- Perfectly Awful: The Philadelphia 76ers’ Horrendous and Hilarious 1972–73 Season by Charley Rosen
Charley Rosen’s latest book of many on basketball contains his fine writing and aspects of a sad and humorous year for the Philadelphia 76ers and the rest of the NBA. Rosen provides an introduction to the season, laying the groundwork, as it were, for such a terrible performance by all involved. He starts with the owners, Irv Kosloff and Ike Richman, college classmates who returned Philadelphia to the NBA after the city was abandoned by the Warriors, who fled to the San Francisco Bay area in 1962. Kosloff and Richman bought the Syracuse Nationals and relocated them to Philadelphia (tough luck, Syracuse); but Richman, the basketball man of the two, suddenly died in December of 1965, and the series of bad decisions by well-meaning people began.
Things were fine for a while with Alex Hannum, then Jack Ramsey, coaching and general managing, but both left; and, in the summer of 1972, Don DesJardin was hired as general manager. Admittedly, he was taking on a leaky boat, but he accelerated the disaster with poor hires and worse trades. When no one seemed to want the job as coach of the ailing franchise, DesJardin turned to Roy Rubin, the coach of Long Island University, to handle the job. Rubin could not, although he did have his few defenders, as Rosen notes and quotes. Eventually, after a record of 4–47, Rubin was fired in January of 1973, and [End Page 279] veteran injured player Kevin Loughery was installed in the position. Under Loughery, whom the players respected and admired (two things Rubin failed to capture), the 76ers went 0–11, before a brief flurry put them at 5–13. Then, they regressed to their awful mean and finished the year 9–73 (5–26 under Loughery).
Rosen provides a capsule summary of each game, horrible though it may be, and brief descriptions of the revolving door of players wearing a Sixers’ uniform during the season. He also discusses, briefly, the statuses of coaches and other personnel, both in season and, for players and coaches, after basketball careers had ended. The brief epilogue makes the case, percentage-wise, for the 76ers being the worst NBA team ever, rather than the Charlotte Bobcats of the strike-shortened 2011–12 season, despite conceding that the 76ers had better personnel on the court. Making this kind of debate, though, is really a fool’s errand. One might say Rosen has taken this exact task on, in spades, by even writing a book on this team. The number of folks who really care about the team must be quite small, but he does add details to the historical record, drawn almost totally from the Philadelphia newspapers of the time. In addition, because of his excellent contacts, Rosen augments that record with interviews of former players, and those interviews often add the humor and color to the book. There is no appendix or index, making it a tough book to utilize for historical purposes, but this is really a story, a saga, not a historical document.