76ers

Jonah Bolden expected to join Sixers in summer league

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Jonah Bolden expected to join Sixers in summer league

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers intend to add Australian forward Jonah Bolden to their summer league team.

The Sixers, as David Pick first reported, submitted a request for a Letter of Clearance to allow Bolden to leave Maccabi Tel Aviv and join the team in Las Vegas. The team said Wednesday that once the paperwork clears FIBA, Bolden would be added to the roster.

According to Bolden, he's heading to Vegas.

Bolden, the Sixers’ selection at No. 36 in the 2017 draft, is an intriguing prospect. He played with the Sixers in summer league last year, averaging 8.8 points and 6.3 points, showcasing a versatile game and the ability to stretch the floor.

In May, then-president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said Bolden was the most likely draft-and-stash prospect to join the Sixers for the 2018-19 season. Bolden has an NBA opt-out in his three-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv. He averaged 6.9 points and 5.5 rebounds last season in EuroLeague play and posted 7.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest in Israeli League competition. 

"The one that is most likely to join this team, if at all, is Jonah Bolden," Colangelo said in May. "Some of that's being discussed and talked about right now. He's got an option, an NBA-out in his contract to come if it works out favorably for him and us. And that's part of a negotiation. But the team, Maccabi, has his rights for next year in the event that he does not take advantage of his opt-out."

While the decision to have Bolden play in summer league doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll join the Sixers for the regular season, it will present another opportunity for the Sixers to evaluate Bolden’s game, which they’re clearly already high on.

Summer league coach Kevin Young came away impressed with the variety of tools Bolden displayed last year.

“What he did last year was defended at a high level, made shots from the outside and he brought a different level of athleticism to the group,” Young said Wednesday, “so those are the things that we’ll be looking for from him in summer league.”

Demetrius Jackson, who was part of the Celtics’ summer league team last campaign, highlighted Bolden’s effort and shooting ability.

“I do remember him, I played against him twice or three times maybe,” Jackson said. "He’s talented, too, another great player. I just remember how hard he played. If I remember right, he can stretch the floor, shoot the ball, so he’s another great player to add to the team. With him and Furkan [Korkmaz] coming, we should have a really great group this summer.”

Korkmaz has been competing for Turkey in FIBA World Cup European Qualifiers. He’s already on the Sixers’ summer league roster and is expected to play in Las Vegas.

The Sixers’ first summer league game is Friday at 7:30 p.m. against the Celtics.

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Marc Jackson tearfully remembers his friend Kobe Bryant

Marc Jackson tearfully remembers his friend Kobe Bryant

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Marc Jackson knew Kobe Bryant during his early days in Philadelphia, when the two were working toward their grand NBA dreams.

On Sunday evening, after the sudden, tragic death of Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash (see story), Jackson discussed how he learned of Bryant's passing, and recounted some of his fondest memories from his time training with Bryant when they were kids.

"It's just a shame. It's a bad day. It's a very horrible day, not just in sports but in life," Jackson said. "Because this guy — this guy, from the very first moment I met him. He's a day off the plane from Italy, and we're working out with John Arnett, he was 12 at the time. I was 15, 16. We're working out at Temple, he's this 12-year-old lanky kid. We finished working out, it must've been about two, three hours, and afterwards he got ice on his knees. I said, 'What are you doing, getting ice on your knees?' He's like, 'I'm trying to have a long career.' He was 12 and I was 15, and I remember looking at him and laughing, like, 'That's interesting.' 

"And I'll never forget the time when he was getting ready to make a decision about whether he was going to college or the NBA. We were working out of Temple. He had this thing called 'Crown,' where he was trying to dunk on you, and he'd say he was going to 'Crown' you. That stuff just started going through my head.

"Now I'm just thinking about his wife and his children, and I'm thinking about his mother Pam, and I'm thinking about Coach Joe, who was one of my first coaches when I first started playing the game. I'm looking at that and thinking about that, and then I just have 1,100 emails, texts, and phone calls, in a matter of hours. It's just to say, he's a very important person."

You can listen to Jackson talk more about Bryant in the video above.

Remembering Kobe Bryant's final game in Philadelphia

Remembering Kobe Bryant's final game in Philadelphia

Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine who died Sunday in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California (see story).

For Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and 18-time All-Star, his final game in Philadelphia was a meaningful moment in his basketball career. He was born in the city and went to Lower Merion High School in Ardmore.

“I wasn’t expecting that type of reaction, the ovation,” he said after the Lakers’ game against the Sixers on Dec. 1, 2015. “It was emotional. I’m deeply appreciative beyond belief. It was really, really special.”

You can watch the video above for a look back at Bryant’s last game in Philadelphia.