Position by Position: The Best 76ers Ever – Small Forward

The-Best-Sixers-EverDespite current appearances to the contrary, the Philadelphia 76ers have long been a proud NBA franchise with a rich history. In the midst of this miserable winter and this very difficult season, we thought it might be fun to look back a bit, and come up with the best Sixers of all time. We have selected Maurice Cheeks as our point guard and today we look at the small forward position.

Small Forward – Andre Iguodala vs. Julius Erving

Andre Iguodala
Over the years, small forward has not been a position of strength for the Sixers franchise (with one very notable exception). So while he may fall into the category of “the tallest midget at the circus”, today we take a close look at Andre Iguodala.

Drafted 9th overall by the Sixers in 2004, Andre Iguodala played with the team for eight seasons. Despite his strong work ethic, he was never embraced by either the Philadelphia fans or media. Some blamed his aloof “I’m a victim here” personality and compared him to the Philadelphia Eagles’ Donovan McNabb. Other detractors pointed out his lack of clutch play. No matter the reason, his eight years in Philadelphia were not particularly happy ones for either Iguodala or the Sixers fans.

After he was traded to the Denver Nuggets (as part of the disastrous Andrew Bynum deal), “Iggy” returned to the Wells Fargo Center for opening night of the 2012 season. Denver lost badly that night by a score of 84-75, and Iguodala posted just 11 points while shooting an anemic 5-for-13.

After that game, John Smallwood wrote in the Philadelphia Daily News “It was another mostly unmemorable performance from a mostly unmemorable player from a mostly unmemorable era of Sixers basketball.” This may well be the way that many Sixers fans remember Andre Iguodala.

Iguodala’s career numbers are not terrible, but not impressive either – 15 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds per game. His best year as a Sixer was 2007-08 when he averaged 20-5-5. In addition, he did make NBA All-Rookie 1st Team in 2005, and also played in the 2011-12 All Star Game.

Iggy had a reputation as an excellent defensive player although he never made the NBA All-Defensive 1st Team, and he made the All-Defensive 2nd Team only once (2011).

So while he may rank as the second-best small forward in Sixers history, “mostly unmemorable” might be the best description of his time with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Julius Erving
Julius “Dr. J” Erving may well have been the most stylish, most graceful, and most beloved superstar to ever wear a Sixers uniform. Many fans would consider him the greatest 76er of all time. If you never had the privilege of watching him play, or if you would like to re-live some great memories, be sure to check out this video:

Erving played for the Sixers from 1976-1987 and led the team to 3 Eastern Conference Finals, 4 NBA Finals and 1 NBA Championship. 1980-81 was Erving’s greatest individual year. He was named NBA Most Valuable Player after scoring 25 points per game while reaching career highs with 364 assists and 173 steals.

“The Doctor” was a member of the NBA All-Star game every year of his Sixers career, and wowed audiences and fellow All-Stars alike with his amazing high-flying skills above the basket. In 1993 he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and was also named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time team. In addition, in 1994, Erving was named by Sports Illustrated as one of the 40 most important athletes of all time. He is the fifth-highest scorer in professional basketball history, with 30,026 points (NBA and ABA combined).

Julius Erving is one of the few players to have his jersey retired by two different franchises: the New Jersey Nets (formerly the New York Nets) have retired his No. 32 jersey, and the Philadelphia 76ers his No. 6 jersey.

And the Winner Is…
The greatest 76ers small forward ever – without a shadow of a doubt, this honor goes to incomparable “Dr. J”- Julius Erving.

About Jack Slotterback

Jack became a Sixers fan back in the 1966-67 season watching "the greatest team ever". He has followed the team ever since, which he says has given him "countless hours of frustration and nearly total hair loss". However, he is very optimistic about the future of the current team. You can follow him on Twitter at @beachbum205
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