On Tuesday, the Philadelphia 76ers officially made Nerlens Noel their big man of the future. That got me thinking about who are the top five big men in Sixers history. You’ve got Charles Barkley, the “Round Mound of Rebound,” who made his hay in the mid-to late 1980s, then you’ve got Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, still to this day one of the best big men in NBA history. Finally, you can’t forget about Moses Malone, who took the Sixers and the city of Philadelphia to the promised land, an NBA title. With that being said, here is a countdown of the best big men in Sixers history.
Chocolate Thunder was a backboard-breaking machine. The 6’11″, 251-pound center out of Evans High School in Orlando, Fla., was the thunder in the middle for the Sixers. Dawkins played eight years for the Sixers from 1975-82. But in some of those years, he had great statistical seasons. In 1977-78, he averaged 11.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Then in 1979-80, he averaged 14.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Even though, Dawkins would never average a double-double per season with the Sixers, he was one of the reasons we got stronger backboards, but he also made it clear to what kind of center Philadelphia fans wanted.
Now, Mutombo wasn’t here as long as Dawkins or the other big men in this list, but finally Allen Iverson had a big man compliment that helped lead the Sixers to the 2001 NBA Finals. Mutombo, who was traded to the Sixers back in the 2000-01 by the Atlanta Hawks, only played in 26 games that season for Philadelphia, but it made a huge difference in the playoffs. In 23 games in the playoffs, Mutombo averaged 13.9 points, 13.7 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game. He was a force in the middle and help carry the Sixers all the way to the NBA Finals, where the Sixers would fall in five games to the Los Angeles Lakers. Mutombo, we will never forget your finger wagging, not in my house.
Unfortunately, Barkley would never get to taste a NBA title with the Sixers as he began playing during the beginning of the Sixers’ dark ages. If you look at Barkley’s career with the Sixers, he only played a full season back in his rookie year in 1984-85. The most rebounds he would average was 14.6 rebounds per game in 1986-87. Then in the next season, he would average 28.3 points per game, which would be his highest scoring average with the Sixers. Sadly, Barkley would only reach the playoffs six times with the Sixers without a NBA Finals appearance.
2. Moses Malone
Moses took the Sixers franchise and fans to the promised land like he said he would. Moses played with the Sixers from 1982-86, and then had another stint back in 1993-94. But in1982-83, all Sixers fans remembered the greatness that was the NBA Finals. That year, he averaged 15.3 rebounds and 24.5 points per game. Then in the playoffs, he averaged 15.8 rebounds and 26.0 points per game. I can speak for all Sixers fans when I say, thank you Moses for taking this franchise to the promised land.
The best big man in Sixers history is Wilt “The Big Dipper” Chamberlain, Mr. 100-point game. The Big Dipper, out of the Overbrook section in Philadelphia, started his career with the Philadelphia Warriors in 1959, then the Warriors moved to San Francisco and Wilt came back in 1964 and stayed until 1968. Finally, Wilt got his well-deserved NBA championship in the 1966-67 season as he beat his old team, the San Francisco Warriors. In that series, he would average 29.1 rebounds, 9.0 assists and 21.7 points per game. Wilt is generally considered one of the greatest big men in NBA history and hopefully one day Nerlens Noel can crack this list.