The 2019-20 Philadelphia 76ers are a legitimate contender to win the Eastern Conference.

They are also included in most NBA championship conversations.

Just check out the NBA futures markets on any of the 17 NJ sports betting apps. The Sixers are listed toward the top on every single one of them.

DraftKings Sportsbook, for example, has the Sixers at -167 to win the Atlantic Division.

As far as winning the East goes, the franchise is at +220 with FanDuel Sportsbook. Only the Milwaukee Bucks have better odds at +150.

And if we are talking chances of winning the NBA title, the +800 line from William Hill NJ makes the conversation real. That is tied for fourth-best alongside the Houston Rockets.

But is this lineup with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris finally the real deal?

Well, that’s a process that will take several months to unfold.

If they do win the Eastern Conference title and make it to the NBA Finals, it wouldn’t be the first time. Here is a look back at five times when Sixers fans were in a championship state of mind.

#5 Dr. J makes NBA Finals call

Julius “Dr. J” Erving remains one of the greatest players to ever wear a Sixers uniform. He arrived in Philly via the ABA prior to the 1976-77 season and made an immediate impact.

We’re talking a 50-32 regular season record, and it was the franchise’s first 50-win season in nearly a decade.

But the Doctor was far from finished. The Sixers advanced to the NBA Finals and even won the first two games against the Portland Trailblazers.

But the championship dreams ended up getting put on ice.

Bill Walton and the Blazers won the next four contests and took the series 4-2. It included a narrow two-point victory in Game 6.

#4 Sir Charles and the Sixers in 1984

These days, Hall of Famer Charles Barkley can be seen regularly on Inside the NBA. Or on occasion, promoting DraftKings.

However, before he got in front of the television cameras, he was a star forward for the 76ers (and later the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets).

While Sir Charles never played in the NBA Finals during his time in Philly, he was part of a pretty talented 1984-85 team. He joined a roster that already included Erving and Moses Malone.

They finished the regular season a respectable 58-24 and advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Barkley did his part by averaging 14 points and 8.6 rebounds a game.

Unfortunately, the rival Boston Celtics spoiled the ultimate championship plans by winning the series, 4-1.

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#3 Allen Iverson’s MVP season

The Sixers last played in the NBA Finals during the 2000-01 season.

This was the year Allen Iverson won the league MVP award. But “The Answer’s” performance was a driving force behind the Eastern Conference championship run.

This set the stage for another classic Sixers/Lakers showdown. Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant on one side, A.I. and Dikembe Mutombo on the other.

Game 1 of this series is hard for Sixers fans to forget. Iverson went off for 48 points, helping his team pull off a 107-101 overtime win at the Staples Center.

Unfortunately, Philly ended up dropping the next four games. However, the lone victory ended up being the Lakers’ only playoff loss that year.

#2 Wilt Chamberlain brings home 76ers title

When talking about the greatest 76ers moments, the name Wilt Chamberlain needs to be included in the conversation.

Besides being from Philadelphia, he is one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

More specifically, the 1966-67 season stands out in particular as the franchise defeated Rick Barry and the San Francisco Warriors, 4-2. Some may recall the insane numbers Wilt, aka the Big Dipper, put up that season with his 24.1 points and 24.2 rebounds per game.

Billy Cunningham, who would end up coaching the Sixers down the road, played forward.

#1 Moses Malone, Dr. J and a trophy

And the best season ever in the 76ers franchise was this one that ended with a trophy and a parade in 1983.

Of course, one of the problems with being a Philly sports fan is the waiting. Sixers fans, in particular, have not seen a championship parade since 1983.

That’s nearly four decades of waiting.

But the 1982-83 team remains one of the greatest 76ers squads to ever be assembled. Future Hall-of-Famers Dr. J, Malone, and Maurice Cheeks were the cornerstones of a squad that nearly swept their way to the NBA title.

They knocked off the New York Knicks in four games, Milwaukee Bucks in five, and Lakers in four.

The team fell one game shy of fulfilling Moses’ famous postseason prediction of ” fo’ fo’ fo’.”

The previously mentioned Cunningham coached the team.

Bill Gelman

About

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and world championship boxing at Boardwalk Hall. He is now adding NJ sports betting and online gambling to the mix.