76ers

Sixers PA announcer Matt Cord on the origin of his pronunciations and his biggest fans

Sixers PA announcer Matt Cord on the origin of his pronunciations and his biggest fans

If you’re a Philly fan in a Sixers jersey walking down South Street, you may have been subject to an impromptu version of the Sixers' starting lineup intros.

“I’ll do the BEEEEENNNNN Simmons and they’ll look at me, like that guy's weird,” public address announcer Matt Cord joked.

Now in his 22nd season, Cord is always working on his craft, even if that means soliciting the reaction of fans strolling to their neighborhood bar. 

How he enunciates and emphasizes players' names is constantly evolving, as are the physical movements he delivers them with, sometimes resulting in an inadvertent whack to those that dare cross behind his perch.  

For Cord, the starting lineup introductions are his performance, and the mic is his stage.

It wasn’t until about a handful of years ago that Cord started incorporating physical gestures into his routine. Out of necessity due to a neck accident, a stationary mic was switched out for one that Cord could move around with more freely, giving new life to his performance.

Recently, Stephen Curry approved.

“I totally knew he was watching everything, but I didn’t know anyone had taped it,” Cord said. “Now everywhere I go, people say that to me, ‘Hey! I saw that video Steph posted!'”

But, since Joel Embiid was out, there was one thing Curry missed.

“He missed my Process,” Cord said.

***

It’s true. There’s nothing quite like when Cord introduces the Sixers' "crown jewel" at Wells Fargo Center — especially if you sit behind the scorer’s table.

“When I do Joel ... from Kansas ... No. 21… JO-el, The Process EMMBEEEEEEEAD ... I turn around for ‘The Process,’ for whoever is sitting behind me.”

Take a look for yourself.

But, it wasn’t always this way.

In the summer of 2016, Cord ran into Embiid at a music festival.

“I go up to Joel and say, ‘Hey man, you’re going to start next year, and I’m working on your name and I need something else.'”

“Call me Hans, that’s my middle name,” Cord remembers Embiid saying.

“So then, the very first game, I see him in the back (at the arena), and I’m like Joel HANS Embiid, and he’s like, ‘No, no, no. I’ve changed it to ‘The Process.’ He was joking around, and he said he legally changed his name to The Process, so you have to call me The Process.”

Cord, worried Embiid could get in trouble, decided against it.

“I didn’t do it the first game … and he kind of looked at me a couple times in the game when he scored.”

And now, the rest is history.

***

Embiid isn’t the only player who has influenced Cord’s introductions.

“Years ago, (Allen) Iverson came up to me and said, ‘Make me 6-2.’"

And so, Cord obliged.

“And finally … a 6-2 guard…

“The next game, I did it again. And the next game, Eric Snow (formers Sixers point guard) came up to me and said, 'Can you make me 6-4?' And I’m like no, stop this, I’m going to get in trouble, everyone’s going to be seven feet by the end of this!”

Lucky for Cord, that same game, Iverson re-thought his request.

“He came up to me and said I think we better go back to six-foot.”

***

If you catch Cord at the arena, there’s one thing you’ll always see him doing: Smiling.

“Honestly, since I’ve been here, and I know you can’t have a bad game as a PA announcer, but he’s just always smiling,” T.J. McConnell said. “And just the way he announces so enthusiastically, he comes up with these things like Three-J (when McConnell shoots a three), and even stuff he said when I was a rookie with Ish Smith, like a 'dish from Ish.'”

Well actually, Cord doesn’t come up with all of those sayings. But, he did come up with Three-J.

Longtime statistician Ron Pollack has offered up sayings like, "Dish from Ish," "Feed from Embiid," and "Embiid indeed!" It’s a joint effort.

***

For players like JJ Rrrrrrrrrredick and Allennnnnn Iiiiiii-versooooonnnn, both say that when fans come up to them in the streets, they say their name like Cord says their name.

“That’s the coolest thing ever,” Cord smiles.

But what means more to him than anything else is his biggest fan, his almost 16-year-old niece, Lily, who has Down syndrome.

“She is fantastic, she imitates me. She can do Embiid. She can do Iverson,” Cord said as he pulled out his cell phone.

“Here she is doing Bobi, down by the beach.”

Watch out Matty, Lily might be coming for your job.

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Zhaire Smith promoting PUMA basketball with appearance in West Philly

Zhaire Smith promoting PUMA basketball with appearance in West Philly

In recent memory, PUMA has thrived as a lifestyle shoe.

But with Jay-Z as creative honcho of the team’s reinvigorated basketball division, things have changed. 

Sixers guard Zhaire Smith is one the many new faces of their basketball arm which includes DeMarcus Cousins, Terry Rozier and 2018 No.1 overall pick DeAndre Ayton, among others. In fact, Smith and Marvin Bagley III are the first two basketball players signed to PUMA since the best dunker in history signed with the brand in 1998. 

PUMA is ramping up their visibility in the sneaker community ahead of the NBA’s opening night later this month — many brands are doing the same — with athletes pumping their shoes through various appearances and interactions with fans.

You can catch Smith in West Philly this Saturday as he promotes the PUMA Clyde Hardwood shoe at the Footlocker & Puma Lab at 38 S. 52nd Street, near the corner of 52nd & Chestnut. You can challenge Smith to a game of NBA 2K and you can get a PUMA basketball with the purchase of one of the Clyde Hardwood kicks. 

Smith was one of the first to rock the Clyde Court Disrupt when they debuted last season after signing a mult-year deal with PUMA. Smith is expected to be at the 52nd street Foot Locker between 2-4 p.m. and he might be in an even better mood than normal since the Sixers picked up his option.

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Spoiler alert: Al Horford is a better teammate than film critic

Spoiler alert: Al Horford is a better teammate than film critic

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers’ most recent bonding experience was a screening of the movie Joker.

Don’t worry, no spoilers here.

Al Horford said he was “disappointed” by the critically acclaimed filmed about the DC comic book villain, but he was pleased with the experience being around his teammates.

While this might seem silly, it’s no small thing. JJ Redick mentioned on Zach Lowe’s podcast last month that he felt like the Sixers didn’t have enough team dinners. Those dinners on the road are often looked at as team bonding experiences.

Horford is easily the team’s most seasoned player at 33 years old and a veteran of 12 NBA seasons. He’s seen his fair share of changes and roster turnover now playing for his third team.

But it’s been two of the returning Sixers that have led the way when it comes to team bonding.

“I think the willingness of everyone trying to make that happen,” Horford said after practice Thursday. “Tobias [Harris] I think has been a big influence on all of us making sure that we're all getting together. Ben [Simmons] as well has taken that leadership role. So we're doing stuff — not all the time — but we're going to watch movies together, we're doing things as a team, as a group and that has been nice. I feel like those kind of things bring teams closer.”

It was Harris and Simmons who organized the Joker screening during the road trip in Charlotte and the paintball excursion a few weeks back before camp began.

And it’s not just the players that feel the chemistry growing. Their head coach has also seen the growth from the start of training camp until now.

“That they coexist well,” Brett Brown said when asked what he’s learned about his team. “That they seem to enjoy each other's company. That they have bought in in a significant way that we are a defensive-oriented team. That we are long — we can be disruptive. And there has been an unselfishness on the offensive end that hasn't been hard to extract. It's quite actually organic. The guys sort of think like that, which makes my job a lot easier.”

The idea that the Sixers will be a defensive-oriented team started with the way GM Elton Brand constructed his roster. Bringing in Horford and Josh Richardson to create a monstrous starting five is part of it. It’s also just having a bunch of players that have that mindset.

Both Embiid and Simmons have stated their goal is to win Defensive Player of the Year. Horford and Richardson have always been praised for their two-way play. Even Harris, who has shown signs of improvement on that end, went to Brown this offseason and told him he wasn’t going to be the weak link of the team defensively.

It’s quite a change from a team that took a huge step back defensively last season. Going into opening night against Boston next week, the Sixers want to be the best defensive team in the league.

“We know we certainly have the capability, but just guys giving multiple efforts gives me the sense we can be very special,” Horford said. “But it's one of those things that we have to be consistent with that every day in order to accomplish those goals, and we've been doing a good job of that. We just have to continue to do it.”

With just one more preseason game on the docket Friday night against the Wizards, there is certainly a vibe with the team of just wanting to prepare for next Wednesday. Brown admitted that he’s already begun his prep for the Celtics.

It’s an encouraging sign that his team appears to have come together so quickly but Brown knows none of that matters if it doesn’t translate to when the games count.

“I would say yes. I feel that if you looked at just the character of the people, I'd say no,” Brown said when asked if he was surprised with the team’s bonding. “But in general — and let's call it also what it is — we really haven't played legitimate, NBA basketball yet. …

“You roll into Wells Fargo against the Celtics on opening night, the rules change in significant ways. And that's when we're all going to have more meaningful conversations about like, 'Where are we at? What have I learned? Have they come together quickly and why?' It gets far more scrutinized when it's that type of environment than it does right now.”

Hopefully Horford enjoys his team’s performance on opening night more than he did Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal as the Crown Prince of Crime.

“Oh, a lot of the guys liked it,” Horford said. “I thought it was going to be different. I thought it was going to be more action. So it was one of those things, I was a little disappointed.”

Spoiler alert: Al Horford is a better teammate and basketball player than film critic.

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