By Harvey Pollack, for NBA.com
Posted Mar 12 2009 5:04PM
Before we say goodbye to the Spectrum, let's remember why it was built in the first place. Jerry Wolman wanted a hockey team in Philadelphia and the only way he could get one was to build a good-sized arena. The only hitch was that the building needed another tenant because hockey couldn't support it by itself.
Eddie Gottlieb, former owner of the Sixers, always used to say that you needed 150 dates in a building during a course of a year to break even. So the Flyers and Sixers would satisfy that requirement, plus throw in other events -- ice shows, concerts, boxing and wresting matches -- and you'll more than break even.
The Sixers enjoyed a great homecourt advantage at the Spectrum and one of the main reasons was the team's longtime PA announcer, Dave Zinkoff. Zink became a central figure at home games. He had a unique announcing style, one that often intimidated the opposing teams. Zinkoff would always elongate a phrase or two:
"Two for Shue."
For a Gar Heard basket, Zink would say:
"Field goal by Heard of Buffalo."
Zink was always looking for iteration .....
"Boston calls tiiiiime out!!" He would announce it like the Celtics were hurting.
Zink was one of a kind. Guys try to emulate him, but it's not the same.
I've attended every regular-season and playoff game at the Spectrum. Here are my 10 most memorable NBA games.
Moses Malone scored 51 points vs. the Detroit Pistons. It was the most he ever scored with the Sixers. Moses was the reason the Sixers won the title the year before. He was the only addition to the team coming off the 1981-82 season. He was the difference maker, winning not only NBA Finals MVP but regular-season MVP honors as well.
Julius Erving debuts with the Sixers. The Sixers purchased Erving from the New York Nets for $3 million -- money well spent. Erving's game was memorable because one of the fans came out on the floor with a black doctor's bag and handed it to Julius to officially welcome him to the city.
In a game against the New York Knicks, Charles Barkley set a single-game franchise record of 16 offensive rebounds, including most in a quarter (11) and half (13). It was remarkable how many rebounds he got given that he is listed 6-foot-6 and a lot people think he's closer to 6-foot-4.
Malone predicted the Sixers were going to win the '83 title in "Fo, Fo, Fo." And he was right as far as the Spectrum games were concerned because the Sixers won every game at home during the 1983 playoffs. So Moses' prediction actually was "Fo-Five-Fo," because the Sixers lost a game in Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Sixers' owner Harold Katz had "Fo, Five, Fo," inscribed on the side of the championship rings.
Andrew Toney scored 25 points in the fourth quarter against Boston, which earned him the nickname "The Boston Strangler." Whenever the Sixers played Boston, Toney always had big games whether they were played in Philadelphia or Boston, it didn't matter. The Celtics didn't know how to stop him.
Whenever the Sixers held jersey retirements, it was always an historic occasion and done with a flourish that fit the occasion -- Hal Greer 15, Bobby Jones 24, Billy Cunningham 32, Julius Erving 6, Wilt Chamberlain 13 -- and don't forget Zinkoff's microphone.
This was the game Darryl Dawkins shattered the backboard at home against the Spurs. Darryl had earlier broken the backboard in Kansas City. I still have remnants of that game because I had the maintenance man, who swept the floor, give me a bag of glass and to this day, whenever I go out to speak, I use it as one of the prizes I give away to anybody who can identify what it is.
The first game the Sixers played at the Spectrum was a memorable one because we were finally playing in a brand new arena. All of the previous pro games played in Philadelphia were played at the old Philadelphia Arena or Convention Hall, which was definitely not a basketball emporium but really a meeting place. Now, we were coming to a building that was specifically for sports -- basketball and hockey. We had won the title the previous season, so the Sixers were defending champions and the opponent for that first game at the Spectrum was the Lakers. The Sixers won, 103-87.
Billy Cunningham was injured at a game in the Spectrum against the New York Knicks. I volunteered to take him to the hospital from the Spectrum. Whatever Cunningham did to his knee, it was determined that night that his career was over. It was a sad night.
Wilt did something no one has ever approached even to this day -- the double triple-double. In one game against Detroit, Wilt had 22 points, 25 rebounds and 21 assists. They talk about triple-doubles today, but that was half of what Wilt did in that particular game. He never did it again and nobody has ever come close.
Harvey Pollack is the Sixers' Director of Statistical Information and is the only person in the NBA who has worked in the league since its inaugural season (1946-47). The former public relations director for the Warriors and Sixers, Pollack received the John Bunn Award in 2002 from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
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