Faced with another day of little to no Sixers news during this offseason lull, I absent-mindedly threw out the question on the @PhillyFastBreak twitter account: best Sixers nickname of all-time. I pretty quickly received a couple responses that ‘The Answer’ is unequivocally the best ever, which probably says more about the demographic of my twitter followers than anything. Still, it got me thinking about the topic throughout the day, in between Office Space-esque bouts of frustration in my cubicle. So let’s flesh out the argument here. An old website standby gimmick for when you don’t have anything to write about? Sure. But what are you going to do instead of reading it, focus on work?
5) The Boston Strangler – One of the more prolific scorers in franchise history, Andrew Toney saved some of his best efforts for the hated Boston Celtics. His legacy against them was cemented in the 1982 playoff series where he put up 30, 39, and 34-point spots in the Sixers’ 7-game series win. While the nickname is certainly an intimidating one, it loses points both for its harkening to the actual serial killer in the sixties, as well as its targeting only one particular opponent (albeit the team’s fiercest rival of the time).
4) Sir Charles – Before King James ruled the court, another NBA superstar’s nickname brought with it a tone of English aristocracy. Charles Barkley had a few other nicknames in his playing days (The Round Mound of Rebound, The Chuckwagon), but Sir Charles truly spoke to the level of respect his peers had for his on-court game. I especially loved the irony in it as Charles’ folksy humor and personality were the polar opposite of a stuffy, old knight. Even before Barkley became the most entertaining NBA analyst in the business, he and buddy Rick Mahorn were finding ways to make us laugh. Here you got the peas and onions and…
3) Chocolate Thunder – Man, this one is probably my favorite, not just because of the nickname but because of what a unique personality Darryl Dawkins is. From a Dime magazine interview on the origin of the nickname: “Stevie Wonder used to come the ball games and they would have a guy sitting with him. And the guy would be holding on to his arm, telling him what’s going on, and he would say, “Hey, the big chocolate guy just put down a thunder dunk. The chocolate guy with another monster dunk.” And Stevie Wonder actually gave me the nickname Chocolate Thunder. So a guy who never saw me can give me that name.” Dawkins was known on the court for his monster dunks; his breaking backboards was a big factor in the NBA switching to breakaway rims. Off the court, Dawkins used to say he was from Planet Lovetron and still shamelessly hits on sideline reporters to this day. Chocolate Thunder indeed.
2) The Answer – What’s the question? Is it who single-handedly rejuvenated the city of Philadelphia’s love of pro basketball? Who was at the forefront of the NBA’s push into hip-hop culture? We know it isn’t ‘Practice?’. To any Sixers fan born in the mid-80s or later, Allen Iverson is the single-most important player in the history of the franchise. The fearlessness with which he constantly attacked the lane, the way he played where you felt like he literally left everything he had on the court each and every time out, and his symbiotic interaction with the crowd were just a few of the things that made the Allen Iverson-era a special one for Philadelphia. The nickname was succinct and no-nonsense, a pretty-much perfect embodiment of Iverson’s on-court persona. It even helped launch one of the most popular line of shoes all-time. If a guy grew up in the Philadelphia area in the late 90s, he owned some variation of this shoe. Period. So for this latest generation of Sixers fans, best nickname in Sixers history? You have the answer.
1) Dr. J – Still, from a historical contest, there’s one nickname that tops even that of the former Georgetown star. When 90% of the time, fans, commentators, and peers alike refer to a basketball legend by his nickname, you know it’s one that fits. Julius Erving claims he received the nickname from a high school friend, and ‘The Doctor’ moniker not only represented the way he operated out on the court, but also the first-class individual he is off of it. The Dr. J up-and-under has long been an iconic moment in NBA history; the surgical precision of the move perfectly encapsulating the name that became synonymous with the man.
Disagree with our rankings? Think there are any that should have made their way into the top 5? Sign in to the comments section and tell us your thoughts.