Current Sixers need to channel the ’01 team

Dave Uram
March 02, 2020 - 9:41 am

The 2000-01 76ers is one of the most popular Philadelphia sports teams that didn’t win a championship. In fact, they’re arguably at the top of the list, featuring a generational superstar in Allen Iverson, along with a cast of Rocky-like role players in Aaron McKie, Eric Snow, Dikembe Mutombo (and before him Theo Ratliff and Toni Kukoc), Tyrone Hill, George Lynch, Jumaine Jones, Matt Geiger and Todd MacCuloch.

Look at the roster and pair it up next to that of the present day Sixers. Ask yourself who’s more talented, and you’ll find it’s not even close. Obviously Iverson is a Hall of Famer, and the best player from either team, but beyond that, the 2019-20 roster is exponentially better.

Related: Richardson critical of Sixers ‘heart’ after brutal loss

That being said, the 2001 Sixers finished 56-26, first in the East and made it to The NBA Finals. For the current squad to match or top that record, they’d have to go at least 19-2 over the final 21 regular season games. They might suffer three more losses this week.

The 2001 squad succeeded because Iverson was on a mission, he and Larry Brown finally connected, the role players complimented Iverson well enough and they played with a tremendous amount of guts. In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Bucks, an injured Iverson didn’t play, but this collection of “who’s that” nearly pulled off an upset.

Sunday at Staples Center was reminiscent of that, and if they pulled off an upset of the Clippers, it would’ve been because of the heart they played with—which has been absent from most of their road contests.

So, you can talk about on-court chemistry issues all you want. And it’s not like Shake Milton has to score 39 again on this road trip, although it will help. But if the Sixers, once Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons return, can play with the level of grit they showed over the weekend, especially when they’re not in South Philadelphia, there’s no reason they can’t make a deep run into May.

They have to prove Sunday wasn’t an aberration. They have to show they can channel that wonderful 2001 team.