(A new GrowthPlates feature; “Dispatches from the Dark” will bring us the few bright lights of enlightened ball that emerged from harrowing pagan bleakness of the Pre-Iverson 90’s. A period universally known as the “Dark Ages” of Sixers basketball.)
“Amidst the errors there shone forth men of genius; no less keen were their eyes, although they were surrounded by darkness” -Petrarch
With the great Sir Charles departing for Phoenix, the legacy of championship glory in tatters, and the Sean Bradley Visogoth horde laying waste to the franchise, the Dark Ages had descended upon the hoops fans of Philadelphia.
But it is little known, that in this days of despair, a Sixer would rise to set the single-game scoring record for the storied Spectrum Arena.
Not Dr. J, or Moses, or Barkley, or Bird, or Jordan. But a mere mortal of basketball rising to dizzying heights and shaking the very thrones of Hoops Olympus.
His name was Willie Burton.
The 9th overall pick of the Miami Heat in the 1990 draft, Burton failed to meet the Heats lofty expectations. He found himself cut, without a team at the start of the 1994 season. Picked up by the undermanned Sixers, the journeyman forward brought his inside/outside game to an unexpected crescendo with a Charlemagne-like 53 points against his erstwhile teammates on December 13th, 1994.
Bizarre fact from this game:
Burton scored 53 pts, and set an arena record without leading his team in field goal attempts. He went 12 of 19, 5 of 8 from distance, and 24 for 28 from the line. Nerds should check out this completely insane box score.
Willie Burton’s 53, A true point of light, in the Sixers darkness.