Emotions Run the Whole Spectrum

by | March 14, 2009 at 5:20 PM | General, NBA, Philadelphia, Sports

Clap your hands everybody for Philadelphia 76ers

The year was 1983. The Sixers played the Lakers in a heavyweight regular-season tilt. A man named Julius came up with a loose ball, galloped down the left side of the floor, rocked the basketball to sleep and tomahawked on Michael Cooper’s head. Bearded hippies everywhere rejoiced.

It’s true: watch.

Stomp your feet everybody for Philadelphia 76ers

The year was 1977. A young man named Chocolate Thunder was electrifying the league with indomitable dunks he called the In Your Face Disgrace, the Turbo Sexophonic Delight and the Go-rilla. But none of them compared (in name or power) to the backboard-shattering jam he laid down which he christened:

“The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam-I-Am Jam.”

Sure, technically the above dunk took place in K.C., but he did repeat the feat at the Spectrum just three weeks later.

Here they come … Philadelphia

The year was 1987. A man who strikes more often than lightning was between the pipes (I know, I had the T-shirt). His name was Ron Hextall. No goalie had ever directly scored on goal in the NHL until … a tender named Hexie took aim at the Bruins empty net and hit nothing but mesh.

After the game, Hextall quipped, “Now before you guys get started I want you to know I was aiming for that corner.”

On the run, stand up and cheer

The year was 1974. I remember vividly Gene Hart screaming:

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Flyers are going to win the Stanley Cup! The Flyers win the Stanley Cup! The Flyers win the Stanley Cup!”

OK, that’s not true. I wasn’t born yet. But had I’d been alive, I’d remember it like it was yesterday.

Unfortunately, I have to settle for remembering the YouTube clip I watched yesterday.

Number one … Philadelphia 

The year was 1992. And I was in the building for the greatest college basketball game ever played. Kentucky and Duke were playing at a ridiculously high level. It felt like no one missed a shot all night.

And that was literally true for Christian Laettner.

With 2.2 seconds remaining, the man America loved to hate was 9-for-9 from the field and 10-for-10 from the line. And then Grant Hill threw a pass … Laettner caught it, faked one way, spun the other … and bedlam.

I can remember two fan moments in my life where I was so overwhelmed with what I just saw that I couldn’t stop jumping in place. One was October 29, 2008 (if you have to, look it up) and the other was Laettner’s shot. And I’m not even a Duke fan. It was that great a moment.

Sorry, couldn’t help myself. Here’s the real clip.

Here they come, team of the year

The year was 1983. The Sixers hadn’t won a championship in 16 years. Then a prophet aptly named Moses made the statement:

“Fo, Fo, Fo.”

The prediction came up one game short, but the Sixers – on the doorstep for so long — finally got their ring; Fo, Five, Fo.

One, two, three-four-five Six-ers

The year was 1982. Andrew Toney – my favorite Sixer of all time – dropped 25 in the fourth quarter of a regular-season game against the Celtics and was instantly dubbed:

The Boston Strangler.

10, nine, eight 76ers

The year was 1976. In a twist, the entire NHL was actually rooting for the Broad Street Bullies. Why? Because they were playing the Red Army. And the Bullies lived up to their moniker, hitting the Russians so hard that the Soviets actually tried to quit mid-game. Then the NHL Commish let them know that if they didn’t finish the game, they wouldn’t get paid. The Reds came back out … and summarily lost 4-1.

One, two, three-four-five Six-ers

The year was 1980. The foe was the Los Angeles Lakers. The setting was the NBA Finals. Beat LA! Beat LA! Beat LA! And then it happened:

Just watch

10, nine, eight 76ers

The year is 2009. That classic Sixers song doesn’t just bring back 76ers memories of yore, it brings back every sports memory of my childhood. And the Spectrum hosted a ton of them.

Sure, the place may be a dump by today’s standards. There aren’t that many bathrooms … and there isn’t a Chickie’s and Pete’s in sight.

But it’s our dump.

And they’re our memories.

So seeing Moses on that floor one last time, draped in purple velvet sweating more profusely than he ever did when he wore red, white and blue, and listening to the Doctor prescribe his cure for the current 76ers — be “great ambassadors” — was exactly what I needed for closure. (Because this was a great event, I’ll leave the irony of Doc’s words alone. Aside from this parenthetical pointing out the irony)

The entirety of my basketball and hockey memories took place in the Spectrum.

And now, thanks to the Sixers … thanks to last night … I can take them with me.

It was a great night filled with an old-school-Philly feel and forever-school-Philly boos (tough night, Sammy). In the end, the Sixers won, confetti was dropped and Philadlphia celebrated in on its old home floor one last time.

Clap your hands everybody for Philadelphia 76ers

Here they come, here they come, here they come, here come the Sixers.


Email me at russakoffrules@comcast.net; follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/leerussakoff.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.