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76ers Win First Pick, Toronto Gets Second

May 19, 1996

SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) _ Pat Croce’s new basketball team didn’t really win the NBA Lottery on Sunday. but his Philadelphia 76ers will have the first pick in the next month’s draft.

The Toronto Raptors actually won the 13-team lottery held at the offices of NBA Entertainment, according to NBA counsel Joel Litvin. Under an agreement with the expansion franchises, Toronto and Vancouver _ both were ineligible for the No. 1 pick.

The ping-pong balls for the first pick were assigned to Toronto, but the Raptors (21-61) were ineligible and automatically dropped to second. The 76ers, who had the second-worst record in the league at 18-64, then moved up to first when they were drawn for the second pick.

Croce, who headed a group that recently purchased the 76ers for at least $125 million from Harold Katz, refused to speculate on the Sixers’ pick in the June 26 draft. New general manager Brad Greenberg will make the choice _ after running it by Croce.

The early frontrunners in this draft loaded with more than three dozen college underclassmen and high school players are Massachusetts forward Marcus Camby and points guards Allen Iverson of Georgetown and Stephon Marbury of Georgia Tech.

``We’re looking for a winning position,″ said Croce, the 76ers’ president and a former team physical therapist. ``Any player we get is going to be an impact player for the 76ers.″

Vancouver, which had the worst record at 15-67, won the third pick. Picks 4 through 13 then were assigned according to records during the regular season. Milwaukee got the fourth pick and was followed by Minnesota, Dallas, the Los Angeles Clippers, New Jersey, Boston, Denver, Golden State, Cleveland and Charlotte.

Cleveland, which made the playoffs, got into the lottery having obtained Washington’s pick in a trade for Mark Price.

Had Golden State gotten one of the top three picks, it would have been gone to Orlando under terms of the trade for Chris Webber.

Golden State was represented at the draft by forward Joe Smith, the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft.

Croce, a former conditioning coach for the 76ers and Flyers, amassed his personal wealth by building up a thriving physical therapy business he would later sell for $40 million.

Croce invested some of his self-made millions in the megadeal in which Comcast Corp. and Flyers owner Ed Snider took ownership of the Sixers, Flyers and the city’s two arenas earlier this year.

Camby watched the lottery on television and saw everything go according to statistical form.

``Philadelphia or Toronto would be a great situation for myself,″ Camby said, referring to the chance to stay close to his family in Hartford, Conn. ``But I really have no preference.″

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