76ers

No, Zion Williamson's NBA debut doesn't need to be about Ben Simmons

No, Zion Williamson's NBA debut doesn't need to be about Ben Simmons

Zion Williamson made his long-awaited NBA debut Wednesday night, and to hear some tell it, you might think his Pelicans were facing the Sixers.

Williamson, who was patient and solid through three quarters, exploded in the fourth for 17 points, including making all four of his three-point attempts. It was a head-turning stretch from an obviously special player, which should've been the only takeaway from Wednesday's game. 

And yet, somehow, the narrative surrounding Williamson's debut turned into a referendum on ... Sixers point guard Ben Simmons?

In the moment? Yeah, OK, it's a funny, or at least interesting, stat to note.

But we don't need to do this. Different players have different skillsets. No one wants Zion running a fastbreak instead of Simmons. No one (so far) wants Zion locking up opposing point guards and stars on defense instead of Simmons. And, while he threw a few dimes last night, no one wants Zion looking for open teammates on offense instead of Simmons.

Most important, though, we all knew Zion was bringing a usable jump shot to the NBA. This was an established thing, not a surprise. He made 24 of 71 attempts from deep during his lone year at Duke, and showed a ready willingness to shoot jumpers. It's impressive that he drained his first four from NBA range, but he's a talented player who shows up in big moments.

Simmons never did this at LSU, and thus no one expected the Sixers' young star to start launching from beyond with abandon, which is perfectly fine. He does so many things — the passing, the defense, the speed, the acrobatic scoring — very well. 

At this point, it would be nice if Simmons had followed up his offseason hype videos with more in-game jump shots, but he's just not there. 

But we can still enjoy Simmons' game for its many glorious moments, while also marveling at the potential game-breaking star Zion can become. It's better, and healthier, that way.

More on the Sixers

Jrue Holiday told embarrassing condom story from rookie season in Philly

ap-jrue-holiday-sixers.jpg
AP

Jrue Holiday told embarrassing condom story from rookie season in Philly

Jrue Holiday and JJ Redick are two former Sixers who were very well liked during their playing days in Philadelphia. Now they're temmates on the New Orleans Pelicans and shared a microphone this week on Redick's podcast to talk all things NBA.

The topic of rookie duties came up and the two shared that they couldn't have been more different as rookies. Holiday admitted he was very accommodating to the veterans on his team while Redick had a bit of an attitude; "I think in general, I just rubbed people the wrong way," Redick said.

"I was a pansy," Jrue said. "I did everything Elton Brand told me to do. Willie Green told me to do. Andre Iguodala told me to do. Whatever they told me to do, I was doing it, four o'clock in the morning I was doing it."

"Rubber runs?" Redick asks.

"Oh yeah, gold cards, the Magnums," Holiday said.

"For those of us who are unclear what we're talking about," Redick said. "We're talking about condoms."

"Protection."

But it wasn't just the late night runs that the rookies were forced to go on. They also had to carry a crazy amount of condoms around with them on a regular basis.

"Back in the day they had the [NBPA health professional] lady that came and talked to us," Holiday said. "They gave us this big bag, huge bag, of like 150 condoms. It was the rookie's responsibility to bring that bag on every road trip. Think of the conversation you have, let's say you have a girl and it's like, 'Alright, why do you have a million condoms in your backpack? You look suspicious.'"

The two talk about how rookie duties "isn't really part of the culture anymore" but as Sixers fans know, vets can still get some biscuits when needed.

Here's the 76ers roster for Jrue's rookie season in 2009-2010 in case you are curious who was the team's leading scorer.

The "rookie duties" part of the podcast comes in around the 41-minute mark, you can listen to the entire pod below:

Holiday also spoke about having a chip on his shoulder for a few seasons after getting traded by Sam Hinkie on draft day in 2013.

"I got a call from Sam Hinkie. I don't even know why I picked up the phone. It's so weird. Sam was like, 'Sorry I never got to meet you, but...' Was like a 30-second conversation. 'We're trading you to New Orleans for the sixth pick.' I'm just kind of like, 'Alright, thanks.' And we hang up."

"By the time I came back from my injury, it was over with, the steam, it was over with."

Redick goes on to tell how in 2016, his Clippers coach Doc Rivers messed with him in brutal fashion.

"I get a call from Doc [on draft night]," Redick said. "I probably should answer this. I'm thinking, he's gonna say, 'Hey, we're thinking about drafting player XYZ, what do you think of this guy?' Which was a common thing. I'm like, 'Hey Doc, what's up?' And he's like, 'Hey, we just traded you to Memphis for Brandon Wright and a first round pick.' And then he just starts laughing. I was like, 'Doc, what the f*** are  you talking about???!' And he's like, 'Nah, I'm just kidding! We didn't trade you.'"

That's cold.

Shake Milton: How unique nickname became permanent for the Sixers' guard

Shake Milton: How unique nickname became permanent for the Sixers' guard

Before we tell the story of one of the greatest names in Sixers history, we’ve got to go back a little ways, long before Shake Milton was born.

As Lisa Milton, Shake’s mother, tells it, her late husband, Myron, was a late bloomer, but when he grew, he grew quick.

So quick, in fact, that, "The kids were like, 'You must've been drinking a lot of milk!'" as Lisa remembers.

And when Myron played college basketball at Texas A&M, the nickname stuck, and "Milk Man" lived on.

And Milk LOVED nicknames.

When Lisa was 27 years old, she was pregnant with her first son, Malik.

As Lisa remembers, one of her friends touched her pregnant belly and said, "How is little Shake doing?"

"What?" Lisa remembers.

"You know … little ‘Milk-Shake.’"

And it was over from there.

Lisa, knowing how much her husband loved nicknames, knew immediately the nickname would stick.

“Even when we registered him in school, my husband was like, 'they need to call him Shake,' and that's what they did.”

And by pre-Kindergarten, Milk made sure everyone knew his son as Shake.

“I love it. I really love it,” Shake said. “No one calls me Malik. ... Even before I was born, they called me Shake. I’ve been Shake my whole life.”

So, it wasn’t a huge surprise to Shake that teammates and coaches didn’t know that Shake wasn’t actually his real name.

Most of his teammates found out a couple of months ago over a farm-to-table dinner at Traders Point Creamery in Indiana, when they got to talking about their names.

“We were out to dinner and we brought it up and he said it wasn’t,” Tobias Harris said. “It’s a cool story behind it, pretty dope.”

“I always thought that was his real name!” Mike Scott said of Shake. “That’s what’s great about the team outings, is you get to find stuff out about your teammates.”

(Sidenote: Did you know Mike isn’t Mike’s first name? Mike told his teammates at this same dinner that his first name is actually James, but he never liked it, so he doesn’t go by it).

“We were together for two years and I didn’t know,” Furkan Korkmaz laughed. “But it’s his fault, not my fault.”

“I think Shake also didn’t know, he had a name.” (Korkmaz with the jokes!)

And then there’s those to whom I had to break the news …

“I never even knew that,” Brett Brown laughed.

“He’ll always be Shake to me." 

Basketball runs deep in the Milton household.

“As soon as Shake could walk and hold a ball, he (Myron) would take Shake to practices with him,” Lisa says of her late husband, who also coached AAU. “He had this little three-year-old out there, dribbling in the corner, with his dad coaching.”

Lisa remembers when Myron would put goggles on Shake and make him dribble, or practice with kids that were 4-5 years older than him.

“Those were good times …”

In 2012, Shake’s father passed away suddenly at age 43, when his first-born was just a freshman at Owasso High School in Oklahoma. Myron had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood effectively.

“It was rough … I think I was in shock for six months, and I can't imagine as a child [losing your father],” Lisa says.

“He taught me how to be a man and taught me how to work for everything,” Shake says of his father.

“And on the court, just go out there and play like you’re the best player on the floor, and every time you do that, you put yourself in the best position to be successful.”

Milton has exceeded expectations, since assuming the starting point guard role in Ben Simmons’ absence, averaging 15.3 points per game (on 60.7 percent shooting) and 4.6 assists over the past three games.

“At this stage, if everybody is looking for a tournament, he’s winning it,” Brown said of the competition at point guard. “He’s the starting point guard.”

“He would have the biggest chest,” Shake’s mom says of how proud Myron would be of Shake. “He would be so proud, I'm telling you. It's almost hard for me to think about because … gosh, I wish he could be here, to actually see him. He would be super proud.”

Photos courtesy of Lisa Milton. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers