The 76ers have lost a legend.
Hal Greer, 81, a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and former Sixers great, passed away Saturday in Phoenix after battling an illness. The Sixers, in a statement Monday, extended their condolences to the Greer family.
âHal Greerâs talent, drive, tenacity and unforgettable jump shot made him a Hall of Famer and one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history,â NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. âAnd NBA champion and the 76ersâ career scoring leader, he also embraced a leadership role in the racial integration of basketball at Marshall University and his home state of West Virginia.
âAs the NBA family mourns Halâs passing, we celebrate his deep and lasting impact in our game.â
The 76ers mourn the passing of Hal Greer, an NBA champion, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and team legend » https://t.co/AowwLmxKwm pic.twitter.com/NW4ZkQveL7
â Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) April 16, 2018
Mr. Greer played 15 seasons (1958-73) in the NBA, five with the Syracuse Nationals and 10 with the Sixers. He won an NBA championship with the Sixers in 1967 and was a 10-time NBA All-Star.
Mr. Greer was the first player to have his number retired by the Sixers organization, as his No. 15 was honored in 1976.
The 76ers will celebrate Mr. Greerâs life and legacy when the Sixers face the Miami Heat tonight in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at the Wells Fargo Center.
Mr. Greer averaged 19.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 1,122 games. His best season was the 1967-68 campaign, when he averaged a career-best 24.1 points.
However, Mr. Greer will always be remember for playing a key role in the 1967 championship. The squad, led by Wilt Chamberlain, dethroned the eight-time defending NBA-champion Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. Then the Sixers beat the San Francisco Warriors in six games in the NBA Finals.
The Sixers had an on-court ceremony for members of their 1967 championship team during halftime of a game against the Celtics back on Dec. 3, 2016.
Mr. Greer said that he knew back then that the team would be remembered as one of the all-time greats.
âThe talent was there,â he said before the ceremony, his first time in Philadelphia in 25 years. âOf course, the big guy [Chamberlain], he was already there. Billy Cunningham was the best sixth man since [Bostonâs] John Havlicek. We knew we had the material. All we had to do is get it all together.
âThatâs what [coach] Alex Hannum did. He got it together, and we won it.â
The Sixers averaged a league-leading 125.2 points. Chamberlain shot 68.3 percent from the field and averaged 24.1 points, 24.2 rebounds, and 7.8 assists. Mr. Greer was the second-leading scorer at 22.1, followed by Chet Walker (19.3) and Cunningham (18.5).
All four of those players and Hannum went on to become Hall of Famers.
Back in 1980, the squad was tabbed as the best team in league history during the NBAâs 35th-anniversary celebration. In 1996, Chamberlain, Cunningham, and Mr. Greer were recognized as three of the leagueâs all-time top 50 players for the 50th anniversary celebration.