76ers

After Sixers land 3rd pick, Josh Harris shouts: 'Thank you, Sam Hinkie!'

After Sixers land 3rd pick, Josh Harris shouts: 'Thank you, Sam Hinkie!'

NEW YORK — This was Josh Harris as you've never seen him. This was a man who had finally discovered a way out of the basement, who was stepping into the sunlight after years of darkness.

And basking in the warmth.

"I want to be done with this building, man," the Sixers' principal owner said after Tuesday night's NBA draft lottery in the Hilton Midtown. "I'm ready to be, like, playing [in the playoffs]."

Harris usually speaks softly, and often relies on business jargon in his public utterances. ("ROI" — i.e., "return on investment" — is a biggie with him.)

But not on this occasion. Not after his team's fifth straight trip to the lottery netted the third overall pick, the fourth straight year the Sixers have landed at No. 3 or higher.

He was uncharacteristically animated, all but bursting at the seams.

"I'm really ready to be done with [the lottery]," he said. "It's a great event, but time to move on, other than if it's someone else's pick. I want to be where Wyc (Grousbeck, the Boston owner) was today. I want my team playing and I'm up here, like, doing this."

The Celtics, poised to face Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals, earned the top overall pick courtesy of a 2013 trade with Brooklyn.

The Sixers, who will also choose after the Lakers, benefited from a similar bit of largesse — a 2015 deal with Sacramento that allowed them to swap first-rounders with the Kings (see story). That that deal was engineered by former general manager Sam Hinkie was not lost on Harris.

"Thank you, Sam Hinkie!" he said, again all but shouting for the rooftops. "You set us up well. I'm going to text him tonight, and give him a big kiss over text."

President of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo was no less upbeat.

"I think we're in a pretty good position, as there is some turnover on the horizon (on the part of the conference's top teams), to ultimately be a power in the East," he said.

He added that there is no telling how long that might take, and any number of routes they can take to get there. They can follow what he called a "measured, organic growth path" and continue to build through the draft, or hasten things along via free agency and trades.

"We're going to look at both," he said.

But certainly Tuesday represented another step in the right direction. The Sixers, with the league's fourth-worst record, nudged up another spot (see story). And now they have a promise of unprotected first-rounders from the Lakers next year and the Kings in 2019.

This year's pick should yield a backcourt partner for Ben Simmons, already anointed the point guard by coach Brett Brown despite his 6-10 frame and the fact that, you know, he has yet to play an NBA game.

Joel Embiid, the team's representative on the lottery set, is supposed to be back on the court soon, after undergoing surgery to repair the torn meniscus that limited him to 31 games this past season. Dario Saric is also back, and others (Robert Covington, T.J. McConnell, et al.) have shown promise.

Remember how the team adopted a slogan of "This Starts Now" heading into the 2015-16 season? It appears that it really starts now.

"With the talent that's available in the third spot in this draft, we're going to have a choice that we're going to arguably take what I would say is a combination of both the best player and the best fit," Colangelo said.

Could be Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox or Malik Monk — the first a blur, the second a knock-down shooter. Could be UCLA's Lonzo Ball, though he seems likely to remain in Los Angeles. Could be NC State's Dennis Smith. (One guy it probably won't be is Washington point guard Markelle Fultz. He's the consensus No. 1.)

The point is, it's gonna be hard to screw this up. (Stop that snickering.)

"We would have been happy with anything we came out with tonight, because we knew we had a top pick, and as Josh said earlier, we've paid our dues to get here, to this point," Colangelo said. "We don't want to be here again, on our merits. We want to be here on the merits of others."

It was here that Harris cut in.

"Bryan will be here with the team when the playoffs open," he said, "and I'll be here, hopefully, because one of the other teams doesn't do well. That's our goal."

"Because we're in the second round or maybe the conference finals," Colangelo said. "I'd like that a lot more."

Hope springs eternal, now that Harris and Co. have stepped out into the sunlight.

Al Horford makes a donation for coronavirus relief in Dominican Republic, regions where he's played in United States

Al Horford makes a donation for coronavirus relief in Dominican Republic, regions where he's played in United States

Al Horford has donated $500,000 to support coronavirus relief in the Dominican Republic, as well as in each region of the United States where he's played for a team, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

Horford’s father Tito was the first Dominican-born NBA player, and Al was born in the country. The family later moved to Michigan, where Horford attended Grand Ledge High School. He went to the University of Florida and has played for three NBA cities — Atlanta, Boston and Philadelphia. 

Several other members of the Sixers organization have also made charitable donations during the coronavirus pandemic. Joel Embiid has pledged to donate $500,000 to COV-19 medical relief efforts. Ben Simmons launched “The Philly Pledge,” an initiative which encourages donations to Philabundance and the PHL COVID-19 Fund that’s received support from a wide range of Philadelphia athletes, among them teammates Matisse Thybulle, Tobias Harris, Norvel Pelle and Marial Shayok. 

Sixers managing partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer have made several donations related to coronavirus relief, including to Philabundance and to CHOP and Cooper Hospital.

Limited partner Michael Rubin aims to have his company Fanatics produce a million masks and gowns for hospital and emergency healthcare workers. 

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Sixers Home School: The night Allen Iverson crossed over Michael Jordan

Sixers Home School: The night Allen Iverson crossed over Michael Jordan

There's a lot of home schooling going on right now, so why not use some of this time to learn more about the history of your favorite teams? In this edition of Sixers Home School, we look back at the night Allen Iverson crossed over Michael Jordan.

In a vacuum, rookie Allen Iverson crossing over the legendary Michael Jordan on March 12, 1997, at what was then known as the CoreStates Center was impressive enough.

Putting it into context makes you understand just how big of a deal it was at the time.

The 21-year-old Iverson was having a strong rookie campaign after the Sixers drafted him No. 1 overall. He was still a month away from setting an NBA rookie record with five straight games of 40-plus points. He wasn’t sporting what would become his trademark cornrows — though he did rock them when he won MVP of the Schick Rookie Game. 

This night was when he began to really put a bow on what would turn into a Rookie of the Year season.

As for Jordan and the Bulls, they were ho humming their way to a 69-win season and their fifth title in seven years. Jordan was 33, and though his game had evolved, he was as dominant as ever. Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman provided all the help he would need.

But on this night, it wasn’t about the Bulls, who celebrated receiving their championship ring ceremony by trouncing the Sixers and shutting down Iverson earlier in the season.

This was about the kid from Hampton, Virginia. The six-foot guard from Georgetown that grew up idolizing His Airness, but also told a coach back in high school that he was good enough to take him. 

“I remember the first time I played against him,” Iverson said in his Hall of Fame speech. “I walked out on the court and I looked at him, and for the first time in my life a human being didn’t look real to me.”

Though the first time the two actually talked was not necessarily cordial.

“The first time I ever talked to him was that year playing in the Rookie Game,” Iverson said in an interview with Complex. “I’ll never forget it because he said, ‘What’s up, you little b----?’ I’ll never forget it.”

Whether the moment provided extra motivation or what, Iverson was at times the best player on the court — which, given who was on the court, is a hell of a statement.

Iverson would finish with a game-high 37 points and foul out in a four-point loss. No, the Sixers didn’t win that night, but the fact that Iverson nearly willed a team full of guys like Scott Williams, Mark Davis and Rex Chapman to a victory over that juggernaut was remarkable.

But over the course of time, nobody remembers — or really cares — who won that game. It was the moment A.I. crossed over M.J. It wasn’t quite a torch-passing moment as Jordan would go on to win another MVP and championship, but it was a clear indication that Philadelphia had drafted a star.

That highlight dominated every sportscast the following day and had Sixers fans' imaginations running wild.

The legend of Iverson only continued to grow from there as he became one Philadelphia’s most celebrated athletes and joined his idol in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.

Years later, he spoke to Jordan about the moment he got him with his legendary crossover.

“I went to a Charlotte game and I was telling him how much he meant to me and how I rocked with him,” Iverson went on to say in the interview with Complex. “He was like, ‘Man, you don’t rock with me like that because you wouldn’t have crossed me like that.’”

For as much as Iverson had idolized Jordan, his desire to beat him and be the best outweighed that.

“I always knew that once I got to the league, I was going to try my move on the best,” Iverson said, “so he was just a victim that night.”

That night, a star was born and a legacy was just beginning.

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