No. 6: Philadelphia 76ers

Originally Published: June 11, 2009
By John Hollinger | ESPN.com

Wilt ChamberlainDick Raphael/NBAE/Getty ImagesBefore heading to Los Angeles, Wilt Chamberlain led the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA title.

For most of their history, the Sixers have been more about big stars than big wins. Fans have been treated to only three championships, a somewhat meager total for a city with such a long basketball tradition and so many huge talents passing through. But few franchises can match this one on star power: Philly fanatics have seen talents like Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, Wilt Chamberlain, Dolph Schayes and Allen Iverson in their primes, not to mention a host of secondary stars (Hal Greer, Mo Cheeks, Billy Cunningham, Andrew Toney, Dikembe Mutombo, Chet Walker, George McGinnis, Doug Collins, Bobby Jones, Luke Jackson and Larry Costello, to name a few).

And it must be said that the two champions since the team moved to Philly were two of the best ever. The legendary "Fo', fo', fo'" squad of 1982-83 romped through the postseason with just one defeat, while the 1966-67 squad centered around Chamberlain posted what at the time was the best record in league history at 68-13.

Back in the day, it was a similar story in Syracuse. Schayes led the team to the 1954-55 title, but the Nationals lost the 1950 and 1954 Finals, and lost in the conference finals six times in a span of 11 years.

That luck didn't change much in Philadelphia. The Sixers have lost the NBA Finals four times, most recently when Iverson and Larry Brown teamed up to take them there in 2001. Moreover, the Erving and Chamberlain teams both lost three times in the conference finals, with five of six defeats coming at the hands of the hated Celtics.

Iverson's team was a huge underdog, but the teams with Erving and Chamberlain had more reason to be disappointed. The 1977 team led the Finals 2-0 before succumbing to Portland, and the 1977-78 team somehow lost to the Bullets in the conference finals despite what seemed on paper to be an overwhelming edge in talent. That latter defeat was one of three occasions -- the others coming in 1966 and 1968 -- where the Sixers failed to win the conference finals despite having home-court advantage.

But their most painful setbacks might have been two others: the "Havlicek stole the ball" loss to Boston in the 1965 playoffs, and another defeat to the hated Celtics in 1981 when Boston overcame a 3-1 deficit to stun them in seven.

Even the 1983-84 team, a season removed from a title, had a painful playoff prologue. The Sixers lost in the first round to New Jersey the next season in one of the greatest playoff upsets ever.

Next »