Highs and Lows: A Brief History of the 76ers GMs


Jan 20, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; General view of NBA Dream Big logo on the court for Martin Luther King Jr. Day before the game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Washington Wizards during the first half at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

They “dream big” of titles and job security. In that order, we hope.

A more and more visible post, the Sixers GM over the years has typically controlled player personnel and team transactions. They also organize and develop and negotiate individual contracts. In years past, the Sixers GM has also brought us the head coach, or dismissed him. Our current GM is also the President of Basketball Operations.

Some NBA All-Time great GMs were also great college or pro-level players, namely R.C. Buford (San Antonio Spurs) and Joe Dumars (Detroit Pistons).

The Philadelphia 76ers have featured several stellar names at the GM post: Jack Ramsay, Pat Williams, Gene Shue, Jim Lynam and John Lucas.

Legendary HOF coach Jack Ramsay served as Sixers GM in 1966-1967. Of course his highpoint would be his first season with the 1967 Sixers and one of the game’s all-time great teams that finished with a record of 68-13. His low point would be due to the circumstances leading him to trade away Wilt Chamberlain and Chet Walker. Team owner Irv Kolsoff pressured Ramsay to deal Wilt away which had been in the works years prior.

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Pat Williams served as GM from 1974-1986 and had his shares of highs (acquiring Moses Malone to help Philly win the 1983 title) and lows (losing a No. 1 pick and an injured Malone to eventually acquire Roy Hinson and a few Washington Bullets).

Gene Shue general managed the 76ers from 1990-1992. Charles Barkley once stated that Shue was a clown that carried Harold Katz’s golf bag. He was actually much more as a player, coach, and manager, including leading the Sixers (vs. Jack Ramsay and Portland) to the 1977 title game after inheriting the worst team in history, the Sixers 1973 team. Shue also is known as the coach that developed, encouraged, and welcomed the creative fun and talented offensive displays of Darryl Dawkins.

Jim Lynam served as the Sixers GM from 1992-1994. His signature roll of the dice was Shawn Bradley, who lasted more than ten years in the NBA and blossomed much later, but never developed as planned while with the 76ers. His two seasons were followed by the tremendous former talent John Lucas (1994-1996) who struggled to win for lack of talent.

The last time the 76ers went to the NBA Finals they were under the guidance of former “Dukee” GM Billy King (1998-2007).

Given this history, it is interesting to note that Hinkie is sort of an outlier. He does not have the name recognition yet of the seasoned veterans known from the distant past – nor does he have the pedigree in reputation of local hoop front office members and additional past GM’s such as John Nash (1986-1990) and Ed Stefanski (2007-2011).

Adding to the Hinkie mystique is the generational divide and dedication to the exotic code busting of analytics. (Which equates to a basketball guy doing some intense research combined with critical thought).

Let’s hope that GM Sam Hinkie can find a way to make history.

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