1972–73 Philadelphia 76ers season
|1972–73 Philadelphia 76ers season|
|Head coach||Roy Rubin, Kevin Loughery|
|Place||Division: 4th (Atlantic)|
Conference: 8th (Eastern)
|Playoff finish||Did not qualify|
The 1972–73 Philadelphia 76ers season was their 24th season in the NBA and tenth in Philadelphia. Coming off a 30–52 record in the previous season, the 76ers lost their first 15 games of the season and a few months later set a then-record 20 game losing streak in a single season.
Their record following the 20 game losing streak was 4–58, and the team at that point had just lost 34 of 35 games. The 76ers finished the season with a 9–73 record, earning the nickname from the skeptical Philadelphia media of the "Nine and 73-ers." The 76ers finished an NBA-record 59 games behind the Atlantic Division champion Boston Celtics. The nine wins by the 1972–73 squad is the fourth fewest in NBA history—to the six games won by the Providence Steamrollers in the 48-game 1947–48 season, the seven games won by the Charlotte Bobcats in the lockout-shortened 66-game 2011–12 season, and the eight games won by the Vancouver Grizzlies in the lockout-shortened 50-game 1998–99 season.
The 73 losses, although threatened many times (including by the 2015–16 Sixers, who themselves lost 72 that season), remains the all-time low-water mark for any NBA franchise. The 76ers .110 winning percentage was the all-time worst mark in the NBA until the 2011–12 Charlotte Bobcats finished with a .106 winning percentage, whilst their −12.1 points per game point differential has been underdone only by the 2011–12 Bobcats (−13.9 points per game) and the 1992–93 Dallas Mavericks (−15.2 points per game). Only six seasons earlier, the 76ers had set the NBA record for most wins in a season and the highest winning percentage.
The Sixers ownership offered the head coaching job to Marquette University head coach Al McGuire, and former University of Kentucky head coach Adolph Rupp, who was seventy years old at the time. Both refused the job. Only Hal Greer remained on the roster from the 1966–1967 NBA Championship Team. The 1972–73 season would be his last in the NBA.
1972 NBA Draft
|1||5||Fred Boyd||(G)||United States||Oregon State|
|3||Charlie Tharpe||United States||Belhaven|
|4||Marshall Wingate||United States||Niagara|
|5||Joe Bynes||United States||Arkansas AM&N|
|6||John Glover||United States||Wiley|
|7||Curtis Pritchett||United States||St. Augustine|
|8||Jim Kopp||United States||Rockhurst|
|9||Rod Murray||United States||Cal State-Los Angeles|
|10||Gary Watson||United States||Wisconsin|
By the start of the 1972–73 season, most of the core of the 76ers 1966-67 championship was gone including coach Jack Ramsay, who was coaching the Buffalo Braves, and Billy Cunningham, who went to the ABA under a court order. Only Hal Greer, who was 36 years old, remained. Poor trades and draft selections left the team with few quality players.
The 76ers finished the 1971–72 season with a 30–52 record and could not find a coach for the upcoming season. In desperation, management placed an ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer for a head coach and a friend of Irv Kosloff recommended Roy Rubin, the head coach at LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds. While Rubin had 11 years coaching in college basketball, he had no professional or major college experience to draw on.
The Sixers, whose roster included the likes of Manny Leaks, Jeff Halliburton, Mike Price, John Q. Trapp and Dave Sorenson, started the season 0–15 and later lost 20 consecutive games. Players criticized Rubin for his sloppy practices, and the lack of meaningful comments during time-outs and breaks. Dave Wohl, who was traded to Portland, called Rubin a ‘con man’. With the club record at 4–47, Rubin was fired and replaced by Sixers player Kevin Loughery. The team’s performance improved slightly, going 5–26 with a .161 winning percentage, compared with Rubin's .078 mark.
In their first win of the season (a 114–112 victory over Houston), coach Rubin actually injured himself by pulling a leg muscle. The top statistical leaders were Fred Carter (led the team with 20 points per game), Tom Van Arsdale (17.7 points per game), and Leroy Ellis (13.7 points and 10.8 rebounds per game).
As bad as their season was, it would have been far worse if not for a 5–2 run the team put together in the last two weeks of February 1973. By Valentine's Day 1973 the 76ers' record stood at 4–58 or a .065 winning percentage which actually put on a pace to finish with an unimaginable 5–77 record. However, the team surprisingly won five of their next seven games against some of the best competition in the league. Three of those five wins came against teams that would eventually win fifty or more games that year – Baltimore, the 60-win Milwaukee Bucks and the 57–25 eventual NBA Champion New York Knicks. They improved to 9–60 and actually doubled their winning percentage (up from .065 to .130 during that run.) However, the 76ers lost their remaining 13 games to finish 9–73. Before the 1972–73 season the previous mark for fewest wins in an 82-game schedule was 15, and no subsequent NBA team won fewer than 22 until the 1979–80 Detroit Pistons who finished 16–66.
|New York Knicks||57||25||.695||11|
Record vs. opponents
|1972–73 NBA Records|
Anatomy of a demise
Two and a half months after Philadelphia's collapse against the Boston Celtics in the 1968 NBA Playoffs, Wilt Chamberlain was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. In return, the Sixers received Darrall Imhoff, Archie Clark and Jerry Chambers.
The background of the deal can be traced back to Sixers owners Ike Richman and Irv Kosloff. Chamberlain indicated that Richman promised him part ownership of the club, but Richman died before the deal was completed. When Kosloff became sole owner, he refused to honor the agreement Chamberlain had reached with Richman. This infuriated Chamberlain, and he contemplated retirement or bolting to the ABA. Chamberlain then expressed a desire to play in Los Angeles and suggested a trade. On paper, the deal made some sense from the Sixers' perspective, since general manager Jack Ramsay was not willing to risk letting Chamberlain get away for nothing. In the long run, however, the Sixers didn't get nearly enough in return.
After the 1967–68 season, head coach Alex Hannum bolted to the ABA, and Ramsay named himself head coach. He decided that Clark, Imhoff and Chambers would be part of a smaller, quicker, fast-breaking team. This plan had never truly materialized. Imhoff spent only two seasons with the 76ers, Clark spent three seasons and Chambers never played for Philadelphia after spending two years in the military before being traded. Luke Jackson suffered a major injury in 1969 and was never the same player after that. Chet Walker was dealt to the Chicago Bulls for Jim Washington, a role player.
Another contributing factor to the poor season was Philadelphia's first-round draft choices from 1967 through 1972. Selections such as Craig Raymond, Shaler Halimon, Bud Ogden, Harris Ahmad, Al Henry, Dana Lewis and Fred Boyd made no impact with the club, while Philadelphia passed on drafting future stars such as Nate Archibald and Calvin Murphy.
Ramsay did coax 55 victories out of the first 76ers team he coached in 1968–69. That number dipped into the 40s for the next two seasons and sunk even further to 30 in 1971–72—the first time they had missed the playoffs in franchise history (dating back to their tenure as the Syracuse Nationals).
|1972–73 Game Log|
Total: 9–73 (Home: 5–26 ; Road: 2–36 ; Neutral: 2–11)
October: 0–9 (Home: 0–4 ; Road: 0–5 ; Neutral: 0–0)
November: 2–13 (Home: 0–5 ; Road: 1–7 ; Neutral: 1–1)
December: 1–13 (Home: 1–4 ; Road: 0–6 ; Neutral: 0–3)
January: 1–16 (Home: 0–5 ; Road: 1–9 ; Neutral: 0–2)
February: 5–9 (Home: 4–1 ; Road: 0–6 ; Neutral: 1–2)
March: 0–13 (Home: 0–7 ; Road: 0–3 ; Neutral: 0–3)
Awards and records
- Wright, Kyle; The NBA from Top to Bottom: A History of the NBA from the No. 1 Team to the No. 1,153; pp. 74–87. ISBN 9780595697960
- Ferraro, Michael X.; Veneziano, John (2007). Numbelivable!. Chicago, Illinois: Triumph Books. p. 121. ISBN 978-1-57243-990-0.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-21. Retrieved 2010-10-07.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Perner, Mark (March 7, 2013). "Recalling the 9–73 Sixers of 1972–73". Philly.com.
- "Roy Rubin, 87, dies". New York Times. August 11, 2013.
- "The Spirit of the 76ers is willing...but the flesh is weak". January 8, 1973.
- From 68–13 to 9–73. (1972–73 Philadelphia 76ers)
- Ramsay, Jack (February 10, 2007). "Wilt's spirit was larger than life". Retrieved January 26, 2008.