The Philadelphia 76ers from the late 1960s are considered one of the best NBA teams in history. In fact, the team was able to secure playoff appearances each and every season between 1950 and 1970. Though the team is nowhere near as successful as it was in its beginning years, the history of the team is quite impressive. Now it’s time to learn everything you didn't know about the team known as the Sixers.
The Beginning Years
The Philadelphia 76ers have one of the most interesting backstories in all of NBA history. In 1946, an immigrant by the name of Danny Biasone spent a mere $5,000 to secure a National Basketball League (NBL) franchise up in Syracuse, New York. The team’s first season was rather successful for a brand new team, boasting a 21-23 record as the Syracuse Nationals.
By the second season, Leo Ferris was added to the roster and Al Cervi played a pivotal role as a player-coach. The team ended the second season in the NBL with a cool 40-23 record. Yet, the team didn’t last in the NBL for long, transitioning over to the newly-formed NBA in 1949. The team’s first season in this new league was an impressive 51-13, but the team ultimately fell to the Lakers 4-2 in the Finals.
During the 1951 and 1952 seasons with the NBA, the Nationals found themselves up against their in-state rivals, the New York Knicks. Despite losing to the Knicks in the division finals over two consecutive seasons, the Nationals advanced to the NBA Finals against the Lakers again. The Nationals lost to the Lakers in a tough game 7, but eventually returned to the Finals during the 1955 season and proved superior to the Fort Wayne Pistons.
After the Nationals won their first NBA title against the Pistons, they suffered through a stream of average playing. The team was then sold to investors by the names of Ike Richman and Irv Kosloff in 1963. The Nationals relocated to Philadelphia and desperately needed a new name to match the move. Based on the history of Philadelphia, the name “76ers” was chosen as a nod to the area being home to the singing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
In 1964, the team’s bad luck turned around greatly thanks to the drafting of superstar Wilt Chamberlain. The 1967 season was the most impressive yet, ending with a record of franchise-high 68-13. This brought the Philadelphia 76ers to the NBA Finals once more and allowed the team to clinch its first championship since 1955 against the Warriors.
The 1970s were troublesome for Philadelphia’s new basketball team. The Sixers were unable to see the playoffs in the 1972 season and struggled greatly until the team added players like Charles Barkley and Julius Erving. The 76ers made it to the NBA Finals 4 times between 1977 and 1983, securing their third NBA Championship against the Lakers in just 4 games in 1983.
The 76ers have gone through plenty of logos in the 74 years since the team was first established in Syracuse.
1966 - 1970
Between 1966 and 1970, the newly-formed Philadelphia 76ers wore a mostly white jersey with the city name written in shorthand (Phila) using red lettering.
1976 - 1978
In 1976, the 76ers adopted a mostly blue jersey. The jersey used the name “Sixers” on the front in white lettering with a red border and had a thick white stripe down each side with red stars.
1978 - 1991
The jersey worn between 1978 and 1991 was very similar to the previous jersey worn. Instead, this jersey was red, letters were outlined in blue, and there were no stripes down the side.
1991 - 1994
In an interesting turn, the 1991 jersey was the most American themed yet. It had a mostly white design with 13 stars falling under the name “Philadelphia Sixers.”
1994 - 1997
The 1994 jersey was a bit tamer. It was mostly white with red lettering for “Sixers” and a blue border. The coloring of the number was the opposite of the letters.
1997 - 2009
From 1997 to 2009 the 76ers wore a mostly black jersey for the first time in franchise history. This jersey sported the new logo at the time with the swooshing basketball and a star replacing the letter “I” in “Sixers.”
2009 - 2016
The new 2009 jersey for the 76ers was much more simple. It was entirely red with basic collegiate white lettering spelling out “Sixers.”
2016 - 2019
The jersey released for the first time in 2016 is mostly blue with “Phila” written on the front in a similar font to the previous jersey. There appears to be a white stripe down the side with blue stars.
The Sixers’ current jersey is slightly updated with a darker blue and different lettering in the “PHILA.”