76ers

League recognizing star power and depth of Sixers

League recognizing star power and depth of Sixers

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have become franchise cornerstones for the Sixers.

They’re also being recognized as two of the best players in the entire NBA.

Sports Illustrated released its list of the top 100 players in the NBA. Simmons came in at No. 26 while Embiid was No. 9. That means the Sixers now have two of the top 26 players in the league. What’s crazier is both players are under the age of 25. Other than Embiid and Simmons, Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Karl-Anthony Towns are the only others in that range younger than 25.

Only two teams have more players of any age in that range: the Warriors (four) and Celtics (three). The Rockets and Raptors have two, like the Sixers. 

With Robert Covington (No. 48), Dario Saric (No. 54) and JJ Redick (No. 62), the Sixers have five players in the top 62. Only two other teams can claim that: Boston and Utah. It shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise. The starting five of Simmons, Redick, Covington, Saric and Embiid had the highest net rating of any five-man lineup in the NBA last season (minimum 300 minutes played together).

So what does it all mean? Well, it means the Sixers have two young, elite players and exceptional depth supporting them. It also makes you wonder about Markelle Fultz. The 2017 No. 1 pick was put on SI’s “snubs” list. Nobody can put Fultz in the top 100 right now. He’s an enigma. But imagine if Fultz becomes the player the team thought he would be. 

Several players that are on this list will be free agents next offseason — Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, to name a few — but should the Sixers be all in on any of them? Leonard likely makes the most sense, with Butler being the backup plan. But given what the Sixers already have in place, should they spend money just to spend it?

A lot of things can happen as the 2018-19 season unfolds, but on paper, it looks pretty promising for the Sixers.

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Kobe Bryant tributes appear all across the globe from France to the Philippines to the Grammy Awards

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Kobe Bryant tributes appear all across the globe from France to the Philippines to the Grammy Awards

The tragic news of the death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others was felt all across the world on Sunday.

From where Bryant played high school basketball right here in Philadelphia to the stage at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles and elsewhere all the way across the world in France, Australia, and the Philippines, those who Kobe influenced found ways to honor his life and legacy in their own way.

One of the more unique and fitting tributes came to start Sunday night's game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Boston Celtics, when both teams held the ball and allowed the 24-second shot clock to expire in honor of No. 24. Chants of "Kobe! Kobe!" also broke out.

Neymar, one of the greatest soccer players in the world and a fellow Nike athlete, flashed Kobe's No. 24 after scoring a goal on Sunday in France and pointed to the sky instead of celebrating.

The Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young wore No. 8 to honor Kobe's other number to begin the game last night. He also went on a scoring tear and did something no NBA player had done since Kobe himself.

Tennis star Nick Kyrgios warmed up for his match at the Australian Open while wearing a Kobe jersey.

Kobe's influence was global as demonstrated by this mural with his daughter Gigi in Manila in the Phillipines.

The 62nd Grammy Awards took place as scheduled last night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles as artists and fans all mourned. Host Alicia Keys honored Kobe with the help of Philadelphia's Boyz II Men when they sang "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" during the ceremony.

There was even a makeshift tribute in unexpected places like the subway station for Bryant Park in New York.

Elsewhere in New York City, Madison Square Garden was lit in Lakers' purple and yellow last night.

The NFL Pro Bowlers, including the Eagles' Fletcher Cox, showed their Kobe love with a jab-step-fadeaway celebration during the game in Orlando, Florida.

Down in Miami they do a tribute as only Miami can.

And finally, where it all started for Kobe at Lower Merion to pay their respects to the greatest basketball player to ever walk through their doors.

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.