Philly has had a love-hate relationship with all of the Sixers' owners

Posted: June 08, 2011

Perhaps because Philadelphia has such a long and fascinating history as a professional basketball city, we sometimes forget that the 76ers are not yet 50 years old.

Eighty years the Phillies' junior, 30 years younger than the Eagles, they came into being - transplanted from Syracuse - in 1963 as a replacement for the departed Warriors. The two-time NBA champion Warriors were sold to a San Francisco businessman in 1962, just months after Wilt Chamberlain had scored 100 points in a game for them.

Now, if as reports Tuesday indicated, the Sixers could be sold again, to a New Yorker, it would be the first time a non-Philadelphian has led this once-proud franchise.

Each of the 76ers' four owners has enjoyed highs and lows. Not surprisingly, the city's fans have experienced a love-hate relationship with them all.

They loved Irv Kosloff, the successful paper manufacturer who, with the help of attorney Ike Richman, bought the Syracuse Nationals in May 1963 and relocated them, ending the NBA's one-year absence here.

They loved him even more when, in 1964, Kosloff brought Chamberlain back to the 7-foot-1 superstar's hometown and, in 1967, when his 76ers compiled a then-record 68-13 mark and captured an NBA championship.

They hated, him, though, when, after the 1967-68 season, he again exiled Chamberlain to California. The greatly diminished Sixers eventually became the league's laughingstock, losing an all-time NBA-worst 73 games in 1973.

They loved Fitz Eugene Dixon because the aristocratic Widener family heir, who bought the team from Kosloff in 1976, possessed deeper pockets than his predecessor.

They hated him, though, because, for all the success and spectacle of his Julius Erving-led teams, the Sixers continued to come up short against the Celtics and Lakers.

They loved Harold Katz when, in 1983, two years after the Nutrisystem founder bought the team from Dixon, the Sixers won their first NBA title in 16 years.

They hated him, though, when the brash and meddlesome Katz traded Moses Malone and drafted Shawn Bradley, ushering in another dark period of pro basketball in Philadelphia.

They loved Comcast-Spectacor, which purchased the team from Katz in April 1996 with Ed Snider as team chairman and Pat Croce as team president, when the Philly corporation immediately drafted Allen Iverson. Iverson would drive up long-stagnant attendance figures and lead Philadelphia to a 2001 NBA Finals loss against Los Angeles.

They hated Comcast-Spectacor, though, when a series of bad coaching hires and worse draft picks again sent the team tumbling back into the NBA pack.


Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at 215-854-5068, ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com, or @philafitz on Twitter. Read his blog, "Giving 'em Fitz," at www.philly.com/fitz

 

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