Top to bottom in just 5 years

FILE PHOTO Wilt Chamberlain, accepting deal from Sixers owner Irv Kosloff.
FILE PHOTO Wilt Chamberlain, accepting deal from Sixers owner Irv Kosloff.
Posted: January 25, 2013

Sixth in a series of 13

THE NBA itself proclaimed the 1966-67 NBA champion 76ers the greatest team ever. And there were no arguments, it was that obvious. With four Hall of Fame players and a future Hall of Fame coach, a dynasty seemed a foregone conclusion.

But piece by piece, the team fell apart. Five years later, the 76ers were out of the playoffs and a year later, they were the worst team ever.

How did it go so bad so quickly?

"If I was giving you my assessment," said Ted Kosloff, the son of Sixers owner Irv Kosloff, "cutting costs and trying to run the business more profitably might have been a mistake."

There was also the curse of winning a championship.

"When the team won the championship," Ted Kosloff said, "everyone wanted more money. For the fans, it's great, they win the championship, but for the owners it becomes a financial disaster."

The first sneaker to drop was coach Alex Hannum. It was no secret that he wanted to go back to the West Coast where his two daughters lived. So, once the 1967-68 season ended, the mastermind, headed west and became the head coach of the ABA's Oakland Oaks.

The next Chuck Taylor to hit the floor was Wilt Chamberlain. With the exception of his short stay in San Francisco, Chamberlain was always looking to move. He left the University of Kansas early, he threatened retirement after his rookie year in the NBA and he was not happy as a 76er.

Word has it that Chamberlain and late co-owner Ike Richman had an agreement that Chamberlain would be given a piece of the team. Irv Kosloff, who became the sole owner following Richman's death in December 1965, was not honoring that agreement - if there ever was one.

Wilt wanted to go to New York or the West Coast. He was already commuting from New York to Philly. And LA was where he bought property for his parents to live.

The Sixers were painted into a corner. Chamberlain had not signed a contract for the 1968-69 season. He wanted out. He even threatened to go to the ABA. So when the Lakers' Jack Kent Cooke showed interest, a deal was struck and off to LA he went for journeyman center Darrall Imhoff, Jerry Chambers (who never played for the Sixers) and Archie Clark. The Sixers got the short end of the deal.

Another deal that led to the demise was the trading of Chet Walker to the Chicago Bulls for forward and Villanova grad Jim Washington. Walker continued his All-Star play in Chicago while Washington was mediocre at best.

There were also a front-office gaffe. After coach/GM Jack Ramsay dropped GM from his duties, the Sixers hired Don DeJardin as GM in 1970.

"He didn't know about sports," Ted Kosloff said. "He was more of a business-type person. You had to decide whether you wanted a sports person or a marketing person or a business person. And my dad went with the person he thought was the business person and it turns out it was a disaster and that's how we got to 9-73."

The selections of Craig Raymond, Shaler Halimon, Bud Ogden, Al Henry, Dana Lewis and Fred Boyd in successive drafts didn't help. And by 1972, the Sixers were 30-52, Ramsay was headed to Buffalo, Billy Cunningham had dashed to the ABA and Roy Rubin was named head coach.

Hello, 9-73.

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