The NBA Hall of Fame opens its doors to five more inductees in 2009, and with 11 players already with ties to the 76ers, it got me thinking of players that have had a huge hand in this organization but might never make it to Springfield, Massachusetts. So let’s count down the Top 10 unsung heroes of the Philadelphia 76ers franchise.
Acquired on Jan 18, 1998, from Seattle for a second round pick, Eric Snow was almost immediately inserted as the starting point guard of the Iverson era. He played a total of 452 games in a successful seven seasons with the Sixers.
The 6-3 guard was a key component of the 2000-01 Sixers team that made a run to the NBA Finals. In the playoffs, he averaged 9.3 PPG and 4.5 APG, and he hit the game winning shot in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Hersey Hawkins was acquired on draft night in 1988 after being picked sixth overall and made an immediate impact. In his rookie season “The Hawk” gave the Sixers the deep threat they craved to balance out Charles Barkley. Hawkins averaged 15.1 PPG, shooting 42.8 percent from long range on his way to being named first team NBA All-Rookie team. In 1991, the 6-3 guard was named to his only NBA All-Star game averaging a 22.1 PPG.
Darryl Dawkins, the man that named his dunks the Rim Wrecker, the Go-Rilla, the Look Out Below, the In-Your-Face Disgrace, the Cover Your Head, famously broke two back boards. He was a staple of the Sixers franchise in the early 1980s.
The Sixers drafted him with the fifth overall pick in 1975, the first player to come to the NBA right out of high school. Chocolate Thunder averaged double digits in points during five of the seven seasons he played in Philadelphia. T
he center of attention, who once said he was from the planet Lovetron, was always good for a quote and even led the team to the 1980 NBA Finals.
"The mayor" Steve Mix, who later was known for being the TV analyst for the Sixers, also had a successful nine year run as a player. The 6-7 forward had 1,318 offensive rebounds in a Sixers uniform which is good for fourth on the all-time list and 851 steals, fifth on the all-time list.
In 1975 Mix had his best statistical season where he averaged 15.6 points, and 10.9 rebounds a game, and was named to the NBA All-Star team. Mix will be always remembered for his 13 years as a broadcaster but also should be known for his play on the court.
In West Philadelphia born and raised, Aaron McKie went from Temple stud to Sixers unsung hero. On a team that of course featured “The Answer”, Mckie would do the dirty work and was named sixth man of the year in the 2000-01 season.
Traded back to the city he called home in 1997, this former first round pick flourished in his role with Larry Brown’s Sixers. While his career numbers are not as high as others on this list, he is the definition of unsung hero coming off the bench and contributing big time minutes.
Doug Collins is best known for his run as head coach of Jordan’s Bulls before they got good, but the reality is Collins was a pretty good basketball player. Selected first overall in the 1973 NBA Draft, he would become a four-time All-Star in his eight-year NBA career all in Philadelphia. He was also a big part of the team that lost the 1976-77 NBA Finals.
Robert Clyde Jones was the guy that would give blood, sweat, and tears to a basketball team. “If I was going to ask a youngster to model after someone, I would pick Bobby Jones,” commented Hall of Fame teammate Julius Erving.
The 6-9 big time forward had a successful eight-year run in the City of Brotherly Love, and was an eight-time 1st team NBA All-Defensive team. He was a huge part of the 1983 Championship team winning the first ever NBA sixth man award.
The Sixers had been to the NBA Finals but could not get over the hump to become champions of basketball. Then came Andrew Toney, the 6-3 two guard selected 8th overall in the 1980 NBA Draft.
Nicknamed “The Boston Strangler” for his clutch performances against the Sixers bitter rivals, Toney in his short 8-year career averaged 15.9 PPG, 4.2 APG, and shot 50 percent from the field for his career.
Always called “the other guy” on the talented NBA championship team of Wilt Chamberlin, Billy Cunnigham and Hal Greer, Chet Walker was a great NBA player. The 6-6 guard was a key part of the 1966-67 NBA title team, a season that saw him average 19.3 PPG. Chet “The Jet” was a perennial All-Star and an unsung hero of a team some consider the greatest in NBA history.
Maurice Cheeks was the floor general of the Sixers for 11 seasons and led the team to three trips to the NBA Finals in four years. This second round pick of the 1978 NBA Draft is the Sixers All-Time leader in assists (6,212) and steals (1.942) and third all-time in games played (853).
“Mo” was also named to four NBA All-Star games and named to the NBA first team All-Defensive team four times. Cheeks will also go down in Sixers history with the game ending dunk to seal the 1983 NBA Championship.