76ers

Nothing wrong with fans encouraging Markelle Fultz

Nothing wrong with fans encouraging Markelle Fultz

When Markelle Fultz rose up to take a 13-foot jumper with 9:18 left in the second quarter, the ball seemed to hang on the rim forever.

When it finally tickled the twine, the crowd at Wells Fargo Center erupted. 

For context, this place was loud when Meek Mill, fresh out of prison, came out to ring the bell before a Sixers’ playoff game. The applause for Fultz’s first NBA three in the fourth quarter Thursday actually rivaled that.

Fultz led the team with 15 shots but made just five. Does that type of performance deserve that kind of reaction from the fans? Absolutely.

The irony in all of this is that Philly fans are constantly chided for being too hard on coaches and players. Whether it’s #FireBrett or the super lazy “Robert Covington hasn’t hit a shot since he got his extension” narrative, the fans here can be brutal.

But they got it right here. After I sent out a tweet about the reaction to Fultz’s 13-foot hesi-pull-up jimbo, I got a response that the fan reaction “came off desperate.” Hell yeah, it’s desperate.

In the NBA you need stars — generally at least three. With Joel Embiid emerging into an MVP candidate and Ben Simmons likely to get his first All-Star nod, fans are desperate for Fultz to complete the triumvirate. We all know the background up until this point. We know what the Sixers gave up to get him at No. 1, we know Jayson Tatum looks like a star and that Fultz’s confidence needs a boost.

We all focus on the jumper and believe me, I get it. If Fultz is going to play big minutes with Embiid and Simmons, he needs defenses to respect him from distance. He doesn’t need to become JJ Redick, but if he can just shoot league average (around 35 percent) that should be enough. 

He has so many other tricks in his bag. With a team that’s turned the ball over at an alarming rate during Brett Brown’s tenure, there’s no doubt value in the way Fultz takes care of the basketball. Fultz had five assists to just one turnover last night. Per Brian Seltzer of Sixers.com, in the 19 games since Fultz returned to the lineup last March, he’s posted 58 assists to just 16 turnovers. That’s good for a 3.625 ratio. That figure would be among the league leaders if it held for an entire season.

And these aren’t your garden variety assists either. Check out this beauty.

From the post, he puts a pass through the legs of Wendell Carter Jr. for an Amir Johnson layup.

Joel Embiid echoed that sentiment to reporters after the game.

Everybody always gets excited when he shoots a three.  He’s going to make those, he’s worked on his shot the whole summer so that’s nothing to worry about. I think the way he can help us is just being a playmaker. When I’m on the floor with him I really feel comfortable. He really knows how to find guys and understands when someone needs the ball, that’s where he’s going to help us a lot.

As much of what Fultz went through he attributes to his shoulder injury, there’s no doubt he also needed to get his swagger back. He’s still got a long ways to go, but feeling confident enough to jack 15 shots — and getting cheered for it — is a pretty good start.

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Jim Lynam has tales on when Moses Malone stunned him, Julius Erving’s class, relationship with Maurice Cheeks

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AP Images/David Zalubowski

Jim Lynam has tales on when Moses Malone stunned him, Julius Erving’s class, relationship with Maurice Cheeks

If you’d like in-depth, entertaining insight into some of the great players and moments in Philadelphia basketball history, Jim Lynam is the right person to talk to.

Now an analyst with NBC Sports Philadelphia, Lynam played and coached at St. Joe’s, served as a head coach, assistant coach and general manager throughout the years with the Sixers, and has developed close relationships with a slew of Hall of Famers. He joined Paul Hudrick and Danny Pommells on the latest Sixers Talk podcast and had plenty of stories to tell about Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, Maurice Cheeks and Julius Erving.

Lynam's first experience with the late Malone was in 1985, when he joined the Sixers as an assistant coach after a stint with the Clippers. 

Moses, in my mind, was going through the motions,” Lynam said on the podcast. "And I personally was concerned, maybe after three or four days. … Is Moses all right? Is he hurt? Does he always start like this? They were almost, to a man, dismissive of my thoughts, from [head coach] Matty [Guokas] right up to Harold Katz, the owner. So, this went on for the entire preseason. Moses was beyond desperate. And I’m now really concerned. This guy was key to our team if we’re going to be legit. 

“Well, we open the season in New York against rookie Patrick Ewing, and all the fanfare. Moses gave Patrick Ewing 38 [points] and 24 [rebounds]. It was the first sweat that he broke. And he put Patrick Ewing in the basket probably about six times. So it was a real eye-opener for me.

The official box score says Malone had 35 points and 13 rebounds, but it must have felt like 38 and 24 to a coach getting his first exposure to Malone's Hall of Fame talent. 

“The public persona of Moses was really quite different than who the real guy was,” Lynam said. “He was really one of the best. He was genuine, no nonsense, come to do his work every day. A person of few words, yes, but when he spoke, all heads turned.”

Lynam has a vivid memory from that same year of an incident that showed him Erving’s character. He recalled a mob of fans swarming around Erving after a preseason game, eager for his autograph.

“As we’re walking down this corridor with people all over the place, a fan barges out with a pad and a pen, and obviously somewhat inebriated,” he said. “The first cop takes exception. … Doc’s trying to take care of the fan. ‘Sure, sure I’ll sign.’ And there’s this cop literally with a stick. To see Doc defuse that — he takes cares of the fan. ‘Fine, my man, ‘ he says, ‘but we’ve gotta go.’

"The fan’s ecstatic because he got the autograph. [Erving] turns to the cop, and I could see in the cop’s eyes, he’s irate. Puts his arm out to the cop and he kind of gives him a side embrace, and he says, ‘Thanks, my man, I appreciated that.’ And I went, ‘Are you kidding me?’ It was like watching somebody walk on water. He defused what could’ve been a split skull and a near-riot in a matter of seconds, that’s how good he was.” 

Erving was the first of his kind, according to Lynam.

“Playing above the rim, playing in the stratosphere — he brought the game up there,” he said. “He was the first one, because he did it with a combination of spectacular and graceful.”

From 2001-2005, Lynam coached under Cheeks, who hired him to be an assistant on his staff with the Trail Blazers. One quality Lynam admired in Cheeks as a player was “the game was never too big for him.”

“That’s a huge compliment that I would pay a player because, for a lot of good players, the game can get too big,” he said. “Charles Barkley used to tell me, ‘Coach, you’ve gotta be careful who you set that last shot up for.’ Obviously he said it one night when I didn’t set it up for him. But Charles is right. Not everyone relishes having to take, or looks forward to taking, the shot that’s going to decide the game one way or the other. In that light, Cheeks was as good as there was."

You can listen to the full podcast below, which also includes a story from August of 1989 that involves Lynam frantically searching through the city of Philadelphia, looking to tell Cheeks he’d been traded.

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Sixers smother Wizards in rare road win in NBA2K simulation

Sixers smother Wizards in rare road win in NBA2K simulation

If only the real Sixers were as good on the road as the NBA2K version.

The Sixers smothered the Wizards in a 64-50 win during an NBA 2K20 simulation Friday night.

A 17-0 run to start the fourth quarter pushed the Sixers’ lead from five to 22 and essentially sealed the victory.

Perhaps Washington’s mascot — who basically looks like Gonzo from the Muppets with a gut and a wizard hat on — rollerblading on the court at halftime affected the hardwood.

Here are observations from the win:

Bully ball defense

Bradley Beal got off to a scorching start, scoring all 11 of the Wizards’ first-quarter points. After that, it was tough sledding for Beal and the Wizards.

The star guard had just one point in the second and two in the third. By the time Beal hit a three with under four minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Sixers had already gone on a 17-0 run and put the game away.

Embiid quiet again

For some reason, the Sixers don’t get the ball to their best player in this video game. It makes zero sense. Embiid did appear to be playing banged up. He kept flexing his shoulder and had a little medical symbol pop up next to him. Embiid scored one basket with 16.9 seconds left in the first half. That’s it. He did challenge a ton of shots at the rim.

On the other hand, Ian Mahinmi was the Wizards’ best player and played really well … which is something. Mahinmi, who has one of the worst contracts in the NBA, would not normally be the type of big who takes it to Embiid, but in this simulation, it was Mahinmi’s night.

Sixers would take this Harris and Horford in real life

Yet again, Horford was strong in this simulation. He was great on both ends, punishing rookie Rui Hachimura in the post offensively and defensively. Though the mighty Mahinmi did take it to Horford on a couple possessions. 

Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson were also big in this one. Harris, who was the 2K Player of the Game, posted a double-double while Richardson put the clamps down on Beal. Both players played a big part in the fourth-quarter run.


A night to forget for Neto

In a surprise move, virtual Brett Brown decided to go with seldom-used Raul Neto as his backup point guard. It did not go well. Neto missed his first four shots, which all seemed of the forced variety. Brown had seen enough and went to Richardson as his backup one.

Brown gave Neto a second chance in the second half and the veteran point guard rewarded him. Neto came up with a steal on former Sixer Ish Smith and finished on the other end in the third.

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