It was a magical run 30 years ago.
It still is.
Though three decades have passed, the Philadelphia 76ers’ 1983 championship team is still regarded as one of the greatest in the history of this city. The players still get asked about that team virtually every day.
The Sixers haven’t won a title since, though they came close in 2001 when Allen Iverson nearly single-handedly carried them through the postseason. They came up short in a hard-fought, five-game series against the Lakers.
But the 1982-83 Sixers with Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Andrew Toney, Bobby Jones, etc., are beloved. And always will be.
“I think it’s great and I enjoy coming back as often as I can,” said Malone. “The fans here are amazing and I will always love them. That was a special season and it was the kind of season I expected when I got to Philly. I’m glad we got the title. I wish we could have done more, but we got that one. I will always remember it.”
Numerous players — including Clint Richardson, Franklin Edwards, Clemon Johnson, Reggie Johnson and former general manager Pat Williams – were honored at halftime of Sunday’s Cavaliers-Sixers game.
“It’s always great to come back here and it’s great to see all these friendly faces from that championship team,” said Erving, who currently works as a strategic advisor for the Sixers. “I challenged the Sixers’ organization when I retired to remain as a family and do all they could to get more championships. I am still hoping that’s the case in the future and I’m pulling for them all the time. Anything I can do to help, I told them that’s what I’m here for.”
After losing in the Finals in 1977, ’80 and ’82, the Sixers brought in Malone. He was the missing piece.
In 1982-83, the Sixers finished 65-17 and then proceeded to sweep the Knicks, win in five over the Bucks and then sweep the Lakers in four. If you’re counting, that’s a 12-1 playoff mark.
“I think we were all frustrated with how things had been in the past in coming so close and not winning it all,” said Cureton. “Coach (Billy) Cunningham kept us motivated all season and Moses took us through in the playoffs. Moses was like a man possessed in the playoffs. He just wanted it so bad and we fed off him. It was a great time in my life and the celebration still lives on 30 years later.”
Every player from that team revels in that 1982-83 season. The feeling never gets old.
“I arrived midway through the season and what a ride it was for me,” said Clemon Johnson. “I love these guys. It’s great seeing them. That season was as much fun as I’ve ever had in basketball.”