Biggest Scandals and Controversies In Philadelphia 76ers History
76ers Icon Allen Iverson and Practice
22. That’s exactly how many times 76ers legend Allen Iverson uttered the word “practice” during his infamous interview in 2002, which centered around — you guessed it — practice.
Before anything else, here’s the clip of that unforgettable moment:
Iverson was undeniably a controversial figure, and he was involved in more than a few contentious moments during his time with the Philadelphia 76ers. However, this has got to be one of his most memorable incidents in Philly.
This may be funny now, but at that time, this was a very serious matter. Iverson may have afforded a chuckle or two during the interview, but don’t be fooled; this was truly a very controversial time for the organization.
This interview went down shortly after the Sixers had been eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs to round out another disappointing campaign. Throughout the season, Iverson’s relationship with team head coach Larry Brown deteriorated to such an extent that there were several shouting matches behind closed doors.
Iverson was on the brink of being traded, but somehow, both parties were able to find a resolution.
By the way, in case you missed it in Iverson’s interview, they were talking about practice. Not the game. They were talking about practice.
2001 Eastern Conference Finals: Sixers vs Bucks
One of the most controversial playoff series in the history of the NBA involved the Sixers. This was in 2001, when Iverson — despite all his quirks — was one of the biggest and most marketable names in the entire league. Philly was up against a Milwaukee Bucks side in the Eastern Conference Finals, that let’s just say, was much less marketable.
The conspiracy theory goes that the NBA manipulated the series in order to give the 76ers an advantage. Not only was Iverson the league’s MVP that season, but the Sixers also had Dikembe Mutombo, who was the Defensive Player of the Year, and Aaron McKie, who won the Sixth Man of the Year award. Needless to say, if the NBA actually had a hand in this controversial series, then they would have absolutely wanted the Sixers to go to the Finals.
The series was characterized by a myriad of bad calls game after game, in favor of Philadelphia, of course. Ray Allen, who was Milwaukee’s star player at that time, could not help but criticize the officiating:
“I think there’s no question about that,” Allen told ESPN when asked if he thought the 76ers were being given an unfair advantage. “The league, as a marketing machine, the bottom line is about making money, it behooves everybody for the league to make more money, and the league knows that Philadelphia is going to make more money with L.A. than we would with L.A.”
Bucks players Glenn Robinson, Sam Cassell, and head coach George Karl, all also voiced out their disdain against how the series was being officiated.
Iverson and company ended up winning the series in seven games, to set up a date with the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals. As Allen described, this was the series the league “wanted” due to the potential profits it could deliver. In the end, the 76ers fell to the Lakers in the Finals, 4-1.
Sixers GM Bryan Colangelo Burner Accounts
This one takes the cake in terms of all the scandals in 76ers history. As a matter of fact, it was probably the biggest controversy in the league that season.
The infamous burner account scandal involving then-team general manager Bryan Colangelo. It was in 2018 that Sports Illustrated published an investigative piece accusing Colangelo of setting up and using multiple burner Twitter accounts to publicly criticize his predecessor, Sam Hinkie, the team’s coaching staff, and some of its players, including superstar big man Joel Embiid. We previously published an article about some of the most devastating tweets that were associated with the fake accounts. You can read that here.
The Sixers organization rolled out a full-blown investigation on the matter. Colangelo denied the reports, but eventually stepped down after a few days after heavy pressure internally and externally. The investigation alleged that Colangelo’s wife, Barbara Bottini, set up at least three fake accounts. Those accounts not only disparaged members of the organization, but more importantly, also leaked sensitive information to the public.
That was a dark time for the Sixers organization. But in the end, Colangelo’s exit turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Elton Brand was later on appointed as the team’s new general manager, and it was Brand who arguably fulfilled the potential of “The Process” in Philadelphia.