10 Greatest Nicknames in Philadelphia 76ers Franchise History

Matt BoczarContributor IIIAugust 9, 2011

10 Greatest Nicknames in Philadelphia 76ers Franchise History

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    For a professional athlete, receiving a nickname is a way to cement your legacy.

    No matter what happens for the rest of your career, your name has a chance of being remembered long after you retire from the game.

    Those players who have worn a Philadelphia 76ers uniform are no exception.

    From players who have had their first name replaced, to players whose nicknames instantly bring back fond memories from their playing days, the Sixers have had some of the greatest nicknames in NBA history.

    It seems as if the greater the player, the greater their nickname.

    This explains how the Sixers have had a Knight and a Doctor play for the team over the course of its history.

10. Craig Claxton: Speedy

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    Although Claxton only played one season with the Sixers, any nickname that takes the place of a player’s first name has to make the list.

    And the fact that the Sixers do not have a long list of players with great nicknames doesn’t hurt his chances, either.

    Claxton averaged 7.2 ppg in 22.8 minutes for the Sixers during the 2001-2002 season.

    The following year, Claxton won the NBA Championship as a member of the San Antonio Spurs.

    His career with the Sixers may not be memorable, but his nickname at least keeps him in the conversation

9. World B. Free

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    Just because someone has a nickname doesn’t mean they have to legally change their name.

    Unless that someone is World B. Free.

    By 1980, the player formerly known as Lloyd Bernard Free had changed his name to World, after being given the nickname in junior high.

    After reportedly pulling off a 360-dunk, and in addition to having a 44-inch vertical leap, Free’s game was said to be “All World.”

    From that day, there was no turning back.

    Free averaged 11.5 ppg in four seasons with the Sixers, his highest mark coming during the 1976-1977 season when he posted 16.3 a night.

    But, with a name like that, it’s easy for statistics to become overshadowed.

8. Joe Bryant: Jellybean

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    When your son is Kobe Bryant, your career might get overlooked.

    Joe Bryant did, however, play four seasons for the Sixers.

    Jellybean Bryant averaged 6 ppg with the team in 287 games.  He would go on to play 8 seasons in the NBA.

    Since his playing days, Bryant has become a coach in Europe, at the college level, and in the WNBA with the Los Angeles Sparks.

    However, it seems as if Bryant is remembered for just about everything except his playing days.

7. Andrew Toney: The Boston Strangler

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    Any Sixers nickname that is earned through great performances against the Boston Celtics is an instant classic.

    Andrew Toney saw his points per game average increase each year for his first three seasons in the league.

    But it was the two-time All Star’s playoff performances versus the Celtics that earned him his nickname as the Boston Strangler.

    Following a rookie season in which he averaged 12.9 ppg, Toney witnessed a considerable jump to 19.1 ppg against the Celtics in the 1981 Eastern Conference Finals.

    The nest season, Toney scored 25 points in a single quarter against the Celtics in the playoffs.

    However, it was his 34 point game seven performance in the 1982 Eastern Conference Finals that earned him the nickname the Boston Strangler. 

    Toney, along with Julius Erving, would win the NBA Championship in 1983, following the addition of center Moses Malone.

    Toney’s career 17.4 ppg with the Sixers along with multiple playoff feats versus the Celtics earned him his nickname, as well as a place in 76ers history.

6. Billy Cunningham: The Kangaroo Kid

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    Known for his jumping capabilities, Cunningham combined with Wilt Chamberlain and Hal Greer to bring the 76ers franchise its first ever NBA Championship.

    Cunningham made four all star teams with the Sixers while averaging close to 18 ppg with the team.

    Cunningham saw his ppg average increase every year from the 1965-1966 season until 1969-1970.

    Even after his playing days were over, Cunningham was still winning championships for the franchise.

    Cunningham coached the 1983 Sixers team featuring Julius Erving and Moses Malone that won the second championship in franchise history.

    Any player who wins a championship both as a player and a coach has to have their nickname remembered as one of the greatest in franchise history.

5. Allen Iverson: The Answer

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    From his selection as the number one overall pick in the 1996 draft, to his crossover of Michael Jordan during his rookie year, to his MVP season in 2001, Iverson’s legacy is forever cemented in 76ers history.

    The 10-time All Star averaged over 28 ppg in 697 career games with the Sixers.

    Iverson answered the calls from Sixers fans to lead the franchise back to the NBA Finals, while also allowing them to witness some of the greatest moments in the team’s history.

4. Charles Barkley: The Round Mound of Rebound

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    Has a nickname ever been more fitting?

    Barkley received his nickname for his performance both on and off the court.

    Sir Charles averaged over 23 ppg in his career with the Sixers, as well as over 11 rebounds.

    He’s one of only four players to accumulate at least 20,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, and 4,000 assists in their career.

    And he has one of the greatest nicknames of all time.

3. Wilt Chamberlain: The Big Dipper

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    Only a player considered one of the greatest of all time can have two nicknames stick.

    And that’s exactly the case when it comes to Wilt Chamberlain.

    However, he only cared for one: the Big Dipper.

    Given to him by friends who said he had to dip his head to fit through doorways, the Big Dipper is one of the few nicknames about his height that Chamberlain didn’t mind.

    Wilt the Stilt, on the other hand?

    Not so much.

    Arguably one of the greatest players of all time, Chamberlain averaged 28 ppg with the Sixers, as well as over 23 rpg.

    Chamberlain won the league’s MVP award three times with the Sixers, while also leading them to the 1967 NBA Championship.

    With a career like that, Chamberlain can have any nickname he wants.

2. Darryl Dawkins: Chocolate Thunder

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    For a guy who named each of his dunks, surely he gave himself the nickname “Chocolate Thunder,” right?

    Wrong.

    Dawkins received his nickname from none other than Stevie Wonder.

    Wonder, while attending Dawkins’ games, would have a friend describe the action to him.  When describing the game and the many dunks performed by Dawkins, Wonder’s friend would always describe Dawkins as the “chocolate guy” who just threw down another “thunder dunk.”

    From there, the nickname stuck.

    Dawkins averaged over 17 ppg and 10 rpg during his seven seasons with the Sixers.

    But being given one of the greatest nicknames of all time from a person who never even saw him play may be a bigger accomplishment.

1. Julius Erving: Dr. J

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    Like there was any doubt.

    The Hall of Famer got his nickname at an early age.

    Growing up, Erving had a friend who he said could outtalk just about anyone.  Due to his lecture-like talks, Erving began calling him the Professor.  His friend, in turn, started calling Erving the Doctor so that they both had professional sounding nicknames.

    Once Erving started playing professional basketball, the nickname was shortened to Dr. J.

    After watching Erving defy gravity for various dunks and scoring opportunities over the course of his career, it’s easy to see how one might use a Doctor’s precision to describe Erving.

    The 1980-1981 MVP averaged 21.8 ppg with the Sixers, while leading them to the 1983 NBA Championship.

    Erving is not only one of the greatest players to ever play for the 76ers, but he also has the greatest nickname in the franchise’s history.

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