Just a Boston Strangler Away
By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor – in – Chief
PHILADELPHIA (www.basnnewsroom.com) As I write this the Philadelphia 76ers are down three games to zip to the Boston Celtics.
They may get swept or stave off elimination for one more game. What’s most important here, however, is what’s forgotten.
Team sports like basketball, are all about match ups – and the exploiting of same – especially in the playoffs; they are also about mental fortitude, something the Sixers seem to be lacking in.
In this spirit, overlooking where a potential advantage may be is the difference between rings – and bags (as in packed).
Thirty – five years ago, the addition of Moses Malone got the Sixers over the top; but the true key to the Sixers’ success was the 6’3″, 190 pound sharpshooter from the University of Louisiana – Lafayette (nee Southwestern Louisiana University) Andrew Toney.
In the eighties, as the Celtics and Sixers (later the Lakers) engaged in their Tong Wars, the question was an Answer long before Allen Iverson would be a future thought – who can stop whom from taking over a game and gaining victory?
Because basketball is five a side, an ebb and flow can establish quicker in sensing offensive and defensive strategy. When a player emerges which defies that, there is your match up advantage.
Toney produced that difference because of his shot-making ability, speed and mental wherewithal. On a team loaded with talent, led by “Dr. J” Julius Erving, Toney would emerge as the player who would not only take the final shot, but make it.
Not a trash – talker, Toney was a silent, unsmiling assassin, who was equally effective off the dribble or a post – up. Despite his size, Toney’s shot was rarely, if ever, blocked.
As the playoffs in the eighties carried on, Toney, whose foot problems likely killed a possible Hall of Fame career, was, in my humble opinion, the deadliest scorer in the League during his reign of terror. Even after his forced retirement, he ended up with an average of over 50 percent accuracy from the floor.
Playing with chronic pain, Toney also had to be mentally tough to endure and still produce. One would think the Sixers’ front office should have shown respect to a great player by giving him the benefit of the doubt in that regard.
After what seemed like forever to retire Moses Malone’s #2 jersey, the most logical – and correct – thing to do would be to honor the embodiment of what is exactly needed by Philadelphia’s basketball team right now – retire #22 and give Mr. Toney his due.
Toney’s dominance was never more in focus than when Philadelphia played Boston. In the 1982 Eastern Conference final, Toney asserted himself to the tune of an average of over 26 points a game, and 34 in the decisive seventh game.
Boston sportswriters admittedly did not pretend they hadn’t seen what had just happened; and as the surprisingly classy Celtic crowd chanted “Beat L.A.! Beat L.A.!” the Legend of The Boston Strangler…was born.
Former Celtic Guard Danny Ainge, now the team’s general manager, then revealed no one player in the League scared him more. “Not Magic Johnson, not Dr. J – only the thought of dealing with Toney in the playoffs keeps me awake at night.”
After the damage was done, the Celtics’ front office wasted no time. To redress the imbalance, they acquired guard Dennis Johnson, known as a defensive specialist; for the express purpose of finding a way to counteract the effectiveness of Toney against their team.
It was a move the entire League understood; and arguably the most open display of respect for an opposing player – ever in the sport.
As we fast forward to the current Sixers’ roster, the talent has promise; but shooting threes will not pay the bills, even if it is the current mindset among league officials.
If the 76ers are to become part of the League’s elite, they will need to produce that missing piece which will translate into the winning X-factor. Whether the present GM Bryan Colangelo has the ability to do it, remains to be seen…
Whatever tonight’s results, the clock should be ticking – as the search for The New Strangler…begins.
always outnumbered…never outgunned.
Copyright (c) Michael – Louis Ingram 2018 all rights reserved.