A STATELY GREATNESS – ANDREW TONEY AND THE SIMPLY RED JERSEYS
Written by @SixersHistory's Curtis Harris
Lasting from 1978-79 to the 1990-91 season, the 76ers’ simply red jerseys are perhaps the most iconic in the franchise’s long history. Minus some trimming, these jerseys were pure red with SIXERS cleanly stated across the chest. During this era, there was no mistaking who you were playing when Philadelphia rolled into town.
Considering the players who wore these uniforms, there was even less room for confusion by opposing fans and players. You have stone cold legends like Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Maurice Cheeks, Moses Malone, and Bobby Jones working their way to All-Star and Hall of Fame greatness in these jerseys. And don’t forget fan favorites such as Darryl Dawkins, Caldwell Jones, Mike Gminski, Clint Richardson, and Rick Mahorn, who seared their own ruby red imprint on the mind when they played.
There’s also the stately Andrew Toney, whose on-the-court disposition carried a fierceness that fit perfectly with the understated but fiery red jerseys.
And since our third City Edition jersey night of 2018 falls on Andrew Toney’s birthday (November 23), let’s celebrate Toney’s often overlooked greatness by checking out 10 of his greatest games as a 76er.
1. November 13, 1980 – at Indiana
Stats: 32 points, 14/19 FGs, 4/4 FTs
In one of the great swindles in franchise history, the 76ers in 1976 traded Mel Bennett to the Indiana Pacers for a future 1st round draft pick. Fast forward to 1980, even though they had just appeared in the NBA Finals, the 76ers had the no. 8 overall pick draft.
Taking Andrew Toney, the 76ers were quickly rewarded with a supremely gifted scoring machine. In just his 10th NBA game, Toney exploded for 32 points. Adding insult to injury, this outburst came against the Pacers as the Sixers won by 27 points.
2. April 21, 1981 – at Boston, Game 1 ECF
Stats: 26 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 8/18 FGs, 9/10 FTs
Okay, so the rookie could light it up in the regular season. What about the playoffs?
Well, in his first appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals, Toney delivered 26 points. Every bucket was needed, as the 76ers won by a single point on the road in Boston.
Although the Sixers wound up losing the series in seven tough games, Toney was second on the team in scoring (19.1 ppg) for the series, just behind Dr. J (19.9 ppg). Not bad for a rookie coming off the bench.
3. March 7, 1982 – vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Stats: 46 points, 5 assists, 21/29 FGs, 4/5 FTs
Now in his second season, but still a reserve, Toney smothered the Lakers with a career-high 46 points in just 35 minutes of play. The potent display included 20 fourth-quarter points that helped the 76ers erase a 10-point deficit in the final period, and eke out a victory.
You know Toney was cooking when opponent Magic Johnson – as quoted in the Camden Courier-Post the next day – was marveling at the thrashing LA had taken:
“It was the way he did it. He gave us a variety. He was shooting from the outside, driving, double-pumping. It was a spectacular display of basketball. He just put on a show.”
4. May 12-23, 1982 – vs. Boston, Games 2, 4 and 7 ECF
Average stats: 34.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 5.7 APG, 62% FG, 81% FT
Yeah, we’re sort of cheating, since these are three games combined. But this is where Toney cemented his legacy as “The Boston Strangler” with absurd performances in Games 2, 4 and 7 of the 1982 Eastern Conference Finals.
But if we HAD to pick just one game out of the three, it would be Game 7. The Sixers had let a 3-1 series lead slip away, and subsequently had to win that seventh game on the road.
Instead of narrowly losing out, like the Sixers had done the year before, Toney spearheaded Philadelphia’s throttling of the Celtics with 34 points on 14 for 23 shooting.
5. June 6, 1982 – vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Game 5 NBA Finals
Stats: 31 points, 8 assists, 13/18 FGs, 5/6 FTs
Unfortunately, the 76ers would lose the 1982 Finals, but Toney proved brilliant in the series nonetheless. Leading the team in points and assists, Toney helped Philadelphia blow out the Lakers, 135-102, at the Spectrum in Game 5.
Downplaying his own hand in the domination, Toney said after the game, “I don’t think I felt hot out there. I didn’t want to go on a tangent, just going one-on-one. I wanted everyone to get involved.”
Typical response from the modest Toney.
6. All-Star Game 1983
Stats: 8 points, 7 assists, 4/5 FGs
In his first of two All-Star Games, Toney tallied 18 minutes of play. As you can see, he made the most of the limited time, particularly in the second quarter, where he basically functioned as the point guard for the East. His probing forays into the lane and lengthy fast break passes set up teammates for easy dunks, open jumpers, and trips to the foul line.
Bill Russell, who called the game for CBS, noted that All-Star contests allow players to show off their other talents. Toney definitely did so here with his playmaking.
7. March 20, 1983 - @ Detroit
Stats: 39 points, 14/21 FGs, 9/9 FTs
Even though the 76ers had added Moses Malone for the 1982-83 season, Toney hadn’t let up with his obligatory deluge-scoring. This game against the Pistons showcased that quality magnificently.
Finishing with 39 points total, Toney broke Detroit’s heart, as the Sixers turned a 94-82 deficit into a 121-119 win.
Specifically, Toney scored 10 consecutive points near the game’s finish (two two-pointers, a three-pointer, and three free throws) to cement the win.
8. March 24, 1985 – vs. Denver
Stats: 28 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists, 8/14 FGs, 12/14 FTs
Considering this contest was against the Doug Moe-coached Denver Nuggets, there was surprisingly little stat inflation. The final score was 124-103 in favor of Philadelphia.
A contest against those Nuggets could easily escalate into the 140s or 150s, if you weren’t careful. And if you noticed from the stat line, Mr. Toney corralled a triple-double, the only one of his career. And as usual shot the lights out.
9. May 5, 1985 – vs. Milwaukee, Game 4, ECSF
Stats: 23 points, 11 assists, 11/14 FGs
In his final postseason as a starter, Toney had several gems, but this one suffices to show he still had the goods in the clutch. The game totals are certainly impressive, but Toney – as I’m sure you’ve noticed – had a knack for putting his thumb on the scale at critical moments.
In this closeout game versus Bucks, Toney ignited in the fourth quarter making all six of his shots that period to go along with six assists in the final frame as well.
10. February 20, 1987 – vs. Sacramento
Stats: 32 points, 8 assists, 15/24 FGs
By this point, Toney was struggling with foot injuries that would ultimately go on to derail his career. In fact, this game fell just a couple weeks after Toney had been activated from the injured list.
The Sixers trounced the Kings, 123-91, but Toney’s output wasn’t the result of garbage time.
Down 12-6 in the first quarter, the Sixers went on 13-2 run to seize control of the game.
The key man in the run? Andrew Toney, of course. The guard poured in 10 of the 13 points during that run and the Sixers never looked back.
Hope you enjoyed this look back at the spectacular, if reserved, Andrew Toney, and 10 of his greatest games.