76ers

Sixers unveil new state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden

Sixers unveil new state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden

CAMDEN, N.J. — The doors to the Sixers' new training complex are officially opened, welcoming players into the 125,000-square-foot facility designed to be a one-stop basketball shop.
 
On Friday, the Sixers held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the sprawling building on South Front Street. After years of sharing space at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) on City Avenue, the organization now has its own dedicated facility. 
 
The complex was built with the intention of becoming a “year-round destination." The team has taken each aspect of daily life into consideration to provide players and staff with the resources they need on-hand in Camden.
 
“We’re trying to create a culture of not only excellence, but of maximum performance and trying to give them as many things that can help enhance that and get us there quicker,” president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said, also noting, “We’re not trying to trap them, but we’ve literally given them so many things that they may not want to leave.”
 
Players arrived at the complex ahead of the official opening, and many were there on Friday as tour groups circled through. Ben Simmons and Dario Saric were among those taking shots on the expansive courts, which account for 20,480 square feet. There are two full-size NBA courts and six additional baskets, comprised of over 16,000 pieces of maple wood athletic flooring.
 
With an extra emphasis on health and fitness, the weight room and training room are located next to each other right off the court. Their proximity fosters communication between the training staff with strength and conditioning coaches to easily discuss medical situations, whereas they were separated on different floors at the previous facility.
 
“It makes for a great place of what we call ‘continuity of care,’” head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson said on a tour of the building.
 
The Sixers now have increased medical resources available, including a dedicated physician’s room. They are implementing a videolink system which allows them to videoconference with players offsite and with other medical professionals. The team is also moving into ultrasound diagnostics to assess tendon health.
 
Right off the weight room are four hydrotherapy pools — cold water immersion, hot tub, warm lap pool/plunge pool and underwater treadmill that can go eight feet deep. The team took the height of the players into consideration when installing the pools. The jets on the hot tub, for example, were placed strategically for their wingspans. A video system in room allows the team to monitor pool work.
 
Following the goal of keeping resources in one place, a video room includes a dual-sided projection screen that enables players to review film directly from the court through glass walls.
 
The Sixers are honing in on nutrition and diet this season. They installed a full-service kitchen with customizable options based on the players’ needs versus a buffet meal. The organization found its head chef in an unconventional way — impressed by the food at the popular Philadelphia restaurant Parc, Colangelo inquired about its chefs and hired Jae Hee Cho.
 
And if the Sixers want to get some rest after a full day’s work, the team also may look into sleeping pods.
 
“I learned years ago they come here and it’s sort of the field of dreams. If you build it, they will come,” Brett Brown said. “You learn that they spend more time here because it’s convenient and they feel like they’re getting better. It’s a chance to bring families together. It’s a chance to bump into a teammate and go up and have lunch … get some shots together. The opportunity to have and form greater relationships exists here. I saw that in 2002 [with the Spurs] and I believe we’re going to see it again in 2016.”
 
The Sixers believe the new complex will set them apart from other teams around the NBA. Players consider more than just wins and losses when choosing teams in free agency, and this facility could give the Sixers an edge.
 
“In the business today, there’s so many things that you’re competing with with other franchises,” Colangelo said. “It’s become a little bit of an arm’s race, if you will, with respect to what player amenities you have, how you travel, what the practice facility is, what kind of creature comforts you give them. ... We’re doing everything possible to maximize performance not only of the players and the athletes, but also of the organization.”
 
The team incorporated aspects of its history in the complex. The reception desks at the main and player entrances are made of the wood from the basketball court of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game.
 
The Sixers will hold training camp in Stockton University next week and then will begin practicing at the complex for the rest of the season.
 
“Part of building a winning team, an elite team is culture,” managing general partner Josh Harris said. “Certainly you need talent, but how everyone works together and how people enjoy themselves, that’s one element. The second element is having them available to experience all of the capabilities we can bring, whether it be training, massage, health, wellness, diet, sleep, there’s a lot of things we can put in their hands.”

Sixers hire two new assistant coaches in Ime Udoku, Joseph Blair

usa_ime_udoka_joseph_blair_sixers.jpg
USA Today Images

Sixers hire two new assistant coaches in Ime Udoku, Joseph Blair

Brett Brown lost two prominent pieces of his coaching staff in Monty Williams and Billy Lange.

It appears both those vacancies have been filled as the team announced Wednesday the hiring of Ime Udoka and Joseph Blair.

A team source confirmed a report earlier this month that the Sixers were bringing in Udoka. Udoka spent seven seasons on Gregg Popvich’s staff in San Antonio after spending over a decade as a professional player in the NBA and overseas. He’s been a head coaching candidate in the past, most recently interviewing for the Cavaliers job before the team hired Michigan coach John Beilein. 

Udoka and Brown were on the Spurs staff together before Brown took the Sixers job.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with Brett in Philadelphia,” Udoka said in a statement. “He has done a great job building a respected program and I look forward to joining his staff. This is a wonderful opportunity and I embrace the challenge of taking the next step in my career. I am excited to get to work and help this extremely talented roster continue to achieve success at the highest level.”

Blair was the surprise hire. He’s fresh off leading the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the G-League affiliate of the Rockets, to a title as the team’s head coach. The last coach to win a title with Rio Grande Valley? Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. Before that, Blair was an assistant with the Vipers after serving as an assistant for his alma mater, the University of Arizona. The 6-foot-10 Blair also has a history as a player, playing professionally overseas, and he had a couple stints as a Harlem Globetrotter. 

"I'm honored and excited to work alongside Brett, this staff, and team, as well as being a part of such a historic, respected, and energetic organization,” Blair said in a statement. “I look forward to learning, growing, and adding value, all while producing positive results for the city and the organization."

The team hired another former Spurs assistant in Cameron Hodges as part of their player development staff this offseason. They also promoted Lindsey Harding from scout to a player development coach toward the end of the season after Lange departed to take the head job at Saint Joseph’s. Williams took the head coaching job with the Suns, leaving the door open for Udoka to serve as Brown’s top assistant.

“I am excited and proud to welcome Ime and Joseph to our program,” Brown said in a statement. “The depth of basketball knowledge and experience that each brings to our bench will be integral in furthering the success we have enjoyed over the last two seasons.”

“Our players will continue to develop and improve under their direction and they will help me strive to guide our team toward our ultimate goal of winning a championship.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers

NBA free agency 2019 tracker: Rockets looking for first-round pick to tempt Sixers in sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butller

NBA free agency 2019 tracker: Rockets looking for first-round pick to tempt Sixers in sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butller

This is one of the biggest offseasons in franchise history for the Sixers. Keep track of all the latest NBA free agency rumors and rumblings right here.

4:59 p.m. — Marc Gasol staying in Toronto

3:14 p.m. — Rockets seeking a first-round pick for sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler

But ...

11:49 a.m. — As expected, Kevin Durant is hitting the free agent market.

Tuesday, 3:49 p.m. — The Celtics are reportedly expected to make a strong push for Kemba Walker.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Sixers