July 02, 2019
In 1946, the Philadelphia Warriors were introduced to Philly. Eddie Gottlieb, who helped found the team, served as head coach and general manager. In 1959, via a territorial selection in the NBA draft, the Warriors drafted Overbrook’s own Wilt Chamberlain. Arguably the greatest player of all-time and by far the most physically gifted athlete professional basketball had ever seen at that time, Wilt and the Warriors put Philadelphia professional basketball in the national spotlight.
The Philadelphia Warriors relocated to San Francisco in 1962, and became known as the San Francisco Warriors. In 1971 they morphed into the Golden State Warriors. Along with a championship in their inaugural season (1946–47), the Warriors have won five other titles in the team's history in 1955–56 plus four more as the Golden State Warriors ('74–'75, '14–'15, '16–'17, and '17–'18).
When the Warriors moved to San Francisco, Philadelphia was left without a basketball team for the 1962-63 season. Fans didn't have to wait too long, because in 1963, the Syracuse Nationals relocated to Philadelphia and changed their name to the Philadelphia 76ers after the bicentennial fever that was sweeping the nation.
The Nationals were started in 1946 by Italian immigrant Daniel Biasone. Originally part of the National Basketball League (NBL), in 1949 they had joined the National Basketball Association to create, at that time, a 17-team league. The Nationals had early success in Syracuse, reaching the NBA Finals in 1950 and 1954, both times losing to the Minneapolis Lakers. In 1955 they would win their first and only NBA title, defeating the Fort Wayne Pistons in a Game 7 win.
The Nationals were led by Hall of Fame big man Dolph Schayes. Schayes played for Syracuse from 1949-1963, and for the 76ers inaugural season. Hal Greer, another Hall of Famer, began his career with the Nationals as a guard in 1958, before eventually moving with the team to Philadelphia in 1963 where he spent the remainder of his career.
Since the Warriors era, basketball in Philadelphia has only increased in popularity. After the Warriors left and the 76ers debuted, the Sixers have made 6 NBA Finals appearances and won 2 championships in 1967 and 1983. In 1967 they were led by a familiar face in Wilt Chamberlain, and won in 6 games against the now-relocated San Francisco Warriors. Basketball in Philly has a rich history, and these teams helped lay the foundations for success in the Philadelphia basketball market.
February 09, 2023