Allen Iverson

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Posted by r2d2 03/31/2009 @ 05:14

Tags : allen iverson, basketball players, basketball, sports

News headlines
Long shot for Nuggets based on bluff - Denver Post
By Mark Kiszla Trading Allen Iverson, above, to Detroit for Chauncey Billups, below, paid off big. (AP file photo) The distance between Denver and Detroit is 1300 long miles, but the trade that returned Billups to his hometown from the Pistons also...
Iverson's humbling season - Daily Press
Aging and reeling from the most humbling season of his Hall of Fame career: That's the Allen Iverson who's returning to his Peninsula roots this summer. Iverson's manager, Gary Moore, said yesterday that Iverson's basketball camp and softball...
Iverson summer event returning to Hampton - Daily Press
By David Squires | 247-4639 HAMPTON - Allen Iverson is bringing his summer sports event back to Hampton in July, with key events at the Boo Williams Sportsplex and the Briarfield Softball Complex. The Crossover Invitational Weekend runs July 8-11 and...
Oscar Smith's Hailes is looking for a safe college - Daily Press
Hampton High guards Chris Johnson and Nick Chamblee will be receiving scholarship assistance from Allen Iverson, according to Hampton assistant boys basketball coach Walter Brower Jr. Yes, that Allen Iverson, the former Bethel High star who has played...
Circus just starting with Vick coming back to town David Teel - Daily Press
Wilder sprung Allen Iverson the day before New Year's Eve. Iverson's furlough surprised many, and his return to his mother's Victoria Boulevard abode attracted only a few photographers. Besides, Iverson, an 18-year-old kid jailed for a fight,...
2008 Draft: Legendary Potential - NBADraft.net
Hopefully, the Allen Iverson saga this year hasn't changed the fact in your minds that this draft is easily one of the best of all-time. Combined, this class has 4 rings, 4 MVPs, and 51 All-Star appearances. Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant are first...
Bad economy helps Pistons - Detroit Free Press
Let's go back to November, after Dumars traded Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson. We must set the record straight. Lately, people have talked about the inevitable "transition year" for the Pistons, sacrificing the short term for the long term,...
The Sportswriting Of Malcolm Gladwell Reaches A Tipping Point - Deadspin
explains teacher evaluation and the hiring practices of financial-services firms); "Game Theory" (how Allen Iverson explains the difficulties of evaluating the relative abilities of heart surgeons and determining proper compensation for CEOs);...
Kobe Bryant's top ten moments - ESPN
In what will go down as the most talent-rich rookie game ever (Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Tracy mcgrady, Stephon Marbury, etc.) Kobe put up 31 points and grabbed eight rebounds. He set the rookie scoring record in the game, but still wasn't...
Something to Prove in 2009-10 - FanHouse
Comes down to this: Will Arenas' explosiveness return? --Allen Iverson, Detroit. It will be very interesting to see where Iverson ends up this offseason and how much he gets paid. Is it realistic for Iverson, a free agent, to think he'll get more than...

Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson during his tenure with the Nuggets.

Allen Ezail Iverson (born June 7, 1975, in Hampton, Virginia) is an American professional basketball player for the Detroit Pistons of the National Basketball Association. As the first pick in the 1996 NBA Draft for the Philadelphia 76ers, Iverson became one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, despite his small (6'0") stature. His career scoring average of 27.7 points per game is third all-time behind Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. Iverson was also the 2000–2001 NBA Most Valuable Player and lead the 76ers to the NBA Finals that post-season.

As a high school junior, Iverson played quarterback for the Bethel High School football team, leading the team to the state championship.

After Iverson spent four months at Newport News City Farm, a correctional facility in Newport News, Virginia, he was granted clemency by Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder, and the Virginia Court of Appeals overturned the conviction in 1995 for insufficient evidence.

In spring 1994, Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson visited Iverson at Hampton's Bethel High School.

At Georgetown, Iverson won two Big East Defensive Player of the Year awards, All Rookie Tournament 1st Team, and a gold medal for his win at the World University Games in Japan in 1995. Iverson led all USA players in scoring and assists, averaging 16.7 points per game and 6.1 assists per game. He was also the Hoyas' all-time leading scorer.

As his family situation worsened, Iverson needed to turn pro early, which meant leaving school before graduating. Iverson was the first of just two basketball players, Victor Page being the other, to leave Georgetown early for the NBA under Thompson.

After two seasons at Georgetown, Iverson was selected first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1996 NBA Draft. He played with the Sixers for 10 years. During his tenure he was Rookie of the Year, League MVP, 2x All-Star MVP, and led the league in scoring for four years.

After his rookie season, during which he led the 76ers in points, assists and minutes, Iverson was named the 1996 NBA Rookie of the Year and was a member of the NBA All-Rookie First Team.

After the 1998–1999 season, during which he averaged 26.8 points and earned his first scoring title, Iverson made his first trip to the playoffs. He started all ten playoff games and averaged 44.4 minutes per game despite being hampered by a number of nagging injuries. Iverson led the Sixers to an upset over the Orlando Magic, before losing to the Indiana Pacers in the second round.

Prior to the next season, Iverson signed a six-year, $70 million contract extension. That year, Iverson averaged 28.4 points and again led the 76ers into the playoffs. In the process, Iverson was selected to the Eastern Conference All Star team for the first time of what would be 9 straight appearances. In the playoffs, Iverson averaged 26.2 points, 4.8 assists, 4 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, with a high of 40 points in the first round opener at Charlotte on April 22, 2000. Philadelphia advanced past Charlotte, but was eliminated again by Indiana in the second round. That season, he was the only player other than Shaquille O'Neal to receive a NBA Most Valuable Player vote, and he was named to his first All NBA first team.

In the 2000 off-season, the 76ers actively tried to trade Iverson, and had agreed to terms with the Detroit Pistons before Matt Geiger, who was included in the deal, refused to forfeit his $5 million trade kicker.

That season, Iverson led his team to wins in the first ten games of the season, and was named starter at the 2001 NBA All-Star Game, where he won the game MVP. The Sixers also posted a 56-26 record, the best in the Eastern Conference that season. He also averaged a then-career high 31.1 points, winning his second NBA scoring title in the process. Iverson won the NBA steals title at 2.5 a game. Iverson was named NBA Most Valuable Player, and named to the All NBA First team for his accomplishments.

In the playoffs, Iverson and the Sixers defeated the Indiana Pacers in the first round, before meeting Vince Carter-led Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Semifinals. The series went the full seven games. In the next round, the Sixers defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, also in seven games, to advance to the 2001 NBA Finals against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Iverson led the Sixers to their first finals since their 1983 championship. In game one of the 2001 NBA Finals, Iverson scored a playoff high 48 points and beat the heavily favored Lakers 107-101. In the game he notably stepped over Tyronn Lue after hitting a crucial shot. Iverson would go on to score 23, 35, 35, 37 in games 2–5, all losing efforts though the Sixers were not swept like many predicted. Iverson enjoyed his most successful season as an individual and as a member of the Sixers during the 2000–01 NBA season. In the 2001–02 season, the Sixers failed to repeat their success. Iverson and others struggled with injury, and despite averaging a league high 31.4 points per game. The Sixers fell to the sixth seed in the 2002 Playoffs, where they fell to the Boston Celtics in the first round.

For most of the early portion of Iverson's career, his head coach with the Sixers was Larry Brown. Iverson often praised Brown, saying that he would not have achieved so much in the sport without Brown's guidance. The two frequently clashed, including after the 76ers were defeated in the first round of the 2002 NBA Playoffs, when Brown criticized Iverson for missing team practices and Iverson responded by saying, "We're sitting here, and I'm supposed to be the franchise player, and we're talking about practice," and went on a rant that included the word "practice" 25 times.

In the 2002–2003 season, Iverson once again put up stellar scoring numbers 27.6, was named an NBA All Star, and led the Sixers to the playoffs. This time they were eliminated by the Detroit Pistons, in the second round after a 6-game series. Brown left the 76ers in 2003, following the playoff loss. After his departure from the 76ers, both he and Iverson indicated that the two were on good terms and genuinely fond of one another. Iverson later reunited with Brown when Iverson became a member and co-captain of the 2004 United States Olympic men's basketball team.

The next season, under new coach Randy Ayers, Iverson had his worst season to date. The Sixers started off slowly and Ayers was fired midway through the season. Iverson also missed 34 games due to injury, the highest amount of games he had ever missed in a season. Though he still averaged 26.4 points per game, the Sixers failed to make the playoffs for the first time since Iverson's second season. In the 2004–2005 season, the 76ers named Jim O'Brien their coach. This season saw a resugence of Iverson, as he averaged 30.7 points per game, capturing his fourth scoring title. This tied him with George Gervin for 3rd most scoring titles among an individual. Iverson also averaged a career high 7.9 assists per game. Meanwhile, the Sixers acquired power forward Chris Webber from the Sacramento Kings in a midseason trade. While the Iverson and Webber initially didn't mesh, they lifted the 76ers into the playoffs where they lost to the Detroit Pistons in the first round. He was named to the All NBA First team at seasons end.

The 2005–06 NBA season would be the last full season for Iverson in a Sixers uniform. He averaged a career high 33.7 points per game, but the Sixers missed the playoffs for the second time in three years. He had also began to clash with coach Jim O'Brien, and O'Brien was fired after the season.

On April 18, 2006 Iverson and Chris Webber arrived late to the Sixers' fan appreciation night and home game finale. Players are expected to report 90 minutes before game time, but both Iverson and Webber arrived around tipoff. Coach Maurice Cheeks notified the media that neither would be playing and general manager Billy King announced that Iverson and Webber would be fined. During the 2006 off-season, trade rumors had Iverson going to Denver, Atlanta, or Boston. None of the deals were completed. Iverson had made it clear that he would like to stay a Sixer.

On November 29, 2006 following a conflict at practice, Iverson stormed out of the gymnasium. That same evening, Iverson missed a corporate sponsor night at Lucky Strike Lanes in Philadelphia. All the 76ers besides Iverson attended this mandatory event. Iverson was fined an undisclosed amount by the 76ers. Iverson claimed he overslept after taking medication for pain related to having two abscessed teeth pulled but it was reported that Iverson told teammates earlier in the day he planned to blow off the event and was simply going to take the fine.

On December 19, 2006, the Philadelphia 76ers sent Iverson and forward Ivan McFarlin to the Denver Nuggets for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and two first-round picks in the 2007 NBA Draft. At the time of the trade, Iverson was the NBA's number two leading scorer with teammate Carmelo Anthony being number one.

On December 23, 2006, Iverson played his first game as a Nugget. He had 22 points and 10 assists in a losing effort to the Sacramento Kings. In Iverson's first year as a Nugget they made the playoffs. They won the first game and lost the next four to the San Antonio Spurs.

Iverson returned to Philadelphia on March 19, 2008 to a sell-out crowd and received a standing ovation in a 115-113 loss.

On November 3, 2008, Iverson was dealt from the Denver Nuggets to the Detroit Pistons for guard Chauncey Billups, forward Antonio McDyess and center Cheikh Samb.

Iverson, who had worn a number 3 jersey his entire NBA career, switched to number 1 for the Pistons. The number 3 was being worn by Rodney Stuckey, and although he stated that he would be willing to give up the number, the NBA ruled that a change in numbers cannot take place until after the season.

Iverson was a member of the gold medal winning 1995 World University Games Team that finished 7-0 in Fukuoka, Japan. Part of a team that included future NBA stars Ray Allen, Tim Duncan, Kerry Kittles, Othella Harrington, Austin Croshere and others. Iverson led the USA in scoring, assists and steals averaging 16.7 points, 6.1 assists and 2.9 steals a game, while shooting 56.0 percent from the field overall and 37.5 percent from beyond the 3-point line.

Iverson helped the USA to a 10–0 record, the gold medal and a qualifying berth for the 2004 Olympics at the August 20–31 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico. Started all eight games he played in, and averaged a team second best 14.3 ppg., 3.8 apg., 2.5 rpg., 1.6 spg., while shooting 56.2 percent (41-73 FGs) from the field and 53.6 percent (15-28 3pt FGs) from 3-point and 81.0 percent (17-21 FTs) from the foul line.

In the USA's 111-71 victory over Canada on August 25, he accounted for an USA Olympic Qualifying single game record 28 points and made a single game record seven 3-pointers. Playing just 23 minutes, he shot 10-for-13 overall, 7-for-8 from 3-point, 1-for-1 from the foul line and added three assists, three steals and one rebound. All seven of his 3-point field goals were made during the final 7:41 of the third quarter.

He finished the tournament ranked overall tied for 10th in scoring, tied for fourth in steals, fifth in 3-point percentage, tied for seventh in assists, and ninth in field goal percentage (.562). Iverson also missed the USA's final two games because of a sprained right thumb which was suffered in the first half of the August 28 Puerto Rico game. In a game against Puerto Rico, he recorded 9 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field overall, and added five assists and three rebounds in 26 minutes of action in the USA's 101–74 exhibition game victory on August 17 in New York, N.Y. He was also mamed to the 2003 USA Senior National Team on April 29, 2003.

The team's performance at the Olympic Games, however, would ultimately prove to be a disappointment. During the exhibition period prior the Games, Iverson and LeBron James were benched for a game for having arrived late to a practice session. The United States' team had played a dismal game versus Germany, which had failed to qualify for the Olympic competition. Iverson did succeed in keeping the game from going into overtime with a miraculous half-court shot in the closing seconds. Despite the dramatic win, the team continued to struggle. After losing to the Puerto Rican team during round robin play, they would ultimately claim a bronze medal.

Iverson has often been a controversial figure, dating back to his teenage years, including some troubles with the law.

1993: This incident was profiled on the television news magazine 60 Minutes due to claims of racial bias in the adjudication of the case. L. Douglas Wilder, at the time Governor of Virginia, became convinced that Iverson had been treated unfairly and controversially granted Iverson clemency, releasing him from his sentence. Iverson's conviction was later overturned on appeal.

1997: Iverson, along with his friends, was stopped by policemen for speeding late at night and was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon and for possession of marijuana. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to community service.

2000: Iverson recorded a rap single named 40 Bars. However, after being criticized for its controversial lyrics, he eventually was unable to release it. Going under his moniker, "Jewelz", the album was alleged to have made derogatory remarks about homosexuals. After criticism from activist groups and NBA Commissioner David Stern, he agreed to change the lyrics, but ultimately never released the album.

2002: Iverson allegedly threw his wife Tawanna out of their mansion during a fight. The following night, an enraged Iverson later went looking for his wife at his cousin's apartment. His cousin wouldn't let him in, despite the fact that Iverson was the one who paid the rent for the house.

2004: During the latter part of the 2003–2004 season, Iverson bristled under the disciplinarian approach of the Sixers' new head coach Chris Ford. This led to a number of contentious incidents, including Iverson being suspended for missing practice, fined for failing to notify Ford that Iverson would not attend a game because he was sick, and refusing to play in game because he felt "insulted" that Ford wanted Iverson to come off the bench as he worked his way back from an injury.

On February 24, 2004, Iverson, a noted regular casino patron, was spotted at Bally's Park Place in Atlantic City urinating in a trash can in full view of staff and patrons. He was told by casino management not to return.

When the 2004 United States Olympic team gathered in Jacksonville, Florida for its first exhibition game, Iverson was late. He was suspended for the game.

2005: On December 9, 2005 after the Sixers defeated the Charlotte Bobcats, Iverson paid a late-night visit to the Trump Taj Mahal. After winning a hand at a three-card-stud poker table, Iverson was overpaid $10,000 in chips by a dealer. When the dealer quickly realized the mistake and requested the chips back, Iverson refused and a heated head-turning argument between him and casino staff began. Atlantic City casino regulations reportedly state that when a casino makes a payout mistake in favor of the gambler, he or she must return the money that they did not legitimately win by playing.

Also in 2005, Iverson's bodyguard Jason Kane was accused of assaulting a man at a Washington DC nightclub after the man, Marlin Godfrey, refused to leave the club's VIP section so Iverson's entourage could enter. Godfrey suffered a concussion, a ruptured eardrum, a burst blood vessel in his eye, a torn rotator cuff, cuts and bruises, and emotional injuries. Although Iverson did not touch Godfrey himself, Godfrey sued Iverson for the injuries caused by his bodyguard. In 2007 a jury awarded Godfrey $260,000. The U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the verdict in 2009.

NBA Dress Code: In 2005, NBA commissioner David Stern banned what critics and supporters call "hip-hop culture"-related attire such as Mitchell & Ness brand throwback jerseys, baggy jeans, crooked baseball caps, do-rags, knee-length t-shirts, large items of jewelry, and Timberland boots. Punishment for violations would include fines and possible suspensions for repeat violations. Iverson harshly criticized Stern's dress code, saying that it "would not change a person's character regardless of what type of clothing they wore", and that "associating hip-hop styles of dress with violent crime, drugs, or a bad image is racist." Iverson also said that the advertising of many prominent NBA sponsors, such as Nike, Reebok, Puma and Adidas were heavily influenced by hip-hop culture.

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Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo.jpg

Carmelo Kiyan Anthony (born May 29, 1984) is an American professional basketball player for the Denver Nuggets, of the National Basketball Association. He has also played with the United States national basketball team. As a freshman in college, Anthony led Syracuse University to a 30–5 record and the school's first NCAA championship in men's basketball in 2003. He was named the Most Outstanding Player (MOP) of the 2003 NCAA Final Four and MVP of NCAA East Regional. He was also named the consensus national Freshman of the Year and was a unanimous choice as the Big East Conference Freshman of the Year. Anthony was selected as the third pick in the 2003 NBA Draft and named the 2005 Rookie Challenge MVP.

Anthony was born in the Red Hook projects in Brooklyn, New York City. His father, after whom he is named, died of cancer when Anthony was two years old. When Anthony turned eight, his family moved to Baltimore, where he honed not only his athletic skills, but his survival skills. Kenny Minor, one of Anthony's childhood friends, said, "from drugs, to killings, to anything you can name that goes on in the roughest parts of town, we've seen and witnessed hands on. Those are the things that teach you toughness and keep you mentally focused on your goals." Sports would serve as an important diversion from the violence and drug dealing that were pervasive in the housing projects a few blocks from the homes of Anthony and his friends.

Anthony commuted to Towson Catholic High School for his first three years of high school. During the summer of 2000, when he grew five inches, he made a name for himself in the area, being named The Baltimore Sun's metro player of the year in 2001, as well as Baltimore Catholic League player of the year. Anthony transferred to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia for his senior campaign. While at Oak Hill Academy, Anthony was named to the McDonald's All-American Team and won the Sprite Slam Jam dunk contest prior to the McDonald’s All-American game. He was also named a USA Today First-Team All-American and a Parade First-Team All-American.

Anthony played one season (2002-2003) at Syracuse University. He averaged 22.1 points (16th in the NCAA, 4th in the Big East) and 10.0 rebounds (19th in the NCAA, 3rd in the Big East, 1st among NCAA Division I freshmen). He helped guide the Orangemen to their first ever NCAA tournament title in 2003. He led the team in scoring, rebounding, minutes played (36.4 minutes per game), field goals made and free throws made and attempted. Anthony's 33-point outburst against the University of Texas in the Final Four set an NCAA tournament record for most points by a freshman.

Anthony said that he originally planned to stay at Syracuse for two to three seasons, but having already accomplished everything he set out to do, he chose to abandon his collegiate career (with Boeheim's blessing) and declared himself eligible for the 2003 NBA Draft. Some of Anthony's highlights in his time with Syracuse include being named Second-Team All-American by the Associated Press as a freshman, leading his team to a 30-5 record, capturing the school's first ever NCAA title and being the consensus pick for NCAA Freshman of the Year. He was also named to the All-Big East First Team and was the consensus selection for the Big East Conference Freshman of the Year.

Anthony's NBA career began on June 26, 2003, when he was chosen in the first round (3rd overall) of the 2003 NBA Draft draft by the Denver Nuggets. He was selected behind LeBron James (1st overall, Cleveland Cavaliers) and Darko Miličić (2nd overall, Detroit Pistons). He made his NBA regular season debut on October 29, 2003, in an 80-72 home win against the San Antonio Spurs. Anthony finished the night with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. In just his sixth career NBA game (November 7 versus the Los Angeles Clippers), Anthony scored 30 points, becoming the second youngest player in NBA history to score 30 points or more in a game (19 years, 151 days; Kobe Bryant was the youngest). It was the fewest amount of games a Nuggets rookie took to score 30 points in a contest since the ABA-NBA merger. On February 9, 2004, against the Memphis Grizzlies, Anthony became the third-youngest player to reach the 1,000-point plateau in NBA history with a 20-point effort in an 86-83 win. (See 2003-04 NBA season).

On February 13, 2004, Anthony participated in the Got Milk? Rookie Challenge at All-Star Weekend. In 30 minutes of playing time, Anthony scored 17 points, grabbed 3 rebounds and dished out 5 assists in a losing effort (142-118). On March 30 of that year, he scored 41 points against the Seattle SuperSonics to set a new Denver Nuggets franchise mark for most points in a game by a rookie. He also became the second-youngest player (19 years, 305 days) to score at least 40 points in a game in NBA history. After winning the Rookie of the Month award for the Western Conference in the month of April, Anthony became the fourth player in NBA history to capture all six of the Rookie of the Month awards in a season. The others to do so were David Robinson, Tim Duncan and fellow rookie LeBron James. Anthony was also named NBA Player of the Week twice (March 10, 2004 – March 14, 2004 and April 6, 2004 – April 10, 2004) and was a unanimous NBA All-Rookie First Team selection. Anthony averaged 21.0 ppg during the season, which was more than any other rookie. That mark also placed him 12th overall in the entire league. Anthony was second in the NBA Rookie of the Year voting, finishing as the runner-up to the Cavaliers rookie standout, James.

Anthony was a major part in the turn around of the Denver Nuggets from league laughingstock to playoff contender. In the season before Anthony was drafted by the team, the Nuggets finished with a 17-65 record, which tied them for worst in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers. They finished the 2003-04 campaign with a 43-39 overall record, qualifying them as the eighth seed for the post-season. Anthony became the first NBA rookie to lead a playoff team in scoring since David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs during the 1989-90 season. The Nuggets faced the top-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round. In Anthony's first career playoff game, he had 19 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists, in a 106-92 loss at Minnesota. The Timberwolves eliminated the Nuggets in five games.

In Anthony's second season, he started in 75 of the 82 games for the Denver Nuggets. He averaged 20.8 points per game, ranking him 19th in the NBA. Anthony placed 16th in the NBA for points per 48 minutes. On December 4, 2004, versus the Miami Heat, Anthony became the third-youngest player in NBA history to reach 2,000 career points. Only James and Bryant were younger when they reached that plateau. Anthony played again in the Got Milk? Rookie Challenge, this time suiting up for the sophomore squad. In front of his home fans of Denver (who were hosting the 2005 All-Star Game), Anthony scored a game-high 31 points to go along with 5 boards, 2 assists and 2 steals, en route to becoming the MVP of the game.

With Anthony's help, the Nuggets improved their season record by six games from the previous season, ending with a mark of 49-33. The Nuggets finished seventh place in the Western Conference (one spot higher than they finished the previous season). Denver faced the second-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the first round, winning the first game in San Antonio, 93-87. However, the Spurs won the next four games, eliminating the Nuggets from the playoffs.

Anthony played and started in 80 games during the season. He averaged 26.5 ppg (8th, NBA), 2.7 apg, 4.9 rpg and 1.1 spg. His eighth place finish in NBA scoring was the highest finish by a Denver player since the 1990-91 season, when Nuggets guard Michael Adams finished the season sixth in NBA scoring.

On November 23, 2005, with the Nuggets facing the two-time defending Eastern Conference Champion Detroit Pistons, Anthony hauled down his 1,000th career rebound. A month later, Anthony recorded a then career-high 45 points in a losing effort against the Philadelphia 76ers. On March 17, 2006, versus the Memphis Grizzlies, he scored 33 points to push his career point total over the 5,000 mark. Also, in doing so, he became the second youngest player to accomplish that feat (behind James). As the month of March came to a close, the Nuggets finished 11-5, and Anthony was named as the NBA Player of the Month for March. He also took home Player of the Week honors for March 13, 2006 – March 19, 2006.

During the season, Anthony made five game-winning shots in the last five seconds: at Houston on January 8, 2006; at home versus Phoenix on January 10; at Minnesota on February 24; at Indiana on March 15; at home versus the Los Angeles Lakers on April 6. All five of those game-winners were made on jump shots, while the shot against Minnesota was a three-point field goal. Anthony also made a shot in the final seconds to force overtime vs. the Dallas Mavericks on January 6. He made shots in the final 22 seconds against the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 18, 2006, and the Philadelphia 76ers on March 9, which gave the Nuggets leads they would never lose.

Anthony was named to the All-NBA Third Team for the season, alongside Phoenix' Shawn Marion, Houston's Yao Ming, Philadelphia's Allen Iverson and Washington's Gilbert Arenas.

The Nuggets finished the season in third place, winning the Northwest Division for the first time in Anthony's career. Denver faced the sixth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. The Clippers held home court advantage in the series, due to ending the regular season with a better record (Denver finished 44-38; Los Angeles finished 47-35). The Clippers won the first two games of the series on their home floor. The Nuggets split their games at home in Denver (winning game three; losing game four). Denver then lost game five at Los Angeles, which eliminated the Nuggets from the playoffs.

In the eighth game of the season (a 117-109 home win against the Toronto Raptors), Anthony tied the franchise record of six-straight 30-point games recorded by Alex English (1982-83 season). Coincidentally, Alex English witnessed Anthony tie his record as English is now an Assistant Coach with the Toronto Raptors. Anthony fell short of establishing a new record in his ninth game (a 113-109 home victory over the Chicago Bulls) on November 21, as he finished with 29 points. After the Chicago victory, Anthony again tied the club record of six-straight 30-point games, failing to break it the second time around, as he scored 24 points in his 16th game (a 98-96 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks) on December 6).

On December 16, Anthony was one of many players involved in the infamous Knicks-Nuggets brawl during a game at Madison Square Garden. Footage showed Anthony laying a punch on the face of New York's Mardy Collins and subsequently backing away. As a result of his actions, Anthony was suspended for 15 games by NBA commissioner David Stern. Shortly thereafter, the Nuggets traded for Allen Iverson in a bid to form a deadly combination with Anthony. The duo didn't get to play alongside one another until a home game against the Memphis Grizzlies on January 22, which was the day Anthony was allowed to return from his 15-game suspension. Anthony finished the game with 28 points, as he and Iverson combined for 51 points.

On February 2, Anthony and fellow teammate J.R. Smith were involved in a minor car accident. Neither player was injured in the collision. The only information released by the team was that the car Smith was driving belonged to Anthony. Three days later, Anthony recorded his first ever NBA triple-double, with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, in a 113-108 loss to the Phoenix Suns. When the reserves for the Western Conference All-Star team were announced, Anthony was left off of the roster. However, with Yao Ming and Carlos Boozer out with injuries, NBA commissioner David Stern chose Anthony as a replacement (along with Josh Howard). Anthony scored 20 points with 9 rebounds in his All-Star debut. Anthony was the first Denver Nugget to be named an All-Star since Antonio McDyess in 2001.

Anthony won Player of the Week honors three times during the season (November 20–November 26; November 27–December 3; and February 5–February 11), and received Player of the Month honors for April, after leading the Nuggets to a 10-1 record for the month and into sixth place in the final regular season standings of the Western Conference. Anthony finished the season as the league's second leading scorer behind Bryant, with an average of 28.9 ppg, while adding 6.0 rpg, 3.8 apg and 1.2 spg. He was named to All-NBA Third Team for the second straight year, along with Miami's Dwyane Wade, Detroit's Chauncy Billups, Minnesota's Kevin Garnett and Orlando's Dwight Howard. For the second time in three years, Anthony and the sixth-seeded Nuggets faced the third-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. In a virtual repeat of the 2005 first round playoff matchup between the two teams, Denver won the first game in San Antonio, 95-89, only to lose the next four games. The Nuggets were eliminated in the first round for the fourth straight year. In the playoff series against the Spurs, Anthony averaged a team-high 26.8 ppg to go along with 8.6 rpg, 1.2 apg and 1.0 spg.

On January 24, 2008, Anthony was named to his second consecutive NBA All-Star Game—his first as a starter. He finished as the leading vote-getter among Western Conference forwards (1,723,701 votes) and second in overall voting to Kobe Bryant (2,004,940 votes) among all Western Conference players. On February 8, Anthony scored a career-high 49 points in a 111-100 home win over the Washington Wizards. He had a field goal percentage of .760 on a 19-of-25 shooting effort, and his shooting percentage was the second highest in the last 13 years for a player who took 25 or more shots in a game (Bryant was first with a .769 field goal percentage on a 20-of-26 shooting effort, in a 99-94 road victory over the Houston Rockets on December 21, 2000).

On March 27, in a 118-105 Nuggets home win over the Dallas Mavericks, Anthony scored his 9,000th career point. He played in 77 games during the regular season, finishing as the NBA's fourth-leading scorer with 25.7 points per game, and had career-highs in rebounds per game (7.4) and steals per game (1.3). He tied his career-high in blocks per game (0.5), and ended the season with 3.4 assists per game, which was the second-best mark of his career.

The Nuggets finished the 2007-08 season with exactly 50 wins (50-32 overall record, tied for the third-best all-time Nuggets record since the team officially joined the NBA in 1976), following a 120-111 home victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in the last game of the season. It was the first time since the 1987-88 NBA season that the Nuggets finished with at least 50 wins in a season. Denver ended up as the 8th seed in the Western Conference of the 2008 Playoffs, and their 50 wins marked the highest win total for an 8th seed in NBA history. It also meant that for the first time in NBA history, all eight playoff seeds in a conference had at least 50 wins. The Nuggets faced the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers (57-25 overall record) in the first round of the Playoffs. The seven games separating the Nuggets overall record and the Lakers overall record is the closest margin between an eighth seed and a top seed since the NBA went to a 16-team playoff format in 1983-84. The Lakers swept the Nuggets in four games, marking the second time in NBA history that a 50-win team was swept in a best-of-seven playoff series in the first round. For the series, Anthony averaged 22.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg (playoff career-high), 2.0 apg and 0.5 spg.

On December 10, 2008, in a 116-105 home win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Anthony tied George Gervin for the most points scored in one quarter in NBA history by scoring 33 points in the third quarter. Gervin had set the record when he was competing against David Thompson for the scoring title on the last day of the 1977-78 season. Anthony shot 12 of 15 (80%) in the third quarter and finished the game with 45 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals.

On January 4, 2009, Anthony broke a bone in his hand in a game against the Indiana Pacers. He opted to have the hand splinted rather than have surgery; his recovery time is estimated at three to four weeks. He had already missed three games in late December with a sore elbow. Anthony returned from injury and to the Nuggets starting lineup on January 30, 2009 in a game against the Charlotte Bobcats in which he scored 19 points.

Anthony was suspended for one game by the Nuggets for staying on the court and refusing to leave the game after coach George Karl benched him during a game against the Indiana Pacers.

Since entering the NBA, Anthony has been the subject of numerous controversies. In 2004, he was cited for marijuana possession, after inspectors at Denver International Airport found marijuana in his backpack. Charges were later dropped after Anthony’s friend, James Cunningham, of St. Louis, signed an affidavit taking responsibility for the marijuana. That same year, Anthony appeared in a video entitled, Stop Snitchin', which warned that residents of Baltimore who collaborated with the police would face violence. Anthony later distanced himself from this video. In 2006, Anthony’s friend, Tyler Brandon Smith, was pulled over in Anthony’s vehicle and cited for marijuana possession and three traffic violations. Later that year, he was involved in the infamous Knicks-Nuggets brawl during a game at Madison Square Garden. He was suspended 15 games as a result.

On April 14, 2008, Anthony was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, after being pulled over on southbound Interstate 25 at 20th Street in Denver for weaving through lanes and not dimming his lights. Police spokesperson Detective Sharon Hahn said Anthony, who was alone in the car, failed a series of sobriety tests. He was ticketed and then released at police headquarters to a "sober responsible party." A court date was set for May 14. The Nuggets suspended Anthony for two games due to the arrest. On June 24, 2008, Anthony pleaded guilty to a charge of driving while ability-impaired. The original sentence of driving while under the influence was dropped, and he was subsequently sentenced to one year of probation, 24 hours of community service and US$1,000 in court costs and fines.

Anthony was one of 12 players named to the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team in the summer of 2002. He was a member of the bronze-medal winning Team USA at the 2002 Men’s Junior World Championship held in La Asuncion, Margarita, Venezuela. He started all five contests and averaged a team-best 15.6 ppg despite playing an average of just 22.2 minutes an outing. His 6.2 rebound mark ranked second on the club. Anthony had 15 points and nine rebounds in a first-round win against Dominican Republic. He had 21 points and seven boards in 21 minutes versus Mexico, another Team USA triumph. He keyed a 75-73 victory against Argentina with a team-leading 23 points. In a two-point semifinal loss to host Venezuela, Anthony contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds. Team USA earned the bronze by beating Argentina, 71-65. The squad was coached by Oregon mentor Ernie Kent. Anthony had previous USA Basketball experience as a participant in the 2001 Youth Development Festival.

Anthony was chosen as a member of the 2004 USA Olympic basketball team that won the bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He averaged 2.4 ppg and 1.6 apg.

Anthony was named co-captain (along with fellow 2003 draftees LeBron James and Dwyane Wade) of Team USA at the 2006 FIBA World Championship. The team won the bronze medal. On August 23, 2006, Anthony set the U.S. scoring record in a game with 35 points against Italy in the said FIBA tournament. The record was previously held by Kenny Anderson with 34 points in 1990. Anthony was named to the FIBA World Championship All-Tournament Team, posting averages of 19.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg and 1.6 apg.

On January 16, 2006, Anthony was chosen as USA Basketball's Male Athlete of the Year after his performance at the FIBA World Championship.

Anthony was also a member of Team USA during the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship. The team went undefeated, going 10-0. Anthony ended up as the tournament's second-leading scorer with a 21.2 ppg average (191 points in 9 games), which was behind Leandro Barbosa of Brazil. Anthony also added 5.2 rpg and 1.4 apg. He equalled the previous record of 28 points set by Allen Iverson in a qualifying tournament, which was later broken by James, who scored 31 points in the title-clinching win against Argentina.

Anthony was also named to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, again alongside James and Wade with Kobe Bryant and Jason Kidd among others, with the mission of bringing back the Gold Medal to the USA. The team overpowered its opponents with an average winning margin of 32.2 points in five games. The team eliminated Australia in the quarterfinals by 31 then finally went over its final four mishaps in the past by beating Argentina by 20 points. After playing second fiddle to his teammates up to the quarterfinal match, Anthony played his best game against Argentina by topscoring with 21 points, making 3 of 14 field goals and 13-of-13 in free throws, setting USA Olympic game records for made free throws and free throw percentage.

In the gold medal game, Team USA defeated 2006 World Champion Spain and lived up to its "Redeem Team" moniker, with Anthony scoring 13 points. Anthony posted averages of 11.5 ppg (92 points/8 games), 4.3 rpg (34 rebounds/8 games) and 1.0 spg (8 steals/8 games).

Off the court, Anthony donates time and money to causes in Denver and Baltimore. In Denver, Anthony is a spokesman for the Family Resource Center and helps organize a Christmas party, entitled "A Very Melo Christmas," for less well-off children. In Baltimore, Anthony hosts an annual 3-on-3 tournament, known as "Melo's H.O.O.D. Movement 3 on 3 Challenge (Holding Our Own Destiny)" and is helping fund the revitalization of a local community center for local youth.

After the tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, Anthony donated $35,000 to relief efforts. He donated $1,000 per point scored against San Antonio and Houston on January 8 and 9, 2005 respectively.

Anthony also committed $3 million toward the construction of a newly-planned basketball practice facility at his alma mater, Syracuse University. According to the NBA's official website, "Anthony's gift represents one of the largest individual donations to Syracuse University Athletics and is also believed to be one of largest by a current professional athlete to the school they attended." The practice facility will be called the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center.

Anthony has two brothers, Robert and Wilford, a sister Michelle, and a half-sister Daphne. His mother, Mary, is African American, and his father was Puerto Rican.

Anthony got engaged to MTV VJ LaLa Vasquez on Christmas Day, 2004. They have a son, Kiyan Carmelo Anthony, born on March 7, 2007.

Anthony was a guest star in the "Lost and Found" episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. In the episode, Ned finds a pair of sneakers autographed by Anthony in the school's lost and found and attempts to claim the shoes for his own.

Anthony was in the music video for Common's song "Be" from the album Be in 2005.

Anthony is the only player to appear on the cover of all three EA Sports basketball franchises (NCAA March Madness, NBA Live and NBA Street). He was on the covers of NCAA March Madness 2004, NBA Live 2005 and NBA Street Homecourt.

In January 2009, Colorado Sports Hall of Fame selected Anthony as its professional athlete of the year for 2008. He and wrestler Henry Cejudo, also a 2008 gold medalist, were chosen to be the special award headliners for the induction banquet to be held on April 14 2009.

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Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors logo

The Toronto Raptors are a professional basketball team based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They are part of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team was established in 1995, along with the Vancouver Grizzlies, as part of the NBA's expansion into Canada. When the Grizzlies relocated to Memphis, Tennessee in 2001, the Raptors became the only Canadian team in the NBA. They originally played their home games in the SkyDome, before moving to the Air Canada Centre (ACC) in 1999.

Like most expansion teams, the Raptors struggled in their early years, but after the acquisition of Vince Carter through a draft day trade in 1998, the team set league attendance records and made the NBA Playoffs in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Carter was instrumental in leading the team to their first playoff series win in 2001, where they advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. During the 2002–03 and 2003–04 seasons, they failed to make significant progress and he was traded in 2004. After Carter left, Chris Bosh emerged as the team leader, but they continued to struggle. However, with the appointment of Bryan Colangelo as General Manager and a revamp of the roster for the 2006–07 season, they qualified for their first playoff berth in five years and captured their first division title. In the following season, they advanced to the playoffs again.

The Toronto Raptors were established on 30 September 1993 when the NBA, as part of its expansion into Canada, awarded its 28th franchise to a group headed by Toronto businessman John Bitove. The Raptors, along with the Vancouver Grizzlies, played their first games in 1995, and were the first NBA teams based in Canada since the 1946–47 Toronto Huskies.

Initial sentiment was in favour of reviving the Huskies nickname, but team management realized it would be nearly impossible to design a logo that did not look too much like that of the Minnesota Timberwolves. As a result, a nationwide contest was held to help name the team and develop their colours and logo. Over 2,000 entries were narrowed down to ten prospects: Beavers, Bobcats, Dragons, Grizzlies, Hogs, Raptors, Scorpions, T-Rex, Tarantulas, and Terriers. The final selection—Toronto Raptors—was unveiled on Canadian national television on 15 May 1994; the choice was influenced by the popularity of the film Jurassic Park. On 24 May 1994, the team's logo and first General Manager (GM), Isiah Thomas were revealed at a press conference. The team's colours of bright red, purple, black, and silver were also revealed; "Naismith" silver was chosen as an ode to Canadian James Naismith, the inventor of basketball. The team originally competed in the Central Division, and before the inaugural season began, sales of Raptors merchandise ranked seventh in the league, marking a successful return of professional basketball to Canada.

As GM, Isiah Thomas quickly staffed the management positions with his own personnel, naming long-time Detroit Pistons assistant Brendan Malone as the Raptors' head coach. The team's roster was then filled as a result of an expansion draft in 1995. Following a coin flip, Toronto was given first choice and selected Chicago Bulls point guard and three-point specialist B. J. Armstrong. Armstrong refused to report for training and Thomas promptly traded him to the Golden State Warriors for power forwards Carlos Rogers and Victor Alexander. Thomas then selected a wide range of players in the expansion draft, including veterans Jerome Kersey, Willie Anderson and his former Pistons teammate John "Spider" Salley.

Subsequent to the expansion draft, the Raptors landed the seventh pick in the NBA Draft Lottery, behind their fellow 1995 expansion club, the Vancouver Grizzlies. Thomas selected Damon Stoudamire, a point guard out of the University of Arizona, around whom the franchise would seek to construct its near future. Yet the selection of Stoudamire was met with boos from fans at the 1995 NBA Draft at the SkyDome in Toronto, many of whom wanted Ed O'Bannon of UCLA, an NCAA Final Four Most Valuable Player.

In the team's first official NBA game, Alvin Robertson scored the first NBA points in Raptors history, while Stoudamire recorded 10 points and 10 assists in a 94–79 victory over the New Jersey Nets. The Raptors concluded their inaugural season with a 21–61 win–loss record, although they were one of the few teams to defeat the Chicago Bulls, who set an all-time NBA best 72–10 win–loss regular season record. With averages of 19.0 points and 9.3 assists per game, Stoudamire also won the 1995–96 Rookie of the Year Award.

In the 1996–97 season the team improved on its win record by nine games. They selected centre Marcus Camby with the second overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. By the end of the season, Camby earned a berth on the NBA's All-Rookie Team while Stoudamire continued to play well, averaging 20.2 points and 8.8 assists per game. As in the previous season, the Raptors were one of only 11 teams to topple the eventual 1997 Champions, the Chicago Bulls. The Raptors also defeated the Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz and Miami Heat, all of whom were eventual Conference finalists. However, the Raptors struggled against teams who were not of championship calibre, including three losses to the 15–67 Boston Celtics.

Early in the 1997–98 season, the team suffered numerous injuries and slid into a 17-game losing streak. GM Isiah Thomas resigned after his ownership bid for the Raptors failed and was replaced by Glen Grunwald. With Thomas gone, Stoudamire immediately sought a trade. On 13 February 1998, he was shipped to the Portland Trail Blazers along with Walt Williams and Carlos Rogers for Kenny Anderson, Alvin Williams, Gary Trent, two first-round draft choices, a second-round draft choice and cash. Anderson refused to report to Toronto and was traded to the Celtics with Zan Tabak and Popeye Jones for Chauncey Billups, Dee Brown, Roy Rogers and John Thomas. When the trading deadline was over, the Raptors became the youngest team in the league with an average age of 24.6. They had five rookies on their roster, including the 18-year-old Tracy McGrady, who at the time was the youngest player in the NBA. The inexperienced Raptors struggled throughout the season and their regular season record regressed to 16–66.

During the 1998 NBA Draft, in what became a defining move for the franchise, Grunwald traded the team's 4th overall pick Antawn Jamison to the Golden State Warriors for Vince Carter, who was selected 5th overall. To bring further credibility to the Raptors, Grunwald traded Camby to the New York Knicks for Charles Oakley, a veteran with playoff experience. Kevin Willis, another veteran acquired from the trade, solidified the centre position, while the coaching staff temporarily rotated Dee Brown, Alvin Williams and Doug Christie to play point guard. Both Christie and Williams became talented players in their own right; Christie developed into one of the elite defenders in the NBA, while Williams improved his play on the offensive end. New coach Butch Carter was also credited with much of the team's turnaround during the lockout shortened 1998–99 season. Although the team did not make the playoffs, many were optimistic with the impressive performances of Rookie of the Year Carter and a much improved McGrady.

During the 1999 NBA Draft, believing that the Raptors still lacked a strong frontcourt presence, Grunwald traded first-round draft pick Jonathan Bender for veteran power forward Antonio Davis of the Indiana Pacers. In the backcourt, Butch Carter rotated Carter, Christie, Williams and Dell Curry at the shooting guard position and Williams and Muggsy Bogues at point guard. The rotation of Davis, Oakley and Willis in the frontcourt and Carter's and McGrady's improvement helped the team make its first ever playoff appearance, fulfilling a promise Carter had made to fans in the previous season. Lacking significant post-season experience, Toronto was defeated 3–0 by the New York Knicks in the first round. Nonetheless, team improvements and the rise of Carter—who emphatically won the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest—attracted many fans around Toronto, many of whom were previously not basketball fans. The season was also the first full year played at the Air Canada Centre, after having played four years at the cavernous SkyDome, which was better suited to baseball and football. Overall, the Raptors concluded the season with a 45–37 record and ranked third in the Central Division.

Still, playoff failures and Butch Carter's media altercations surrounding Camby led Grunwald to replace Carter prior to the 2000–01 season with Lenny Wilkens, a Hall of Fame coach and player with more than 30 years of coaching experience. The team roster was also largely revamped, including the signing of veteran playmaker Mark Jackson on a four year contract. When Alvin Williams later emerged as a clutch performer, Jackson was traded to allow Williams more playing time. Vince Carter, who was originally assigned the small forward position, became more adept at playing the shooting guard position, and as a result, Doug Christie, the former shooting guard, was traded for forward Corliss Williamson. Williamson had a disappointing season and was replaced by defensive workhorse Jerome Williams. Although McGrady and Carter had showed impressive improvement at the same time, much of the media and fan attention was focused on Carter, who was the flashier player. Furthermore, McGrady and Carter shared the same natural position (small forward), making it impossible to keep both. Therefore, the Raptors management decided to trade McGrady to the Orlando Magic during the 2000 off-season for a first-round draft pick in a sign-and-trade deal.

As predicted by analysts, the team easily secured a playoff berth. Toronto defeated New York 3–2 in the first round, and Wilkens was praised for having Williams defend shooting guard Allan Houston and Carter defend small forward Latrell Sprewell, the two major Knicks offensive threats. The next series against the Philadelphia 76ers was a landmark for the Raptors in terms of performance and entertainment value. The Sixers relied on Allen Iverson and Dikembe Mutombo for their respective offensive and defensive abilities, along with steady help from Aaron McKie. Toronto was the more balanced team with Carter, Williams and Davis providing much of the offensive game and Chris Childs and Jerome Williams providing the defensive pressure. Philadelphia took full advantage of the mismatch at centre while Toronto counteracted with a fast break offence with their shorter but quicker players. The series came down to the last few seconds of Game 7, when Carter's potential series-winning shot rolled off the rim. Carter was later widely criticized for attending his graduation ceremony at the University of North Carolina on the morning of Game 7. Despite the loss, the season is generally considered a watermark for the franchise, given the Raptors' best ever regular season record (47–35), and finishing second in the Central Division.

The relocation of the Vancouver Grizzlies to Memphis, Tennessee in 2001 left Toronto as the NBA's only Canadian team. To ensure that Vince Carter would re-sign with the team, long-term contracts were given to Alvin Williams, Jerome Williams and Antonio Davis, while former NBA MVP centre Hakeem Olajuwon was signed to provide Carter with good support. The Raptors appeared to be on their way to another competitive season, with a 29–21 record going into the All-Star break and with Carter the top vote-getter for the All-Star game for the third consecutive year. Carter then suffered a bout of tendinitis, forcing him to miss the All-Star game and the rest of the season, and without their franchise player, Toronto lost 13 consecutive games. However, they were able to win 12 of their last 14 games, clinching a playoff spot on the last day of the regular season. The comeback featured some of the Raptors' best defense of the season, along with inspired performances by Antonio Davis and Keon Clark.

Despite Toronto's improved defensive performances, Carter's offence was sorely missed in the first-round series against the second-seeded Detroit Pistons. In the first game, Detroit overwhelmed Toronto 83–65 largely due to Ben Wallace's strong performance of 19 points, 20 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 steals. Detroit also won Game 2, but Toronto won the next two games at home to force a deciding and tightly contested Game 5 in Detroit. With 10.7 seconds left in the game, and the Raptors down 85–82 with possession of the ball, Chris Childs raced down the court and shot a three-pointer that missed badly, apparently trying to draw a foul on the play, instead of passing to a wide-open Dell Curry. In a post-game locker room interview, Childs repeatedly insisted that the Raptors had been down four points, not three. The Raptors' late-season surge was thus marred by a disappointing playoff exit; the Olajuwon experiment was also a bust, with the 39-year-old averaging career lows in minutes, points and rebounds. Furthermore, Childs, Clark, and Curry left the team, ensuring a new-look team for the next season.

The 2002–03 season began with the same optimism that the Raptors exhibited in three consecutive playoff seasons, although it faded early. Carter, while voted as a starter in the 2003 All-Star Game, suffered a spate of injuries. Antonio Davis expressed disinterest in Toronto, and Wilkens' laissez-faire attitude created a team that lacked the motivation and spirit of the previous years' teams. The team was ravaged with injuries, losing an NBA record number of player games due to injury. Furthermore, the Raptors recorded the dubious honour of being the only team in NBA history to not dress 12 players for a single game in a season. Wilkens was criticized heavily by the Toronto media for his inability to clamp down on his players when necessary, especially given this was the year that Wilkens overtook Bill Fitch for the most losses by an NBA coach, with his loss total getting dangerously close to his win total. The Raptors ended the season with a 24–58 record and Wilkens was sacked. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, when the Raptors were given the 4th overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft and brought another star to Toronto in Chris Bosh.

Canadian country singer Shania Twain helped launch the new red Raptors alternate road uniform at the start of the 2003–04 season, and the jerseys made their debut in a 90–87 season-opening victory on 29 October 2003 against the defending Conference Champion New Jersey Nets. The Raptors were inconsistent throughout the season, partly due to injuries to key players Jalen Rose, Alvin Williams and Carter, with Davis and Jerome Williams traded early in the season for Rose and Donyell Marshall. On 1 November 2003, the Raptors even tied an NBA record for fewest points scored in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, losing 56–73. After 50 games, Toronto was 25–25 and in a position to make the playoffs, but injuries to key players again sent the Raptors plummeting down the standings. Rose, Carter, and Williams all suffered injuries as the Raptors struggled to a record of 8–24 in their remaining games. The Raptors fired GM Glen Grunwald on 1 April 2004, after the team ended the season three games short of the eighth and final playoff spot. The notable individual season performances were Carter's 22.5 ppg, Marshall's 10.7 rpg and rookie Bosh, a 6-10 forward-centre who averaged 11.5 ppg and 7.4 rpg and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team. In this transitionary season, the Raptors improved their regular season record to 33–49.

Head coach Kevin O'Neill was fired immediately after Grunwald's termination, after making some remarks which were taken to question the team's commitment to winning. He was replaced by Sam Mitchell, a former NBA forward and assistant coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. Rob Babcock was named GM on 7 June 2004, alongside the appointments of Wayne Embry as senior advisor and Alex English as director of player development.

In the 2004–05 season, the team moved into the Atlantic Division. Babcock picked Rafael Araújo—selected eighth overall—in the 2004 NBA Draft, in a move that was criticized by fans and analysts. Franchise player Carter demanded a trade during the offseason which finally came to fruition mid-season, ending his six-year tenure. Following the trade, Carter acknowledged he had not tried his hardest in the past few seasons. Toronto received Alonzo Mourning, forwards Eric Williams and Aaron Williams and two mid-to-late future first round picks from the New Jersey Nets. Mourning chose to not report to Toronto, forcing Babcock to buy out the remainder of his contract at a reported $10 million, leaving him free to sign with the Miami Heat. Eric and Aaron Williams were supposed to add defensive toughness and rebounding, but were generally under-utilized for the entire season. Analysts had predicted Babcock got the bad end of the deal, and the trade eventually cost him his job.

Carter's departure heralded a new era for Toronto. Bosh stepped up to the role of franchise player and performed well in his sophomore campaign, ranking tenth in the league in defensive rebounds. In contrast to Bosh's emergence, Araújo struggled to keep a spot in the line-up, and became unpopular with fans and local media. Although the ACC was often well attended, due to the Raptors' 22–19 home record, their inability to win on the road (11–30) and poor defensive record made Sam Mitchell's first year as head coach unimpressive. Additionally, Mitchell had problems dealing with Rafer Alston, who openly expressed his unhappiness with Mitchell in a post-game interview. Later in the season, Alston was suspended two games for "conduct detrimental to the team" for reportedly walking out of a scrimmage during practice. Notwithstanding the unrest, in their first season competing in the Atlantic Division, Toronto maintained the same regular season record of 33–49 as the previous season.

The Raptors continued to rebuild during the 2005 NBA Draft, selecting Charlie Villanueva, Joey Graham, Roko Ukic and Uros Slokar, with Villanueva's selection being very controversial amongst basketball pundits and Raptors fans alike. The Raptors started their training camp by trading Alston to the Houston Rockets for Mike James, and signing free agent José Calderón as a backup for James. Despite the infusion of new players, Toronto's overall 2005–06 season was a disappointment; they set a franchise record by losing their first nine games and 15 out of their first 16 games. With losses mounting and media scrutiny intensifying, the Raptors hired legendary ex-Purdue coach Gene Keady as an assistant off the bench to help develop the young Raptors team, as well as establish a defensive persona for the team.

On 15 January 2006, the Raptors set a franchise points record in a 129–103 win over the Knicks when Villanueva hit a three-pointer late in the game, but less than a week later, the Raptors gave up an 18-point lead against the Los Angeles Lakers, and allowed Lakers star Kobe Bryant to score 81 points, the second highest single-game total in NBA history. With media scrutiny intensifying once more and the Raptors entrenched at the bottom of the league in defensive field goal percentage, Toronto fired GM Rob Babcock.

The 2005–06 season was not a total disaster. Villanueva's play impressed both fans and former critics as he came in second in NBA Rookie of the Year and recorded 48 points in an overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the most points scored by any rookie in franchise history and the most by a rookie in the NBA since 1997. Bosh was also named a reserve forward for the Eastern All-Star Team in the 2006 game, becoming the third Raptor after Vince Carter and Antonio Davis to appear in an All-Star Game. On 27 February 2006, the team named Bryan Colangelo, the 2004–05 NBA Executive of the Year, the President and GM of the Raptors. Known for his success in transforming a lottery Phoenix team into a 62-win offensive juggernaut, his hiring gave hope to many fans. Still, Toronto ended the season weakly when Bosh suffered a season-ending thumb injury. The Raptors lost 10 in a row after Bosh's injury and finished the season with the fifth worst record (27–55) in the NBA.

The 2006–07 season represented a watershed year for the Raptors franchise. The roster was overhauled, including the selection of 2006 NBA Draft number one pick Andrea Bargnani, the acquisition of point guard T. J. Ford in exchange for Charlie Villanueva, and the signing of shooting guard Anthony Parker and small forward Jorge Garbajosa. Bosh was given a three-year contract extension, while Maurizio Gherardini of Benetton Treviso was hired as the club’s vice-president and assistant general manager.

The first half of the season produced mixed results as Toronto struggled towards the .500 mark. However, Toronto ended the regular season with a 47–35 record, securing the third seed in the Eastern Conference for the 2007 NBA Playoffs along with the Atlantic Division title, as well as homecourt advantage for the first time in franchise history. Bosh recorded career-highs in ppg and rpg and was voted to start in the 2007 NBA All-Star Game. The Raptors were also praised for their improved defense, ball-sharing and tremendous team chemistry. Colangelo, Gherardini and Mitchell were credited with Toronto's turnaround this season, which was one of the best in NBA history in terms of league standing and defensive ranking. Mitchell was subsequently named the 2006–07 NBA Coach of the Year, the first coach in Raptors history to receive the honour, while Colangelo was named 2006–07 Executive of the Year. On 24 April 2007, the Raptors won their first playoff game in five seasons, with an 89–83 victory over the New Jersey Nets, but lost the series 4–2.

Several changes to the roster were made before the 2007–08 campaign as Toronto sought to reproduce the same form as the previous campaign. Most notably, the Raptors acquired Carlos Delfino in a trade with Detroit for two second round draft picks, and signed Jamario Moon and three-point specialist Jason Kapono as free agents. On the other hand, veteran swingman Morris Peterson joined the New Orleans Hornets. Despite being defending division champions, the Raptors were widely tipped as outside contenders for the division and conference titles. Bargnani's inability to play well consistently, coupled with injuries to Garbajosa (75 games), Bosh (15 games) and Ford (31 games) derailed the possibility of a smooth campaign as the Raptors chalked up six fewer wins than the previous season. The Raptors ceded the division title to Boston, and qualified for the 2008 NBA Playoffs as the sixth seed where they were pitted against the Orlando Magic, but were eliminated in five games. Whereas the preceding season was considered a success, the 2007–08 campaign was considered a disappointment. Weaknesses in Toronto's game—rebounding, defence, and a lack of a swingman—were brought into sharp focus during the playoffs, and changes were expected to be made to the roster.

As it turned out, a blockbuster trade was agreed in principle before the 2008–09 campaign: six-time All-Star Jermaine O'Neal was acquired from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Ford (who had become expendable with the emergence of Calderón), Rasho Nesterovič, Maceo Baston, and Roy Hibbert, the 17th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, giving the Raptors a potential boost in the frontcourt. Meanwhile, Bargnani, who had spent the summer working on his interior game, was projected to come off the bench. The Raptors also introduced a black alternate road jersey for the season similar to the earlier purple design that was dropped a few seasons ago. It had a maple leaf featured on the back neck of the jersey, symbolizing the Raptors as "Canada's team". Despite the introduction of O'Neal, who brought home the rebounds and the blocks, and a much improved Bargnani, the Raptors were too inconsistent. Following a 8–9 start to the season, Mitchell was fired and replaced by long-time assistant Jay Triano. Triano tweaked with the starting line-up to no avail as the Raptors fell to 21–34 prior to the All-Star break. O'Neal and Moon were then traded to Miami for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks, but with the losses mounting, the Raptors soon fell out of the playoffs picture.

The Raptors have enjoyed a consistent fanbase throughout their history. From 2000 to 2002, the Raptors led the league in sellouts, but attendances dipped slightly between 2003 and 2006. This improved during the 2006–07 regular season, an average of 18,258 fans attended each game (13th in the league), which translates to 92.2% of the ACC's seating capacity. Following the success of the 2006–07 season, Toronto became one of the league leaders in season ticket sales for the 2007–08 season.

The value of the Raptors franchise has risen over the years. With the continued popularity of the Raptors, the value of the franchise rose from US$125 million in 1998 to $315 million in 2006, $373 million in 2007, and $400 million in 2008 according to reports by Forbes. The Raptors are also the only NBA team with their own television channel, Raptors NBA TV, a localised version of the league's U.S. channel NBA TV. Their television ratings, however, are considerably lower than other more established Toronto sports teams and other sporting events shown on Canadian television.

On game day, the fans are usually entertained by the Raptor mascot, the Raptors Dance Pak, and the 4 Korners Raptors Soundcrew during pre-game, time-outs, and intervals. Giveaways are sometimes bundled with tickets to encourage attendance. Further, whenever Toronto scores more than 100 points in a home game, fans can redeem their ticket for a pizza slice at Pizza Pizza locations throughout Ontario.

The Raptors Foundation is the charitable arm of the Raptors, dedicated to assisting Ontario’s registered charities that support programs and sports initiatives for at-risk children and youth. The Foundation strives to lift spirits and change lives for young people by supporting local and provincial organizations that provide recreational, educational and other youth-oriented activities. Through its community ties and with the help of its corporate partners, donors, Raptors players and volunteers, the Foundation has successfully raised more than $14 million between 1995 and 2007, and reached out to thousands of charities. The Raptors Foundation is one of three parts of the Raptors' community service program. The other projects are Raptors Community Relations and Raptors Basketball Development, both of which focus on providing basketball development programs. The Toronto Raptors lead the NBA for amount of money donated to the community.

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Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers logo

The Los Angeles Lakers are a National Basketball Association (NBA) team based in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers play their home games at Staples Center, which they share with their fellow NBA rival, the Los Angeles Clippers, and their sister team, the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA.

The Lakers' franchise was founded in 1946 in Detroit, Michigan before moving to Minneapolis, where the team got its official title from the state's nickname, "Land of 10,000 Lakes." The Lakers won five championships before relocating to Los Angeles in the 1960–61 NBA season. The Lakers lost all of their eight appearances in the NBA Finals in the 1960s, despite having help from Elgin Baylor and Jerry West. In 1972, the Lakers won their sixth title under coach Bill Sharman. The Lakers' popularity soared in the 1980s when they won five additional championships during a nine-year span with the leadership of Hall of Famers Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy and coach Pat Riley, the franchise's all-time leader in both regular season and playoff games coached and wins. Two of those championships during that span were against their arch-rivals, the Boston Celtics. With the help of Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers played in five of the nine NBA Finals in the 2000s, winning three of them consecutively from 2000 to 2002 and losing the last two in 2004 and, most recently, the 2008 NBA Finals without O'Neal.

The Lakers hold records for having (at the end of the 2007–08 season) the most wins (2,905), the highest winning percentage (61.5%), the most NBA Finals appearances (29), the fewest non-playoff seasons with five (tied with San Antonio Spurs), and the second-most NBA championships with 14, behind the Boston Celtics' 17. They also hold the record for compiling the longest consecutive win streak (33) in U.S. professional team sports (also an NBA record) in the 1971–72 season. 14 Hall of Famers have played for the Lakers, while four Hall of Famer (John Kundla, Bill Sharman, Pat Riley and Phil Jackson) have coached the team. Four Lakers (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant) have won the NBA Most Valuable Player award.

The Lakers began in 1946 when Ben Berger and Morris Chalfen bought the Detroit Gems of the National Basketball League for $15,000. The team was relocated to Minneapolis for the 1947 season. The Lakers, who already had a solid roster with forward Jim Pollard and playmaker Herm Schaefer, added center George Mikan, who quickly became the most dominant player in the game. With Mikan leading the way during their first year, the Lakers won their division by 13 games with a 43–17 record. In the 1949 BAA Championship the Lakers continued their dominance, beating the Washington Capitols three games to one. The following season, the team improved to 44–24, winning the Western Division. In the playoffs, the team defeated the Indianapolis Olympians in three games but lost to the Rochester Royals in the next round.

In the 1951–52 season the Lakers won 40 games, finishing second in its division. Facing the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals, the Lakers won in seven games. With a 48–22 record in the 1952–53 season, the team went to the NBA Finals again after defeating the Fort Wayne Pistons in the Western Finals. The team won their second straight championship over The Knicks. Though Lakers star George Milkan suffered from knee problem throughout the 1953–54 season, he was still able to average 18 points per game. Clyde Lovellette, who was drafted in 1952 was able to help the team win the Western Division, along with Milkan. The team was able to win their third straight championship in the '50s when they defeated the Syracuse Nationals in seven games. Following Milkan's retirement in the 1954 offseason, the team struggled but still managed to win 40 games. Although defeating the Royals in the first round, the Lakers were defeated by the Fort Wayne Pistons in the next round. For the rest of the fifties, the team failed to average above .500 and never returned to the Finals.

In their last year in Minneapolis, the Lakers went 25–50 and won the number two pick in the 1960 NBA Draft. The team selected Jerry West from West Virginia University. During the 1960 offseason, the Lakers became the NBA's first West Coast team when the owner, Bob Short, decided to move the team to Los Angeles. Although the team featured Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, and Gail Goodrich, the attendance fell dramatically in their first five years in Los Angeles and the team lost the NBA Finals four times to the Boston Celtics in five seasons. The Lakers moved to a brand-new arena, The Forum, in 1967, after playing seven seasons at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. That season saw the team repeating its pattern, losing to the Celtics in the 1968 NBA Finals.

On July 9, 1968, the team acquired Wilt Chamberlain from the Philadelphia 76ers for Darrell Imhoff, Archie Clark, and Jerry Chambers. The Lakers and Celtics met again in the finals, and the Lakers had the home court advantage for the first time. They could not get past their rivals, however, and lost in seven games; the Celtics emerged from the series with their 11th NBA Championship in 13 seasons. Jerry West was named the first-ever Finals MVP; this remains the only time that a member of the losing team has won the award. In 1970 the team returned to the finals, and for the first time, they did not have to face the Celtics; instead the team met the New York Knicks, who defeated them 4–3. The next season the Lakers were defeated by the Milwaukee Bucks, led by future Laker Lew Alcindor (now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in the Western Conference Finals.

The 1971–72 season brought several changes. Owner Jack Kent Cooke brought in Bill Sharman as the new coach, and Elgin Baylor announced his retirement early in the season after realizing that his legs were not healthy enough. The team, however, still won 14 straight games in November and 16 straight games in December. The team then won three straight to open the year of 1972 but on January 9, the Milwaukee Bucks ended the streak by defeating the Lakers, 120–104. By winning 33 straight games, the Lakers notched the longest winning streak of any team in American professional sports. The team won 69 games that season, setting a new NBA record for wins in a season, until the Chicago Bulls won 72 games in 1995–96. Chamberlain averaged a career-low 14.8 points but led the league in rebounding with 19.2 per game. West led the league in assists, with 9.7 assists per game, and averaged better than 25 points. At the end of the season, Bill Sharman was named NBA Coach of the Year. The Lakers eventually made it to the finals where they took revenge on the New York Knicks by winning in five games, bringing the first NBA title to Los Angeles.

During the 1972–73 NBA season, the Lakers did not match their record from their previous season, but they did clinch another Pacific Division title by winning 60 games. Wilt Chamberlain, playing in his final season, again leading the league in rebounding. The team triumphed over the Chicago Bulls after seven games during the conference semifinals but then easily defeated the Golden State Warriors in the Western Division Finals. The team then met the New York Knicks in the 1973 NBA Finals. The Lakers took the first game by three points, but the Knicks took the series in five games. Following the season, Wilt Chamberlain retired after a 15 year NBA career. For the 1973–74, the team was hampered by the loss of Jerry West, who played only 31 games before his legs finally gave out. Gail Goodrich who averaged 25.3 points, helped the team to a late-season surge. Trailing the Golden State Warriors by three games with seven left to play, the Lakers rallied to win the Pacific Division with a 47–35 record. The team advanced to the playoffs but managed only one win against the Milwaukee Bucks in the conference semifinals. Following the season, Jerry West retired, ending his 14 year playing career.

After missing the playoffs in the 1974–75 season, the Lakers acquired Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the league's premier big man at that time. Abdul-Jabbar wanted out from Milwaukee, demanding a trade to either New York or Los Angeles. He was eventually traded to the Lakers for Elmore Smith, Brian Winters, Junior Bridgeman, and Dave Meyers. Abdul-Jabbar had an MVP season for the Lakers in 1975–76, leading the league in rebounding, blocked shots, and minutes played. The Lakers struggled in January, with a 3–10 record. At season's end, Abdul-Jabbar won the fourth NBA Most Valuable Player Award, but the team finished out of the playoffs with a 40–42 record.

Jerry West replaced Bill Sharman as head coach during the offseason. It took another MVP season from Abdul-Jabbar to carry the team back to the top of the Pacific Division, as the Lakers finished the 1976–77 season with a league-best 53–29 record. They defeated the Warriors in a seven-game series to open the postseason before being defeated by Portland in the Western Conference Finals. During the offseason, the Lakers picked up Jamaal Wilkes from Golden State and signed first-round draft pick Norm Nixon. In the first two minutes of the first game of the 1977–78 season, Abdul-Jabbar punched Bucks Kent Benson for an overly aggressive elbow and broke his hand. The team won 45 games despite not having Abdul-Jabbar for nearly two months. During the 1978–79 season, the team posted a 47–35 record but lost to the SuperSonics in the semifinal round of the playoffs.

During the 1979 NBA Draft, the Lakers had the first overall pick and selected 6'9" Earvin Johnson from Michigan State. The Lakers won 60 games in Johnson's rookie year. The Lakers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in game six of the 1980 championship series thanks to an MVP performance by the rookie Johnson, who started for the injured Abdul-Jabbar. He finished with 42 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists en route to the Lakers' second championship in Los Angeles. The 1980–81 season was a disappointment, though, as the Lakers lost Magic Johnson for most of the season to a knee injury. The team turned in a 54–28 record and finished second behind the Phoenix Suns in the Pacific Division. But the Houston Rockets, led by Moses Malone, stunned the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.

Owner Jerry Buss fired coach Paul Westhead after the Lakers went 7–4 to start the 1981–82 season. Buss promoted Assistant Coach Pat Riley to head coach on November 19 and the team won 17 of its next 20 games. The Lakers took the Pacific Division title and swept both the Phoenix Suns and the San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers then stretched its postseason winning streak to nine games by taking the first contest of the NBA Finals from the 76ers. The team won the Finals four games to two; the team's playoff record that year was 12–2. On draft night in 1982, the Lakers had the first overall pick and selected James Worthy from North Carolina. The Lakers clinched the Pacific Division with a 58–24 record, advancing to the 1983 NBA Finals by defeating Portland and San Antonio in the first two rounds. The Sixers, however, won the series and the championship in four straight games.

By the 1984–85 season, the Lakers' "Showtime" era, the most successful era in team history, was in full swing. The team won the Pacific Division for the fourth straight year. The Lakers lost game one of the NBA Finals by a lopsided score of 148–114, in what is now remembered as the "Memorial Day Massacre". The Lakers were resilient and behind 37–year old Finals MVP Abdul-Jabbar, and they were finally able to defeat Boston in six games. The team won the title in the Boston Garden, thus making the 1985 Lakers the only visiting team to ever win an NBA championship there.

In the 1985–86 season, they went 24–3 in their first 27 games and finished with 62 wins, clinching their fifth straight division title. The Houston Rockets, however, defeated the Lakers in five games in the Western Conference Finals. The Rockets won the series when Ralph Sampson hit a 20–foot jumper as time expired in game five at The Forum. The next season the Lakers accumulated 65 wins, the second-most in franchise history up to that point. Johnson then notched his last Finals MVP award as the Lakers defeated their arch rival Celtics in the finals, highlighted by Johnson's running "baby hook" shot to win game four at Boston Garden with two seconds remaining. Prior to the 1986–87 season, the Lakers let go of Maurice Lucas, moving A. C. Green into the starting lineup, and picked up Mychal Thompson from the San Antonio Spurs. Johnson won his first career NBA Most Valuable Player Award while leading the Lakers to a 65–17 record, the second-best mark in franchise history. Michael Cooper was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

The Lakers met the Celtics in the NBA Finals by sweeping the Denver Nuggets, losing just one game to the Golden State Warriors, and then swept the Seattle SuperSonics in the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers routed the Celtics in the first two games of the Finals, and the teams then split the next four contests, giving the Lakers their second championship in three seasons. Johnson was named the NBA Finals MVP, to go with his regular-season MVP trophy. At the Lakers' championship celebration in Los Angeles, coach Riley brashly declared that the Lakers would repeat as NBA champions in the next season. During the 1987–88 season, the Lakers won, taking their seventh consecutive Pacific Division title, and subsequently meeting the Detroit Pistons in the 1988 NBA Finals. The Lakers took the series in seven games, and James Worthy's triple double earned him a Finals MVP award. In the 1988–89 season, the Lakers won 57 games. The team made it to the NBA Finals, facing the Detroit Pistons again. The Pistons took advantage of the injuries of Byron Scott and Magic Johnson and took the series in four games.

On June 28, 1989, after twenty professional seasons, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar announced his retirement. During the 1990 offseason, 1987 Defensive Player of the Year winner Michael Cooper also announced his retirement. The team made another Finals appearance in 1991 but lost to Michael Jordan's Bulls in five games. On November 7, 1991, Magic Johnson announced he had tested positive for HIV and that he would retire immediately. In their first season without Magic, they only won 43 games. In addition, they were eliminated after only four games in the first round. During the 1993–94 season, the team won only 33 games and missed the playoffs for the fourth time in franchise history.

For the next two seasons, the team made the playoffs but were eliminated in the second and first round, respectively. During the 1996 off-season, however, the Lakers signed Shaquille O'Neal and acquired rookie Kobe Bryant from the Charlotte Hornets for Vlade Divac. They used their 24th pick in the draft to select Derek Fisher. During the season, the team traded Cedric Ceballos to the Phoenix Suns for Robert Horry.

O'Neal led the team to a 56–26 record, their best effort since 1990–91, despite missing 31 games with a knee injury. O'Neal averaged 26.2 ppg and 12.5 rpg and finished third in the league in blocked shots (2.88 bpg) in 51 games. The Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the 1997 NBA Playoffs. O'Neal scored 46 points in Game 1 against the Trail Blazers, it marked the highest single-game playoff scoring output by a Laker since Jerry West scored 53 against the Celtics in 1969. In the next round, the Lakers lost four games to one.

In the 1997–98 season, O'Neal and the Lakers had the best start in franchise history, starting 11–0. O'Neal missed 20 games due to an abdominal injury. All season, the Lakers battled with Seattle for the Pacific Division title. In the final two months of the season, the Lakers won 22 of their final 25 games. With their late-season surge, the Lakers overtook Seattle atop the Pacific at 61–21. The Lakers defeated Portland three games to one, in the first-round best-of-five. In the next round, the team faced Seattle. Although Seattle won the first game, the Lakers responded with four straight wins and took the series. The Lakers were swept in four games by the Utah Jazz, being one series short of reaching the Finals for the first time since 1991.

During the middle of the 1998–99 season, All-Star guard Eddie Jones and center Elden Campbell were traded to the Charlotte Hornets. The team also acquired J. R. Reid, B. J. Armstrong, and Glen Rice. The team finished 31–19 in the shortened season, which was fourth in the Western Conference. The team defeated the Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs but were defeated by the San Antonio Spurs in the next round.

Prior to the 1999–00 season, the Lakers hired former Bulls coach Phil Jackson as head coach and re-signed veterans Brian Shaw, John Salley, Ron Harper, and A. C. Green, who was with the Lakers during the "Showtime" era. The team also moved to a new arena, the Staples Center. At the start of the season, they won 31 of their first 36 games. They won 67 games, the most games since they won 65 in the 1986–87 season. The team eliminated the Sacramento Kings and the Phoenix Suns in the first two rounds of the playoffs. After taking a three games to one lead in the Western Conference Finals, the Trail Blazers came back to force a game seven. The team was down by 15 points but went on a 19–4 run to tie the game. The Lakers won 89–84 and went to the NBA Finals. The team defeated Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers four games to two in the 2000 NBA Finals to win their first title since 1988. The following season, the team won 11 fewer regular season games. The team, however, swept the first three rounds of the playoffs, sweeping the Trail Blazers in three and the Kings and Spurs in four. The team met Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2001 NBA Finals; the Sixers took game one in overtime. But the team came back, taking four in a row to clinch their second straight title. The team had a 15–1 record in the postseason, the best in NBA history. The Lakers won 58 games in the 2001–02 season but the Sacramento Kings clinched the Pacific Division. The team eliminated the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round, three games to none, and the San Antonio Spurs four games to one, in the second round. The team faced the Sacramento Kings in the Western Conference Finals; the series went to seven games, the last of which ended in a six-point overtime win in favor of the Lakers. The Lakers then achieved a three-peat by sweeping the New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals.

In the beginning of the 2002–03 season, they started 11–19. The team went 39–13 for the rest of the season and won 50 games. The team faced the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the 2003 NBA Playoffs; the Lakers took the series in six games. The team was eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs four games to two in the Western Conference Semifinals. The following offseason, the Lakers signed Karl Malone and Gary Payton. Three of the "big four", however, struggled with injuries: Shaquille O'Neal suffered from a strained calf, Karl Malone with an injured knee and Kobe Bryant with a shoulder injury. Ending up with a 56–26 record, they clinched the Pacific Division and entered the playoffs as the number two seed. They defeated the Houston Rockets, Spurs, and Timberwolves in the first three rounds of the 2004 NBA Playoffs, before they succumbed to the Detroit Pistons in five games in the 2004 NBA Finals.

During the 2004 offseason, the team entered the rebuilding phase when O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat for Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, Caron Butler and a first-round draft pick. The team also traded Rick Fox and Gary Payton to the Boston Celtics, for Chris Mihm, Marcus Banks, and Chucky Atkins. Derek Fisher, frustrated with losing playing time, opted out of his contract and signed with the Warriors. As Phil Jackson was not brought back to coach the team for the 2004–05 season, the team hired Rudy Tomjanovich. With only Kobe Bryant remaining on the team, they finished with a 34–48 record in 2004, missing the playoffs for the fifth time in their franchise history. Since the team failed to make the playoffs, the team was in the 2005 Draft Lottery, their first since 1994.

With the tenth overall pick, The Lakers selected Andrew Bynum, a center from St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, New Jersey. The team also traded Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins to the Washington Wizards for Kwame Brown and Laron Profit. Jackson returned to coach the team after Rudy Tomjanovich resigned midway through the previous season. On January 22, 2006, Kobe Bryant scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second-highest total in NBA history. Ending the season with a 45–37 record, the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2004. After taking a three games to one lead in the first round, the Phoenix Suns came back to take the series in seven games. In the following season, they won 26 of their first 39 games. For the rest of the season, they lost 27 of their last 43 games, including a seven game losing streak. The team was eliminated in the first round by the Phoenix Suns again, four games to one.

After a season ending injury to Andrew Bynum in January 2008 of the 2007–08 season, the Lakers traded Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the draft rights to Marc Gasol, and two first round draft picks to the Memphis Grizzlies for Pau Gasol and a second round draft choice. After the trade, the Lakers went on to clinch the first seed in the Western Conference with a 57–25 record. Kobe Bryant was awarded the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, becoming the first Los Angeles Lakers guard to have won the award since Magic Johnson won the award in 1990. The Lakers went to the playoffs and defeated the Denver Nuggets in four games, the Utah Jazz in six games, and the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in five games. They entered the NBA Finals for the first time in four years, facing their long-time rivals, the Boston Celtics, whom they had not played in the Finals in 21 years. The Lakers eventually lost the series in six games.

The Lakers have had a long rivalry with the Boston Celtics. They met in the NBA Finals 11 times, the Celtics have won nine while the Lakers have won two. The first meeting in the Finals was in 1959. Despite being swept by the Celtics, the Lakers managed to keep every game close in the Finals. The teams met five more times in the sixties, with the Celtics winning each time. Even though the two teams have met in the Finals three times (1984, 1985, and 1987) and have only played each other twice each season, their rivalry in the 1980s continued with renewed fervor. The 1984 series was even personified as Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson. Their most recent meeting in the finals was in 2008, where the Celtics defeated the Lakers in six games to clinch their seventeenth title.

The rivalry against the Sacramento Kings started in 2000, as the Lakers eliminated the Kings in the 2000 NBA Playoffs. During the 2002 Western Conference Finals, The Kings were up 99–97, and with two seconds remaining, Vlade Divac knocked the ball away as far away from the net as he could. Robert Horry, who waited behind the three-point line, then launched a game-winning three-pointer as time expired to give the Lakers a 100–99 victory.

In a preaseason game between the Kings and Lakers, Lakers forward Rick Fox elbowed Kings guard Doug Christie, while trying to protect the ball. Christie fell to the floor and when he got up, received a shove to the face from Fox. Christie responded with a punch to Fox's jaw and both players were separated and ejected. The players left the court through separate tunnels, but Fox ran to the Kings' end and confronted Christie.

Given the team's proximity to Hollywood, the large Lakers fanbase includes many celebrities, most of whom can regularly be seen at the Staples Center during home games. Jack Nicholson, for example, has held season tickets since the 1970s. From 2002 and 2007 the team averaged just over 18,900 fans, which was still in the top ten in the NBA. The team sold out every home game during the 2007–08 season.

Their television ratings are higher than other NBA teams; the 2008 NBA Finals between the Lakers and Celtics drew a 9.3 rating, which were higher than the 2007 NBA Finals. According to Forbes magazine, the Lakers are the second most valuable basketball franchise in the United States, valued at approximately $584 million, surpassed only by the New York Knicks.

The Laker nickname came from the state of Minnesota being the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The team's colors are purple, gold and white. The Lakers logo consists of the team name, "Los Angeles Lakers" written in purple on top of a gold basketball. Purple uniforms are used for road games and gold uniforms are used for home games. The team also wears white jerseys for Sunday and holiday home games.

Since the Lakers were established in 1948, the team has only missed the NBA playoffs five times. The team has 14 NBA titles and has appeared in the NBA Finals 15 other times. These appearances include eight NBA Finals appearances in the 80s. The best record posted by the team was 69–13, in 1972; the worst record was 19–53, in 1957–58.

The Lakers play their home games at Staples Center, located at L.A. Live in Downtown Los Angeles. The Staples Center opened in 1999 and seats up to 18,997 for Laker Games. The Staples Center is also home to fellow NBA team, Los Angeles Clippers, their sister team of the Women's National Basketball Association, the Los Angeles Sparks, the National Hockey League's Los Angeles Kings and the Arena Football League's Los Angeles Avengers. The arena is owned and operated by AEG and L.A. Arena Company. Before moving to Staples Center, the Lakers played their home games at The Forum in Inglewood, California for 31 years. The team played their home games at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in their first seven years in Los Angeles. While the team played in Minneapolis, the team played their home games at the Minneapolis Auditorium, from 1947 and 1960.

The Lakers have had 16 Hall of Famers (15 players and one broadcaster) who contributed to the Lakers. The Hall of Famers include (in alphabetical order): Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich, Connie Hawkins, Magic Johnson, Clyde Lovellette, Slater Martin, Bob McAdoo, George Mikan, Vern Mikkelsen, Jim Pollard, James Worthy and Jerry West. Chick Hearn was the Lakers broadcaster for 42 seasons until he died in 2002.

The Lakers have had three first overall picks in their history: Elgin Baylor (selected in 1958), Magic Johnson (selected in 1979) and James Worthy (selected in 1982). The Lakers have also had three Lottery picks in their history: George Lynch (selected twelfth overall in 1993), Eddie Jones (selected tenth overall in 1994) and Andrew Bynum (selected tenth overall in 2005). Other draft picks include Jerry West, Gail Goodrich in the 1960s, Michael Cooper, Norm Nixon in the 1970s, and A.C. Green and Vlade Divac in the 1980s, Elden Campbell, Nick Van Exel, Derek Fisher, and Devean George in the 1990s, Luke Walton, Saša Vujačić, and Ronny Turiaf in the 2000s.

There have been 21 head coaches for the Lakers franchise. The franchise won their first five NBA championships, from 1949 to 1954, all while coached by John Kundla. Pat Riley is the franchise's all-time leader in both regular season and playoff games coached and wins. Riley was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008. John Kundla, Bill Sharman, and Phil Jackson have also all been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach. George Mikan, Jim Pollard, Jerry West, Pat Riley, Magic Johnson, and Kurt Rambis have all played and head coached for the Lakers. Jackson, in his second term, is the head coach of the Lakers since the 2005–06 season.

Chick Hearn was the team's broadcaster for 41 years until his death in 2002. Hearn broadcasted 3,338 consecutive games between November 21, 1965 and December 16, 2001. Paul Sunderland, who had filled in for a couple of games while Hearn recuperated in 2001–02, was named the permanent play-by-play announcer. Stu Lantz was retained as the color commentator. Sunderland's contract expired in the summer of 2005, and the team chose not to renew it. Joel Meyers moved in alongside Lantz as the TV announcer, while Spero Dedes and former Laker player Mychal Thompson on the radio. The current teams are Dedes and Thompson on radio and Meyers and Lantz on television.

As of 2007–08, Lakers radio broadcasts are heard on KLAC in English and KWKW in Spanish. KLAC has had the team's radio broadcast rights since the 1976–77 season. Telecasts are split between KCAL-TV (road games) and Fox Sports Net West (home games), unless they are chosen for national broadcasts on ABC. KCAL has been the Lakers' over-the-air television broadcaster since 1977, dating back to when the station was the RKO General-owned KHJ-TV, which is longer than any other station currently airing NBA games. Prior to KHJ, Laker games were televised on KTLA. The team games are broadcasted in High Definition on FSN West HD, and on KCAL HD.

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Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics logo

The Boston Celtics (pronounced "sell-ticks") are a professional basketball team based in Boston, Massachusetts, playing in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team is owned by Wycliffe Grousbeck and coached by Doc Rivers, with Danny Ainge as the President of Basketball Operations. Founded in 1946, their 17 NBA Championships are the most for any NBA franchise, while the 1959-to-1966 domination of the NBA Championship, with eight straight titles, is the longest consecutive championship winning streak of any North American professional sports team to date. They currently play their home games in the TD Banknorth Garden.

The Celtics either dominated the league or played a large part in the playoffs in the late 1950s through the mid 1980s. After the deaths of top draft pick Len Bias in 1986 and all-star Reggie Lewis in 1993, the team fell into a steady decline, only making the playoffs four times from 1996 to 2007. The franchise has recently returned to prominence with the acquisition of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen during the 2007 off-season. On June 17, 2008, the Boston Celtics won their 17th championship, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 4–2 in the 2008 NBA Finals.

The Celtics were formed in 1946 as a team in the Basketball Association of America, and became part of the National Basketball Association (NBA) after the merger of the BAA and the National Basketball League to form the NBA in the fall of 1949. In 1950, the Celtics became the first franchise to draft an African American player, signing Chuck Cooper.

The Celtics had struggled during their early years, until the hiring of Coach Red Auerbach. One of the first major players to join the Celtics was Bob Cousy, whom Auerbach initially refused to draft. Cousy eventually became the property of the Chicago Stags. When that franchise went bankrupt, Cousy was acquired by the Celtics in a dispersal draft. After the 1955–56 season, Auerbach made a stunning trade. He sent perennial All-Star Ed Macauley to the St. Louis Hawks along with the draft rights to Cliff Hagan in exchange for the Hawks' first round draft pick, the second overall. After negotiating with the Rochester Royals, Auerbach used the pick to select University of San Francisco center Bill Russell. Auerbach also acquired Holy Cross standout, and 1957 NBA Rookie of the Year, Tommy Heinsohn. Russell and Heinsohn worked extraordinarily well with Cousy, and they were the players around whom Auerbach would build the Celtics for more than a decade. Russell, who delayed joining until the middle of the 1957 season in order to play for the U.S. Olympic Team, had an immediate impact.

Russell went on to play almost every game of the season, and the Celtics advanced to the NBA Finals and defeated the St. Louis Hawks in seven games, giving the Celtics the first of their record 17 NBA Championships. In 1958, the Celtics again advanced to the NBA Finals, this time losing to the Hawks in 6 games. However, with the acquisition of K.C. Jones that year, the Celtics began a dynasty that would last for more than a decade. In 1959, with Cousy at point guard, Russell at center and Heinsohn at forward, the Celtics won the NBA Championship after sweeping the Minneapolis Lakers. Still coached by Auerbach, the Celtics won seven more consecutive championships, extending their streak to eight in a row. During that time, the Celtics met the Lakers in the Finals six times, starting an intense and often bitter rivalry. The Celtics would eventually meet the Lakers a total of 11 times in the NBA Finals. In 1964, Auerbach made the Celtics the first team to have an all African American starting lineup.

After the 1966 championship, Auerbach retired as coach and Russell took over as player-coach. With his appointment, Russell also became the first African American coach in the NBA. Auerbach would remain the General Manager, a position he would hold well into the 1980s. However, that year the Celtics' string of NBA titles was broken as they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The aging team managed two more championships in 1968 and 1969, defeating the Lakers each time in the NBA Finals. Russell retired after the 1969 season, effectively ending a dominant Celtics dynasty that had garnered 11 NBA titles in 13 seasons. The streak of 8 consecutive NBA championships is the longest streak of consecutive championships in U.S. professional sports history.

The 1970 season was a rebuilding year, as the Celtics had their first losing record since the 1949–50 season, the year prior to Auerbach's arrival. However, with the acquisition of Dave Cowens, Paul Silas, and Jo Jo White, the Celtics soon became dominant again. After losing in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1972, the Celtics regrouped and came out determined in 1973 and posted an excellent 68–14 regular season record. But the season ended in disappointment, as they were upset in 7 games by the New York Knicks in the Conference Finals. The Celtics returned to the playoffs the next year, defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals in 1974 for their 12th NBA Championship. The teams split the first four games, and after the Celtics won Game 5 in Milwaukee they headed back to Boston leading three games to two, with a chance to claim the title on their home court. However, the Bucks won Game 6 when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar nestled in a hook shot with three seconds left in the game's second overtime, and the series returned to Milwaukee. But Cowens was the hero in Game 7, scoring 28 points, as the Celtics brought the title back to Boston for the first time in five years. In 1976, the team won yet another championship, defeating the Phoenix Suns in 6 games. The Celtics advanced to the 1976 NBA Finals, which featured one of the greatest games in the history of the NBA. With the series tied at two games apiece, the Suns trailed early in the Boston Garden, but came back to force overtime. In double overtime, a Gar Heard turn-around jumper at the top of the key sent the game to an unprecedented third overtime, at which point the Celtics prevailed. Tommy Heinsohn coached the team for those two championships. After the 1976 championship and a playoff appearance in 1977, Boston went into another phase of rebuilding.

In the 1977 NBA Draft, the Celtics drafted a young forward from the UNC Charlotte named Cedric Maxwell. Maxwell did not contribute much in his rookie season, but he showed promise. Auerbach's job became even tougher following the 1977–78 in which they went 32–50 as John Havlicek, the Celtics All-Time leading scorer, retired after 16 seasons.

In 1977–78, the Celtics owned two of the top eight picks in the 1978 NBA Draft. Since the Celtics had two draft choices, Auerbach took a risk and selected junior Larry Bird of Indiana State with the 6th pick, knowing that Bird would elect to remain in college for his senior year. The Celtics would retain his rights for one year, a rule that was later changed, and Auerbach believed that Bird's potential would make him worth the wait. Auerbach also felt that when the college season ended the Celtics would have a great chance to sign Bird. Auerbach was right and Bird signed soon after leading Indiana State to the NCAA Championship game, where they fell to a Michigan State University team that was led by Magic Johnson.

The other important story of the Celtics' 1978–79 season was the ongoing dispute between Auerbach and new owner John Y. Brown. The dispute nearly led Auerbach to resign as General Manager for a position with the New York Knicks. With public support strongly behind Auerbach, Brown elected to sell the team rather than face the wrath of the city for being the man who drove Red to a hated rival. During his short ownership, Brown orchestrated a trade for Bob McAdoo that Auerbach despised, and the team unraveled. The Celtics would struggle through the season, going 29–53 without Bird. Newcomers Chris Ford, Rick Robey, Cedric Maxwell and Tiny Archibald failed to reverse the team's momentum.

Bird debuted for the Celtics during the 1979–80 season, a year after his selection. With a new owner in place, Auerbach made a number of moves that would bring the team back to prominence. Auerbach traded the unhappy McAdoo, a former NBA scoring champion, to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for guard M. L. Carr, a defensive specialist, and two first-round picks in the 1980 NBA Draft. He also picked up point guard Gerald Henderson from the CBA. Carr, Archibald, Henderson and Ford formed a highly competent backcourt, with their unique skills blending in perfectly with the talented frontcourt of Cowens, Maxwell and Bird, who would go on to win NBA Rookie of the Year honors. The Celtics improved by 32 games, which at the time was the best single-season turnaround in NBA history, going 61–21 and losing to the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

After the season, Auerbach completed what may be the most lopsided trade in NBA history. Auerbach had always been a fan of stockpiling draft picks, so even after the success of 1979–80 the Celtics had both the 1st and 13th picks in the 1980 NBA Draft left over from the M. L. Carr trade. Auerbach saw an opportunity to improve the team immediately, sending the two picks to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for center Robert Parish and the Warriors first round pick, the 3rd overall. With the draft pick, Auerbach selected University of Minnesota power forward Kevin McHale. With these three future Hall of Famers on the team the Celtics had a core in place to become a dominant team in the NBA.

The Celtics went 62–20 under coach Bill Fitch in 1980–81, despite losing center Dave Cowens to retirement late in training camp. Once again the Celtics matched up with the 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics fell behind 3 games to 1 before coming back to win a classic 7th game, 91–90. The Celtics went on to capture the 1981 NBA Championship over the Houston Rockets, just two years after Bird had been drafted. Maxwell was named NBA Finals MVP.

In 1983–84 the Celtics would go 62–20 and finally get back to the NBA Finals after a three year hiatus. In the final, the Celtics came back from a 2–1 deficit to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers, winning their 15th championship. Bird renewed his college rivalry with Lakers star Magic Johnson during this series. After the series the Celtics traded Henderson, whose dramatic steal in game 2 altered the course of the series and gave the Celtics a chance, to the Seattle SuperSonics in exchange for their first round pick in the 1986 NBA Draft.

In 1985, the Lakers and Celtics met again, but this time the Lakers took the championship. During the following offseason the Celtics acquired Bill Walton from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Cedric Maxwell. Walton was a big star with the Portland Trail Blazers, but injuries had kept him from living up to expectations. He was also a lifelong Celtics fan and willing to come off the bench, deferring to the three big men already with the team. Walton was a big part of the Celtics' success in 1986.

In 1985–86 the Celtics fielded one of the best teams in NBA history. The 1986 Celtics won 67 games, going 40–1 at their home, the Boston Garden. Bird won his third consecutive MVP award after having arguably his finest season, and Walton won the Sixth Man of the Year Award. They won their 16th championship and last of the 20th century, easily defeating the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals.

Thanks to the 1984 trade of Gerald Henderson and the subsequent fall of the Seattle SuperSonics, at the end of the 1985–86 the Celtics owned not only the best team in the NBA but also the second pick in the 1986 NBA Draft. The Celtics drafted Len Bias with the pick and had high hopes for the young University of Maryland star. Fans believed Bias had superstar potential, and that he would be the perfect complement to the aging, but still strong, Celtics. The hope was that his presence would ensure that the franchise would remain a powerhouse after Bird, McHale and Parish retired. Unfortunately, Bias died 48 hours after he was drafted, after using cocaine at a party and overdosing. It would be the first in a long string of bad luck for the Celtics, and many fans believe the Celtics have never recovered from the loss of Bias. Despite the loss of Bias, the Celtics remained competitive in 1986–87, going 59–23 and again winning the Eastern Conference Championship.

After the 1987–88 season, head coach K.C. Jones retired. Jones was replaced as head coach by assistant Jimmy Rodgers. Rodgers faced immediate trouble in 1988–89 when, only 6 games into the season, Larry Bird decided to have surgery to remove bone spurs in both feet. The injury was to sideline Bird until well after the All-Star Break, although supposedly he would be able to return. However, despite his best attempts to return he was unable to make it back as the Celtics stumbled to a 42–40 record and a first round playoff defeat to the Detroit Pistons.

Bird returned in 1989–90 to play in 75 games and lead the Celtics to a 52–30 record. In the playoffs, after winning the first two games of a Best of 5 series against the New York Knicks, the Celtics collapsed, losing 3 straight, including the decisive 5th game at the Boston Garden. In the wake of the embarrassing defeat, Rodgers was fired and replaced by assistant coach (and former Celtic player) Chris Ford.

Under Ford's leadership the Celtics improved to 56–26 in 1990–91, recapturing the Atlantic Division title even though Bird missed 22 games with a variety of injuries. In 1992, a late season rally allowed the Celtics to catch the New York Knicks and repeat as Atlantic Division champions. The team finished 51–31 and again matched up with the Indiana Pacers in the First Round, this time sweeping the series 3 games to 0. In the Eastern Conference Semifinals the Celtics lost a grueling 7 game series to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 4 games to 3. Due to back problems, Larry Bird played in only 45 of the 82 regular season games, and only 4 of the 10 playoff games.

After thirteen seasons with the club and winning a gold medal in the Barcelona Olympics with the Dream Team, Bird retired in 1992 primarily due to his back injuries.

At the time of Bird's retirement former Celtics guard Chris Ford was the coach of the Celtics. 26-year old Reggie Lewis (out of Boston's Northeastern University) was seen as Bird's successor as the franchise player for the Celtics. Lewis, a small forward, fainted during a 1993 first round playoff matchup with the Charlotte Hornets. It was later revealed that Lewis had heart problems, yet he was able to get doctors to clear him for a comeback. He died of a heart attack after participating in a pickup basketball game during the offseason. The Celtics honored his memory during the following season by retiring his number 35.

In 1994, the Celtics hired former player M. L. Carr to be the team's new G.M. In his first draft in charge of the Celtics, he drafted University of North Carolina star Eric Montross with his first round draft pick. The Acie Earl era was already nearing an end, as Montross became the new heir apparent in the paint.

1994–95 was the Celtics' final season in the Boston Garden. The Celtics signed the aging Dominique Wilkins as a free agent, and he led the team in scoring with 17.8 PPG. Second-year player Dino Radja, a power forward from Croatia, added an interior presence to the team that had been lacking in 1993–94. The Celtics made the playoffs, losing to the heavily favored Orlando Magic in 4 games.

In 1995, the Celtics moved from the Boston Garden into the Fleet Center (renamed the TD Banknorth Garden in 2005). Carr fired Chris Ford and took the coaching reins himself. After drafting Providence College star Eric Williams, the Celtics struggled to a 33–49 record. Things got worse in 1996–97 as the Celtics lost a franchise record 67 games, winning only 15 times despite the emergence of 1st-round draft pick Antoine Walker.

Carr stepped aside to another job in the organization when the Celtics convinced Rick Pitino to join the franchise as the team's president, front office manager, and head coach. Unfortunately for the franchise, Pitino was not the savior everyone expected him to be, although he acquired several talented young players during his tenure.

The Celtics received the third and sixth draft picks in the 1997 NBA Draft, and used the picks to select a brand new backcourt. They drafted Chauncey Billups and Ron Mercer and dismantled much of the young team that lost 67 games the year before. David Wesley and Rick Fox were let go, and Williams was traded to the Denver Nuggets for a pair of second round draft picks.

The following year the Celtics drafted Paul Pierce in the 1998 NBA Draft, a college star who had been expected to be drafted much higher than the Celtics' tenth overall pick. Other notable players Pitino acquired were Walter McCarty and veteran Kenny Anderson, both for future Finals MVP Billups. Pitino failed to coach any successful teams and resigned in 2001.

Following the resignation of Rick Pitino, the Celtics improved greatly under coach Jim O'Brien. Paul Pierce matured into an NBA star and was ably complemented by Antoine Walker, along with the other role players acquired over the years. The team finished the season going 24–24 under O'Brien (after going 12–22 before Pitino's resignation) and following the 2000–01 season O'Brien was given the job of head coach on a permanent basis. As a result of numerous trades, the Celtics had three picks in the 2001 NBA Draft, a luxury that seemed to set the franchise up well for the long term. General Manager Chris Wallace used the picks on Joe Johnson, Joe Forte (a favorite of Red Auerbach) and Kedrick Brown.

The Celtics entered the 2001–02 season with low expectations. The team's success in the latter stages of 2000–01 was largely forgotten, and critics were surprised when the team, along with the New Jersey Nets, surged to the top of the Atlantic Division ahead of teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, who were fresh off a trip to the NBA Finals. The Celtics won a hard-fought five-game series with the 76ers in the first round, 3 games to 2. Pierce scored 46 points in the series-clinching blowout at the Fleet Center. In the Conference Semifinals, the Celtics defeated the favored Detroit Pistons 4 games to 1 in a series best remembered for the Celtics low-scoring Game 3 victory, which they won 66–64. In their first trip to the Eastern Conference Finals since 1988, the Celtics would jump out to a 2–1 series lead over the New Jersey Nets, after rallying from 21 points down in the fourth quarter to win Game 3, but would lose the next three games to fall 4 games to 2.

In 2003, the Celtics were sold by owner Paul Gaston to Boston Basketball Partners LLC, led by H. Irving Grousbeck, Wycliffe Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca, Robert Epstein, David Epstein, and John Svenson. The team made it back to the playoffs but were swept by the Nets in the second round, despite bringing Game 4 to double overtime.

Before their elimination, the team hired Danny Ainge to take over the front office, pushing Chris Wallace to another job in the organization. Ainge believed the team had reached its peak and promptly stunned the team by sending Antoine Walker to the Dallas Mavericks (along with Tony Delk). In return, the Celtics received the oft-injured Raef LaFrentz and a first-round draft pick in 2004.

The Celtics made the playoffs, only to be badly swept in the first round by the Indiana Pacers, losing all 4 games by blowout margins.

The Celtics were a young team under new coach Doc Rivers during the 2004 season, yet they seemed to have a core of good young players, led by rookie Al Jefferson, to go along with a selection of able veterans. The Celtics went 45–37 and won their first Atlantic Division title since 1991–92. The Pacers defeated them in the first round yet again, with the series culminating in an embarrassing 27-point loss in Game 7 at the Fleet Center.

The Boston Celtics continued to rebuild on the night of the 2006 NBA Draft. Danny Ainge traded the rights to seventh overall pick Randy Foye, Dan Dickau and Raef LaFrentz to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, and a future second-round pick. A subsequent trade with the Philadelphia 76ers for Allen Iverson was reported as a potential move beneficial to each team, although such a trade never happened and Iverson was shipped to the Denver Nuggets in December. Orien Greene was waived, and the Celtics replaced him by trading a first-round pick in the 2007 NBA Draft to the Phoenix Suns for rookie Rajon Rondo. In the second round the Celtics added Leon Powe to the team, and later signed Villanova star Allan Ray as an undrafted free agent.

The 2006–07 season was a gloomy one for the franchise. The season began with the death of Red Auerbach at the age of 89. Auerbach was one of the few remaining people who had been a part of the NBA since its inception in 1946. The Celtics went 2–22 from late December 2006 through early February 2007 after losing Paul Pierce to injury, the result of a stress reaction in his left foot (he would later miss the latter part of March and all of April because of swelling in his left elbow). At first, the Celtics received a much needed boost from guard Tony Allen but he tore his ACL on a needless dunk attempt after the whistle in a game vs. the Indiana Pacers on January 10, 2007. The Celtics recorded a record of 24–58, second-worst in the NBA, including a franchise record 18-game losing streak that lasted from January 5 to February 14. As the streak grew, some suggested that Pierce sit out the rest of the season to the let the young players such as Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Rajon Rondo and Delonte West get more experience.

After a dreadful 2006-2007 season, rumors flared that Paul Pierce wanted out of Boston. Furthermore, head coach Doc Rivers and GM Danny Ainge were both in danger of losing their jobs. The franchise was in need of help, in hopes of getting the first or second pick in the first round in the 2007 NBA Draft Lottery pick (in which they were in favor) for either Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. But shockingly, the Celtics landed the #5 pick and the Portland Trail Blazers landed with the first pick and drafted Greg Oden, followed by Kevin Durant who was drafted second by the Seattle SuperSonics (who moved to Oklahoma City in 2008-2009 and became known as the Oklahoma City Thunder). Jeff Green was in favor of joining the Celtics franchise, but Danny Ainge traded the rights to Green, alongside with Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak, to the Supersonics for Ray Allen and the rights to Glen Davis. Rumors were spreading across the media about Kevin Garnett coming to Boston after demanding that he wanted to leave the Minnesota Timberwolves, believing the Timberwolves were not the team to help him win a championship. He also first said that he did not want to join the Celtics franchise because they were not a championship team. But after the Celtics obtained Allen from the Supersonics, Garnett was finally convinced of the Celtics' desire to win a championship and wanted to join the franchise. So, a blockbuster trade was made. For Garnett, the Celtics traded Al Jefferson, Gerald Green (the first Celtic to win the NBA Slam Dunk Contest since Dee Brown in 1991), Sebastian Telfair, Ryan Gomes, Theo Ratliff, a 2009 first round draft pick, and cash considerations. A dynasty was rebuilding and the future Big Three (also known as the Boston Three Party) was in place.

Their first matchup in the 2008 NBA Playoffs was against the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks. At home, the Celtics were dominant: their lowest home margin of victory against the Hawks in the playoffs was 19 in Game 2. However, the surprising Hawks were able to beat the Celtics in all three games in Atlanta. The series went seven games, with the home team winning each game. The second round pitted Boston against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Once again the series went to seven games. Game 7 saw Paul Pierce and LeBron James in a shootout with each scoring over 40 points, but the Celtics emerged victorious 97-92. In the Eastern Conference Finals the Celtics faced the Detroit Pistons. In Game 2, the Celtics finally lost at home for the first time in the playoffs. However, the Celtics bounced back to win Game 3 on the road in Detroit. The series continued and the Celtics took down the Pistons in six games, winning the deciding game on the road.

The 2008 NBA Finals were contested with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and a Los Angeles Lakers team in the middle of a dominant playoff run. They swept the Denver Nuggets in the first round, defeated the Utah Jazz in the second round in six games, and extinguished the repeat hopes of the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in five games in the Western Conference Finals. Factoring in the Lakers strong playoff run to the Finals and the Celtics problems of even reaching the Finals with two 7-game series, the Lakers were expected to beat a seemingly tired Boston team. The first games of the series started with the Celtics once again dominating at home. Game 1 saw Paul Pierce suffer a knee injury early in the game only to come back and make 70 percent of his attempted field goals, resulting in a 98–88 Celtics win. In Game 2, Boston nearly lost a 24-point lead only to win 108–102. The Lakers returned to Staples Center and won Game 3, 87–81. When Los Angeles took a 24-point lead in the second quarter of Game 4 the Celtics appeared to be losing control of the series. Led by a bench that outscored the Lakers bench by 20 points, the Celtics took over Game 4 with a 97–91 victory, the biggest comeback in NBA Finals history. Although the Los Angeles Lakers won Game 5, 103–98, the series went back to Boston for Game 6, and the Celtics finished off Los Angeles with a 131–92 victory. Game 6 was the most lopsided win in a NBA Finals game since the Chicago Bulls defeated the Utah Jazz by 42 points in the 1998 NBA Finals, and the all-time largest margin of victory in a deciding game. Paul Pierce was named NBA Finals MVP. The Celtics had won their record 17th NBA championship, the first new banner for the TD Banknorth Garden, and the franchise's first championship in 22 years.

The Boston Celtics began the 2008-2009 NBA Season with a dominating 27-2 record, the best record of a first-29-game team in NBA history. They also had a pair of 10+ game winning streaks (19–franchise record and 12, respectively), not seen since the 1985-86 season. Both streaks, however, were snapped by their archrivals and last year's Finals opponents , the Los Angeles Lakers, on December 25, 2008 (92-83) and February 5, 2009 (110-109, OT), denying themselves home-court advantage in case both teams were tied for the best record and made the NBA Finals. Still, the Celtics headed into the All-Star break with 44 wins, more than the league-best Lakers (42-10). The 44 wins before the All-Star break are tied for the most in league history. After the All-Star break, Kevin Garnett got injured in a loss against the Utah Jazz, then Sam Cassell was traded to the Sacramento Kings and Patrick O'Bryant to the Toronto Raptors for 2nd round picks and to add more valuable free agents for their playoff push. After a week, they signed Mikki Moore off waivers from the Kings to boost their frontline, and signed Stephon Marbury from the New York Knicks.

The Boston Celtics have a long-standing rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers, which is widely regarded as the league's greatest rivalry, as these two teams have faced each other 11 times in the NBA Finals, with the most recent being the 2008 NBA Finals. The teams have won a combined 31 NBA championships in the 62 NBA seasons, making both teams accountable for half of all NBA championships. In the 1960s, the Celtics faced and defeated the Lakers six times in the NBA Finals, despite the efforts of Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. The rivalry was renewed in the 1980s, when the Lakers and Celtics won 8 of the 9 NBA Championships awarded from 1980–1988 (the Lakers won 5 while the Celtics won 3), and played each other in the NBA Finals on 3 occasions. The rivalry cooled off as the Celtics slipped into mediocrity in the mid- and late-'90s until they met in the 2008 Finals.

In the Eastern Conference, the Celtics long-standing rivals have been the Philadelphia 76ers, led by Wilt Chamberlain in the 1960s, and by Julius Erving and Moses Malone in the 1970s and 1980s. The Celtics-Sixers rivalry in the 1980s was marked by intense personal confrontations between Larry Bird and Julius Erving. Their most recent playoff rivalry came in the '02 First Round, as then-Sixer Allen Iverson and Paul Pierce, both prolific scorers of their time, went head-to-head.

Another fierce rivalry formed in the 1980s between the Celtics and the Detroit Pistons. The two franchises met in the playoffs 5 times between 1985 and 1991, and more than once there was a physical confrontation between a Celtic and Detroit's Bill Laimbeer. The rivalry, like their rivalry with the Lakers, cooled in the 1990s as the Celtics slid into a long decline, although there was a renewal of interest when the teams met in the 2002 East Semifinals, and later in the 2008 East Finals.

A relatively new rivalry surfaced between the Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Their rivalry came to a head in the 2008 NBA Playoffs where LeBron James and the Cavaliers faced the retooled Celtics in the 2nd round. Particularly memorable was the individual rivalry between James and Paul Pierce. Overall, however, it was a defensive battle as both teams outwit each other with their particular brand of defense. Currently they are the top two teams in the NBA, and there is a possibility of both teams facing off in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Boston's other fierce rivals included the Atlanta Hawks (dating back to the late 1950s, which resurfaced during the rivalry of Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins, and later in 2008), Milwaukee Bucks (during the mid-1980s), Indiana Pacers (1991–92 and 2003–05; both involved Larry Bird as a player and as an executive), New York Knicks (both were original NBA franchises, and have never moved to another city nor changed its nickname), and New Jersey Nets (2002 and 2003). In addition, the San Antonio Spurs have provided a tough challenge for Boston, especially since adding Tim Duncan with the number one pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. Since then, the Spurs racked up 18 straight wins against Boston before the streak was broken on St. Patrick's Day 2007, concomitantly ending a 17-year, 15-game drought in San Antonio.

Individually, Paul Pierce has been developing rivalries on the court with LeBron James, Ron Artest, Quentin Richardson and Keon Clark. During games between the Celtics and the Cavaliers, Pierce and James often combine explosive scoring with defensive intensity.

The Boston Celtics released a new logo for the 1995–96 season, although the depiction of a leprechaun spinning a basketball has been in use since the early 1950s. The logo was originally designed by Zang Auerbach, the brother of Celtics head coach Red Auerbach. The logo has received numerous tweaks over the years; the latest version decorated the leprechaun in a gold vest to celebrate the club's 50th anniversary.

The most familiar version, however, is the one-colored logo used during the Larry Bird era, with the leprechaun traced in black and only green and white clothes, which is still used on some TV networks whenever the current Celtics logo is unavailable or in classic Celtics references. The Celtics also have various alternative logos, with the most popular being a white shamrock with the letters "Celtics" above it, wrapped in a green circle, which has been used since the 1998–99 season.

The Celtics jerseys have always been green on away games and white on home games since their inception in 1946. Except for some minor modifications, most notably the serifed version of the uniforms during the Bill Russell era, the jerseys remained unchanged through the years.

Beginning in 2005–06, the Celtics began using alternate road jerseys which are green with black trim and the word "Boston" on the front side of the jersey. The alternate road jersey was rarely seen with few appearances in its first 2 seasons, but in 2007–08 it has been used much more often, in more than half of the road games.

Also in 2005–06, the Celtics began a tradition of wearing their green jerseys with gold trim as part of the St. Patrick's Day celebrations the NBA puts into place every third week of March. Except for the words "Boston" in front and the gold trim, the St. Patrick's Day jerseys resemble the regular road jerseys.

During the 2006–07 season, the Celtics wore a commemorative patch of a black shamrock with the nickname "Red" in green letters on the right top of the jersey in remembrance of Red Auerbach, who died shortly prior to the beginning of the season.

During the NBA Europe Live Tour prior to the 2007–08 season, the Celtics used the alternate road jerseys in their game against the Toronto Raptors in Rome, except that the words "Boston" on the front side of the jersey and the shamrock on the shorts and on the reverse side of the jersey contained the green, white and red tricolors of the Italian flag. In the second game in London, the regular road jerseys featured a patch containing the Union Jack.

At the 2008–09 season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Celtics wore a modified version of their home uniforms, accented with gold, to commemorate last season's championship team.

The team has honored deceased members of the Celtics family with a commemorative black band on the left shoulder strap of the jersey. It has been featured seven times in the history of the franchise: Walter Brown (1964–65), Bob Schmertz (1975–76), Joan Cohen (1989–90), Johnny Most (1993–94), Reggie Lewis (1993–94), Dorothy Auerbach (2000–01) and Dennis Johnson (2006–07).

The team also had the tradition of wearing black sneakers through most of their history, except during the early 1980s when they wore green sneakers. Beginning with the 2003–04 season, the team began to wear white sneakers at home games.

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Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers logo

The Philadelphia 76ers (also known as the Sixers for short) are a professional basketball team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They play in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The 76ers are the NBA's oldest franchise. In 1946, Danny Biasone sent a $5,000 check to the National Basketball League offices in Chicago, and the Syracuse Nationals became the largely Midwest-based league's easternmost team. In 1949, the Nationals were one of seven NBL teams that merged with the Basketball Association of America to form the NBA. In 1955, the Nationals (led by forward Dolph Schayes) won the NBA championship.

By the early 1960s, the NBA's Nationals were struggling. Syracuse was the last of the medium-sized cities, but it was too small for a professional team to be profitable. Paper magnate Irv Kosloff bought the Nationals from Danny Biasone and moved them to Philadelphia in 1963. The NBA thus returned to Philadelphia one year after the Warriors had left for San Francisco. A contest was held to decide on their new name and the winner was the late Walt Stahlberg. Their name was changed to the "76ers," after 1776, the year the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia. The nickname was quickly shortened to "Sixers" by headline writers, and the two names soon became interchangeable for marketing purposes.

For their first four years in Philadelphia, the Sixers played mostly at the Philadelphia Arena and Civic Center-Convention Hall, with an occasional game at The Palestra at the University of Pennsylvania.

In the 1964-65 season, the 76ers acquired the legendary Wilt Chamberlain from the Warriors; Chamberlain had been a high school legend in Philadelphia and began his career with the Warriors while they still played in Philadelphia. In Chamberlain's first full year back in Philadelphia, the Sixers ended the Boston Celtics' eight-year reign as Eastern Division regular-season champions. The 76ers would push the Celtics to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, with the 76ers trailing 110–108 in Game 7. After Hal Greer's pass was stolen by John Havlicek — an infamous blow to 76ers fans, rubbed in by fabled Celtics announcer Johnny Most when he yelled into the microphone "Havlicek stole the ball!" — the Celtics went on to beat the 76ers and win another NBA Championship.

Led by head coach Alex Hannum, the 76ers had a dream season as they started 46–4, en route to a record of 68–13, the best record in league history at the time. Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, and Hal Greer, along with all-stars Chet Walker, Lucious Jackson and Wali Jones led the team to the Eastern Conference finals. This time, with the Celtics aging and hurt, the 76ers beat the Celtics in five games. In Game Five of that series, as the 76ers went to victory and the NBA Finals, rabid Philadelphia fans chanted "Boston is dead!"—a symbol that the Celts' eight-year reign as NBA champion had ended. The Finals were almost anticlimatic, with the Sixers ousting the Warriors in six games to give them their first NBA Championship. The 1966-67 Sixers were voted the best team in league history during the NBA's 35th anniversary celebration.

In the 1967-68 season, with a new home court in the form of the The Spectrum to defend their championship, once again the 76ers made it back to the NBA Playoffs and in the rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals, the 76ers held a 3–1 series lead over the Celtics, before selfish play and ego cost them big, as the Celtics came back to beat the 76ers in seven games. At the end of the season, the 76ers inexplicably traded Hall of Famer Chamberlain to the Los Angeles Lakers for one arguable player, Archie Clark, and two mediocre role players, Darrell Imhoff and Jerry Chambers. The trade was one of the most mentally deficient in NBA history, and sent the Sixers into a freefall, which GM Jack Ramsay accelerated by subsequent divestiture of All Star forward Chet Walker for a series of grossly inadequate replacements.

While the rapidly declining Sixers continued to contend for the next three seasons, they never got past the second round. In 1971-72 – only five years after winning the title – the Sixers finished 30–52 and missed postseason play for the first time in franchise history.

The bottom fell out in the 1972-73 season. The 76ers lost their first 15 games of the season, and a few months later set a then-record 20 game losing streak in a single season. Their record following the 20 game losing streak was 4–58, and the team at that point had just lost 34 of 35 games. The 76ers finished the season with a 9-73 record, earning the nickname from the skeptical Philadelphia media of the "Nine and 73-ers". Under Coach Roy Rubin the Sixers won 4, and lost 47. He was succeeded by player-coach Kevin Loughery, the team won 5, lost 26. This was Roy Rubin's first and last job coaching in the NBA. The 76ers finished an NBA-record 59 games behind the Atlantic Division champion Boston Celtics. The nine wins by the 1972-73 squad is the second fewest in NBA history — to the six games won by the Providence Steamrollers in the 48 game 1947-48 season. The 73 losses, although threatened several times, remains the all-time low-water mark for any NBA franchise. The Sixers' .110 winning percentage is also the lowest in NBA history. Only six seasons earlier, the 76ers had set the NBA record for most wins in a season.

The next year, the 76ers would hire Gene Shue as their head coach and they slowly came back. In the 1975-76 season, the 76ers got George McGinnis from the Indiana Pacers of the ABA (after the Knicks tried to sign him, not knowing that the Sixers owned his rights), and with him, the 76ers were back in the playoffs after a five-year absence, and even though they lost to the Buffalo Braves in three games, a "Doctor" would come along and get the team healthy enough to stay in perennial contention. During this period, however, one last personnel misjudgment had effects when the team used the fifth pick overall in the 1975 draft to select Darrell Dawkins directly from high school. The immensely talented and physically imposing Dawkins seldom, if ever, lived up to his great potential in part because of a perpetual adolescence. In fact, his lack of development and some lingering back injuries limited his NBA career to 9 years, the last several of which were as a mere footnote player. In retrospect, Dawkins is probably the best example of the value of at least a few years of NCAA play before turning pro and the 76ers fans would concede that his drafting turned out to be in noone's best interest except perhaps that of his agent.

The 1976-77 season would be memorable for the 76ers; as a result of the terms of the ABA-NBA merger they acquired Julius Erving from the New York Nets, soon after the team was purchased by local philanthropist Fitz Eugene Dixon, Jr., grandson of George Dunton Widener and heir to the Widener fortune. With them, the 76ers began an exciting ride for the fans of Philadelphia, beating their long-time rival from Boston in a seven-game playoff to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. There, they defeated the Houston Rockets, led by future Sixer Moses Malone, in six games to advance to the NBA Finals. There they would lose to former coach Jack Ramsay and the Bill Walton-led Portland Trail Blazers in six games, after building a commanding 2–0 series lead.

That led to the 1977-78 motto of "We owe you one," which would ultimately backfire when they lost in the playoffs that season to the Washington Bullets, who went on to win the NBA championship. In the next four seasons, the Sixers would fall short of the NBA Championship, even after changing coaches to former Sixers great Billy Cunningham. In the 1980 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, they lost, four games to two. In Game Six, rookie Magic Johnson played center for the Lakers in place of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (who was out because of a sprained ankle sustained in Game Five) and scored 42 points. In the 1981 Eastern Conference Finals, the 76ers opened a 3–1 series lead over the Celtics only to see Boston come back and win the series in seven games. The following season, the 76ers again faced the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, and again jumped to a 3–1 series lead only to see Boston forge a 3–3 series tie. The 76ers were given little chance of winning as they faced the Celtics in Game Seven at Boston Garden. This time, they played angry but inspired basketball, pulling away to a 120–106 victory. In the game's closing moments, the Boston Garden fans began chanting "Beat L.A., Beat L.A.", an incredible moment in basketball history, and although they lost in the NBA Finals, the 76ers began the 1982-83 season with great momentum. All they needed now was Moses to lead them to the promised land of the NBA championship.

However, the Sixers backed up Malone's boast. They made a mockery of the Eastern Conference playoffs, first sweeping the New York Knicks and then beating the Milwaukee Bucks in five games. The Sixers went on to win their third NBA championship (and second in Philadelphia) with a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers, who had defeated them the season before. Malone was named the playoffs' MVP. The Sixers didn't quite fulfill Malone's prediction, as their run was actually "fo', fi', fo" ("four, five, four")--a loss to the Bucks in game four of the Eastern finals being the only blemish on their playoff run. Nonetheless, their 12–1 playoff record is the second-best in league history after the 2000-2001 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.

After a disappointing 1983-84 season, which ended with a five-game loss to the upstart New Jersey Nets in the first round of the playoffs, Charles Barkley arrived in Philadelphia for the 1984-85 season. For the next eight seasons, Barkley brought delight to the Philadelphia fans thanks to his humorous and sometimes controversial ways. The 76ers returned to the Eastern Conference Finals, but lost to the Boston Celtics in five games. Following the season, Matt Guokas replaced Billy Cunningham as head coach, leading the Sixers to the second round of the playoffs in 1985-86, where they were defeated by the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games.

On June 16, 1986, Katz made two of the most controversial and highly criticized personnel moves in franchise history (no mean feat in light of the Chamberlain and Shawn Bradley disasters), trading Moses Malone to Washington and the first overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft (which had been obtained from the San Diego Clippers in a 1979 trade for Joe Bryant) to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In return, the Sixers received Roy Hinson, Jeff Ruland, and Cliff Robinson, none of whom played more than three seasons with the team. Cleveland, meanwhile, turned their acquired pick into future All-Star Brad Daugherty. The 76ers returned to the playoffs in 1986-87, but were defeated in the first round by Milwaukee, three games to two. In 1987-88, with the team's record at 20–23, Guokas was fired and replaced by assistant Jim Lynam. Lynam finished the season 16-23, and overall Philadelphia finished 36-46, failing to reach the postseason for the first time since 1974-75. Philadelphia selected Charles Smith with its first pick in the 1988 NBA Draft, then traded his rights to the Los Angeles Clippers for their first pick, Hersey Hawkins. In five seasons with the Sixers, Hawkins would average 19 points per game, and left the team as its all-time leader in three-point field goals attempted and made.

In 1988-89, Philadelphia returned to the playoffs after a one-year absence, but were swept in the first round by the New York Knicks. In 1989-90, Barkley finished second in the league's MVP voting, as the 76ers won the Atlantic Division title. After defeating Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs, Philadelphia faced Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the second round. The 76ers fell to the Bulls in five games, and would do the same in 1991 after sweeping the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. Some people feel the two postseason losses to Chicago were the beginning of the end of Barkley's stay in Philadelphia. In 1991-92, the 76ers missed the playoffs for the just the second time during Barkley's eight seasons in Philadelphia. On June 17, 1992, Barkley was traded to the Phoenix Suns for Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry, and Andrew Lang, a deal that was met with harsh criticism.

Lynam relinquished his head coaching position to become general manager following the 1991-92 season, and hired Doug Moe to fill the vacancy. Moe's tenure lasted just 56 games, with the Sixers posting a 19–37 record. Popular former player and longtime assistant coach Fred Carter succeeded Moe as head coach in March 1993, but could only manage a 32–76 record at the helm. Following the 1993-94 season, the 76ers hired John Lucas in the dual role of head coach and general manager. The enthusiastic Lucas had been successful as a head coach for the San Antonio Spurs, and Philadelphia hoped he could breathe new life into the 76ers. It proved disastrous, as the team went 42–122 in its two seasons under Lucas. The acquisition of unproductive free agents such as Scott Williams and Charles Shackleford, players at the end of their careers such as LaSalle Thompson, Orlando Woolridge, and Scott Skiles along with stunningly unwise high draft picks such as Shawn Bradley and Sharone Wright were also factors in the team's decline. In fact, Wright played in only 4 NBA seasons while Temple product Eddie Jones — drafted 4 slots below Wright in 1994 by the L.A. Lakers — is in his 14th year as a productive NBA player.

Starting with the 1990-91 season, and ending with the 1995-96 season, the 76ers had the dubious distinction of seeing their win total decrease each year. The nadir was the 1995-96 season, when they finished with an 18–64 record, the second-worst in franchise history. It was also the second-worst record in the league that year, ahead of only the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies but behind the Toronto Raptors, who were also in their inaugural season. That season would turn out to be their last in the The Spectrum. Katz, unpopular among fans since the 1986 trades, sold the team to Comcast-Spectacor, a consortium of Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider and Comcast Corporation, at the end of the 1995-96 season. Snider had been the Sixers' landlord since gaining control of the Spectrum in 1971. Pat Croce, a former trainer for the Flyers and Sixers, took over as president.

Many 76ers fans call these years "The Dark Ages." However, after many years of misfortune, there was a bright spot. The team won the lottery for the top pick in the 1996 NBA Draft. Questions remained, but with the first pick, the Sixers found their "Answer": Allen Iverson.

With new ownership and Iverson in place, and the 76ers moving into the CoreStates Center, things seemed to finally be heading in a positive direction. Croce fired Lucas as both coach and general manager. Johnny Davis was named head coach, while Brad Greenberg took over as general manager. Iverson was named Rookie of the Year, but Philadelphia's overall improvement was minimal, as they finished with a 22–60 record. 76ers top brass felt changes had to be made after the 1996-97 season. Changes came in the form of the firings of Davis and Greenberg and the unveiling of a new 76ers team logo and jerseys. To replace Davis, Larry Brown was hired as head coach. Known for a defense-first approach and transforming unsuccessful teams into winners by "playing the right way", Brown faced perhaps his toughest coaching challenge. He often clashed with Iverson, but the 76ers improved to 31 wins in 1997-98. In the early 1997-98 season, the Sixers traded Jerry Stackhouse, who had been the third overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft, to the Detroit Pistons. In exchange, Philadelphia received Aaron McKie and Theo Ratliff, defensive standouts who would have an impact in the team's resurgence. The 76ers also acquired Eric Snow from the Seattle SuperSonics in January 1998.

Prior to the 1998-99 season, the 76ers signed George Lynch and Matt Geiger, but a lengthy lockout delayed the start of the season, which was shortened to 50 games. During the season, Philadelphia acquired Tyrone Hill in a trade with Milwaukee. The team began its resurgence during this strike-shortened season, finishing with a 28–22 record and the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, marking the first time since 1991 the team reached the postseason. In the first round, Philadelphia upset the Orlando Magic, three games to one, before being swept by the Indiana Pacers. The following season, the Sixers improved to 49–33, fifth in the East. Again, the Sixers won their first round series in four games, this time defeating the Charlotte Hornets. For the second straight year, they were defeated by Indiana in the second round, this time in six games. Iverson and Brown continued to clash, and their relationship deteriorated to the point where it seemed certain Iverson would be traded. A rumored trade to the Los Angeles Clippers fell through, but a complicated four-team deal that would've seen Iverson sent to Detroit was agreed upon, only to see it dissolve due to salary cap problems. When it became clear Iverson was staying in Philadelphia, he and Brown worked to patch things up, and the team would reap the benefits in 2000-01.

During that season, the 76ers got off to a hot start by winning their first ten games, and their record would eventually swell to 41–14. Larry Brown coached the Eastern Conference All-Stars, and Allen Iverson was named MVP of the All-Star Game. Shortly before the All-Star break, Theo Ratliff was lost for the season with a wrist injury, one that would later prove to be devastating to his future career. Feeling the team needed an established center to advance deep into the playoffs, Philadelphia acquired Dikembe Mutombo from the Atlanta Hawks in a deal that sent Ratliff, Nazr Mohammed, Toni Kukoč, and Pepe Sanchez to Atlanta (Sanchez was reacquired later in the season after the Hawks waived him) In total, the team went 56–26 en route to becoming the top seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The 56 wins were tied for the second-most in the league behind San Antonio's 58. The Los Angeles Lakers also won 56, but gained a higher overall seed than the Sixers based on tiebreakers.

In the first round of the playoffs, Philadelphia faced Indiana yet again. In Game One, the 76ers wasted an 18-point lead and lost, 79–78, when Reggie Miller hit a three-pointer in the closing seconds. Philadelphia fought back, however, and took the next three games to win the series. In the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Sixers squared off against the Toronto Raptors and their superstar, Vince Carter. The teams alternated wins in the first four games, with Iverson scoring 54 points in Philadelphia's Game Two victory. In Game Five, the 76ers jumped out to a 33–12 lead after the first quarter and routed the Raptors, 121–88, with Iverson contributing 52 points. Toronto won Game Six, setting the stage for Game Seven at the First Union Center. With the Sixers ahead, 88–87, Carter missed a jump shot at the buzzer to send Philadelphia into the Eastern Conference Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks. After the teams split the first two games of the series, it was learned Iverson would miss Game Three due to various injuries that had plagued him late in the season. Though many people felt Milwaukee would win easily, the 76ers kept the game close before falling, 80–74. The Sixers would win Games Four and Five before dropping Game Six. In Game Seven, the Bucks jumped out to a 34–25 second quarter lead before seldom-used reserve Raja Bell scored 10 points to spark a 23–4 run that gave Philadelphia the lead for good. Iverson scored 44 points, and the 76ers pulled away in the second half, winning by a 108–91 score, putting them in the NBA Finals for the first time since 1983. Their opponent would be the Los Angeles Lakers, who had run up an 11–0 record in the first three rounds of the playoffs, and were expected by many to make quick work of the Sixers. Because of a seemingly meaningless loss to the Chicago Bulls in the regular season finale (both the Sixers and the Lakers finished with identical 56–26 records), the 76ers had to open a series on the road for the first time in the 2001 playoffs.

In Game One, the Lakers jumped out to an 18–5 lead, but the Sixers stormed back to take a 15-point lead in the second half. Los Angeles fought back to force a 94–94 tie at the end of regulation. The Lakers scored the first five points of the overtime period, but the 76ers went on a 13–2 run to end the game, winning by a 107–101 score. Iverson hit a go-ahead three-pointer in the extra period, and followed that with a jump shot after which he famously stepped over Tyronn Lue after making the basket. Eric Snow hit a running jump shot in the waning seconds with the shot clock expiring to clinch the stunning victory. Los Angeles would win Game Two, 98–89. In Game Three, Shaquille O'Neal fouled out late in the fourth quarter, and the 76ers pulled to within a point with less than a minute to play. Robert Horry, however, hit a three-pointer in that final minute, and the Sixers would lose, 91–86. The Lakers wrapped up the NBA title with a 100-86 win in Game Four and a 108–96 win in Game Five. The 2000-01 Sixers featured the NBA's MVP (Iverson), the NBA's coach of the year (Brown), the Defensive Player of the Year (Mutombo), and the Sixth Man of the Year (Aaron McKie).

The 76ers went into the 2001-02 season with high expectations, but were able to produce only a 43–39 record, sixth in the Eastern Conference. In the first round of the playoffs, Philadelphia was defeated by the Boston Celtics, three games to two. In 2002-03, the Sixers sprinted to a 15–4 start, but a 10–20 swoon left them 25–24 at the All-Star break. After the break, the 76ers caught fire, winning nine in a row at one point, and 23 of their last 33 to finish at 48–34, earning the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Iverson scored 55 points in the playoff opener against the New Orleans Hornets, and the Sixers went on to win the series in six games. In the second round, the Detroit Pistons ended Philadelphia's playoff run in six games.

On Memorial Day, 2003, Brown abruptly resigned as head coach, taking over the reins in Detroit a few days later. After being turned down by Jeff Van Gundy and Eddie Jordan, the 76ers hired Randy Ayers, an assistant under Brown, as their new head coach. Ayers lasted only 52 games and was fired with the team's record at 21–31. Chris Ford took over, but the Sixers finished the season at 33–49, missing the playoffs for the first time in six years. Iverson, who clashed with Ford throughout the second half of the season, played only 48 games in a stormy, injury-plagued season. Following the season, Philadelphia native Jim O'Brien was named head coach. Iverson was moved back to point guard and flourished, having arguably his finest season. He also impressed many with his willingness to get other players involved in the offense. During the 2004-05 season, Philadelphia acquired Chris Webber in a trade with the Sacramento Kings, with the hopes that the team had at long last found a consistent second scoring option to compliment Iverson. Andre Iguodala, Philadelphia's first-round pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, was named to the All-Rookie First Team, and the Sixers returned to the postseason with a 43–39 record. In the first round, they were defeated in five games by the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Pistons, coached by Larry Brown. Following the season, O'Brien was fired and replaced by the popular Maurice Cheeks, who played for the team from 1978-89, and was the starting point guard for the 1983 NBA Champions. However, the coaching change did not turn around the team's fortunes. A 2–10 stretch in March doomed them to missing the playoffs for the second time in three years with a 38–44 record.

With the opening of the 2006-07 season, the Sixers started out hot, going 3–0 for the first time since making it to the Finals five years previously. However, they stumbled through the first half of the season and couldn't quite recover, finishing 35-47, good for 3rd in the Atlantic Division, and 9th in the Eastern Conference (tied with Indiana).

On Tuesday, December 5, 2006, disappointed with the direction the team was headed, Allen Iverson gave the 76ers management an ultimatum: find players who will help support me or trade me. This was confirmed via an in-game interview with team owner, Ed Snider.

On December 19, 2006, Allen Iverson, along with Ivan McFarlin, was sent to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for guard Andre Miller, forward Joe Smith, and two first-round draft picks.

On January 11, Sixers GM Billy King announced that the Sixers and aging forward Chris Webber had agreed to a buyout of the remainder of his contract. The Sixers would pay Webber $36 million over the next 1½ seasons, which is $7 million less than he would have been paid to play. After the buyout, the Sixers waived Webber, making him a free agent. Webber signed with the Detroit Pistons shortly thereafter.

The Sixers drafted Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets SF Thaddeus Young with the 12th pick, traded with the Miami Heat for 21st pick Colorado State PF Jason Smith, traded with the Portland Trail Blazers for 42nd pick Vanderbilt SG/SF Derrick Byars, and then finally traded with the Utah Jazz for Providence PF Herbert Hill.

On December 4, 2007, the Sixers fired Billy King and replaced him with Nets GM, Ed Stefanski.

This season, the Sixers revamped their homecourt design. The logo based on their home uniforms is placed on center court, while the primary logo is placed on the right side of the baseline. The streaking ball on the left side of the court is eliminated, and the team website is placed on the sideline.

The Sixers clinched a playoff berth with a win over the Atlanta Hawks on April 4, 2008. It was their first postseason appearance since 2005, as well as the first in the post-Iverson era. However, they were eliminated by the Pistons in six games, with Detroit winning the series 4-2. Even with this elimination, many fans considered this to be a successful season, considering that the Sixers were 12 games under .500 in early February and went on to have a run that led them to the playoffs and a 41-41 record.

On July 9, 2008, the 76ers signed power forward Elton Brand to a 5 year, $79.795 million-dollar contract. They were able to sign him after trading Rodney Carney, and renouncing their rights to all their unrestricted free agents. Brand had originally opted out of his contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, looking to re-sign with them. But Elton saw that the 76ers offered him more money (he regarded their offer as the "Philly-Max"), and a better chance at winning an NBA Championship playing in the Eastern Conference. This move has been the subject of controversy since there were rumors that he and Baron Davis had made a friendly agreement to play together for the Clippers. Later on the team signed free agent point guard Royal Ivey of the Milwaukee Bucks, Kareem Rush from the Indiana Pacers, and then signed former Sixer Theo Ratliff after Jason Smith's injury. Donyell Marshall was signed on September 2, 2008 after he stated that he wanted to go back home to his agent and end his career in the city of brotherly love. Rush, Ivey, Ratliff & Marshall were all payed the veteran's minimum wage because of their one dimensional play, but they will be contributors to a team on the rise. During the offseason they also resigned valuable restricted free agents Louis Williams for 5yr/$25 million and Andre Iguodala for 6yr/$80 million.

However the Sixers couldn't find the form that pushed them to the playoffs last year. The Sixers started the year with an uninspiring 9-14 record before firing head coach Maurice Cheeks on December 13. Assistant GM Tony DiLeo took over and the Sixers gradually improved. They currently post a 34-33 record, with an 25-19 record under DiLeo. Unfortunately, Brand's first season with the Sixers ended early with a right shoulder injury that required surgery. Despite the loss of Brand, the Sixers are currently in playoff contention.

As part of the Sixers' 60th anniversary season, the team website uses the old Sixers logo used from 1977-97. The team will switch back to that pair permanently starting in the 2009-10 season.

Erving, Chamberlain, Cunningham, Barkley and Sonny Hill (team executive and director of youth basketball programs in the city) have also been inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.

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Source : Wikipedia