They're putting up the baskets at the Spectrum one more time tonight, when the Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers play the last basketball game before the 42-year-old arena is demolished.
Some memories of the building -- which last hosted a Sixers game in 1996 before the team moved to the Wachovia Center -- are not easily swept away.
''I was playing with the Knicks at the time, and we were coming on as a team,'' Bulls assistant coach Pete Myers said of a 1989 playoff series. ''We swept [the Sixers] in the first round, so we took the brooms that were behind the basket and we actually went up and down the floor with the brooms and swept the floor. Then we got back the next day in New York, and they had us on the front page.
''It went all downhill from there. Granted, we did play [the Bulls] in the next round and lost. It was kind of a good thing turned bad.''
Flyers owner Ed Snider calls the Spectrum his ''baby.'' Snider needed to build it to get an NHL franchise in Philadelphia. It went up in 11 months and opened in 1967.
Only one championship was celebrated in the arena. The Flyers clinched the 1974 Stanley Cup with a 1-0 victory over Boston.
''We won two Stanley Cups and went to four finals,'' former Flyer Bob Kelly said on rememberthespectrum.com. ''We beat the Russians there and had a 35-game unbeaten streak. It was a big part of so many of our lives because a lot of us played there for a lot of years.''
Charles Barkley, whose No.34 jersey was retired to the Spectrum rafters, played his first game there in 1984 with teammates Julius Erving and Moses Malone.
''The locker room was so small ... if I moved too quickly, Moses' [expletive] would hit me on the cheekbone,'' Barkley is quoted on the Web site. ''I had to really be careful when I was doing interviews because if you turned your head, Doc's cheek was right here and Moses' cheek was right here.''
Duke's Christian Laettner hit his last-second game-winner off a 75-foot inbounds pass from Grant Hill to beat Kentucky at the Spectrum. The 104-103 overtime decision in the 1992 NCAA East Regional is considered one of the best college games ever.
Bulls forward John Salmons, a Philadelphia native, is looking forward to being part of the farewell game.
''It's going to be fun,'' he said. ''The most famous memories are always going to be the Dr. J dunks. Growing up, I used to watch Barkley all the time. [He] was my favorite player for a long time, he and Hersey Hawkins.''
Bulls assistant Bernie Bickerstaff recalls Lloyd Free refusing to pass to a wide-open Erving in a key playoff game during Washington's run to the 1978 NBA title. Fellow assistant Del Harris remembers the Philly fans' fervor.
''They were always more intense against their own,'' Harris said with a chuckle.
For Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro, it's the end of an era.
''All the old buildings -- from the L.A. Forum to the Boston Garden to the Chicago Stadium, Madison Square Garden and the Spectrum -- they just had an atmosphere that was electric,'' Del Negro said. ''The [cigarette] smoke up there. The history of those buildings is just phenomenal. It will be a great atmosphere.''
Friday, March 13, 2009