilliam passed away in 2011.
6-3, 190 pound guard
Hawkins was a good shooting guard. He played on three playoff teams. He averaged 20.3 points a game his final season (1992-93) with the Sixers.
6-2, 200 pound guard
Miller had great three years with the Sixers. Two of those years, the Sixers made the playoffs. He was a sensational point guard. He’s still one of the league’s savvy playmakers.
6-7, 215 pound forward
Mix had a special place on the court. It was called Mixville. It was in the corner on the right hand side of the basket. That’s where he scored most of his points. He played nine seasons with the Sixers.
6-6, 218 pound guard
Stackhouse was a first round pick of the Sixers in 1995. He played two seasons with the Sixers. In 1996, Stackhouse and Allen Iverson both averaged over 20 points a game. They were one of the NBA’s top scoring backcourts.
6-7, 240 pound forward
Weatherspoon played six years with the Sixers. He usually had to play against players a lot bigger than him up front. Nevertheless, Weatherspoon had some big years with the Sixers. In 1994, he averaged 18.4 points a game.
6-1, 175 pound guard
Williams played seven seasons with the Sixers. He signed with the Atlanta Hawks over the summer. Williams was a second round pick of the Sixers right out of South Gwinnett High School near Atlanta, Ga. He could shoot the basketball. He led the Sixers in scoring (14.9) off the bench last season.
6-3, 204 pound guard
Snow was the floor leader on the Sixers 2001 NBA Finals team. He was a tough defender. He took care of the ball. Snow did a good job of getting the ball to Allen Iverson in scoring position.
5-11, 165 pound guard
Barros could really shoot the basketball. He played just two seasons with the Sixers. He averaged 20.6 points a game in 1994-95. He also made the all-star team in 1995.
6-9, 254 pound forward
Brand was a big free agent signing in 2008. He had shoulder surgery in 2009, but bounced back from the injury to play some good basketball for the Sixers during his four years. The team released him last summer with the NBA’s amnesty clause. He now plays for the Dallas Mavericks.
6-10, 270 pound forward
Coleman could play inside as well as outside. He could handle the ball. He had some of his best games in the playoffs.
6-2, 170 pound guard
Dawkins played in the backcourt with Hersey Hawkins. They formed a tandem of Dawkins and Hawkins. Dawkins also played with Charles Barkley and Rick Mahorn. He’s now the head basketball coach at Stanford.
6-3, 201 pound guard
Green played seven seasons with the Sixers. He was a solid player. Green was a second round pick out of Detroit Mercy. He started and came in off the bench for the Sixers.
6-3, 185 pound guard
Hollins played on two great Sixers teams. In 1980, he helped the Sixers get to the NBA Finals. He brought a lot of experience with him from Portland where he guided the Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA title. He played in the backcourt with Maurice Cheeks. He’s now the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies.
6-1, 190 pound guard
Costello played for head coach Alex Hannum with the Sixers. He played on the Sixers 1966-67 NBA championship team. Unfortunately, he tore his Achilles tendon that season. He had a good career as a player. He also was an NBA head coach with the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks.
6-10, 225 pound forward
Ratliff was a great defender and rebounder. He could run the floor. He had two stints with the Sixers. He played well both times.
6-11, 250 pound center
Gminski played with Rick Mahorn and Charles Barkley. The Sixers had a solid frontline with him. He had the ability to step out and hit the 12 to 13 foot shot. He played four seasons with the Sixers.
6-9, 218 pound forward
Catchings could really jump. He was a great shotblocker. He ran the floor. He hustled for loose balls. He played five seasons for the Sixers (1974-79). Catchings played on the Sixers 1977 team that went to the NBA Finals.
6-9, 200 pound forward
Bryant played four seasons with the Sixers. He was a very popular high school player at Bartram and La Salle respectively. He played on the 1977 NBA Finals team, which featured Julius Erving, George McGinnis and Doug Collins. Bryant came off the bench with Darryl Dawkins and World B. Free. Of course, he’s the father of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
6-4, 190 pound guard
Hornacek came to the Sixers from the Phoenix Suns in the Charles Barkley deal. He spent two seasons in Philly. In 1993, he had his best season averaging 19.1 points a game.
6-4, 205 pound guard
Malone played three seasons for the Sixers. He was a great shooter. He had a knack of getting open for his shots by using picks. In 1995, he averaged 18.4 points a game.
6-2, 185 pound guard
Threatt was a sixth round pick out of West Virginia Tech by the Sixers in the 1983 NBA draft. He came into camp and landed a spot with the Sixers. Threatt played four seasons with the Sixers. He also played in the Charles Baker League during the summer months.
6-1, 185 pound guard
Bibby was an All-American at UCLA. He won three NCAA championships. He won a NBA championship with the New York Knicks. He played on two Sixers teams, which advanced to the NBA Finals (’77, ’80). He was a good ballhandler with a nice touch from long range.
6-8, 230 pound forward
Lynch did all the little things to help the Sixers get to the 2001 NBA Finals. He played defense, rebounded and hit some timely jumpshots. He was a big contributor.
6-9, 210 pound forward
Cureton was good player off the bench. He played defense, rebounded and went after loose balls. Cureton’s big moment came during the Sixers championship run in 1983. He hit a hook shot over Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with the shot clock winding down in the second game of the championship series. It was a big play for him as well as the Sixers.
The Sixers open their 50th season on October 31 when they host the Denver Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ final home game this Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers will have plenty of significance. The Sixers will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1982-83 NBA championship team. The ceremony will be held on Sunday, April 14 at the Wells Fargo Center at 3:30 p.m. The team will be honored at halftime.
The members of the Sixers 1982-83 team expected to be in attendance include former players Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Moses Malone, Clemon Johnson, Clint Richardson, Franklin Edwards, Reggie Johnson and Earl Cureton. Also expected is Pat Williams, the general manager of that team, and John Kilbourne, who was the team’s strength and conditioning coach.
Pro basketball was really big in Philadelphia at that time. The Sixers had a great rivalry with the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. Actually, the year before they won the championship the Sixers had lost to the Lakers in six games in the NBA Finals.
The Sixers made a huge trade during the offseason to acquire Malone, an all-star center from the Houston Rockets. Malone joined Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones. The starting lineup was Malone, Erving, Cheeks, Toney and Marc Iavorini. Jones was the sixth man. That was a tremendous team. The Sixers sent four players — Erving, Malone, Cheeks and Toney to the all-star game that season. In addition, Billy Cunningham, Sixers head coach, was the coach of the Eastern Conference all-stars during that year.
The Sixers had a great backcourt with Cheeks at point guard and Toney at shooting guard. Erving was a spectacular small forward. Malone was a dominant center who could play defense, score and rebound. Iavorini was a power forward who did all the little things to help the team win as the perfect role player.
The Sixers finished the regular season with an impressive 65-17 record. They had the best record in the league. Malone had his famous saying, “Fo’, fo’, fo,’” on the Sixers way to the championship. The team came really close to that prediction. They finished with a sensational postseason mark of 14-1. In the first playoff series, the Sixers swept the New York Knicks 4-0. Then, they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 4-1 to win that series. After that, the team got the brooms out again for the Lakers sweeping 4-0 to win the NBA crown. The 1982-83 team has the best playoff record in NBA history.
Following 25 seasons in New York, the Syracuse Nationals move to Philly in 1963, which is now 50 seasons of pro basketball in this town. The Sixers have produced some of the greatest players in NBA history such as Chamberlain, Erving, Malone, Cunningham, Cheeks, Toney, Hal Greer, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson and others. The Sixers hold the third most playoff appearances and third most wins in league history.
NOTES: All fans in attendance will receive a commemorative poster of the 1982-83 team. Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter will present a proclamation to the team and declare the day “Philadelphia 76ers 1982-1983 Day.” Mayor Nutter will also present a second proclamation to the Sixers owners.
You want a Game 7? Well, now you have one. The Philadelphia 76ers will face the Boston Celtics on Saturday, May 26 at TD Garden in Boston. The Sixers are coming off an impressive 82-75 victory over the Celtics in Game 6 to tie the series at 3-3.
There’s nothing like a seven game series. The last time the Sixers played a seven game series was in 2001 when they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Sixers have had some classic seven game playoff series with the Celtics. The history goes back 44 years when the Sixers surrendered a 3-1 deficit to lose to the Celtics in seven games. In 1981, Boston defeated Philly in seven games. The Sixers also gave up a 3-1 series to lose in the playoffs.
But the Sixers have beaten the Celtics in some memorable seven games. In 1977, they defeated the Celtics 83-77 in the final game of the best of seven series at The Spectrum in Philadelphia. Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, was a member of that team. Collins played with Julius Erving, George McGinnis, Lloyd (World B.) Free, Henry Bibby, Caldwell Jones, Darryl Dawkins, Joe Bryant and Steve Mix.
“They were a very talented team that year,” Collins said. “They beat us in Game 1. We went in and beat them in Game 3. It was one of the hottest nights in Boston Garden. I think I dropped 15 pounds of fluid that night chasing (John) Havlicek. I didn’t have a lot of fluids. We came back in Game 7. It was an ugly, ugly game. We had World. He was racking them up that game. He got about 28 shots up that game. It was all good. That was the year we went to the Finals.”
In 1982, the Sixers were on the verge of losing another 3-1 lead in the series, but went into the Boston Garden and came away with a 120-106 victory over the Celtics. The Sixers had a great team featuring Erving, Andrew Toney, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones, Dawkins and Caldwell Jones. After the big win over the Celtics, the Sixers lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games in the NBA Finals.
This is a new Game 7 coming up. It’s a chance for Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young to be a part of history. If they can get past the Celtics in a series where Boston was heavily favored, these players will place themselves in a special category. The Celtics will lean on Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Brandon Bass to pull off another big win at home.
The home team is usually the favorite in these games. But there’s no guarantee. Three weeks ago, the Los Angeles Clippers popped the Memphis Grizzlies in a seventh game in Memphis. Collins just wanted to get his team to a seventh game after going down 3-2 in the series.
“We wanted to win tonight and give ourselves a chance to go into Boston and see what happens on Saturday in Game 7,” Collins said after Wednesday’s victory.
Collins doesn’t plan to just show up for the game. He wants to win. He’s not looking at moral victories.
“I want more,” he said. “We’re going to get greedy and we want more. We’ve fought. We’ve worked and gone through a lot as a team. We’ve grown. Our mindset is that I don’t want to go into that with no matter what happens everything is okay. I want to go with the idea of let’s see what we can do. Let’s see if we can go get us a win.”