The All-Time Sixers Would Dominate Everyone And Then Go Celebrate At TGI Fridays

julius erving allen iverson
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There’s been a lot of talk lately about the all-time versions of basketball teams and how they would fare against the all-time versions of other basketball teams. There are a couple reasons for this: One, it creates a fun, impossible to prove argument where fans figuratively — and possibly literally — put on a ’90s Starter jacket to rep their team publicly and loudly, and explain (a) how a logical analysis of the rosters supports their claim that their favorite team would beat yours on a neutral court in a seven game series, and (b) that you are a big stupid idiot and so is your whole big stupid crew.

This brings us to the second reason: It is August, and it is 120 degrees in the shade, and sports are in that insufferable lull where everything is in the offseason but baseball, and even that is in the barren wasteland between the All-Star break and the pennant races heating up. People are bored and ornery. Let’s fight.

For those of you who haven’t been following along: Shaq said an all-time Lakers team would beat an all-time Bulls team “by 50,” then Scottie Pippen shot back at him, then we got into the mix, with Andy Isaac screaming about the Pistons and Martin Rickman politely calling him a lunatic. We have fun. And now the fun is going to continue, because I am about to come off the top rope shouting “SIXERSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.”

The all-time Sixers starting five, give or take a Billy Cunningham, looks something like this:

– Allen Iverson
– Julius Erving
– Charles Barkley
– Moses Malone
– Wilt Chamberlain

The astute and annoying among you will look at that lineup and recognize what appears to be a flaw: Everyone, save Wilt, and possibly Moses, is at least partially out of position. Iverson will be forced into point guard duties even though his entire career proved that he’s more of a wildly undersized shooting guard. Dr. J is a small forward playing shooting guard. Charles Barkley is at small forward, despite being shorter than the shooting guard and one of the 10-15 greatest power forwards in history. And Moses Malone could easily play center on most other all-time teams. Also, Iverson is the team’s best three-point shooter, at a career clip of 31 percent. This is, in the words of today’s most revolutionary advanced statisticians, bad.

(An aside: It’s a point I’ve made before, but this is the same problem with the roster construction of the Monstars in Space Jam. That team also ended up with Barkley playing the three, thanks to Patrick Ewing and Shawn Bradley hogging the frontcourt. And it bumped Larry Johnson, a stretch four before stretch fours were hip, to shooting guard, which is madness, especially when you realize the aliens had a space laser that gave them the ability to select any active player they wanted. Keep Muggsy and Shawn Bradley for the funny visual, fine, but let’s swap out Ewing for a shooter like, say, Mitch Richmond to slide everyone into their more natural roles. I have thought about this a lot.)

But allow me to make a three-pronged case for this starting five, and then we’ll see if I’ve swayed you. First, I am picturing a fast break with Iverson racing down the middle and condors like Julius Erving and former All-American track and field athlete Wilt Chamberlain filling the lanes, with Charles Barkley careening toward the basket behind them like a sentient bowling ball with no regard for human safety, and I am squealing with Sixers-y delight. The dunks, people. THINK OF THE DUNKS.

Second, rebounding. My God, the rebounding. I know the different eras skew the numbers here, but still. Barkley averaged more than 10 rebounds a game every season but his rookie year. Moses had a 10-year stretch where he averaged between 13 and 18 per game. Wilt averaged 23 per game for his career. The team’s entire offensive strategy could be “Let Iverson shoot every time down the court and keep getting offensive rebounds until someone scores.” It’s like a Larry Brown fever dream. On acid.

Third, and I admit this has very little to do with basketball, I just like the idea of Iverson, Barkley, and Chamberlain hanging out after the games. Iverson would take them to the TGI Friday’s on City Line Avenue, Barkley would throw an unruly fan through a window, and then Wilt would leave with every female member of the staff. Every night. It would be jet fuel for Sports Internet. Stuffy sportswriters and talking heads would lose their minds.

KORNHEISER: Mike, are you not disgusted by their off-court actions? Shouldn’t the league step in here? If we had a living breathing commissioner, the team would be disbanded immediately.

WILBON: Now, Tony, I know Wilt and Charles a little bit…

Just chaos. Chaos in full-length fur coats that Wilt purchased for everyone. This actually might be my favorite part.

So, did I sway you? Are you now on board with my team of giant carousing rebound-mad Liberty Ballers? Maybe there are some flaws on paper (and, yes, I’ve wriggled entirely out of a discussion of their bench because that gets a little dicey pretty quickly), but I’d still take that squad 82 games a year. And if you’re one of those Bulls fanboys who responds to every basketball argument with “B-b-but JORDAN,” well…

Go Sixers.