1982–83 Philadelphia 76ers season
The 1982–83 Philadelphia 76ers season was the 37th season of the franchise (going back to their days as the Syracuse Nationals) and their 20th season in Philadelphia. The 76ers entered the season as runner-ups in the 1982 NBA Finals, where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games.
Harold Katz bought the 76ers in 1982. On his watch, the final piece of the championship puzzle was completed before the 1982–83 season when they acquired free-agent center Moses Malone from the Houston Rockets in a sign-and-trade for Caldwell Jones. Led by Hall of Famers Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones & All-Star Andrew Toney, they dominated the regular season, starting the season with 49 wins against 7 losses and winning 65 games in what is still the second most winning year in franchise history.
Erving led as the team captain and was named the NBA All Star Game MVP, while Malone was named league MVP, and when reporters asked how the playoffs would run, he answered, "four, four, four"—in other words, predicting that the Sixers would need to only play four games in each of the three playoff series to win the title. Malone, speaking in a non-rhotic accent, pronounced the boast "fo', fo', fo'."
However, the Sixers backed up Malone's boast. They made a mockery of the Eastern Conference playoffs, first sweeping the New York Knicks in the Semifinals and then beating the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the Conference Finals. Regarded as one of the greatest teams in history, the Sixers went on to win their third NBA championship with a four-game sweep of the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, who had defeated them the season before. Malone's prediction turned out to be only one game off, and some used the adapted phrase "fo', fi', fo'" reflecting their one playoff loss to the Bucks. Malone was named the playoffs' MVP.
Their 12–1 playoff record still[update] ranks as the third-best in league history after the 2016–17 Warriors, who went 16–1, and the 2000–01 Lakers, who went 15–1 en route to the NBA title coincidentally beating the 76ers in the finals. The Philadelphia-based group Pieces of a Dream had a minor hit in 1983 with the R&B song "Fo-Fi-Fo", which title was prompted by Malone's quip.
Philadelphia 76ers roster
Record vs. opponents
1982–83 Game Log
October: 2–0 (Home: 1–0 ; Road 1–0)
November: 11–3 (Home: 7–2 ; Road 4–1)
December: 11–2 (Home: 5–0 ; Road 6–2)
January: 14–1 (Home: 7–0 ; Road 7–1)
February: 11–1 (Home: 7–0 ; Road 4–1)
March: 11–5 (Home: 6–1 ; Road 5–4)
April: 5–5 (Home: 2–3 ; Road 3–2)
East First Round
The 76ers had a first round bye.
East Conference Semifinals
- Game 1 @ The Spectrum, Philadelphia: Philadelphia 112, New York 102
- Game 2 @ The Spectrum, Philadelphia: Philadelphia 98, New York 91
- Game 3 @ Madison Square Garden, New York City: Philadelphia 107, New York 105
- Game 4 @ Madison Square Garden, New York City: Philadelphia 105, New York 102
East Conference Finals
- Game 1 @ The Spectrum, Philadelphia: Philadelphia 111, Milwaukee 109 (OT)
- Game 2 @ The Spectrum, Philadelphia: Philadelphia 87, Milwaukee 81
- Game 3 @ The MECCA, Milwaukee: Philadelphia 104, Milwaukee 96
- Game 4 @ The MECCA, Milwaukee: Milwaukee 100, Philadelphia 94
- Game 5 @ The Spectrum, Philadelphia: Philadelphia 115, Milwaukee 103
- Game 1 @ The Spectrum, Philadelphia: Philadelphia 113, Los Angeles 107
- Game 2 @ The Spectrum, Philadelphia: Philadelphia 103, Los Angeles 93
- Game 3 @ The Forum, Los Angeles: Philadelphia 111, Los Angeles 94
- Game 4 @ The Forum, Los Angeles: Philadelphia 115, Los Angeles 108
The 1983 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1982–83 season.
The 76ers went on to capture their second NBA championship as they swept the New York Knicks, and proceeded to beat the Milwaukee Bucks in five games. They finally finished it off with a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers, who had defeated them the season before, making this the only NBA championship not to be won by either the Lakers or the Boston Celtics from 1980–1988.
Said head coach Billy Cunningham, "The difference from last year was Moses." Malone was named MVP of the 1983 Finals, as well as league MVP for the third time in his career. The 76ers completed one of the most dominating playoff runs in league history with a 12-1 mark after league and NBA Finals MVP Moses promised "Fo', fo', fo" (as in "four, four, four" – four wins to win each playoff series). The 76ers were also led by Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, and Bobby Jones.
The 1983 NBA Finals was the last to end before June 1. This championship is especially noted because it would be the last major sports championship for the city of Philadelphia until the Phillies won the 2008 World Series. At the time, no other city with all four professional sports teams had a championship drought last as long as that from 1983–2008 (25 years). When the Flyers played for the 2010 Stanley Cup, The Ottawa Citizen reported that the main reason for that lengthy championship drought was because the only years the city's teams played for championships during that time were years presidents were inaugurated. The city's teams had lost championships during such years, beginning with the 76ers themselves in 1977. The exceptions were the Phillies in 1983 and the Flyers in 1987.
Following the 1983 NBA Finals, a video documentary called "That Championship Feeling" recaps the NBA Playoff action that year. Dick Stockton narrated the video, and Irene Cara's 1983 hit single "What A Feeling" is the official theme song for the video documentary. For the first time, NBA Entertainment used videotape instead of film for all the on-court and off-court footage.
Awards, records, and legacy
- Moses Malone, NBA Most Valuable Player Award
- Moses Malone, NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award
- Bobby Jones, NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award
- Moses Malone, All-NBA First Team
- Julius Erving, All-NBA First Team
- Bobby Jones, NBA All-Defensive First Team
- Maurice Cheeks, NBA All-Defensive First Team
- Moses Malone, NBA All-Defensive First Team
At the time, their 65-17 regular season record ranked as the fifth greatest regular season win total in NBA history. Previously, only the 1972 Lakers (69-13), the 1967 Sixers (68-13), the 1971 Bucks (66-16), and the 1973 Celtics (who lost in that years Conference Finals; 68-14), exceeded this total.
Their .8105 winning percentage, combined regular season and post season (77-18) in 1983, has been topped since by just five(5) teams, the 1986 Celtics (.820, with 18 losses), the 1996 Bulls (.870), the 1997 Bulls (.832), the 2016 Warriors (.830, also with 18 losses, lost NBA finals), and the 2017 Warriors (.838).
In fact, after 66 regular season games, their record stood at 57–9 (the 2016 Golden State Warriors were only 3 games ahead of this pace at 60-6, in the record breaking 73 win regular season).
Possessing an exceptionally talented roster, and having a brilliant coaching staff in Billy Cunningham, Matt Goukas, and Jack McMahon, the 1982–1983 Philadelphia 76ers were one of the very best teams in NBA history.