76ers

Sixers' Ben Simmons named to NBA All-Star Game 2019

Sixers' Ben Simmons named to NBA All-Star Game 2019

Ben Simmons has his detractors, but the NBA coaches appreciate what the Sixers’ point guard brings to the table.

Simmons on Thursday was named an NBA All-Star Game reserve. This comes on the heels of the Australia native being named to Team World for the Rising Stars Challenge during NBA All-Star weekend.

He’ll join Joel Embiid on Feb. 17 in Charlotte. We won’t know which teams Simmons and Embiid will be on until Thursday, Feb. 7, when captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo select their squads. 

It’s the first time the Sixers have had two players selected to the game since 2001-02, when Allen Iverson and Dikembe Mutombo were named to the East team.

Four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler did not get the nod this season. From a pure talent standpoint, Butler certainly is among the East’s best players. It was most likely his reputation — fair or not — that cost him a spot. He could still get in as a replacement for injured Pacers star Victor Oladipo.

The Sixers haven’t had three All-Stars since 1986-87 (Charles Barkley, Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks).

There was a decent case for Simmons to be named an All-Star during his rookie season, but the coaches ultimately favored selecting veterans — even as players dropped out of the game. It would’ve been a flat-out snub if Simmons hadn’t made it this year.

The 22-year-old has posted averages of 16.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.2 assists in 33.4 minutes a game. He’s tied for second in the NBA this season with eight triple-doubles. He’s also shown marked improvement on the defensive end of the floor.

“It’s not that I call his number a bunch. He puts his thumbprint on a game immediately with his athleticism and his size,” Brett Brown said of Simmons following the Sixers' win Tuesday. “He can rebound and run and create and get to the rim. He has been doing this at historic proportions. I think he is an NBA All-Star. … He really can impact a game without someone force-feeding him all the time.”

Simmons’ critics will point to his lack of a jump shot as one of the reasons he shouldn’t be selected. When you look at the other ways he affects a game, that’s a little silly. The lack of jumper certainly hurts at times, but there’s no denying Simmons’ overall impact.

You could also point to Simmons’ poor performance against the league’s elite teams, as our national NBA insider Tom Haberstroh addressed Thursday. It’s a fair criticism, but is that the standard every NBA All-Star is getting held to? 

For Simmons, he's no longer "All-Star caliber." He's just an All-Star — and he deserves it.

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Jerry Stackhouse tries to set record straight on scrimmages with 17-year-old Kobe Bryant

Jerry Stackhouse tries to set record straight on scrimmages with 17-year-old Kobe Bryant

At 17 years old, Kobe Bryant was scrimmaging against professional athletes and Philadelphia college stars, about to embark on a 20-year NBA career.

He impressed in those scrimmages with his skill and bravado. But, according to Jerry Stackhouse, Bryant wasn’t big on passing. 

Stackhouse, now the head coach at Vanderbilt, spent the first two-plus years of his career with the Sixers before being traded to the Pistons and matched up with Bryant in those scrimmages.

What happened with Kobe was nobody really wanted to play with Kobe,” he said on The Woj Pod. “[Former La Salle star and NBA player] Lionel Simmons, you used to always see him pulling Kobe to the side, like, ‘Man, you gotta pass the ball! You gotta learn how to do this!' Because the older guys were from Philly. … These stories kind of take on a life of their own. And yes, Kobe had some good days scoring the ball, because he could handle it so well. But he had tunnel vision at that point. You had pickup games, sometimes he didn’t even get picked up. 

“But again, because he’s so been great since this, these stories go back of ‘Oh, he beat Stackhouse one-on-one.’ Come on, man. Me at 20 years old, can you imagine a 17-year-old beating me consistently? I’d have hurt him first, real talk. Just physically, that could never happen to me. Did we play one-on-one? Yes. Did he beat me, did he maybe win a game? Yes. Did he consistently beat Jerry Stackhouse at 20 years old when he was 17? Hell no. I’m putting an end to that story. … Was he super talented and everyone saw great potential in him? Yes, but those scenarios … of Kobe Bryant, they’re a little bit of a different story when you go talk to people that were actually in the gym. 

Stackhouse noted that it took a little time for Bryant to adjust to the NBA game, which is true. The Lower Merion High School graduate played only 15.5 minutes per game as a rookie. Of course, he went on to make 18 All-Star Games, win five NBA championships and become one of the best players of his era. 

Though Stackhouse wanted to set the record straight on those one-on-one games with Bryant, he was still amazed by his ability at such a young age.

“This kid was unbelievable,” he said. “Just his ball handling ability … he grew up, obviously, emulating Michael Jordan.”

However, the members of the Philadelphia basketball community who were in the gym for those scrimmages were apparently ruthless in their critiques.

“I vividly remember the old heads from Philadelphia,” Stackhouse said, “[they're] like, ‘Come on, man, you gotta pass the ball! That ain’t how you gotta play!’” 

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Sixers fans can't stop laughing at Bulls for interviewing Bryan Colangelo

Sixers fans can't stop laughing at Bulls for interviewing Bryan Colangelo

Updated, Thursday, 12:35 a.m.: The Bulls are finalizing a deal to hire Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas as their Executive VP of Basketball Operations, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. 

**** 

Sixers fans, grasping at any semblance of basketball news, received a cruise ship-sized life line on Wednesday.

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported the Bulls have interviewed former 76ers president Bryan Colangelo for their top basketball ops position:

This is, of course, kind of a mind-boggling decision from the Bulls, considering the way Colangelo's bumpy tenure in Philly ended. 

You know, Burner-gate. Remember that insanity? Remember when the active general manager of the 76ers was linked to Twitter accounts actively disparaging his own players? That really happened!

And yet, despite the public unraveling of his time with the Sixers, and the unsavory nature of his resignation, the Bulls somehow deemed Colangelo worthy of an interview for this position as they try to kickstart their floundering franchise.

Sixers fans couldn't believe it:

Some laughed, and laughed, and laughed:

Some encouraged the insanity, because there's nothing Sixers fans love more than watching a tire fire form in real time:

And then, of course, Sixers Twitter came with the jokes, because they are ruthless and unceasing:

Colangelo actually landing the job is, admittedly, probably a long shot. But the fact that he could even garner an interview at this point in his career, and after his last stop, is both hilarious and confounding.

And Sixers fans are here for it, entirely.

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