97.5 The Fanatic’s Fan Fest

97.5 The Fanatic’s Fan Fest

The outlook wasn’t great for the Philadelphia 76ers entering the 2005 NBA Draft, which wasn’t looking particularly loaded with talent to begin with. However, they used their only selection at 45th overall on Lou Williams, one of the biggest steals in franchise history.

Lou Williams with the 76ers 

Williams was never the biggest or most talented player in the NBA, but he didn’t have to be.

The 6-foot-1 sparkplug carved out a 17-year career as a defined role player, which isn’t common enough in a league fixated on star power.

The franchise had whipped through head coaches Randy Ayers, Chris Ford, and Jim O’Brien in the previous two seasons before drafting Williams in 2005. The Georgia native then played for Maurice Cheeks, Tony DeLio, Eddie Jordan, and Doug Collins before he left Philadelphia in 2012.

Despite the instability, the Sixers were able to groom a fan favorite at the beginning of his career. Local product Hakim Warrick even coined him as the “adopted son” of Philadelphia.

His approachable Southern persona, the constant involvement of his loveable and energetic mother, and his unlikely story as a high schooler drafted in the second round endeared him locally.

The Sixth Man

Williams and Jamal Crawford are the only two players in history to win the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award three times. He played in 89 playoff series in 15 appearances throughout his career.

The Athletic went so far as to call Williams “the greatest pure scorer the game has ever seen off the bench” in 2019 as he once again showed his value for the Los Angeles Clippers, his sixth NBA team.

A career average of 13.1 points in 24.1 minutes might not characterize a Hall of Famer. However, Lou Williams proved over the course of a long career that he was one hell of a basketball player.

  • Three-Pointer Holds Off Heat, Big 3 (April 24, 2012)

    The seventh-seeded Sixers ran into LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in their first season together as teammates with the Miami Heat. A 41-41 team didn’t have much of a chance in a first-round series against the title favorites.

    They showed why after they fell down 3-0, but they salvaged a victory on Easter Sunday in 2011. Lou Williams tied for the team lead with 17 points, including a go-ahead three ball with less than 10 seconds left to push the series back to South Beach.

    The Heat ultimately wrapped up the series in five.

     

  • Palestra Welcomes NBA Superstars (September 25, 2011)

    Lockouts in professional sports force the fans to suffer, regardless of whether you think they’re justified. The NBA pushed back the start of the 2011-12 season, so Hakim Warrick and Carmelo Anthony stepped up.

    They put together two teams to tip off on a court with more character than any hardwood surface in the world, the Palestra. Team Melo began as a collection of players from the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area, but it grew with the additions of LeBron James and Chris Paul (the only player drafted in 2005 with more career points than Lou Williams).

    Members of Team Philly defended their hometown at the Cathedral of College Basketball with a little help from the “adopted son” of Philadelphia.

    Williams, entering his seventh and final season in Philadelphia, teamed up with native sons like Kyle Lowry, Wayne Ellington, and Markieff and Marcus Morris for a triumphant victory over a team of NBA superstars.

    It was a pure showing of the sport that distracted fans from a lockout that most of them could never relate to. The smallest big city in the world doesn’t adopt too many outsiders, but the acceptance spoke volumes about how much Philadelphia embraced Lou Williams.

    Palestra Fixture

     

  • 2011-12 Regular Season

    The 76ers stormed out of the gates after the 2011 lockout with an 18-7 record. The national media quickly pointed to their lack of superstar talent, however.

    Williams, Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday, Elton Brand, Thaddeus Young, and company hung tough through the criticism. Even after slipping to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, the team showed some character.

    Although the lack of top-end talent ultimately turned out to be the fatal flaw of the season, Williams and the 2011-12 Sixers commanded the respect of their fan base as a tough out against more talented NBA teams. They were the type of team that earned themselves a big break.

     

  • 2012 NBA Playoffs: Chicago Bulls First-Round Series

    The Chicago Bulls entered the postseason as the top seed in the Eastern Conference, led by Derrick Rose one year after an MVP campaign. They were heavy favorites against a Sixers team who had faded fast in the first round against a loaded Heat team the previous year in a comparable situation.

    In the final minutes of a Game 1 victory, Rose unfortunately suffered a torn ACL that derailed his career.

    Lou Williams capitalized against a team without its best player. A 20-point effort in Game 2 included a dagger jump shot that helped the Sixers pull away for a 109-92 win. The statement victory meant the Sixers were very much alive against the wounded Bulls.

    Williams averaged 12.8 points in the series, second on the team behind Holiday. The Sixers took down the top seed in a dramatic Game 6 victory at the Wells Fargo Center.

     

  • 2012 NBA Playoffs: Boston Celtics Second-Round Series

    The Sixers met another heavily-favored team in the second round. The fourth-seeded Boston Celtics were two years removed from an NBA Finals appearance and four years removed from a championship. They never trailed in the series, but they certainly didn’t have an easy time with a scrappy Philly squad.

    The Sixers rallied from an 18-point deficit in Game 4 at the Wells Fago Center, as Matt Cord ignited the crowd with the memorable “Lou for two!” announcement as the sixth man dropped 15 points and added 8 assists.

    After losing Game 5 in Boston, they returned home to a raucous crowd that wasn’t ready to go down without a fight. The Sixers desperately hung on for an 82-75 victory, and the home crowd rose out of their seats as Williams dribbled the final seconds off the clock to force a Game 7.

    Rajon Rondo stunned Philadelphia in a tight Game 7 victory that pushed the Sixers to make a regrettable decision to acquire Andrew Bynum.

     

  • NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award (June 24, 2019)

    Williams won his first NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in 2015 as a member of the Toronto Raptors. He later added two more as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers after the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.

    Although he no longer played for the 76ers, Philadelphia fans respected one of their own who had solidified an impressive legacy as one of the best draft picks in franchise history.

    Lou Williams with the Los Angeles Clippers

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