Most of the people watching the NBA Finals featuring the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat are big time basketball fans. They’re also LeBron James and Kevin Durant fans. Of course, the people from Oklahoma City and Miami are fans of their respective teams.
It’s always nice to have a rooting interest. If you’re a Philadelphia 76ers fan, you can easily be Thunder fans in this series. And this doesn’t have anything to do with Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook. It has everything to do with Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks and assistant coach Maurice Cheeks.
Brooks is a great story. He was undrafted coming out of the University of California, Irvine in 1987 and had to go to the CBA and even the World Basketball League before getting his chance to play in the NBA. The Sixers were his first team. Jimmy Lynam was the head coach at the time. Brooks had to make the team and the 5-foot-11 point guard was quite a fan favorite. He played with the Sixers from 1988 to 1990. Charles Barkley and Rick Mahorn were his teammates during those years.
He played 10 NBA seasons with a number of teams including the Sixers as well as the Minnesota Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Rockets. In 1994, he played on the Rockets NBA championship team.
In 2000, Brooks started his coaching career as a player/assistant with the Los Angeles Stars of the American Basketball Association. The following season, he was the head coach of the Southern California Surf of the ABA.
Like his playing career, Brooks had to work his way up the professional ladder. He held assistant coaching jobs with Sacramento and Denver before joining the Thunder’s staff as an assistant in 2008 where he worked under P.J. Carlesimo. He was named interim head coach during the 2008–2009 season and was given the job permanently in 2009.
Since becoming the Thunder’s head coach, Brooks has emerged as one of the best coaches in the league. This is just his third season on the job. In 2010, he was named the NBA Coach of the Year after his second season. Last year, he guided Oklahoma City to the NBA’s Western Conference Finals before losing to the Dallas Mavericks, the eventual league champions. Now, Brooks has the Thunder in the championship round.
Good point guards make great decisions, and bringing Cheeks on board as an assistant was certainly a good one. Cheeks was a fan favorite with the Sixers. In 1983, he led the Sixers to the NBA championship, playing alongside Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Andrew Toney and Bobby Jones. He should land in the Hall of Fame some day. He has a lot of experience. He was a long time assistant with the Sixers under head coaches John Lucas, Johnny Davis and Larry Brown. He had two stints as a head coach with the Portland Trail Blazers (2001–05) and the Sixers (2005–08). In 2008, Cheeks was let go as the Sixers head coach.
It’s nice to see him on the sidelines again. Westbrook is the point guard for the Thunder. His play as the team’s floor general has been impressive throughout the postseason. You can see where he has benefited from the knowledge and experience of Brooks and Cheeks as well as veteran backup Derrick Fisher.
It’s nice to see two guys make a small market team into one of the elite franchises in the NBA. If the Thunder can beat the Heat for the league title, Brooks and Cheeks could wind up with rings not only as players, but as coaches, too. For Philly fans, that’s something worth rooting for.
It’s been a huge year for a number of athletes and teams in the sports world. There have also been some interesting trades and noteworthy accomplishments. The athletes will certainly be remembered for all the great things they did in a year where there were so many outstanding ones.
The team accomplishments as well as the important sports stories will have their special place, too. It’s always a difficult task to select 10 special moments in a calendar year where there were so many. Nevertheless, here’s a look at 10 notable sports occurrences from the region and beyond in 2012.
Andrew Bynum/Dwight Howard – The biggest trade in professional sports involved two of the NBA’s best centers in big men Andrew Bynum and Dwight Howard. The Sixers acquired the 7-foot, 285-pound all-star center for the Los Angeles Lakers and shooting guard Jason Richardson from the Orlando Magic. The Sixers also sent center Nik Vucevic and rookie Maurice Harkless to the Magic with a protected first round pick.
Howard was dealt to the Lakers. The 6-foot-11, 265-pound center, entered last weekend averaging 17.8 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks a game. Bynum has yet to play for the Sixers. He has been nursing bone bruises in both knees. The latest report from Bynum is his knees are healing. The fans are hoping to see him on the court in 2013.
Gabby Douglas – Douglas was the darling of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She won the all-around gymnastics gold medal and was the first African American to win the all-around gold medal at the Olympics. Douglas was also named Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year.
LeBron James – It was a breakthrough year for James as he led the Miami Heat to the NBA championship last season. After losing to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 for the league title, he bounced back guiding the Heat to an impressive run in the playoffs defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player. During the summer, he helped the U.S. Olympic Basketball team win the gold medal. He was named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.
Penn State Football – In spite of the widely publicized sex abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky, Penn State football turned in a very impressive season. Bill O’Brien, Nittany Lions head coach, led Penn State to an overall 8-4 record and a 6-2 Big Ten mark in his first season. O’Brien was named the ESPN and Maxwell Club Coach of the Year.
Kobe Bryant – Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to score 30,000 points. Bryant is just 34 years old. He joins some real basketball legends such as Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone.
Usain Bolt – Bolt ran away from everybody at the Olympics. The Jamaican sprinter won gold medals in the 100 and 200 meters. Bolt set a new Olympic record in the 100 meters. He ran a 9.63 in that event. In the 200 meters, he clocked a 19.3 in that race. He also led the Jamaican 4x100 meter relay team to a new world record of 36.84. He has been one of the most dominant Olympic athletes in the past two summer games. Bolt is regarded as the fastest man in the world.
New Orleans Saints – The New Orleans Saints bounty scandal was one of the biggest NFL stories of the year. It was a lot of back and forth in terms of the player’s involvement in this situation. Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, put former commissioner Paul Tagliabue in charge of what punishment should be handed out. Tagliabue determined that no players from the Saints would be suspended for their actions. Saints head coach Sean Payton was suspended for the entire NFL season.
Robert Griffin III – Griffin has become a huge star in the NFL as a rookie. The Washington Redskins quarterback is a major candidate for rookie of the year honors. He has completely turned the Redskins around this season with his brilliant play. The downside for Eagles fan is Griffin appears to be a mainstay in the NFC East for many years to come.
Local High School Basketball – The best high school basketball in the state of Pennsylvania was played in the Philadelphia area with Chester, Neumann-Goretti, Imhotep Charter and Constitution high schools winning PIAA state championships.
Miguel Cabrera – Cabrera, Detroit Tigers third baseman, became the first player to win the Triple Crown in Major League Baseball since 1967, when Carl Yastrzemski captured this honor. Cabrera was named Most Valuable Player in the American League. He led the league with a .330 batting average while hitting 44 home runs and driving in 139 RBIs. He also led his team to a World Series appearance, where it was swept by San Francisco.
The Battle For I-95 between Team Philly and Team Melo at The Palestra Sunday night certainly whet the appetites of NBA fans while they wait for the league’s lockout to be settled. The basketball game was played before more than 8,700 fans with Team Philly defeating Team Melo, 131-122.
Team Melo featured a number of NBA all-stars such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Team Philly was loaded with NBA standouts as well with Lou Williams, Kyle Lowry and Tyreke Evans. Of course, the game provided an opportunity for other players to get some much needed work in so they would be ready to give the NBA another shot once the lockout ends.
Ronald “Flip” Murray and Mardy Collins also played for Team Philly. Murray and Collins played professional basketball in Turkey last year. They’re looking forward to getting back to the NBA.
“I had offseason surgery. I had a bone spur in my toe. I’m getting back in shape,” Murray said.
“I’m working out and getting ready for the season. It was a good experience in Turkey. I had a chance to see the other side of the world. They play a different style of basketball. It’s the Euro League basketball. It was great basketball. But I want to get back to the NBA. I’m trying to wait until this lockout is over before I decide what I’m going to do. If I can play three or four more years that would be great.”
Everybody knows what Murray can do. The former All-Public League standout was a brilliant player for Strawberry Mansion. He played his college basketball for Shaw University, where he led the Bears to their first Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) championship in 2002. He also guided Shaw University to the Division II NCAA Final Four. Murray was named Division II Player of the Year.
In 2002, the Milwaukee Bucks drafted him in the second round. Murray played for the Bucks as well as the Seattle SuperSonics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Bobcats and Chicago Bulls. He played eight years in the NBA. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard was happy to be back in Philly.
“This is good for the fans and the city,” Murray said. “They get a chance to come out and see a live game with NBA stars like LeBron and Carmelo.”
Collins, an All Public League star at Simon Gratz, played a couple months in Turkey as well. The 6-foot-6 guard is hoping to get another opportunity to play in the NBA.
“I played in Turkey for only two months,” Collins said. “I strained my calf in the summer time. Then, I went to (Washington) Wizards’ camp and the first day of the conditioning drills I strained it again. I was out until about December. So, basically I was out all year just trying to recover.”
Collins had a great college career at Temple. In 2005-06, he averaged 16.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists a game as a senior. He was regarded as one of the top shooting guards in the country.
In 2006, the New York Knicks selected him in the first round with the 29th overall pick. He played two seasons with the Knicks. In 2008, he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, playing there for two seasons. He has played four seasons in the NBA.
“I’ve been working out all summer trying to stay in shape,” Collins said. “I played in the Rankin-Anderson and the King of Prussia league. I also played in the Dan Rumph Classic. I think I’ve been in the championship game of every league. We’ve won two of them and lost two of them. I’ve been playing pretty well.
“It’s going to be tough getting back in this year. But my thing is staying healthy. That’s the key for me. I’ve always been banged up with little injuries. I just have to stay healthy and stay fit. I have to keep working on my shot. I believe I can get back.”
NOTES: Lynn Greer, former Engineering and Science and Temple star, will play professional basketball in Russia this season. Greer made an appearance at the game. Former 76er Willie Green also attended the game. Green plays for the New Orleans Hornets.
Team Philly had a lot of local flavor with Hakim Warrick, Jason Thompson, Dionte Christmas, Wayne Ellington, Mark Tyndale and Aaron Owens. Gerald Henderson stopped by to see his former Episcopal Academy teammate Ellington in the game. Henderson plays for the Charlotte Bobcats.
Swarthmore College recently held a tennis clinic with tennis star James Blake with the kids from the Chester Boys and Girls Club. The tennis program was sponsored by the Philadelphia Freedoms and the Loomis Racquet Academy, organized by Jeremy Loomis, Swarthmore College women’s tennis coach.
Blake was selected to play for the Philadelphia Freedoms this season. The Freedoms are owned by Billie Jean King and compete in the World team Tennis League. The clinic provided the youngsters from the Chester Boys and Girls Club a chance to learn the game from Blake, who is one of the game’s terrific players.
Rodale Books acquires memoir by NBA legend Earl Monroe
Rodale Inc. recently announced the acquisition of NBA great Earl Monroe’s memoir, Earl The Pearl: My Story, written with bestselling author Quincy Troupe. The book will be published in April 2013 to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Knicks’ last NBA championship.
Monroe, former Bartram High and Winston-Salem State basketball standout, is among the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players. He is a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame player whose style and flair made him a major attraction to younger players including Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. A sensational ballhandler who could break his man down with breath taking moves, Monroe changed the way the game of basketball is played and his influence can still be seen with today’s stars such as Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
Deadline for Lincoln Hall of Fame nominations extended
Lincoln University’s Athletic Hall of Fame has extended its deadline for nominations to July 31. The hall of fame induction will be a regular event to take place in conjunction with the football season. The first class will be inducted during halftime of the Lincoln-Johnson C. Smith University football game on Sept. 29 at 1 p.m. For more information, go to www.lulions.com
Cheyney ‘C’ Club to hold golf tourney
The Cheyney University “C” Club will hold the Wade Wilson Golf Tournament at Penn Oaks Country Club, 140 Penn Oaks Drive, in West Chester. The event will be held on August 27. Registration begins at 7 a.m. Tee time is at 8 a.m. The golf tournament is the club’s biggest fundraising event. The club is comprised of alumni athletic supporters that have shown a great commitment to the school’s athletic programs. For more information, go to www.cheyneycclub.com
Bobby Jordan named Drexel basketball assistant coach
James “Bruiser” Flint, Drexel head basketball coach, has named Bobby Jordan as assistant coach. Jordan has been on Flint’s staff the last two years as the team’s operation assistant. He replaces Ashley Howard who accepted an assistant coaching position at Xavier University.
Jordan has been around the Dragons’ program for the last six years. He stayed at Drexel following his playing career in 2010 when he took the operations position. He was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the office and assisted with team travel and academics.
He was a four-year letterwinner on the basketball court at Drexel. He originally walked-on the team as a freshman and eventually earned a scholarship. Jordan graduated from the school with a degree in sports management and is currently enrolled in graduate school, where he is working on an advanced degree in the same field.
Jordan was an All-Catholic League selection at Roman Catholic. He was also a Markward Award winner.
St. Joe’s women’s basketball adds Pierce as assistant coach
Saint Joseph’s has named Jada Pierce as assistant coach for the women’s basketball team. Spending the past two seasons at Army, Pierce brings more than 15 years of successful coaching including helping three schools earn NCAA tournament berths. Pierce played her scholastic basketball at Central High where she was an All-Public League star. She brings a lot of coaching experience to Saint Joseph’s.
Temple to open basketball season at Kent State
Temple will begin the basketball season playing on national television as the Owls will face Kent State on the road for a noon game on November. The game is part of the 2012 ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon which includes 11 men’s college basketball games all aired on ESPN.
It’s been a big year for Andre Iguodala. Actually, it’s been a special year for Iguodala, the Philadelphia 76ers’ small forward, when you stop and think about it. During the season, he was named to the NBA all-star team for the first time in his career.
In the Sixers playoff series against the Chicago Bulls, Iguodala put on quite a show in Game 6, making two crucial free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining to give the Sixers a 79-78 win over the Bulls, helping the Sixers advance to the semifinals of the Eastern Conference before losing to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
Then, on Saturday night, he was one of 12 players chosen to represent USA Basketball at the 2012 London Olympics. Iguodala is the first Sixer to compete in the Olympics since Allen Iverson in 2004.
“Congrats to Dre,” said Doug Collins, Sixers head coach. “Nobody could be more pleased than I am that he’s starting to get the recognition for being a great player. Being an Olympian in 1972, I know what this means for him and I’m very proud.”
Collins will have a chance to see him in person. He will be the basketball analyst for NBC’s Olympic coverage. Obviously, he’s proud of Iguodala. In fact, a lot of people should be proud of him.
This is quite an honor for a player who some people don’t regard as an all-star caliber player in spite of his accomplishments this season. Well, they can’t say that now. You can’t be a member of this team without having some ability.
There’s nothing but talent on this roster. The players on this team include: Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks), Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), James harden (Oklahoma City Thunder), LeBron James (Miami Heat), Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves), Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets). This is a big time team.
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University’s Hall of Fame and the head coach of the USA basketball team, knows basketball as well as any coach in the country. Coach K realizes that each player brings something unique to the table.
Iguodala brings something that all coaches love. And that’s defense. The 6-foot-6, 207-pounder, is a lock-down defender. He always draws the toughest assignment. He played Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce extremely well in the playoffs. He has guarded LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Iguodala should be a great asset at the defensive end.
But his skills aren’t just limited to defense. On this team, he should be able to get out on the fastbreak where he can utilize his speed and leaping ability. He should also be able to break his man down off the dribble.
Today, a lot of people look at statistics. Iguodala didn’t put up big numbers this season. He averaged 12.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists a game. Nevertheless, he was a major reason why the Sixers had a strong run in the postseason.
He has a chance to do a lot of the same things and more for the Olympic team.
ATLANTA — Earl Lloyd remembers when he suited up for the Washington Capitols more than 60 years ago as the first Black to play in an NBA game and wondering if he would make a good enough impression to stick around.
Lloyd and the Capitols lost the game. But he played well enough to earn a roster spot and break the color barrier in a league that had only three Black players in 1950 and now features the highest percentage of African-American athletes in any of the major professional leagues.
“Before the game, I was terrified,” recalled Lloyd, who scored six points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Capitols in a 78-70 loss to the Rochester Royals on Oct. 31, 1950. “I had a fear of disappointing the people who depended on me. Luckily, letting people down was not a part of my DNA.
“I’m glad I was part of something that helped pave the way for others.”
Now, as part of Black History Month, the 83-year-old Hall of Famer was honored for his breakthrough at halftime of the Atlanta Hawks–Miami Heat game on Sunday. The former West Virginia State standout along with six other African Americans will be recognized at all Hawks home games this month.
“I’m blessed to still have my health,” said Lloyd, who also became the Detroit Pistons’ first Black coach in 1971. “I know that there are a lot of people who didn’t make it to 61 years of age. So for me to be around this long and still get some recognition.”
Since Lloyd made history, the NBA has increased its number of Black players to 78 percent, according to the league’s racial and gender report last year. About 83 percent of the players in the league are people of color.
These days, Lloyd said some of his favorite players to watch are LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the Heat. He personally met James a couple years ago, but has yet to meet Wade.
“They might be too busy with the game to come and see me,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve met LeBron before, but hopefully if Dwyane slows down for a moment and decides to give me a high five, I’ll be sure to return the favor.”
Lloyd was drafted in the seventh round. His debut was a couple of days before two other African Americans who helped integrate the NBA — Chuck Cooper of the Boston Celtics, the first Black draftee; and Nat Clifton of the New York Knicks, the first Black to sign a league contract.
The 6-foot-5 Lloyd had his best season in 1955, averaging 10.2 points and 7.7 rebounds for Syracuse, which beat Fort Wayne for the NBA title. He and Jim Tucker became the first Blacks to play on an NBA championship team.
Lloyd played in more than 560 NBA games in the league and became known for his defensive prowess. In eight seasons, he averaged 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds.
When Lloyd first appeared in an NBA game, he said he couldn’t have imagined the league as it is today. He gives credit not only to himself, but also to Cooper and Clifton for breaking the color barrier.
“The league has come a long way,” he said. “I’m happy that Chuck, Nat and myself helped pave the way for others.” — (AP)
The Philadelphia 76ers will have a chance to show the NBA exactly how good they are this week. The Sixers will be playing some of the best teams in the league over the next nine days beginning Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls at Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers will play six teams with winning records and five of those games will be at home. After they play the Bulls, the Sixers will battle the Miami Heat on Friday night, February 3 at Wells Fargo Center. Last season, the Sixers lost to the Heat in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Miami cruised through the postseason, eventually losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.
Immediately following the Heat, Philly will travel down to Atlanta to face the Hawks, a team they defeated two weeks ago, but still a formidable opponent. Then, they come home for a tough slate of games with the Los Angeles Lakers on February 6, San Antonio Spurs on February 8 and Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 10.
The Sixers lead the NBA’s Atlantic Division. The team doesn’t have anyone who averages 20 points a game but it does have balanced scoring with shooting guard Lou Williams (15.7 ppg) leading the way. Jrue Holiday, Sixers point guard, is averaging 14.7 points and 4.6 assists a game. Andre Iguodala has been playing a great all-around game tallying 12.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists a game. Evan Turner, Sixers second-year guard, has performed well off the bench, averaging 10.1 points a game. Thaddeus Young has run the floor and scored inside as well as outside while averaging 12.1 points a game. Up front, Elton Brand has been consistent averaging 10.9 points a game.
Despite their early season success, the Sixers will be challenged. They will be facing a number of stars coming this week and next week. The Bulls will bring in Derrick Rose, who won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award last year. Rose is averaging 22.9 points and 7.8 assists a game.
The Heat will showcase their big three with LeBron James (29.5 ppg, 7.0 apg), Chris Bosh (21.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and Dwyane Wade (19.9 ppg). Miami is a major attraction. They are the NBA’s most talked about team, particularly with James, a huge candidate to win MVP.
The Sixers visit the Hawks. They will battle some terrific players such as Joe Johnson (18.6 ppg), Josh Smith (15.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg) and Jeff Teague (13.0 ppg, 5.2 apg) in a big road game.
Kobe Bryant will make his annual appearance with the Lakers. Bryant is averaging 30.2 points, 5.6 assists and 1.2 steals a game. The Lakers also have a strong frontcourt with Pau Gasol (16.6 ppg) and Andrew Bynum (16.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg).
San Antonio comes in with power forward Tim Duncan, who at 35 still remains one of the league’s top players. Duncan is averaging 12.8 points and 7.6 rebounds a game. The 14-year NBA veteran can still play the game. Tony Parker, Spurs point guard, is averaging 17.3 points and 7.6 assists a game.
The Clippers will be in town with Blake Griffin, who is one of the most exciting players in the NBA. Griffin is averaging 21.0 points and 11.3 rebounds a game. Chris Paul, Clippers backcourt ace, is tallying 17.4 points and 8.5 assists a game.
The Sixers will be playing some outstanding teams. In addition, there should be some great crowds at all the games. For Sixers fans, this should be an exciting time.
The Philadelphia 76ers are heading into another tough stretch where they will be playing some of the best teams in the NBA. This is a very important part of the Sixers’ schedule. The Sixers are coming off a rough loss to Indiana on Wednesday, and the Pacers look like one of the league’s most improved teams.
The Sixers host the powerful Miami Heat on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers are 0-2 against the Heat this season. On Wednesday Miami just dropped a close decision to the Chicago Bulls, who were playing without Derrick Rose, the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player. The Sixers will be tested against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. It’d be good if they could get a win over the Heat. The Sixers have played them as well as just about anybody in the league. In addition, it would be nice to get another quality victory over one of the league’s elite teams.
After the Sixers play Miami, the team goes on the road to face the Chicago Bulls. The Sixers do have an early season victory over the Bulls. Chicago won the last meeting at the Wells Fargo Center two weeks ago. Rose, who has been battling a sore groin, could be back when the Sixers play at Chicago on Saturday night, March 17.
The Sixers have been playing some good basketball overall. They’ve won three out of their last four games, which includes a big win over the Boston Celtics. Boston is just a game and a half behind the Sixers in the Atlantic Division. Philly leads the division with a 25-18 record.
Doug Collins, Sixers head coach, has pushed all the right buttons. He recently moved Evan Turner into the starting lineup, and Turner has been fantastic in his new role in the backcourt. He has played well with Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday.
Tuner, a 6-foot-7 guard, has played shooting guard and point guard. He’s averaging 17.8 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists a game since the move. His size has created a lot of matchup problems for opposing teams. He’s playing with a lot more confidence.
Spencer Hawes, Sixers center, has returned after being out for an extended period of time with a strained left Achilles tendon injury. Hawes, a 7-foot-1, 245-pounder, played 20 minutes against the Pacers. He had six points and two rebounds. Hawes is working his way back into shape. He should be a factor up front for the Sixers.
Lou Williams continues to be the Sixers leading scorer off the bench. Williams is averaging 15.9 points a game. He should be a major candidate for the NBA’s Sixth Man Award. The Sixers shooting guard will be needed in this stretch. He can create his own shot and connect from long range.
The Sixers could go a long way toward building a stronger foundation with wins over Miami and Chicago. That may sound like a lot and it probably is, but at some point you’re going to play one of these teams in the playoffs. It would be good to pick up some extra momentum with wins over two of the NBA’s top teams.
Olympic gold medalist Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas and 2013 NBA Finals MVP LeBron James of the Miami Heat are among the nominees at the 2013 ESPY Awards, airing live from the Nokia Theatre in L.A. at 9 p.m., July 17 on ESPN.
Hosted by Jon Hamm of the AMC show “Mad Men,” the ESPYS “gather top celebrities from sports and entertainment to commemorate the past year in sports by recognizing major sports achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances.”
Douglas who made history at the 2012 Summer Olympics by becoming the first African American to win the “All-Around” gold medal in gymnastics, is up for several awards, including Best Female Athlete, Best Female U.S. Olympian and Best Team (US Women’s Gymnastics), while James is vying for Best NBA Player, Best Male Athlete and Best Championship Performance. Other nominees include Serena Williams (Best Female Tennis Player, Best Female Athlete) and Tiger Woods (Best Male Golfer).
Presenters at the 21st annual celebration of the best moments from the year in sports include Kevin Bacon, Lake Bell, Don Cheadle, Selena Gomez, Danica Patrick, Paula Patton, Maria Sharapova, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Tony Gonzalez, Jason Sudekis and Chrissy Teigen.
In addition, top athletes scheduled to attend include Victoria Azarenka (pro tennis player), Trey Burke (Utah Jazz), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens), Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia Eagles), Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions), Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers), Brad Keselowski (NASCAR driver), Ray Lewis (former Baltimore Raven/Analyst), Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings), Michael Phelps (Olympic gold medalist), Christian Ponder (Minnesota Vikings), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC), Abby Wambach (Western New York Flash), J.J. Watt (Houston Texans) and Russell Wilson. Vintage Trouble will perform as the ESPYS’ house band.
Fans will determine the winners by voting online at ESPN.com/ESPYS up to the start of the 2013 ESPYS. The ESPYS honor ESPN’s commitment to The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a partnership launched with the late Jim Valvano at the inaugural ESPYS in 1993.
The Philadelphia 76ers will open their regular season against the two-time NBA champion Miami Heat on Oct. 30 at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers will try to get a big opening season victory over the Heat’s Big Three, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
That’s a tall task for a team that’s attempting to three-peat as NBA champions. Then again, the Sixers will be facing a big task just about every night. It really looks like a long season for them.
It’s going to be interesting to see how many games they’re going to win. Sports Illustrated recently published its NBA preview. They had the Sixers last in the Eastern Conference. Brett Brown, the Sixers new head coach, has a lot of work to do in order to keep this team competitive throughout the season.
Brown will be relying on his three key veteran players Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes for some consistent play, experience and leadership. During the preseason, Turner, a 6-foot-7 guard/forward, led the Sixers in scoring (17.6 ppg). This has got to be a big year for Turner. This is the fourth season for him. The Sixers are going to need him to step up. He’s off to a good start. Turner will be teamed up with rookie Michael Carter-Williams from Syracuse. Carter-Williams, a 6-foot-6 point guard, will be responsible for running the offense. It’s going to be important for him to take care of the ball.
Thaddeus Young has played some great basketball for the Sixers. Young, a 6-foot-8 small forward, will have to do more as well. He’s coming off a good preseason where he averaged 14.2 points and 4.8 rebounds a game. Young can run the floor and break his man down off the dribble.
Hawes, a 7-foot-1 center, averaged 11.2 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. He’s going to have to be a force in the middle. He seems more comfortable playing away from the basket. But the Sixers need a presence. Turner, Young, Hawes and 6-foot-9 reserve forward/center Lavoy Allen from Temple are the only players left from the 2011-12 team, which lost to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Although Carter-Williams will certainly be one of the young players to watch, it appears that 6-foot-11 rookie center Nerlens Noel may not be available this season. Noel, a former Kentucky star, is recovering from a torn ACL.
James Anderson has been somewhat of a surprise during the preseason. Anderson, a 6-foot-6 guard from Oklahoma State, was the Sixers third leading scorer in the preseason. He averaged 13.9 points a game. The Sixers picked him up over the summer. Anderson was originally the 20th pick by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2010 NBA draft. He spent three seasons with the Spurs and the Houston Rockets. Last season, he was a member of the Atlanta Hawks’ training camp and preseason roster prior to being released before the regular season started.
The Sixers also acquired Tony Wroten and Daniel Orton. Wroten, a 6-foot-6 guard, came to the Sixers in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies. The 6-foot-6 guard averaged 11.0 points a game during the preseason. Orton, a former Kentucky standout, signed with the Sixers as a free agent. The 6-foot-10, 255-pound center, should give the team some much needed size inside. He averaged 5.3 points a game in the preseason.
The Sixers don’t have a lot of talent on their roster. The team has a whole NBA season ahead of them, which could be a rough one.
NOTES: Former Sixers star guard Allen Iverson is expected to announce his retirement on opening night against the Heat.