Everybody gets all excited about the way in which DVDs can let us revisit all sorts of favorite old TV shows (and movies, of course) -- but what about us sports fans? Heck, just about every major sporting event of the past 50 years has been broadcast on television, so where are all the 6-disc "Chicago Bulls" retrospectives?
Oh, yeah! Warner Bros. Home Video has teamed up with the NBA to bring you basketball fanatics a series of multi-disc releases that'll have your head spinning! Already available in the "NBA Dynasty Series" are long and loving looks at the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls, the Los Angeles Lakers ... and the Philadelphia 76ers??!? Hey, I've lived in Philly my whole life; I love the Sixers!
So the only thing that could have stopped me from cracking open and devouring this generous six-disc collection is, well, maybe something focusing on the Phillies. I've always been more of a baseball guy. But still, if it's something having to do with one of my hometown's four beloved babies (Phils, Sixers, Eagles, and Flyers, of course), odds are I'll find something to enjoy. And trust me when I say that NBA Dynasty Collection: The Philadelphia 76ers - The Complete History is packed to the rafters with hardwood heaven.
Starting off on Disc 1, logically, we have:
Darryl Dawkins Introduction - Philly favorite DD introduces this 6-disc set in which you'll find an untold number of 76ers historical treats. (1:31)
The Philadelphia 76ers: A History - A somewhat skimpy 24-minute history lesson that feels like it was thrown together for a slow night on ESPN Classic. But there's still enough backstory here to keep the fans entertained: from the ancient days of the mid-40s (when the Philly team was still known as the "Warriors") to the introduction of Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Irving, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, and, of course, Allen Iverson, every major landmark is pointed out in one fashion or another. One might have hoped for something a bit more in-depth and all-encompassing, but the fans will have a ball all the same.
The Rivalries - Pick "Boston" for a seven-minute compilation of the hard-fought playoff battles between the Sixers and the Celtics. (Yes, here in Philadelphia we refer to our basketball team as the "Sixers." "Seventy-Sixers" can be kind of a mouthful ... plus we talk fast on the east coast.) Click on "Los Angeles" to enjoy 10.5 minutes of clashings between the Sixers and the Lakers. I found the footage from the 1983 playoffs particularly satisfying. Oh, and that Kareem Abdul Jabbar guy? Good basketball player!
1966-67 - Downing the Celtics - Wilt Chamberlain helps his team to end Boston's reign of terror. (2:54)
1975-76 - The 76ers Resurgence - A time-capsule promotional video that touts the '75 Sixers as "The Team of Next Year!" (19:35)
1982-83 - That Championship Feeling - Here's a really great hour-long NBA Films presentation from 1983 that covers the Sixers' regular season, ALL the teams in the playoffs that year, and the path the Philly team had to take to snag their first championship trophy in 16 years. Speaking as someone who (vaguely) remembers this winning season, this trip back in time was a whole lot of fun.
2000-01 - On the Way to the NBA Finals - Narrated by ESPN's Stuart Scott, this is an excellent 45-minute piece that focuses on the 2000 Sixers and their entertaining march through the playoffs. Sure, most of the limelight is centered firmly on Allen Iverson and coach Larry Brown, but those guys were the story-makers! Role players like Aaron McKie and Eric Snow just did every little thing they were asked, which helped to make 'em a pair of hometown heroes. Fans should absolutely enjoy this revisit with the 2001 playoffs ... up until we ran smack dab into the L.A. Lakers, anyway!
Today's Team - Mr. Dawkins pops back in for a minute and a half to touch oh-so-briefly on a variety of personal highlights and Sixers moments, and he welcomes us to move right on to disc 2. So let's oblige the old guy...
But wait up, Darryl! There's still one solid section left on Disc 1:
The Players - A collection of brief career retrospectives on most of the Sixers' most famous players: Charles Barkley (9:13), Wilt Chamberlain (5:11), Maurice Cheeks (5:47), Darryl Dawkins (2:29), Julius Erving (4:55), Allen Iverson (10:12), and Moses Malone (3:24). Nice looks back and everything, but ... less than FIVE minutes for Dr. J??? C'mon! This guy could get a 2-hour documentary of his very own!
Moving on to Disc 2, we get a full-length basketball game: The Philadelphia 76ers visit the Boston Celtics for Game 7 of the 1982 Eastern Conference Finals. I won't spoil anything by telling you who wins ... but the fact that this game is included on the "76ers" DVD collection should be a good clue. The game runs just under an hour and 45 minutes ... and no commercials!
Disc 3 has Game 4 of the 1983 NBA Finals. Dr. J, Moses Malone, and Mo Cheeks vs. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Jamaal Wilkes! What could be better? Well, how about the Sixers overcoming a 16-point deficit on their way to a four-game NBA Championship SWEEP? Yep, it really happened! This CBS broadcast, which includes post-game celebrations and a playoffs recap, runs 2 hours on the button. Fun stuff! Suffice to say that May 31st, 1983, was a pretty exciting day here in Philadelphia. (I was 11.) Ah, those were the days....
Jumping ahead a few seasons, Disc 4 brings us Game 3 of the 1990 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Watch a youthful Michael Jordan match up with the force of nature that is Charles Barkley. The Sixers had just come off of a tough 5-game series with the Cleveland Cavaliers, which made Jordan, Pippen and the Chicago Gang simply too much to handle. Barkley's boys (Mahorn, Gminski, Hawkins & Dawkins) managed only one win in this series, and now you can relive that victory to your heart's content. Originally broadcast (live, of course) on May 11th, 1990, by the now-defunct "Prism" cable channel, this game (which is quite the rousing little comeback!) runs one hour and 57 minutes.
Disc 5 brings back recent memories (of June 6th, 2001) that are both blissful and heart-wrenching. Led by the amazing Allen Iverson (and you might hate the kid's personality or attitude or whatever, but he's a DAMN good basketball player), the Sixers would clash with the astonishingly talented L.A. Lakers in the Championship Finals. Shaq and Kobe would win this series, 4 games to 1, but that one win for the Sixers was an outrageous overtime nailbiter. Here's Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals, as originally broadcast on NBC, and it's a great piece of recent Sixers history that runs about a minute over two hours. And it might just be a small footnote in basketball history, but Iverson's 48-point performance is simply a whole lot of fun to watch!
The sixth and final platter in this collection is Allen Iverson: The Answer, which was previously available as a solo DVD release. Here's where you'll find all things A.I.-related; the main feature runs about 55 minutes and gives an enlightening and entertaining look through Mr. Iverson's career - from his college football days and his run-ins with the law -- to his eventual maturity and his staggeringly consistent prowess on the basketball court.
Also included on this disc are a variety of featurettes that should thrill the athlete's fans: Allen the Football Star (2:54) showcases young Allen's gridiron talents; Allen and Isiah - The Showmen (6:02) offers a sketchy comparison between Isiah Thomas and Allen Iverson ... when the only thing these hardcourt masters have in common is their height (or lack thereof); Rookie Record 4 Straight 40 Pt. Games (1:42) is precisely what is sounds like: a look at Allen as he scores over 120 points in four phenomenal games, thereby breaking a record held by Wilt Chamberlain; Allen's Top Ten Plays (3:17) is a lot of fun, even if most of these clips have already been covered on the other discs; and A.I. & Reebok (3:16) is, not surprisingly, a collection of sneaker commercials starring the Philadelphia hero.
Video: Full frame format across the board, both in the features as well as the basketball games. Picture quality is quite excellent wherever you look.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 for the whole package, although Disc 6 (The Iverson-centric one) does offer an alternate DD 5.1 track.
The "NBA Dynasty Series" hits Philadelphia in fine fashion, and this 6-disc retrospective of all things Sixers-related should prove to be a veritable gold mine of basketball bliss. Whether you're a hardcore Iverson disciple, a diehard fan of Moses & Dr. J, or just a lifelong Sixers freak in general -- be sure to toss this collection onto your holiday wish list.