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Sixers' T.J. McConnell gets married as Nik Stauskas plays groomsman

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nikstauskas11 on Instagram

Sixers' T.J. McConnell gets married as Nik Stauskas plays groomsman

Congratulations to T.J. McConnell and his wife, Valerie Guiliani!

Last night, at a ceremony in Pittsburgh, McConnell wed his high school sweetheart and, his Sixers teammate Nik Stauskas posted one of the first photos of the newlyweds on his Instagram with a special message.

In June, we caught up with the couple and Valerie shared that the wedding was the reason for T.J.’s new look last season.

"I think I said, 'You will not walk down the aisle with a buzzcut. It's just not happening,'" she said. "I think he thought he wouldn't look handsome with his hair and he looks so handsome with it."

It looks like he kept his word.

Stauskas, one of the groomsmen at the affair, told our Jessica Camerato about his excitement to be involved with the wedding during the spring.

"It meant a lot to be invited to the wedding," Stauskas said. "It's going to be a special day for me. I may shed a few tears."

No word on if Stauskas shed a tear, but we wish all the best to the newlyweds after their special day.

Redskins RB thinks Eagles fans are mean (but maybe a little clever too)

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AP photo

Redskins RB thinks Eagles fans are mean (but maybe a little clever too)

There's never any love lost between NFC East rivals so this Monday's much-anticipated contest between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins is sure to bring plenty of chatter to go along with some exciting football.

Philly's reputation often precedes it and there was some new fuel added to that fire on Wednesday when Washington running back Chris Thompson said some inflammatory -- or complimentary, depending how you look at it -- things about our city's thoughtful fans.

Thompson was a guest on ESPN 980 this morning and said he's anxious to play the Eagles in Philly because they're one of the best teams in the NFL. But also for other reasons.

From the Washington Post:

“Philly fans are some of the meanest fans I’ve ever experienced, too,” he said, “so I’m excited about that as well.”

Host Bram Weinstein then asked for any favorite tales, and Thompson obliged.

“You see a lot of the players pregame when we run out of the tunnel, guys just go pray or whatever in the end zone,” Thompson said. “And [two years ago] I went and prayed in the end zone, and one of the [fans] told me, he was like ‘God’s not gonna help you today.’ And I was like oh, shoot. I heard it while I was praying. I was like dang, all right, that’s a little harsh.”

Harsh. But fair!

On a serious note, Thompson also said he's not planning on bringing his family to Philly for the game.

“I heard that’s the one stadium you keep your family from going to,” Thompson told Weintstein. “My family will be here this week, and they were like ‘I want to come to the Philly game.’ I said absolutely not, you’re gonna have to wait until Dallas comes around. Because my step dad, he’s a big guy. And if he starts fighting, It’ll be real bad out there. I was told that right away my rookie year: keep your family away.”

Now, I can't say I disagree entirely. But not just with Eagles games in Philly. NFL games in general are most certainly not a family friendly environment. Every other week there's a video of an incident from Carolina or San Francisco or any other stadium around the country of fans acting in ways that are incredibly unfriendly to a family environment.

I took my now wife to her first Eagles game three seasons ago. We sat in the club level where I joked (kinda) that she wouldn't see any of the infamous rowdy behavior. That was before one of the largest brawls I've ever seen broke out with guys tumbling down row after row. And that was Eagles-fan-on-Eagles-fan violence.

The Sixers may be mishandling Markelle Fultz's injury

The Sixers may be mishandling Markelle Fultz's injury

We don’t know much about the nature of the shoulder injury that’s bothering Sixers guard Markelle Fultz. We don’t know when he got hurt. We don’t know exactly what the injury is. We don’t know how long it will take to recover.

All we know is that whatever is wrong with Fultz’s shoulder, he can barely heave a free throw to the basket from 16 feet away. His shot has been so obviously altered, people assumed the Sixers had to be messing with the 19-year-old’s mechanics. And with his performance visibly affected, and his minutes limited during the preseason, the No. 1 choice in the 2017 NBA draft is set to begin the season on the bench.

That plan was announced to some controversy, as Fultz becomes one of a small handful — and, to this point, disappointing batch — of recent top overall picks who failed to open their rookie seasons as starters. Yet, lost in the hoopla over whether coming off the bench is an ominous sign for Fultz’s future is a far more practical question.

Should Fultz be playing at all?

Fultz appeared in only two exhibition games for the Sixers, and they weren’t pretty. He shot 2 for 13 from the field (0 for 3 from three) and scored four points against the Grizzlies, and scored 12 points off of 5 for 11 shooting from the field (no three-point attempts) against the Celtics. Numbers aside, Fultz’s shot looked flat and often came up short of the basket. He looked like a kid who’s playing hurt.

Naturally, team doctors are privy to a lot of medical information the general public is not — in this case, all of the information — but it’s difficult to watch Fultz struggle to hoist a basketball to the rim and not ask what good playing is doing him. And given the Sixers’ fiasco handling Joel Embiid’s torn meniscus last season, it’s certainly fair to wonder whether the organization has this latest situation under control.

Embiid wouldn’t undergo surgery for two months after the injury, initially classified as a bone bruise, and is beginning this season on a minutes restriction partially as a result. Seemingly in response to criticism over the debacle, the Sixers created the post of vice president of athlete care and tabbed Dr. C. Daniel Medina Leal for the position in September.

Apologies if that move didn’t immediately erase any concerns or skepticism.

Conversely, we’ve also seen this same organization practice extreme caution when dealing with injuries to Ben Simmons and Embiid. Simmons missed a full season, and Embiid missed two full years, both with foot injuries. The Sixers are still exercising more restraint than some would like with Embiid’s current restrictions. It’s been maddening at times, but simultaneously easy to see where they’re coming from.

So why not show a modicum of patience with Fultz and allow him to rest his injury? Granted, there’s generally far more risk involved with lower-body injuries, particularly those of the magnitude Embiid and Simmons were dealing with. But even if Fultz isn’t doing any more damage to his shoulder or slowing the healing process by playing, what exactly is the benefit to his working through this?

Sixers coach Brett Brown talked about the need to balance Fultz’s development with winning games. How much does the rookie’s presence on the hardwood help the Sixers accomplish either goal right now?

Fultz’s shot couldn’t possibly be as painful to watch as it is for him to take, and you can only imagine the toll that’s taking physically and mentally. Will it hurt his confidence? Will it prolong the recovery? Will it cause him to alter his form even after the pain has dissipated? Will he be able to focus on honing other aspects of the game?

Because while it’s been only two preseason games — and just two summer league games before he went down with a sprained ankle — it doesn’t look the Sixers are counting on Fultz to key many victories in the early stages of this season.

There are 82 games to go, not including the prospect of playoffs. If the Sixers are worried about Fultz’s development, there’s time. It’s a long season.

Again, we don’t actually know much at all about Fultz’s injury, so maybe it’s unfair to judge. But going off of the two preseason games he played, I’m not certain I understand the rush to get Fultz on the court when he’s clearly laboring.