1976–77 Philadelphia 76ers season
|1976–77 Philadelphia 76ers season|
|Julius Erving's debut season|
|Head coach||Gene Shue|
|General manager||Pat Williams|
|Place||Division: 1st (Atlantic)
Conference: 1st (Eastern)
|Playoff finish||NBA Finals
(Eliminated by Trail Blazers 2–4)
|Television||PRISM Network, WKBS|
The 1976–77 NBA season was the 28th season for the franchise in the NBA. Just months earlier, the American Basketball Association had ended its ninth and last campaign and the two leagues combined. In a special $6 million deal, the Nets sold Julius Erving, the ABA's leading scorer, to the Philadelphia 76ers for $3 million. The other $3 million went to Erving, by way of a new contract. In Philadelphia, Erving joined another scoring machine, George McGinnis, who had come over earlier from the Indiana Pacers. This accumulation of talent brought talk of an immediate championship to Philadelphia.
The talented 76ers had posted the best record in the Eastern Conference with a record of 50–32. Gene Shue was the coach and his key players were Erving (the esteemed Dr. J), McGinnis and 6-foot-6 shooting guard Doug Collins. Other key contributors included point guard Henry Bibby and World B. Free. Caldwell Jones started at center with 20-year-old Darryl Dawkins, also known as "Chocolate Thunder," in a backup role. The reserve forwards were Steve Mix, Harvey Catchings and Joe Bryant. The Sixers beat the Boston Celtics and the Houston Rockets in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, but lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 4–2, after winning the first 2 games.
Philadelphia 76ers roster
|New York Knicks||40||42||.488||10|
|New York Nets||22||60||.268||28|
Record vs. opponents
|1976–77 NBA Records|
|Fri, Oct 22, 1976||San Antonio Spurs||118–121||Loss||0–1||Lost 1|
|Sat, Oct 23, 1976||@ Buffalo Braves||105–108||Loss||0–2||Lost 2|
|Tue, Oct 26, 1976||@ New Orleans Jazz||111–101||Win||1–2||Lost 1|
Philly started the postseason on a strong note. The 76ers defeated the defending world champion Boston Celtics in an exciting 7 game series. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the 76ers defeated the Houston Rockets in 6 tough games.
The Finals opened in the Spectrum on Sunday, May 22. The 76ers seemed unbeatable after the first two games. Erving opened Game 1 with a stupendous dunk off the opening tip. He finished with 33 points and Collins had 30 as Philadelphia won 107–101. The Blazers were rattled enough to commit 34 turnovers. Walton finished with 28 points and 20 rebounds. In Game 2 four nights later, the Sixers won handily, 107–89. Jones and Dawkins handled Walton easily, while the Sixers dominated in the second quarter, scoring 14 points in one three-minute stretch on their way to a 61–43 halftime lead. The game became very physical with about five minutes left. First, Portland's Lloyd Neal and McGinnis squared off, followed by Lucas and Dawkins trading elbows. In Game 3, played on Sunday, May 29, Lucas strode directly to the Philadelphia bench, then startled everybody, including Dawkins, by sticking out his hand for a shake. The Blazers had a high scoring attack to win the game. Lucas himself contributed 27 points and 12 rebounds. Walton had a mere nine assists, 20 points, and 18 rebounds. Twardzik, too, had returned to speed, driving the Portland offense along to a 42-point fourth quarter. They won in a blaze, 129–107, closing the series gap to 2–1. In Game 4, Portland opened up a quick 17-point lead, then cruised to a 130–98 win. Walton was sent to the bench with five fouls in the third. With a little more than eight minutes left in Game 5, Portland led 91–69 and the crowd was headed home. Erving rallied the Sixers to make it respectable at the end, 110–104. He had managed 37 points in the game, but the Blazers were one game away from their first title. Gross scored 25 points to lead the Blazers, while Lucas had 20 with 13 rebounds. Walton finished with 24 rebounds and 14 points. In the sixth and deciding game, Walton had 20 points, 23 rebounds, eight blocks and seven assists. The Portland lead was still 12 with just half of the fourth quarter left when Erving led his teammates on one final run. At the four-minute mark, the lead was cut to four, 102–98. McGinnis came through with a jumper, and the lead was only two points with 18 seconds left. The Sixers needed a turnover, and they finally got it from McGinnis, who was able to force a jump ball with Gross. With eight seconds remaining, Erving put up a jumper in the lane but missed. Free got the ball and lofted a baseline shot and missed too. With a second left, McGinnis tried to force a seventh and deciding game but he missed. Walton knocked the loose ball away and ripped off his drenched jersey, and hurled it into the delirious crowd.
This championship loss is especially noted because it would be where the 25-year championship drought for the city of Philadelphia between the time the 76ers won the 1983 NBA Championship until the Phillies won the 2008 World Series had its roots. This loss began a losing streak of championships by the city's teams during presidential inauguration years. 1989 is the only inauguration year in which no Philadelphia sports team made or lost a championship.
Awards and honors
- Julius Erving, NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award
- George McGinnis, All-NBA Second Team
- Julius Erving, All-NBA Second Team
- NBA.com: Walton, Lucas Ignite 'Blazermania'
- Lelinwalla, Mark (September 11, 2015). "'NBA 2K16': All The Classic Teams Announced". Tech Times. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
- 1976–77 NBA Season Summary – Basketball-Reference.com
- 1976–77 Philadelphia 76ers Games – Basketball-Reference.com
- Warren, Ken (June 2, 2010). "Two cities that could use a CUP". Ottawa Citizen. p. B3.