The bile began to ooze from some 76er fans about half an hour after the Magic Show had caused their team to disappear from yet NBA title chase.
"Hey, put this down," a man demanded. "They owe us 20."
In truth, it is only four. The Sixers told their fans: "We owe you one (NBA title)" after losing to Portland in the finals in 1977. And have kept repeating it, although in tones lower and lower each year.
Today, it is hardly a whisper. On the whole, the Sixer players would rather be anywhere than in Philadelphia, having pholded at exactly the moment they could have snatched the championship-series momentum from the Lakers, ridden it back to Los Angeles and to that elusive title in game seven.
The more that reality sinks into players and fans the more Friday's loss turns frustration to anger. The more the numbers get digested the more sickening the Phily Pholly becomes.
Without tainting the wonder of Magic Johnson one bit, the Sicers out to kick themselves across the state line for blocing game six -- and the title -- to a Laker team with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sitting 3,000 milies away with his foot propped on a cushion.
Few anticipated that Friday would be one of the most special moments in NBA history, that Magic's night might be arguably the single best ever in a playoff. CBS offered the game live to its affiliates nationwide -- and just 17 took it.
Without Abdul-Jabbar, popular wisdom concluded, game six hardly was worthy of attention, except for the possibilities Magic might concoct with the entire court as his stage and no one to limit his expression.
What Magic's 12-point, 15-rebound, seven-assist performance proved is that at times an extraordinary smaller man can have even more control of a game than the sport's most dominant giant. Where Magic chose to go -- inside or outside -- he went, controlling the tempo, part Cousy and part Baylor.
And with a smile spread from here to Inglewood. He is a unique talent, surely the first player to be comfortable at every position at the highest level of the sport. And highly unusual for also enjoying his work.
Poor Abdul-Jabbar. Magic put a smile on his face for the first time in years. He was inspired like few times in his extraordinary career -- and yet now must wonder if he is in fact expendable.
Without him for a total of 52 minutes the last two games, the Lakers have outscored a team rather proud of its defense by 22 points. In that span, the Lakers became wonderfully inventive. With no practice, tall men scored from the perimeter and small men whipped less-agile defenders near the basket.
With every advantage, the Sixers melted into a puddle of confusion. It was the Sixers who played as though they had never met before, the Sixers who had little notion of how to attack and defend these suddenly magical Lakers.
"Their guys were just driving down the lane saying: "Here I am, stop me,'" Caldwell Jones said. 'They'd either get an easy basket or a foul. I started off on (Jamaal) Wilkes . . . . He made a layup, then a jumper on me.
"I said: 'Hey, this guy is not faster than me.' But they always seemed to have two or three guys coming down the court and you were always trying to decide which one to stop. The guys that beat us tonight (Friday) are the same ones who beat us when Kareem was out (for nearly four minutes of game five).
"Sitting on the bench, I could see my season coming to an end with each tick of the clock. And that's a lonely feeling."
You wonder if the Sixers had any sort of defensive game plan. They were, after all, informed well in advance that L.A. would not be using its cornerstone. Yet the Lakers moved the ball wherever they wanted. Julius Erving scored 27 points, but he must have allowed twice that many.
"I didn't think we could play as badly as we did, especially in the first half," Erving said."We scored 60, but we could have scored 75 if we hadn't made so many turnovers. It was very disappointing, because we had started to take pride in our defense."
With no Abdul-Jabbar, the Sixers could over play the two other Laker threats, Magic and Wilkes. The Sixers should have dedicated their defense lives to stopping that pair. Instead, they combined for 79 points, hitting 30 of 53 shots from the field and all 19 free throws.
"Possibly, the players were looking a bit ahead as far as catching that plane ride (to L.A. for a seventh game)," said reserve Steve Mix. "I don't think it was on anybody's mind (that L.A. would win without Abdul-Jabbar). And I think that was one of our problems.
"They did a lot of the things that disrupted us. In the first half, they collapsed a lot, but we were hesitant to take the outside shot, even when they were giving us the open 18-footers.We still were trying to jam the ball down their throats."
But not very hard. The entire game, the Philadelphia inside players -- Darryl Dawkins, Caldwell and Bobby Jones -- shot a total of just 20 times. dThey were not going to win with Henry Bibby.
They especially were not going to win with Magic grabbing more than twice as many rebouns as any Sixer except Bobby Jones. Incredibly, the Lakers had 16 more rebounds than Philadephia.
How L.A. could win going away on a night Kareem was absent and Norm Nixon missed nine of 10 shots defies belief. It is partly explained by Johnson showing us the future, a man who can peel off a rebound at one end of the court, glide the entire length of the court and do something astonishing with it at the other end.
"The key," said Sixer Coach Billy Cunningham, "was that they played loose. They had fun out there. They knew if they lost, so what? They were expected to lose. Magic? He just gets better. He'll be in the class of (Oscar Robertson and (jerry) West. Or even better."
"I expected so much more," Erving said.
As he suggested, the night was Magic for one team -- and tragic for the other.