56-26. The number one seed in the Eastern Conference. The MVP. The coach of the year. The defensive player of the year. Even the sixth man of the year! I’m not talking about an old Boston Celtic dynasty team, I’m remembering the 2000-2001 76ers, the season basketball made your heart skip a beat as a diehard Philadelphia sports fan.
It’s been exactly ten years since that improbable march all the way to NBA finals took place. Larry Brown predicated his team on defense – hmm sound familiar? – and without anything close to a second-tier scorer LB was able muscle his brilliant coaching philosophies into the minds and hearts of this Sixer team.
After an easy first round downing of the Pacers, the Sixers scrapped like schoolboys against probably both the best Raptors and Bucks teams of all-time. The Raptors had seven players score over nine points per game (Morris Peterson, Keon Clark, Charles Oakley etc.) and more astonishingly finished sixth in attendance. The Bucks boasted the dynamic threesome of Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell, all of whom were in their prime. The Sixers outlasted both teams in seven games before falling to Shaq and Phil Jackson…yeah that’s a shot at young Kobe.
Really absorb the list after the jump. I think it’ll reeealllyyyyy make you appreciate Larry Brown and the things he was able to do these guys. First, I’ll remind you who the main players were for that 2001 Sixers team and what they are up to now.
Then: The quintessential “Me” player of the 2000’s was 88 percent of the reason why the 76ers reached the finals. It was Iverson’s fifth season as the franchise guy in town and clearly the best season of his career; 31.1 PPG, 2.5 steals and he averaged over 10 free throws per game for the first time. He was utterly breath taking to watch, averaging 32.9 throughout the playoffs. Multiple 50 point playoff games during this run —dream on LeBron. It is beyond likely that this town will never see another scorer as good as AI. It’s a shame the front office never got any help at all for who basketball-reference.com calls the 40th greatest player ever.
Now: After one miserably, gloomy and depressing season in Turkey, the 36-year-old is trying to beg his way back into the NBA. Iverson’s game was always built on quickness and controlling the rock, two abilities he really can’t provide a contending team anymore. I could see the New York Knicks rolling the dice for his services off the bench. Maybe the alarming season in Turkey made his preposterous ego closer to life size. It would be hard to fathom Iverson understanding the ‘team ’concept though, especially the part involving practice.
Then: Ratliff’s only all-star season came in 2001, a year in which he may have been the best defensive center in the entire League. His 3.7 blocks per game were stupefying for his 6’10” frame. The Sixers traded the injury plagued center for the experience of Dikembe Mutumbo at the deadline.
Now: The injuries only got worse for Ratliff after he was dealt from Philly. In the 10 seasons after the Mutumbo deal, Ratliff missed over 600 games and played on nine different teams including a return with the Sixers in 2008-2009. This past season Ratliff played in just10 games with the Lakers, who had hoped he could’ve provided insurance for the oft-injured Andrew Bynum. How blind were the Lakers when they looked at Ratliff’s track record? I would be shocked if the 38-year-old didn’t call it quits this offseason. Coaching could be in his future. Or the Biggest Loser, athlete edition. For some odd reason I get the image of him gaining 150 pounds in a hurry.
Then: The deal for Mutumbo was a wise one; he was taller (7’2”), more efficient offensively and most importantly, healthy. It was kind of ballsy though at the time, considering that Ratliff was not only much younger – 27 years of age compared Mutumbo’s 34 – but Theo was also voted the starting center in the all-star game. Mutumbo was a monster on the glass during the 23 game run to the Finals. He pulled down an average of 13.7 a game.
Now: Outside of talking like the cookie monster on a daily basis, Mutumbo still has a strong presence here in Philly and is on the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. All joking aside, Mutumbo is a rare NBA player who still cares more about helping others instead of trying to hold onto the limelight the League provides. His charity titled ‘Dikembe Mutmbo Foundation’ is still thriving on its goal to improve the quality of life in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Then: I think most people have forgotten that McKie was the recipient of the Sixth Man award during the championship run season. McKie shot a career best 47.3 percent from the floor. While he may not have started a bunch of games during that season, McKie always finished them. Also if you remember correctly he notched back-to-back triple-doubles against the Kings and Hawks
Now: A born and bred Philadelphian, McKie has stuck to his roots, retaining an assistant coaching role under Doug Collins. Recently we’ve learned that McKie has taken 76er reserve power forward Craig Brackins under his wing and has begun training with the ‘project’’. Brackins did average 20 and eight in the D-League last season during his back-and-forth stretch in the minors. If for some strange reason Brackins does pan out, I’ll be the first to credit McKie.
Then: Talk about a second round pick panning out. His 7.4 assists per game were valuable; it was which his defense was priceless though. At 6’3” he towered over Iverson on the court and usually was daunted with the task of marking the opposing shooting guard. Snow battled an injury during the season forcing him to miss 30 games. During the NBA Finals he came off the bench.
Now: The color commentating voice for the 7-6 is an excellent complement to one of the most underrated play-by-play guys in all of sports, Marc Zumoff. In more embarrassing news, Snow’s ex-wife DeShawn was a character on the ever-popular Real Housewives of Atlanta. What percentage of NBA players have ex-wives? I’m guessing 95 percent.
Then: To this day, I don’t know if you would be able to find someone with a head more oddly shaped than Tyrone Hill. How does that happen? Regardless though, Hill was an instrumental rebounder (especially offensive) and bruiser defensively. He bought into what Larry Brown preached. Hill was even the fifth scoring option on this team, pouring in just under 10 ppg.
Now: Hill is currently an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks under Larry Drew. The 43-year-old was originally hired by Mike Woodson but obviously made a good enough impression to stay with the organization. For some reason, I can never really picture Hill becoming a head coach. But good luck to him.
Then: No, not the guitarist for the band Dokken. It’s the 76ers George Lynch, the only member of the 2000-2001 team to appear in all 82 regular season games. His game was so ‘blah-blah-blah’ but again a main theme that I keep repeating in this article is rebounding. You could argue that Lynch, who flourished at UNC and lead the Heels to the ’93 title, was a lottery pick who never panned out for the Lakers. His rebounding and defense was fundamentally sound on this team though and with Iverson carrying the scoring load, that’s all we needed from Lynch.
Now: After being traded to the Bobcats (basically for Derrick Coleman), Lynch played in Charlotte / New Orleans for a couple years and then retired in 2004-05. The last thing I could find of Lynch now 40, was that he was an assistant coach at Southern Methodist University under fellow Carolina alum Matt Doherty. If you know anything about his whereabouts, please, let us know.
Then: Geiger is probably best remembered for refusing to wave his no-trade clause in the 2000 offseason, preventing the Pistons from acquiring Allen Iverson in a four team trade. Geiger was such an easy target to make fun of with his overemotional play for a guy who really didn’t matter too much. Also remember he was suspended for steroids during the season. Nice try buddy. He averaged just 3.1points in 12 playoff games during the run to the Finals. After chronic knee injuries, Geiger retired the following season
Now: Geiger’s retirement pad in Florida is legendary — Check out this link to see how he pimped out the house. Well, apparently Geiger sold his mansion in Florida (and the buffalo that roamed the property) this past January for 8 million dollars. The 28,000-square-foot estate was originally listed for 20 million dollars and was on the market for four years. Outside of this house debacle, the lumbering big man seems to have shrewdly invested the 51 million dollars (6-year contract) the Sixers idiotically gave him in 1998 because Geiger is allegedly still a successful real estate investor in Florida.
Then: For as young as he was (21) and for the amount of depth there was at the forward position (see above), Jones had a fabulous run for the Sixers down the stretch. 5.5 PPG in the playoffs were more than his 4.7 during 65 games of regular season play.
Now: Well, there’s a Jumaine Jones who is now a pastor for a church in the Washington DC area. I don’t think that’s our guy though. The former Sixers with the last name Jones has bounced around Europe and according to hoopedia.com Jones last played for Juvecaserta Basket in Italy. His last stint in the NBA was with the Suns in 2007.
Toni ‘The Waiter’ Kukoc
Then: How did I almost leave THE signature role player of the 1990’s off the list? Kukoc’s tenure in Philly was a brief one, stemming from the middle of the 2000 season and ending when he was apart of the deal to coax Mutumbo over from the Hawks. His left-handed stroke was mesmerizing to watch, it was like a slow golf swing. Kukoc simply wasn’t a necessary piece to the puzzle. He averaged a decent 8 PPG until the trade. Clearly we survived without him.
Now: A bad back and a hip replacement still can’t keep Kukoc off the golf course. The 42-year-old is even Michael Jordan’s preferred partner when No. 23 stops and visits Chicago as Kukoc is a scratch golfer. His son Marin is a rising sophomore at UPenn