Sixers legend Cunningham optimistic about current squad

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Billy Cunningham was the last 76ers coach to ride on a float down Broad Street.

Do the math.

It was way back in 1983.

Cunningham attended the Sixers’ home-opener Saturday night, which turned out to be a 114-96 loss to the Miami Heat.

The Sixers are a long way from the glory days of ’83.

Following a 19-63 season, the Sixers are off to an 0-3 start while featuring the youngest roster in the entire league. So there will be plenty more growing pains throughout this 2014-15 season.

Cunningham doesn’t enjoy watching his former team lose so often.

“Hopefully, the two big kids (Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid) will be healthy through their careers, and they won’t have chronic injuries where they are out an extended period of time,” Cunningham said.

In the meantime, the Sixers are busy acquiring assets and building through the draft. But it may be a while before they’re back competing in the playoffs.

“I tell you what, I tip my hat that they have the fortitude to try it,” Cunningham said. “I don’t think I would have had the fortitude to try it.”

The ‘82-83 team coached by Cunningham was star-driven with Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones.

Cunningham also has experience building a team from the very beginning as he did with the Heat as a minority owner.

In the first season, the Heat won only 15 games.

“First of all you have to find a star, like a Julius Erving or Moses Malone,” Cunningham said about putting a team together. “Then you have to find people that complement them, so this is a long process. It is not going to be just the draft. It will be with free agents and maybe some trades. It is not easy.”

No matter what happens, Cunningham will always be tied to the Sixers.

“I have been working with Scott O’Neil and Tim McDermott with regards to the Wilt Chamberlain Foundation,” Cunningham said. “Hopefully the 76ers will be taking over the Wilt Chamberlain Foundation and growing it into something bigger and better than it is today.”

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