Amy Fadool

Flyers' playoff-clinching win over Rangers in 2010 was The Best Game I Ever Saw Live

Flyers' playoff-clinching win over Rangers in 2010 was The Best Game I Ever Saw Live

Almost exactly 10 years ago, before the Flyers set out on their magical run to the Stanley Cup Final, they had to get to the playoffs first. 

And that was nothing short of a miracle. It was the best game I ever saw and I ended up watching the most exciting part on a television screen not much bigger than a tablet in a musty hallway surrounded by people in suits.

Let's backtrack to set the scene. The Flyers had to win their final game of the 2009-10 season to get into the playoffs. They had floundered a bit down the stretch and that enabled the Rangers to make up 10 points in the final three weeks of the season. And to top it off, the Flyers were hosting those rival Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center in that last game on April 11, 2010. 

As many of you know, the offices of NBC Sports Philadelphia, then Comcast SportsNet, are inside the Wells Fargo Center. It's access that grants us the ability to go out and watch games, go between our offices and the press areas and be able to return to work within minutes of a game ending.

On this evening, I was anchoring our nightly show so I watched the first period from my desk. The Rangers finished the opening period with a 1-0 lead. So let's have a change of scenery. I went up to the press box for the second period and for the start of the third. The Flyers had yet to score at that point so I went back to my desk. I wasn't getting a good feeling and thought it was going to be a tough postgame interview. Our producer and assistant news director decided that win or lose, I would go down to the dressing room and help get the story. But I wasn't alone. We had several reporters who would be there because this was too big for just one piece. I mean, there was so much riding on the outcome of this one game. Rangers win, they are in. Flyers win, they are in. It was the ultimate winner-take-all battle for the postseason and it was happening between two heated rivals.

Finally the Flyers lit the lamp with just under seven minutes left in the third to tie the game. But then, a stalemate. So with about two minutes remaining in regulation, I made my way downstairs to wait and watch in the hallway outside of the dressing room. Here we are: me, about a dozen other reporters and several members of building staff, all congregating in this small area. To picture it, it's a cement-wall hallway, with double doors on one side leading to the dressing room and the other side leads to where the Flyers come on and off the ice.

Time is winding down and it looks like the game will go to overtime.

An already high-tension situation ratcheted up another notch. I look over to my left and who's standing there but Mr. Ed Snider. He's joined to the small mass of reporters and staff to wait and watch.

This was it. We were all watching not from a luxury box, or the press box, or even in front of a large flat screen television. No, we were all huddled around a monitor that was about 15 inches across.

Overtime. Waiting. Watching. Who would win? Who would go home?

Sure enough, the drama was still building. Overtime ended with the score still knotted at one goal each. Shootout. It was almost unbelievable. This was a win-or-go-home game and not three periods of regulation nor overtime could decide it. Of course it had to go to a shootout. You may recall that it was backup goaltender Brian Boucher in net for this entire game and he truly stood on his head. The Rangers had been on fire and he stopped nearly everything that came his way the entire game and extra period. Now, he had to last through a shootout.

We are all crunched in together watching on the tiny monitor as each skater went their turn. But one of the hallway party had left us. Snider had walked back up to his seat earlier. I can only guess he figured, win or lose, he was watching that in person. I can't say I blame him. So it was Danny Briere up first: goal! The crowd went nuts and you could feel the stands shake around us. The Rangers' Eric Christensen skates in on Boucher: save! More cheering and shaking.

Next for the Flyers: the captain, Mike Richards. Henrik Lundqvist makes the save. The disappointed sighs of the crowd echoed down our little hallway. 

Now here comes P.A. Parenteau: goal. The groans grow louder of the Flyers faithful. 

Each team has a shootout goal. It seemed like it was slipping away. But all was not lost. Enter Claude Giroux to the ice. He makes one of his signature shootout moves: goal, right between Lundqvist's legs! Euphoria doesn't fully express the crowd's response; I'd say pandemonium was more like it.

But as loud as the cheers were after Giroux's goal, the boos were louder when Olli Jokinen came into view. This was it. He comes in, tries to go five-hole on Boucher but not on this night, not on this goalie and not against this team. Boucher stops the shot easily and the building's roof seemed like it was coming off.

Back in our little hallway, I've honestly never seen anything like it. You've probably heard the expression no cheering in the press box.

Well, that didn't really apply here. It was one of the greatest moments in Flyers history to win a game like that, one that the team had to win. And everyone was clapping and smiling and laughing. We all knew we watched something amazing and downright magical. It was one of the best games I've ever seen, even if I watched it on a tiny TV screen in a smelly hallway — or maybe because of that.

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Most surprising Sixers' moments of 2019-20: Part 2

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Most surprising Sixers' moments of 2019-20: Part 2

While the NBA season is suspended, we take a look back at the most surprising moments of the Sixers’ season. In this edition, Sixers Pre and Postgame Live host Amy Fadool and Sixers reporter Noah Levick pick their moments. You can read Part 1 here. 

Fadool: The Shake Milton Game 

What did you really know about Shake Milton before March 1, 2020? Be honest. Did you know his real name was Malik? Do you remember him as a three-year starter at SMU under Larry Brown? Maybe, maybe not. You probably did know he was a 2018 second-round draft pick and that he played the majority of his first season in the G League. Search engines were working overtime on the night of March 1, though.  If you are an avid reader of this site (and why wouldn't you be), then you would have read the extremely timely piece on Milton written by Serena Winters on February 28. How's that for foreshadowing?

On this day in Los Angeles, facing a fully healthy Clippers squad, the Sixers found themselves heavily undermanned. Joel Embiid was out with a shoulder sprain. Josh Richardson started the game but left a little over 10 minutes in after suffering a nose contusion and concussion. And Ben Simmons was out with a nerve impingement in his lower back.

Enter Milton. It was a tall task for anyone, but especially a virtual unknown who played in just 20 NBA games his rookie season and before March 1, just 27 NBA games this season. But the stars were aligned for Milton on March 1. He was a perfect 5 for 5 for 11 points in the opening quarter, including a three-pointer. He added to that with a 5-for-6 effort in the second, when he also buried all of his long-range attempts and his lone free throw for 15 points and 26 total before the half.

He was being searched for online. He was trending on Twitter. He was certainly trending in the Clippers locker room at halftime. 

L.A. came out with a better defensive effort on a player they likely barely game-planned for, holding Milton to just three points in the third quarter. But think about that sentence. Just three points for a guy who had played less than 50 games in his two-year NBA career. Milton heated back up in the final quarter with 10 points, including two more threes.  

The Sixers dropped a close one to the Clippers, so there was no joy in Mudville on this night. However, mighty Casey had not struck out. Milton came out swinging during his at-bat and hit a home run. His final stat line read: 40 minutes (career high), 39 points (career high), 20 shots attempted (career high), 14 shots made (career high), seven three-pointers made (career high), five assists (one off his career high).  

And thus, the Shake Milton Game was born.

Levick: Furkan’s weekend 

Furkan Korkmaz owned the second weekend of February.

In wins over the Grizzlies and Bulls at Wells Fargo Center, he totaled 65 points and shot 25 of 34 from the floor (13 of 20 from three-point range). He pump faked opponents into oblivion, crashed the offensive boards, tossed alley-oops, took charges and threw down dunks. His teammates loved all of it.

Knowing the Sixers would be in need of three-point shooting this season, Brett Brown was inclined to give Korkmaz opportunities early. He wanted to “grow a bomber,” he said, and thought Korkmaz could fill the role after a summer in which the 22-year-old played well for Turkey at the FIBA World Cup and got into better physical condition. 

We wondered at the time whether Brown was too fixated on Korkmaz, to the extent that he might block out other options. We also weren’t sure Korkmaz could turn the label of “shooter” into actual success from three-point range at the NBA level. Heading into the season, he’d made 32.3 percent of his threes in 62 NBA games. 

After having his third-year option declined by the Sixers last season and not re-signing until July 24, Korkmaz has made a team-high 126 threes this year (39.7 percent percent). 

Whatever your feelings are about the role Korkmaz should have on the Sixers, it seemed everyone got a kick out of his performances that weekend. Korkmaz sure did, playing with a swagger and a smile. 

“It's a heck of a story, isn't it?,” Brown said.

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Most surprising Sixers' moments of 2019-20: Part I

Most surprising Sixers' moments of 2019-20: Part I

While the NBA season is suspended, we take a look back at the most surprising moments of the Sixers’ season. In this edition, Sixers Pre and Postgame Live host Amy Fadool and Sixers reporter Paul Hudrick pick their moments.

Fadool: Simmons will always remember his first

Where would a compilation of surprising Sixers moments from this season be if not for the shot heard 'round the basketball — and social media — world?  

While the actual shot heard ‘round the world refers to the start of the American Revolution in 1775, many hoped Ben Simmons' first three-pointer would lead to a revolution of his shot-taking ability. Spoiler alert: It didn't. However, let's not diminish the excitement from that night. We were a little over a week away from Thanksgiving and the Sixers were facing the Knicks in their 14th game of the season.  

It was a close game until the fourth quarter when the Sixers really turned it on, but at the end of the day, none of that really mattered. This wasn't the Sixers-Knicks game nor was it just the Sixers' ninth win of the season. No, it was the “Ben Simmons three-pointer game.” Through his previous 11 games of this season, he hadn't even attempted a three-pointer. He hadn't really attempted a spot-up three in his career. Sure, there were the long range, prayer type of shots at the end of the half or as the shot clock was winding down, but those weren't serious shots.

It was a much different story on the evening of Wednesday, November 20, 2019.  Simmons calmly buried a catch-and-shoot three-point jumper from just behind the right corner line — and it came less than four minutes into the game. If you were there, you know how crazy the fans reacted. If you were watching like so many, you heard Marc Zumoff exclaim: "Yes! He did it! Ben Simmons!"

Nothing else mattered in that moment.  Of course, Simmons himself seemed nonplussed even after his teammates cheered and hollered from the court to the bench.  Yes, Simmons has shot and made another three since, but you always remember your first.

Hudrick: Are you Furkan kidding me?

It almost feels hard to believe or like it happened five years ago, but the Sixers started the season 4-0 with a golden opportunity to beat a banged-up Portland team to make it 5-0.

Early on that night, the Sixers didn’t take advantage of a starting lineup that featured Mario Hezonja and Anthony Tolliver. Through three quarters, the Blazers shot the lights out. They hit 57.8 percent from the floor and a scorching 14 of 27 from deep. 

A strong third quarter offensively allowed the Sixers to shrink Portland’s lead from as much as 21 to 10. Thanks to the efforts of Al Horford — yes, that Al Horford — Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson, the team made inroads and was in the thick of it deep into the fourth.

With 10.1 seconds left, Ben Simmons knocked down two huge free throws to give the Sixers their first lead. It felt like a huge comeback had been capped off and the Sixers’ record would remain unblemished.

Then when Anfernee Simons hit a corner three with 2.6 seconds left, it felt like it was over.

But all Simons’ shot did was set up an improbable hero and perhaps the most improbable story for the Sixers this season.

With Horford, Harris and Richardson on the floor, Brett Brown drew up a play for Furkan Korkmaz to get a corner three. It’s the kind of coaching move that looks brilliant if it works ... and not so much if it doesn’t. 

On this night, Korkmaz made Brown look like a genius.

Watching the game, it was one of those, “Nooooo! … Yessssss!” type moments. It propelled Korkmaz, who was nearly back in his native Turkey playing professionally, to become a rotational piece for Brown. It’s also been a great story for a team that hasn’t had many this season.

And it gave us gold both in memes and Furkan puns — which, yes, is a pun.

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