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Remembering the Great Hal Greer.

April 19, 2018

Hal Greer, a truly great basketball player, and one of my favorites, died last Saturday April 14th, at age 81.

Mr. Greer was a starter and starred on one of, if not, the greatest NBA teams, the (1966-1967) Philadelphia 76ers, who ended the great Boston Celtics’ 8 consecutive seasons grip on the NBA crown, winning decisively vs them in the semis, before winning it all, in 6 games vs the then San Francisco Warriors, in the final.

Of course, Hal’s death evokes thoughts of the late, great Wilt Chamberlain and more specifically, the two great title teams on which Wilt played, the other being the 1971-1972 Lakers.

Three fifths of the starting players on each of those great teams have passed on, making the dead players the majority.

How I “loved” each team, the Sixers with Hal, the late Luke Jackson and Wilt. Wali Jones and the great player, Chet Walker still walk the earth.

They won the title in the middle of the week, in the middle of the night and not on national television! “Where is the love,” Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack asked in song? I  ask and lament where is the tape of the Sixers’ 1967 crown, and for that matter the Lakers of 1972.

Greer hit a shot that I believe clinched the best record in ’67 and was great in the subsequent playoffs. Fairness and perspective cites the genius of Red Auerbach, the Celts’ general manager and former coach, in getting Em Bryant who helped stymie Hal in the ’68 playoffs.

Oh ’68, oh 50 years and on April 14, 1968, Hal and “my” Sixers went up 3 to 1 vs the seemingly “past it,” Celtics on ABC television.

However, the Celtics were so great and in three games not televised, took out Philly and eventually won another crown. As I have posted before, it still hurts.

Now Hal has died 50 years later and ’68 basketball matters less (the tragedies of that year and my incredible naivete regarding such resonate exponentially) and what he did in a great career, matters more.

Somewhere, perhaps and hopefully in something akin to heaven, legendary Philadephia public address announcer Dave Zinkoff is introducing Hal Greer to a new, better place.

As his famed “Greeear” resounds across distance, time, sound and of course imaginary implications–the long and the great of Hal Greer, are easily recalled.

Go easy, Mr. Greer and take a jump shot free throw, as you do so.

 

The great Hal Greer, pictured above.

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