76ers

Much like free agency, Sixers comfortable with Plan B in general manager search

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Much like free agency, Sixers comfortable with Plan B in general manager search

When life gives the Sixers lemons, they make lemonade … for the entire room.

That’s pretty much been the Sixers’ motto throughout an interesting summer.

The team entered the offseason with grand plans to go “star hunting” and add one (maybe more) of the NBA’s star players. When that didn’t work out, the Sixers went to option No. 2, which centered on improving the roster through proper fits and depth.

That included re-signing their own veteran leaders (JJ Redick and Amir Johnson), acquiring solid reserves (Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala) and supplementing with promising rookies (Zhaire Smith, Landry Shamet and Jonah Bolden).

Now the Sixers are attempting to continue that same practice of spreading the wealth within their front office.

After the Bryan Colangelo scandal left the franchise without a prominent face in the front office, the Sixers went searching for big-name targets on the open market. They were reportedly spurned by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and potentially others.

What does that mean for the rest of the organization’s executives? Business as usual.

The Sixers announced on Monday that Ned Cohen (assistant general manager), Marc Eversley (senior vice president of player personnel), Elton Brand (vice president of basketball operations) and Alex Rucker (senior vice president of analytics and strategy) all received promotions as the team continues its front-office-by-committee approach (see story).

“What I've learned is that GM job has got many facets, and that it's a learned skill,” Sixers managing partner Josh Harris told ESPN. “It's certainly got a public-facing nature to it, but management and very strong relationships are important — and very few people who are not sitting GMs have all of those components. We have strengths in all those areas around our front office right now.”

That echoes a belief head coach and interim general manager Brett Brown shared earlier this summer after Colangelo’s departure. The Sixers truly believe their collective in the front office can do just as good a job as a big-time exec.

“I think one of the tremendous legacies that Bryan should be recognized for is he really, and I mean really, did a great job of putting key people in key positions,” Brown said on June 7 when Colangelo’s resignation was announced. “When I look at our front office the firepower that we really have with Alex Rucker and Ned Cohen and (vice president of athlete care Dr.) Danny Medina leading our medical department and Marc Eversley and Elton Brand and it’s like you can go on. We have the firepower that we need to move this thing forward and not miss a beat.”

Harris made it clear that the Sixers will continue searching for a good match to guide the team into the future. However, if nothing serious materializes, they are perfectly fine pushing on with the familiar faces already roaming the building.

“… We're going to be patient and try to find the right person,” Harris said. “The next year is going to be incredibly important for us, and we have a real desire to find the right person now — but if not, we are incredibly comfortable with the existing staff and we'll move forward from there."

Lemonade for everyone.

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Al Horford makes a donation for coronavirus relief in Dominican Republic, regions where he's played in United States

Al Horford makes a donation for coronavirus relief in Dominican Republic, regions where he's played in United States

Al Horford has donated $500,000 to support coronavirus relief in the Dominican Republic, as well as in each region of the United States where he's played for a team, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

Horford’s father Tito was the first Dominican-born NBA player, and Al was born in the country. The family later moved to Michigan, where Horford attended Grand Ledge High School. He went to the University of Florida and has played for three NBA cities — Atlanta, Boston and Philadelphia. 

Several other members of the Sixers organization have also made charitable donations during the coronavirus pandemic. Joel Embiid has pledged to donate $500,000 to COV-19 medical relief efforts. Ben Simmons launched “The Philly Pledge,” an initiative which encourages donations to Philabundance and the PHL COVID-19 Fund that’s received support from a wide range of Philadelphia athletes, among them teammates Matisse Thybulle, Tobias Harris, Norvel Pelle and Marial Shayok. 

Sixers managing partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer have made several donations related to coronavirus relief, including to Philabundance and to CHOP and Cooper Hospital.

Limited partner Michael Rubin aims to have his company Fanatics produce a million masks and gowns for hospital and emergency healthcare workers. 

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Sixers Home School: The night Allen Iverson crossed over Michael Jordan

Sixers Home School: The night Allen Iverson crossed over Michael Jordan

There's a lot of home schooling going on right now, so why not use some of this time to learn more about the history of your favorite teams? In this edition of Sixers Home School, we look back at the night Allen Iverson crossed over Michael Jordan.

In a vacuum, rookie Allen Iverson crossing over the legendary Michael Jordan on March 12, 1997, at what was then known as the CoreStates Center was impressive enough.

Putting it into context makes you understand just how big of a deal it was at the time.

The 21-year-old Iverson was having a strong rookie campaign after the Sixers drafted him No. 1 overall. He was still a month away from setting an NBA rookie record with five straight games of 40-plus points. He wasn’t sporting what would become his trademark cornrows — though he did rock them when he won MVP of the Schick Rookie Game. 

This night was when he began to really put a bow on what would turn into a Rookie of the Year season.

As for Jordan and the Bulls, they were ho humming their way to a 69-win season and their fifth title in seven years. Jordan was 33, and though his game had evolved, he was as dominant as ever. Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman provided all the help he would need.

But on this night, it wasn’t about the Bulls, who celebrated receiving their championship ring ceremony by trouncing the Sixers and shutting down Iverson earlier in the season.

This was about the kid from Hampton, Virginia. The six-foot guard from Georgetown that grew up idolizing His Airness, but also told a coach back in high school that he was good enough to take him. 

“I remember the first time I played against him,” Iverson said in his Hall of Fame speech. “I walked out on the court and I looked at him, and for the first time in my life a human being didn’t look real to me.”

Though the first time the two actually talked was not necessarily cordial.

“The first time I ever talked to him was that year playing in the Rookie Game,” Iverson said in an interview with Complex. “I’ll never forget it because he said, ‘What’s up, you little b----?’ I’ll never forget it.”

Whether the moment provided extra motivation or what, Iverson was at times the best player on the court — which, given who was on the court, is a hell of a statement.

Iverson would finish with a game-high 37 points and foul out in a four-point loss. No, the Sixers didn’t win that night, but the fact that Iverson nearly willed a team full of guys like Scott Williams, Mark Davis and Rex Chapman to a victory over that juggernaut was remarkable.

But over the course of time, nobody remembers — or really cares — who won that game. It was the moment A.I. crossed over M.J. It wasn’t quite a torch-passing moment as Jordan would go on to win another MVP and championship, but it was a clear indication that Philadelphia had drafted a star.

That highlight dominated every sportscast the following day and had Sixers fans' imaginations running wild.

The legend of Iverson only continued to grow from there as he became one Philadelphia’s most celebrated athletes and joined his idol in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

Years later, he spoke to Jordan about the moment he got him with his legendary crossover.

“I went to a Charlotte game and I was telling him how much he meant to me and how I rocked with him,” Iverson went on to say in the interview with Complex. “He was like, ‘Man, you don’t rock with me like that because you wouldn’t have crossed me like that.’”

For as much as Iverson had idolized Jordan, his desire to beat him and be the best outweighed that.

“I always knew that once I got to the league, I was going to try my move on the best,” Iverson said, “so he was just a victim that night.”

That night, a star was born and a legacy was just beginning.

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