Philadelphia 76ers: 15 greatest seasons in franchise history

Moses Malone | Philadelphia 76ers (Photos by NBA Photos/NBAE via Getty Images)
Moses Malone | Philadelphia 76ers (Photos by NBA Photos/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Ron Koch/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Ron Koch/NBAE via Getty Images) /

11. 1984-85 season (58-24, lost in conf. finals)

The 1984-85 season brought renewed hope for Philadelphia 76ers fans. Moses Malone and Julius Erving were still going strong, despite advanced age. Charles Barkley burst onto the scene as a highly-regarded rookie, averaging 14.0 points and 8.6 rebounds in under 30 minutes per game.

It culminated in a tremendous season. The Sixers fell short of the primary goal — a championship — but the result was still positive. 58 wins, a trip to the conference finals and the birth of a new franchise centerpiece. It was an all-around splendid year.

Once the dust settled, it also became the end of an era. Billy Cunningham retired after the season, ending a strong multi-decade tenure with the Sixers franchise — both as a Hall of Fame player and an all-time coach.

Cunningham still stands as one of history’s greatest coaching minds. He helped bring a title to Philadelphia on multiple fronts. It was a heartbreaking loss on the heals of a genuinely great season.

In the end, it was fitting for Cunningham to go out swinging. The Sixers were competitive, riding the momentum of elite youth and seasoned star power. It was a short-lived ‘Big 3’, but Erving, Malone and Barkley were amply entertaining.

The season was also a sign of growth. The Sixers improved by six wins over the 1983-84 season, with Barkley’s arrival playing a key role. It was tied for the fourth-highest win total in Cunningham’s historic run as coach.