The legend of Julius Erving, aka Dr. J. was already solidified in basketball history. A two-time ABA champion, three-time league MVP (ABA & NBA), and the most popular player amongst NBA fans. However, when arriving in Philadelphia prior to the 1976-77 season, an NBA title was a predicted expectation rather than a possible achievement. While the 76ers did manage to make it to the NBA Finals in three of Erving’s first six years with the team, the title never made its way back to Philly.
This would all change in the offseason of 1982 when reigning league MVP Moses Malone played out his option and became a free agent. Without hesitation, Philadelphia wasted no time is securing a deal that would send veteran center Caldwell Jones and a first round pick to the Houston Rockets. The trade would solidify the Sixers front court that would power them to a 65 win season, second best in franchise history. When asked how Philadelphia would fair in the upcoming playoffs, Moses issued one of the most famous quotes in sports history: “Fo’, Fo’, Fo’,” meaning that the 76ers would sweep each round on their way to an NBA Championship.
The Sixers would steamroll through the playoffs, sweeping the New York Knicks 4–0 in the conference semifinals, before overcoming the Milwaukee Bucks in five games of the conference finals, thereby denying Malone's infamous prediction. Nevertheless, the 76ers were heading into the Finals as confident as ever. Their opponent was no stranger to the big stage as the Los Angeles Lakers awaited the opportunity to stop this breakaway train. However, with injuries to their number one draft choice James Worthy, as well as pivotal players Norm Nixon and Bob McAdoo, Philadelphia swept the series to win its first title since the days of Wilt Chamberlain in 1967. Moses’ prediction had to be altered just a bit and is now referred to as “Fo’, Fi’, Fo’.”
Philadelphia was always a contender during the days of Dr. J., but the dream was never realized until Moses led his people to the Promised Land.