76ers

Allen Iverson's career-high night vs. the Magic was The Best Game I Ever Saw Live

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AP Images/NBCSP

Allen Iverson's career-high night vs. the Magic was The Best Game I Ever Saw Live

The Allen Iverson Experience was captivating regardless of the medium — live on television, in the newspaper the next morning, hearing from teachers about the West Coast game that went past your bed time. 

But it was best in person, no question.

I was there on Feb. 12, 2005, when Iverson scored a career-high 60 points in a Sixers’ win over the Magic. The victory improved them to 25-26 in a season that would ultimately end with a first-round loss to the Pistons, but those are the kind of boring details you have to look up years later. 

It was all about Iverson, as it tended to be during those years. I remember, as a 10-year-old kid, trying to do the math throughout the night of how many points he was on pace for. As Iverson kept flying down the floor with the baggy shorts of that era flapping around his knees, bouncing off big bodies and knocking down free throws, I had to keep recalibrating. 

The subplots and opposing players and emotions from when I was around that age have stuck with me. During the 2002-03 playoffs, I was fascinated by the Hornets’ gargantuan Robert “Tractor” Traylor and the Pistons’ lanky Tayshaun Prince. I watched Ben Wallace take free throws hours before tip-off and attempted to decipher how an All-Star could be so poor at one part of the game. 

The Sixers lost Game 6 of their second-round series against the Pistons in overtime in that 2002-03 season. Iverson couldn’t get a shot off at the end of regulation, Chauncey Billups was clutch in OT, and I got a good-natured speech from a random fan as we walked out of the arena. He said what I'd just witnessed— being so close, building hope, failing at the decisive moment — was what I should expect as a Philly sports fan.

I don’t remember the exact words, but the gist of it was memorable. It felt like I’d shown a willingness to suffer and deserved the truth, and that was oddly comforting — believe me, the guy was actually very kind. I was hooked on the idea of being there as much as I could, whatever the circumstances. 

Heading into that 2005 game vs. the Magic, I wondered how Jameer Nelson would fare against Iverson. This was Nelson’s second game back in Philadelphia after four decorated years at St. Joe’s, and though I understood he was a rookie and a bench player — Orlando started Steve Francis, who scored 32 points — I was excited about the minutes when Iverson and Nelson would match up. 

With all due respect to Nelson, who finished with 10 points and eight assists, he ended the night as just another guy who tried very hard to stop Iverson and couldn’t. 

Consulting the box score and highlights now, I could give you more detailed analysis. Only six of Iverson’s 60 points came from three-point territory. A 23-year-old Kyle Korver made the Sixers’ only two other threes and was establishing himself as an elite specialist and draft-night steal. Korver, Andre Iguodala and Dwight Howard are the only players from that game still currently active in the NBA.

Sixers head coach Jim O’Brien used just three bench players — Willie Green (now an assistant coach with the Suns), Aaron McKie (Temple head coach) and Marc Jackson (NBC Sports Philadelphia analyst). It’s interesting to see how much the NBA has changed in 15 years, and to track the paths of everyone who was part of the game. 

That’s all secondary, though. There was a single-mindedness to the whole night that was thrilling, and it’s the thing I’m least likely to forget. Everyone staring up at the big screen after a free throw to track Iverson’s point total, everyone wanting him to have the ball in his hands and knowing he would, everyone grateful they were there and unconcerned with the game, the season and life outside of sports.

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Sixers' Tobias Harris narrating backyard wild turkeys is quarantine comedy gold

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@tobiasharris/Instagram

Sixers' Tobias Harris narrating backyard wild turkeys is quarantine comedy gold

Tobias Harris is separated from rookie cult hero and internet goofball Matisse Thybulle, which means he had to find other ways to populate his Instagram stories with comedy.

Enter a bunch of wild turkeys in Harris's backyard.

It's unclear where Harris is riding out the NBA's season suspension, but wherever it is, he was greeted Thursday afternoon by a few preening turkeys, a welcome sight for anyone bored of looking at the same eight things in their house every day.

Harris, of course, whipped out his phone and opened up Instagram, and started filming - and narrating - the impromptu wildlife.

You're gonna want to turn your sound on:

Is... is Harris narrating these turkeys' prospective sex lives? He definitely is, isn't he?

It's all amazing, but Harris getting spooked by the aggressive turkey at the end is an absolute highlight for me. Does he not trust the integrity of those windows?!

Again, we don't know where Harris is spending his time away from basketball, but judging by the fowl play, it might be New Jersey. The Garden State is known for its hordes of wild turkeys - there are roughly 20,000 living in the state - and the Sixers' practice facility is of course located in Camden.

Between Thybulle adding a Roomba as a pet, and now Harris's encounter with wild turkeys, it's certainly been an interesting few weeks of social distancing for the Sixers.

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Celtics' Jayson Tatum weighs in on Joel Embiid-Nikola Jokic best center debate

Celtics' Jayson Tatum weighs in on Joel Embiid-Nikola Jokic best center debate

Boston Celtics star guard Jayson Tatum has caused some headaches for the Sixers over the last few years, and will likely continue to do so, but it seems he has a healthy respect for his Philadelphia rivals.

Tatum, who kept busy during social distancing Wednesday night with an Instagram Live, was first asked about the best player in the league, and then asked for his MVP pick, two classic questions - he called LeBron James the best player, and said James was going to win MVP.

Then things got a little more interesting.

Tatum was conducting the IG Live with Pep Stanciel, a basketball skills coach who has worked with NBA players in the past, and Stanciel managed to get Tatum to name the league's best player at each position.

Here's Tatum's all-league starting lineup, per NBC Sports Boston:

Point Guard: Stephen Curry
Shooting Guard: James Harden
Small Forward: LeBron James
Power Forward: Anthony Davis
Center: Joel Embiid

You're not going to hear a lot of complaints about that list from NBA fans, though I bet the most objections would wind up with Embiid as the starting center.

The argument over the NBA's best center has been a hotly-contested topic for a couple years now, with the emergence of Embiid and Nikola Jokic as two position-breaking stars who can sort of do it all. 

Embiid is an unstoppable, bullying presence in the paint who puts opponents in foul trouble and dominates the rim on the defensive end. Jokic is a visionary passer who uses his height and creativity to his advantage, both in the half-court and in transition. 

They're both fantastic, and just different enough that the basketball world has sort of reached a stalemate on who is an all-around better center.

Is Tatum showing his Eastern Conference bias, considering he faces Embiid more often? It's certainly possible. But Embiid is also just really, really good.

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