Sixers' willingness to pass will be key during playoffs

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Sixers' willingness to pass will be key during playoffs

One of the biggest storylines surrounding the Sixers this season has been whether LeBron James will join the promising team as a free agent in the summer.

But what if we told you the Sixers already had their own king. Well, at least according to head coach Brett Brown.

“We’ve said from Day 1, the pass is king,” Brown said after Monday’s win over the Nuggets.

If that’s the case, the Sixers are already among royalty.

The Sixers entered Tuesday tied for second in the entire NBA with 26.4 assists per game, behind only the champion Golden State Warriors. They’ve bumped that number up to an impressive 31.2 dimes a night over the course of their current seven-game win streak, including 35 in that victory over the Nuggets.

“Everybody loves to play with people that pass the ball,” Brown said. “One of the large differences this year is the receivers can finish either through threes or in the paint.”

True, it only becomes an assist if the person on the receiving end finishes the play. However, it’s the mentality of passing that helps spark everything.

Perhaps more than any other principle he brought from San Antonio, Brown has instilled in his young team that being unselfish with the ball is paramount. The Sixers genuinely want to share the rock and see their teammates get easy baskets.

Nowhere is that fundamental value more visible than the play of Ben Simmons. The point guard is averaging 8.0 assists and passed Allen Iverson for the most dimes by a rookie in franchise history with his 12 against Denver.

Even Markelle Fultz, back Monday after a 68-game absence, got in on the action with eight assists.

“How good is that? To look down and see 35 assists,” Brown said. “And, to your point, to add up those two point guards. Then look at the turnovers, you know they pass.

“… That’s a big number from those two and it’s a massive number again from our team. Thirty-five assists is something we’re proud of.”

What would make the squad even more proud is continuing to share the wealth when the postseason rolls around. When opponents’ offenses start to slow down in the playoffs and they look to their stars to carry them, the Sixers can focus on keeping the ball hopping around to everyone.

After all, what good is it being royalty if everyone in the kingdom doesn’t eat?

Which Sixers player should represent the team in reported NBA2K players-only tournament?

Which Sixers player should represent the team in reported NBA2K players-only tournament?

NBA fans are desperate for entertainment. 

With the season on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, the league is still aiming to provide some sort of distraction. According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, the NBA is planning to have a players-only NBA2K tournament with representatives from each team, and hopes to launch the event on Friday. 

This report leads us to consider who might represent the Sixers.

Let’s rank the 15 players on the roster based on what we know about them as people, athletes and gamers. (This ranking is highly unscientific.) 

15. Al Horford — The oldest on the roster and a family man. Games don’t seem like Horford’s cup of tea.

14. Kyle O’Quinn — He prefers yoga

13. Zhaire Smith — Smith doesn’t often have a lot of downtime. “When I have an off day or something and I’m not doing anything, I’ll watch the Sixers. I try my best to watch them, but usually I’m busy,” he said in January.

12. Tobias Harris — You might remember what Mike Scott said about Harris in October: “He reads books.” That’s not to say reading and 2K are mutually exclusive, but Harris doesn't appear a likely candidate to be a great gamer. 

11. Furkan Korkmaz — Korkmaz spent a large chunk of this summer playing for Turkey in the FIBA World Cup and working on his game and conditioning. He can’t have taken much time sharpening whatever 2K abilities he has. 

10. Raul Neto — Neto’s a fashionable, polished guy. He could very well be an excellent gamer, but he doesn’t fit the stereotype.

9. Norvel Pelle — He found out that he was going to be converted to an NBA deal while watching a movie in his bed. Make of that what you will. 

8. Josh Richardson — As of two years ago, Richardson said he was “trash” at 2K. He at least plays and would probably have an idea of what he was doing. 

7. Matisse Thybulle — We saw Thybulle lose to the Suns’ Mikal Bridges on Friday night. Defense was, ironically, his Achilles heel. 

6. Glenn Robinson III — It’s a big stretch, but Robinson was on a young Warriors team for the first half of the season and might have some relatively recent reps against solid, young competition.

5. Alec Burks — Ditto with Burks. 

4. Shake Milton — This is mostly gut feel (not that the other rankings are much different). Whatever the competition, Milton's poise can’t hurt. 

3. Joel Embiid — Embiid was apparently good enough to crush Markelle Fultz. We’re not sure exactly how good that is, but it’s something. 

2. Mike Scott — Back in 2011, he claimed to sport a 21-3 online record in 2K. Though he said last year that he quit on the game because “they made me so trash up there,” he can’t have entirely lost those skills. 

1. Ben Simmons — Simmons is the Sixers’ most accomplished gamer by far and says he “can play any game.” He’s the clear pick unless there’s someone out there with a hidden talent. 

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Remembering the emotional night when Sixers retired Charles Barkley's jersey

Remembering the emotional night when Sixers retired Charles Barkley's jersey

Nineteen years ago today, the Sixers rose Charles Barkley’s No. 34 up to the rafters.

Barkley, who’d retired the year before after a stint with the Rockets, was touched by the honor. (You can check out footage from that night in the video above.)

“This is one of the greatest nights of my life and I’m honored to share it with you guys,” he said.

In eight seasons as a Sixer, Barkley made six All-Star games and averaged 23.3 points and 11.6 rebounds. He made the NBA Finals with the Suns and was named MVP in 1993, the season after he was traded from the Sixers. 

The team unveiled a statue of Barkley on Legends Walk in September at their practice facility in Camden, New Jersey. Never hesitant to speak his mind, he doubled down on calling the Sixers the “stupidest organization in the history of sports” for having Joel Embiid play through a back injury last January and said not taking Brad Daugherty No. 1 in the 1986 NBA Draft was “the biggest mistake the Sixers ever made."

Barkley still looks back fondly on his time as a Sixer while acknowledging things often weren’t smooth or painless.

“This is not an easy city,” he said in September, “but it’s an amazing city to play in because if you bust your hump, they’re giving to give you nothing but love. Now, if you don’t bust your hump, you’re going to think, ‘Charles Barkley, you suck.’ You’re going to think that’s your middle name.”

As a footnote, the Sixers beat the Warriors on the night of Barkley’s jersey retirement for their 50th win of the season. Allen Iverson had 35 points and nine assists, while Tyrone Hill scored 21.

“You see someone as tough as Charles Barkley try to hold in his tears, that’s a moment that I’ll never forget,” Iverson told reporters. “It just looked great. It looked like something that I’d definitely want to be a part of.”

Iverson’s No. 3 would be retired nearly 14 years later. 

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