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YouTube Gold: Andrew Toney

A spectacular career cut short by injuries

Philadelphia 76ers v Washington Bullets
Andrew Toney, with Julius Erving in the background, vs. the Washington Bullets

There have been some great nicknames in NBA history. The Big Dipper. The Worm. Magic. Pistol Pete. Dr. J.

All of them are evocative of the players they represent. But no one’s nickname was ever better at scaring a rival than....The Boston Strangler. (go ahead, say it in a creepy voice).

That would be Andrew Toney of course.

Before Magic Johnson and Larry Bird redefined the Lakers, the Celtics and NBA basketball, the Philadelphia 76ers were the team to beat in the NBA.

Between the ABA-NBA merger and the emergence of that spectacular rivalry, the 76ers had Julius Erving, Doug Collins, Bobby Jones, Moses Malone, Maurice Cheeks and Toney and eventually, you had to deal with them to win a championship.

When the Bird-era Celtics started to rise, Toney developed a real knack for just crushing Boston. In the 1982 Eastern Conference Finals, he had 34 points and there was nothing the Celtics could do.

Larry Bird feared him. Danny Ainge said Toney kept him up at night.

He was truly a great player but foot injuries derailed his career. Charles Barkley called him the best player he ever played with, and he played with Erving, Hakeem Olajuwon and Scottie Pippen.