1976-1979 Philadelphia 76ers
ABA stars Julius Erving and Caldwell Jones sign with Philadelphia in time for the 1976-77 season
The success of the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association in the late-1970s was largely due to two prominent stars of the ABA joining the team when the two pro leagues merged prior to the 1976-1977 season. To be sure, when All-Star forward Julius Erving and center Caldwell Jones came over from the ABA and joined playmaker guard Doug Jones and former ABA star forward, George McGinnis, and a group of other fine team players including veteran NBA players Henry Bibby and Harvey Catchings, the 76ers shifted into high gear and ended in first place in the Atlanta Division of the Eastern Conference. Also starting to task on a big role in the 76ers offense was second-year players, center Darryl Dawkins and guard World B Free.
Philadelphia's 50-32 regular season record brought fans to their feet during every home game. In the postseason playoffs that followed, the Sixers wore down the Celtics in seven games before losing to the eventual NBA Champion Portland in 6 games. After the postseason it was announced that forwards Julius Erving and George McGinnis were chosen second team All-Stars.
New head coach Billy Cunningham takes over. Even though the Philadelphia 76ers rolled to a 55-27 regular season record and Julius Erving was chosen as a first team NBA All-Star and they swept the NY Knicks in the Eastern Conference semifinal, Philadelphia was defeated in six games in the East Finals by a Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes and Bob Dandridge led Washington Bullets, the eventual National Basketball Association Champion. Julius Erving Erving was selected first team All-Star for the regular season.
A disappointing season for Sixers' fans who were eagerly awaiting another shot at a NBA title. One of the bright spots was when rookie guard Maurice Cheeks, 8.4 ppg and 5.3 assists pg, and guard Bobby Jones joined the team from Denver. The pair played with Doug Collins in the guards positions. After posting a 47-35 regular season record, 2nd place in back-of Washington in the Atlanta Division during the 1978-79 postseason first round Philly swept the New Jersey Nets in a 2-games set, but then lost to the San Antonio Spurs in seven games in the conference semi-finals.
Another fine regular season for the Philadelphia 76ers as Julius Erving, (first team All-Star) Maurice Cheeks, Caldwell Jones and Bobby Jones led the team to a 56-23 record, second place in the Atlanta Conference behind Boston. An opening round 2-game sweep by the Sixers over Washington and things were looking good for Philly fans. A rout of the Atlanta Hawks in five games followed. When the 76ers routed the Celtics in 5 games in the Eastern Conference Finals things were looking even better for fans and head coach Billy Cunningham.
1979-80 NBA Championship - 76ers vs LA Lakers
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and rookie Magic Johnson led the Lakers during the first four games which were tied at 2-apiece. Kareem injuried an ankle in Game 5 while scoring 40 points en-route to a Los Angeles 108-103 victory. Magic Johnson was inserted into Kareem's center position in Game 6 and Magic Johnson came thru with a brilliant 42 points and 15 rebounds performance and a 123-101 Boston win over Philadelphia, and a NBA Title for LA. Rookie Magic Johnson was voted the 1979-1980 NBA Tournament's Most Valuable Player with Abdul-Jabbar a close second in the voting.
NBA Basketball History Philadelphia 76ers History
Hall of Fame Forward, Virginia Squires, ABA, 1971-72,1972-73; New York Nets, ABA, 1973-74 thru 1975-76; Philadelphia 76ers, NBA, 1976-77 thru 1986-87
Julius Erving draws comparrision to the all-time great players in basketball history. Although a bit of a showman with outstanding movement thru the air (all-the-way from-the free throw line) and dunks with a flair, he was above all a team player and a winner.
As a rookie in training camp in 1971 with the Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association, Julius Erving first picked up his nickname of Dr J when former teammate Willie Sojourner would declare, "There's the doctor digging into his bag again," whenever Julius would come up with a new dunk.
As a rookie Julius Erving scored a resounding 27.3 points per game and gathered 16 rebounds per game, and posted a torrid 32 points per, 20 rebounds per and 7 assists per game in the playoffs. As a sophomore he led the ABA with 31.9 points per game average.
Unhappy with his contract, which deferred a lot of money, Erving demanded and was traded to the New York Nets, ABA, prior to the 1973-74 season. During his tenure in the ABA, Julius Erving helped his teams win two (2) ABA Championships, won 3 scoring titles and was voted twice the ABA's Most Valuable Player, MVP.
When the ABA merged into the NBA in 1975-1976, Julius signed with the Philadelphia 76ers. In his first NBA season, he averaged a splendid 27 ppg, scored 30 points in the All-Star Game, and was voted the MVP. Julius Erving was the mainman of success of the 1981-82 Philadelphia Warriors who were runner-up in the NBA, losing to Lakers in the Finals, 4-games to 2. For his resounding season he was voted the NBA's 1981-1982 MVP.
In 1982-83, Julius Erving along with Moses Malone and their teammates led the 76ers to a 65 win regular season record, then went 12-1 in the playoffs to win the NBA Title.
Julius Erving career scoring in the NBA, he notched 24 ppg, 8 rebounds pg, and 4 assists. Combining the ABA and NBA, he compiled 30,026 points, making him at his retirement the highest scoring forward in pro basketball history.
Sports editor Joe Balazs contributed to this bio.
Center - San Diego & Kentucky & St. Louis of the ABA 1973-74 thru 1975-76; NBA Teams - Philadelphia 76ers 1976-77 thru 1981-82; Houston Rockets 1982-83 1983-84; Chic Bulls 1984-85; Portland Trail Blazers 1985-86 thru 1988-89; San Antonio Spurs 1989-90
A well-regarded basketball player, Caldwell Jones was noted for his rebounding abilities and quick hands under the basket on defense - 7,683 career rebounds. After starring at Albany State (in Georgia), he played in the America Basketball Association, ABA, during his first three seasons in professional basketball, 1973-74 thru 1975-76. As an ABA rookie Caldwell Jones scored a very solid 15.0 points per game and led the league in turnovers caused with 316.
In 1976-77 when the ABA and NBA merged, Caldwell Jones signed with the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA and helped them make the playoffs six consecutive seasons, 1976-77 thru 1981-82.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s Caldwell Jones' gutsy rebounding paved the way to the 76ers' successes. In 1979-80 he averaged 11.9 rebounds per game, fourth highest in the NBA which helped Philadelphia go all-the-way to the NBA Finals before losing in 6 games to the LA Lakers. In 1981-82 his' role helped Philly again go to the NBA Finals, where again they lost in 6 games to LA.
Caldwell Jones played from 1973-74 thru 1989-90, career stats: 6589 points in 1086 games, 2554 FGM, 5395 FGA, .473 pct, 2042 Offensive rebounds, 5621 Def Reb, 7663 total Reb. 6.2 points per/game, 7.2 rpg.
Caldwell Jones postseason stats: 827 points, 1087 rebounds in 125 games, spanning 13 postseason tournaments.
Forward - Indiana Pacers ABA 1971-72 thru 1974-75; NBA Teams - Philadelphia 76ers 1975-76 thru 1977-78; Denver Nuggets 1978-79, 1979-80; Indiana Pacers 1979-80 thru 1981-82
A great athlete, the 6-ft, 8-inch, 235-pound George McGinnis starred in both basketball and football at George Washington High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. Recruited by over 300 colleges for his football abilities, the young George McGinnis, who averaged 32.5 points per game in high school was undecided which college he would attend. When his father, Burnie, a carpenter who was 6' 7", was killed when he fell off a scaffold, the young George McGinnis went into depression. His mom, Willie, 5' 10", convinced him to attend Indiana U as his father had hoped he would.
George McGinnis chose Indiana University on a basketball scholarship. As a sophomore with the Hoosiers he led the Big Ten Conference in scoring with a robust 29.9 points per game. Leaving college after his second year, he inked a contract with the Indiana Pacers of the American Basketball Association, ABA, for a $45,000 bonus, a $50,000 per/yr salary plus enough money to buy three autos.
A muscular and very limber forward, George McGinnis went after a ball like it was his prize possession. He led the ABA 3 straight seasons in turnovers caused while leading the Pacers to the ABA postseason playoffs, 1972-73 thru 1974-75, and led the National Basketball Association, NBA, once while playing for the Denver Nuggets in 1978-79.
Opposing players fouled McGinnis constantly to keep him from shooting field goals. He led the ABA once with 545 free throws made and three consecutive years in FTA, 1972-1975.
George played in eight postseason playoffs, scoring 2153 points, grabbed 1228 rebounds, 404 assists, 93 steals in 104 games. In his second ABA season he was chosen the 1972 ABA Playoff MVP when he helped the Indiana Pacers win the Championship.
In 1974-1975 George McGinnis set unbroken 20th century Indiana Pacers records in the following categories - 58 points in one game, 37 rebounds in a game, and 29.8 points per game for the regular season. For his splendid efforts he shared the 1974-75 ABA MVP Award with Julius Erving. From his second professional season, 1972-73 thru 1978-79 he averaged over 20 ppg (7 seasons).
After playing a very solid role for three seasons in the 76ers successes, Philadelphia traded George McGinnis to the Denver Nuggets for forward Bobby Jones. For Denver McGinnis had two fine seasons before being traded to the Indiana Pacers, who were in the NBA during this time-frame. George played 11 pro seasons and compiled 2765 turnovers created before retiring at age 31.
George McGinnis regular season stats: 17009 points in 842 games, 6381 FGM in 13949 FGA, a .458 pct., 4164 FTM in 6267 FTA, .664 pct, 3143 ORB, 6090 DFR, 9233 Total Rebounds, 3089 assists, 3220 fouls, 1448 steals, 332 blocks, 2765 TO, 20.2n ppg, 11.0 rpg, 3.7 apg.
Center - Philadelphia 76ers 1974-75 thru 1978-79; New Jersey Nets 1978-79; Milwaukee Bucks 1979-80 thru 1983-84; Los Angeles Clippers 1984-85
A noted team-player and a defensive-minded ballhawking center, Harvey Catchings joined the Philadelphia 76ers of National Basketball Association after a stellar college career with the Hardin-Simmons basketball team.
The 6-ft 9 inch, 218-pounder fit right in with 76ers' head coach Gene Shue defensive-style of ballhawking. Helping the team win - Harvey Catchings was an important spoke-in-the-wheel, role player with the Sixers during the late-1970s and helped Philadelphia reach three straight NBA playoffs, 1975-76 thru 1977-78, including the Finals of the 1976-77 NBA Champion Series. In his NBA career, he posted a robust 1227 block shots in 725 games.
In all, Harvey Catchings played in nine NBA postseasons, including five straight with the Milwaukee Bucks . He played 556 minutes, scored 74 points, 154 rebounds in 53 games.
Harvey Catching stats: 2335 points, 3.2 ppg in 725 games, 926 FGM, 2127 FGA, .435 pct, 483 FTM, 747 FGA, .647 pct., an even 2000 rebounds, 5.0 rpg.
1977-1978 NBA All-Stars
Leonard Robinson, Julius Erving, Bill Walton, George Gervin and David Thompson topped the list of NBA All-Stars
NBA All-Stars 1977-78 selected by a panel of writers and broadcasters
First Team All-Stars:
Leonard Robinson, forward New Orleans; Julius Erving, forward Philadelphia; Bill Walton, center Portland; George Gervin, guard San Antonio; David Thompson, guard Denver
Second Team All-Stars:
Walter Davis, forward Phoenix; Maurice Lucas, forward Portland; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, center LA Lakers; Paul Westphal, guard Phoenix; Pete Maravich, guard New Orleans
Guard - Philadelphia 76ers 1973-1974 thru 1980-1981... US Olympic Basketball Team 1972
The most decorated athlete in Illinois State University history, Doug Collins was a star on the 1972 USA Olympic team and a Consensus All-American in 1973, plus he was selected one of the 1973 NCAA Top Five Athletes.
Doug Collins earned Illinois State Redbirds school athletic letters three straight years and averaged a torrid 29.1 points in three seasons at Illinois State U, located in Bloominton-Normal.
Doug Collins was the No 1 player selected in the National Basketball Association 1973 draft (by the Philadelphia 76ers). An instant success in the NBA playing at the guard position, he made second team NBA All-Rookie Team in 1973-74. He played his entire NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers. An accurate basketball shooter, he made over 50% of his field goals attempted and averaged over 12 points per game every season from 1974-75 thru 1980-81. In 32 NBA postseason playoff games he scored 687 points, for a very solid 21.5 points per game average.
Doug Collins career stats: 7427 points in 415 games, 2927 FGM, 5839 FGA, a .501 pct. 1573 FTA, 1888 FTA, .833 pct, 1339 rebounds, 1368 assists, 1245 PF, 518 steals, 19.9 points per game, 3.2 rpg, 3.3 apg.
After playing nine years in the NBA, he moved into the coaching ranks. Doug Collins has been the head coach of the Chicago Bulls 1986-87 thru 1988-89, Detroit Pistons 1995-96 thru 1997-98, and for the Washington Wizards starting in 2001-2002
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