We’ve Been Here Before Philadelphia 76ers Fans


Like many of you reading this, I talk to a lot of Philadelphia 76ers fans throughout my day whether it’s friends, coworkers, or in Facebook groups such as Social Sixers and, like you, I read/hear many different opinions about the team. “This team is a joke!” “Sam Hinkie does not know what he is doing!” “This team should be renamed to Jahlil Okafor and the 7 D-Leaguers.” I am one that does believe that we should still trust the process however I do understand the frustration. The losses, the unforced turnovers, and the lack of talent is hard to watch but as 76ers fans we have actually been here before.

In June of 1996 76ers fans had just seen the Chicago Bulls (arguably the best team in NBA history) cap off their record setting 72-10 season by winning their fourth NBA championship in franchise history while our team, lead by All NBA Rookie First Team selection Jerry StackhouseClarence Weatherspoon and Vernon “Mad Max” Maxwell, went 18-64. Shawn Bradley, Derrick Coleman, Sharone Wright, Scott Williams, Scott Skiles and Ed Pinckney are some of the recognizable names of the 24 players that played a game for the 76ers that year where names such as Trevor Wilson, Rex Walters, Richard Dumas, Derrick Alston, Elmer Bennett and Greg Sutton will have you clicking on the their names to ensure that I am not just making them up. That team was very difficult to watch, but on June 26th, 1996, our future started to look bright for the first time since the Charles Barkley era ended.

The twenty-one year old Allen “The Answer” Iverson started making NBA history the moment David Stern announced that he was the 1st overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft as he was the shortest player to be taken number one in a league that has been dominated by taller players since the beginning of the game. With the selection of Iverson came a buzz around the city along with hope that we will one day be cheering for a respectable title contending franchise again.

Iverson’s rookie season went as well as expected from an individual standpoint. He averaged 23.5 points, 7.5 assists and 2.1 steals while winning the Rookie of the Year award and making the NBA All-Rookie First Team. He gave us plenty of memories and highlights but none greater than “The Crossover.”

But even with all of Iverson’s brilliance the 76ers only improved their record from the previous season by four games (22-60). During that season they had losing steaks of:

  • Two games (six times)
  • Three games (three times)
  • Fives games (once)
  • Eight games (once)
  • Ten games (once)
  • Thirteen games (once)

In the next four seasons the 76ers went 31-51, 28-22 (winning percentage of .560 in a lockout shortened season), 49-33 and 56-26 in what was a magical 2000-2001 season. This season contained lots of bright spots. Iverson become league and All-Star game MVP. Mid-season acquisition Dikemebe Mutombo won Defensive Player of the Year. Aaron Mckie won Sixth Man of the Year and Larry Brown won Coach of the Year. More importantly, the team won the Eastern Conference before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.

Next: What Can Phil Pressey Be For The Sixers This Season?

Fast forward to the summer of 2015, and the Sixers are coming off a season where they went 18-64 lead by NBA All-Rookie First Team selection Nerlens Noel. Brandon Davies, Chris Johnson, Malcolm Thomas, Drew Gordon and Tim Frazier (again I promise I am not making up names) are a handful of the 25 players that played for 2014-2015 76ers. The team drafted 19 year old man-child Okafor with the third overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft where many experts and scouts had him pegged as the number 1 overall pick since he was in middle school. Through the first 8 games of 2015-2016 season Okafor is averaging 20.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on which fan you ask) the 76ers record stands at 0-8, but fans should not lose focus of what the future could possibly look like because we have been here before.