【N.J】 Andrew Toney MIA for ceremony – New Jersey News

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PHILADELPHIA — Coached by Billy Cunningham, who is now hobbled by a bad back, and powered by four Hall of Fame players, one of whom is deceased, the 1982-83 76ers were the most dominant team in the modern era of Philadelphia sports.

That squad also was as tough as it gets mentally for it endured endless criticism from a then, five-year-old, club-imposed marketing challenge on its way to winning 12 of 13 playoff games and the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 1983.

The current Sixers team with players at an average age of 27.1 years old is too young to know that burden, although those guys have their own unique challenges. The face of the 1983 title team, Julius Erving, always will remember the drama preceding the closure that came when the Sixers finally answered the call of “We Owe You One.”

““It was a high expectation,” Erving recalled. “I was teasing (former team president) Pat Williams last night because when we didn’t win that first year when George McGinnis and I were playing together and Portland knocked us out, the cry was, ‘We owe you one.’ That was about as critical as it got. Suddenly to give your most, your best and to be in debt to the city? Kind of like a gesture we came to regret having said. There were two more trips to the finals in six years before we realized that coming in second isn’t good enough.”

The 73-year-old Erving can fill a book with stories about teammates Moses Malone, Bobby Jones and Maurice Cheeks, now assistant coach to Billy Donovan and the visiting Chicago Bulls. Malone, who passed away in 2015 from heart disease, predicted after a stellar 65-17 regular season the Sixers would sweep the field in the playoffs. “Fo, fo, fo” is the way he phrased it.

Except for a single hiccup the Sixers did just that, taking out Hubie Brown and the New York Knicks, 4-0, winning four of five games against Don Nelson and the Milwaukee Bucks, and sweeping coach Pat Riley, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers. All Hall of Famers, those Lakers were.

“When we finally won the championship and got over the hump the cry was ‘Paid in full,’” Erving said. “I think in terms of the team, for the most part it was a really joyous ride.”

And so, it was Monday evening at the Wells Fargo Center with fans young and old remembering the franchise’s last NBA title, nearly 40 years ago. The streets were full the night of the clinching win over the Lakers, one in which Cheeks dunked for one of the few times in his illustrious career. Horns blared, fireworks exploded and when the Sixers returned from L.A., the parade started at City Hall and ended at the sports complex in South Philly.

The current Sixers marketing folks themed the anniversary celebration “Fo’ Fo’ Fo’,” replete with warm-ups. It would have brought a tear to the eye of the crusty Malone, his bold and very public prediction proving virtually true.

Hopefully, Sixers MVP candidate Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris and the rest of the current cast remember this event and how revered those Sixers are. The same future awaits them. Coach Doc Rivers made a point of talking about that and what the celebration means.

“Connecting teams with their history I think is so important,” Rivers said. “Just seeing those guys together walking around, how they help each other … how they help each other up out of chairs. Those guys will be connected the rest of their lives. And it was good for our guys to see that connection and what happens.”

• • •

Conspicuous by his absence Monday was Sixers shooting guard Andrew Toney, who felt mistreated by management not long after celebrating a title with them. Toney and management couldn’t agree with the gravity of issues he’d had with his feet, and ultimately was suspended a few games.

“We’ve got to get Andrew Toney back here. It’s important,” Rivers said. “I know he didn’t go out … I know there’s some stuff there. But I think it’s important to talk to him. We’re going to get him back here.”

• • •

NOTES >> Sixers enforcer PJ Tucker was scratched with a sore ankle. … If Rivers had an MVP vote, guess what? He’d use it on Joel Embiid. That’s not to demean such candidates as Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic. Rivers doesn’t understand why promoting one candidate diminishes the others, preferring a positive exchange of ideas. … The Sixers are in the middle of a stretch in which they play seven of eight games on the road. They were 3-0 in that block entering their game with the Bulls. The Sixers play next at Chicago. … Bulls guard Lonzo Ball underwent cartilage transplant surgery on his knee, sidelining him indefinitely.

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