7:00 PM ET, March 13, 2009
7:00 PM ET, March 13, 2009
PHILADELPHIA -- Thaddeus Young wished he could have played a few more games at the Spectrum. He made the most of his one and only chance on the musty court.
With Dr. J and former franchise greats in attendance, the 76ers brought down the house one last time before Philadelphia's first arena goes away for good.
Young scored a career-high 31 points and Andre Iguodala had 25 to spark Philadelphia to a 104-101 victory over Chicago on Friday night in the final NBA game at the 42-year-old Spectrum.
"This was the way they write it in books," Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said.
Erving implored the Sixers to beat the Bulls in a pregame ceremony, where he was feted with members of the 1966-67 and 1982-83 NBA champion Sixers. Former team greats Bobby Jones and Moses Malone were on hand for the final Sixers game at the dated arena that is targeted for demolition by the end of this year.
"When you have guys like that in the building, you can't do nothing but go out there and give them a great showing," Young said.
The Sixers, who normally play across the street at the Wachovia Center, gave a capacity crowd one more thriller to remember in their first game here since April 19, 1996.
The Sixers played their first game at the Spectrum on Oct. 18, 1967, and beat the Lakers 103-87.
This one was a lot tighter down the stretch and the Sixers were saved by a pair of clutch blocks in the final minutes. The first was Iguodala's rejection of Ben Gordon's shot, then Samuel Dalembert stuffed Derrick Rose in a play the Sixers turned into Young's clinching dunk for a 104-101 lead that electrified the crowd.
Moments earlier, the Bulls threatened to make it 42 years, plus an overtime.
Gordon's 3-pointer with 36 seconds left tied the game at 101, then Iguodala put the Sixers ahead by one when he made the second of two free throws.
Rose led the Bulls with 20 points.
Andre Miller had 13 points and 13 assists, and Dalembert grabbed 19 rebounds for the Sixers.
Even in defeat, former Villanova standout forward Tim Thomas was honored to close the Spectrum.
"Just seeing Dr. J and Moses and all the great players here was cool," Thomas said. "When it was time for tip-off, we just played. But seeing those faces in the crowd was cool."
The 76ers led by 13, but Thomas buried two quick 3-pointers and tied the score at 88. Young tied his career high of 29, recorded only two nights earlier in a win against Toronto, on a soft jumper that made it 90-88.
Perhaps the Sixers were inspired for a thrilling victory by the pregame festivities that included two banners for the Sixers championship teams unfurled from the rafters, along with one former public address announcer Dave Zinkoff.
Erving thanked the fans and told today's 76ers to be great ambassadors for the city. Then he issued his challenge for Philadelphia to, "take care of the Chicago Bulls like we used to."
"There will be a void when this building doesn't exist anymore," he said. "I used to proudly bring family and friends to Philadelphia and find time to bring them down to see the statue of me."
Young had to make Erving proud when he scored 14 points in the third quarter, driving to the hoop for easy baskets and hitting mid-range jumpers on the refurbished 1983 championship court.
"You always get the feeling it's a special night when you see those guys," Young said. "Those guys are a big part of Sixers history and you definitely want to go out there and have a great showing for them. And we did."
The authentic court was one of many old school features for the special night. Most notably, no rap or dance music was blasted through the arena during play. Some oldies were played during timeouts, and recordings of organ music were played to pump up the fans. There were plenty of fans as a sold-out crowd of 17,563 filled the last row of the arena for once for the Sixers, who entered the game 24th in the NBA in attendance.
"I liked playing in this atmosphere. It was pure Philly," Bulls center Brad Miller said.
The nostalgic fans surely didn't want to leave their rickety seats to miss any action: There was no video board for instant replays.
Andre Miller used a disposable camera during warmups, taking some final snapshots of the famed arena.
"I was doing that mainly for my son so I could make him a little photo album so when he got older he could say he experienced something like that," Miller said.
The demolition of the Spectrum will be part of a larger plan for a retail and entertainment development at the stadium complex, where the Phillies and Eagles also play. Team chairman Ed Snider said plans for the project, dubbed Philly Live!, were moving forward.
"Even if it doesn't start at the moment we wanted it to, it's going to happen," he said.
|FGM-FGA||40-88 (.455)||46-86 (.535)|
|3PM-3PA||9-20 (.450)||1-3 (.333)|
|FTM-FTA||12-16 (.750)||11-14 (.786)|
|Fast Break Points||10||18|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||14 (0/0)||19 (1/0)|