Marc Zumoff

How Marc Zumoff’s unique World Series moment was born

How Marc Zumoff’s unique World Series moment was born

Unlike the other Phillies fans who were at Citizens Bank Park on the night of Oct. 29, I wasn’t going to get caught up in the moment. I wasn’t going to allow myself to be swept into the delirium of a World Series Championship or monstrous cheer at the moment of Game 5’s final out.  

No, I had a selfish little plan. I was going to remember this piece of Philly sports history a different way.

I did obsess over two days with everyone else when Game 5 of the 2008 World Series was suspended on Oct. 27 due to rain, only to be resumed Oct. 29. 

But I was obsessing for a different reason. Oct. 29 was the 76ers home and season opener across the street at the then-Wachovia Center against the Toronto Raptors. I had to reconcile that little conflict.  

It took a little pre-planning on my part, and a little help from the NBA, so that I could be in the ballpark to hatch my narcissistic scheme for the game’s final inning. Thankfully, the NBA would allow a small concession for those who wanted to experience both events: a 6 p.m. tip-off instead of the usual 7 p.m.  Sure, I’d still miss some of the World Series, but if I planned ahead, I could minimize how much I missed.  

And so the 76ers game tipped off on Comcast SportsNet a little past 6 p.m. with yours truly at the mic and an announced crowd of 15,750 at the then-Wachovia Center. The Sixers played like they had one eye on the World Series, shooting 34.5 percent in a 95-84 drubbing at the hands of Chris Bosh and the Toronto Raptors. And seconds after my broadcast duties were over, I began the sprint to Citizens Bank Park to see a game that had already started.

Sitting neatly on my desk at the arena were my clothes for the game, including the requisite thermal underwear and sweats to guard against the frigid night, along with my Ryan Howard Phillies jersey that would go on top. I arrived as the score was tied 4-4, just as Chase Utley was faking a throw to first and nailing someone at the plate. I did get to see Pat Burrell’s double that would lead to the Series-clinching run.  

And as the game got to the ninth inning, I went about remembering the night in my own unique way.

The first in the two-part plan was a timely photo before the start of the fateful ninth. I had a fan take a picture of me and two of my besties, Rob Grossman and Chuck Meyers, with me holding up three fingers to indicate how many outs remained in order to win the World Series.  

Then, with two outs and Erick Hinske representing the Rays’ last chance against reliever Brad Lidge … and an 0-2 count on the batter … and everyone in the place standing … wildly anticipating a moment that would be etched in their memories forever … and as Lidge prepared to go “lights out”….

I closed my eyes, and just listened … 

It hurts now, but let's put the 2017-18 76ers season in perspective

It hurts now, but let's put the 2017-18 76ers season in perspective

"Life is about perspective and how you look at something ... ultimately, you have to zoom out."  -- Whitney Wolfe

An NBA-record 16-game win streak to end the season, a first-round dispatching of the Miami Heat and the renewal of a rivalry gone by had us all jazzed. “The Sixers,” some opined, “are good enough to go to the NBA Finals.” And so there was little consolation after the 76ers succumbed to the, ugh, Boston Celtics. It would be a loss in Game 5 of their second round playoff series at TD Garden. The dreaded parquet floor serving as a painful reminder for the old, as well as new angst for the young, that this is a rivalry … again.

In the meantime, here’s some perspective to at least help you with the disappointment many are feeling now.

Perspective allows us to go back to October, when Sixers fans issued their modest hopes for their squad: a .500 record, a berth in the playoffs and good health for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Hopes exceeded.

The journey to this point, though, came with some off-roading. On Christmas Day, The Sixers pulled into Madison Square Garden with a 14-18 record, three games behind the New York Knicks for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Sixers won that day, the game itself proving to be a seminal event for both teams. The Knicks plunged into an abyss, while the Sixers played the remaining 50 games at a .760 clip, a percentage that projects to a 62-win season.

Now, with an actual 52-win season and two rounds of the playoffs in the rearview, the Sixers are set up for an interesting offseason. On May 15, keep your eyes on the Los Angeles Lakers pick at the NBA Draft Lottery. The Sixers own that pick unless it falls between 2 and 5 (owed to Boston when the Sixers acquired the top pick in last year’s draft). The Sixers also have their own first-round pick and four in the second round, any combination of which can be utilized in a trade if so desired.  

Then there’s the matter of free agency, where pre-planning will allow the Sixers to be true players. Any re-signing of JJ Redick or Amir Johnson may require some roster maneuvering as it relates to an arcane salary cap rule called “cap holds,” but the point is, the team is in position for a major free agent signing (see LeBron James, Paul George, etc.). Meantime, Redick and Johnson are just two of the free agents the Sixers will have to contemplate. Late season signings Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli are also free to go their separate ways.

The Boston series would serve as a good template for whatever the Sixers offseason plan becomes. The Celtics toughness and switchability on defense wouldn’t be bad to emulate, let alone the need to have offensive players who can create their own shots against such defenses. Plus, Boston, like the Sixers, is going to be a standard-bearer in the East for years to come. Matching up better against a team you might meet every May for the foreseeable future would be a good thing.  

In the meantime, All-Star Joel Embiid and odds on Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons both go into a summer healthy for the first time in their fledgling careers. Without the preoccupation of rehab and caution, the two kingpins can go about their business of absorbing their playoff experiences and translating that to off-season workouts.   

So allow that to assuage some of the anxiety you may be feeling after a two-point loss in an elimination game. Like coach Brad Stevens told his Celtics after Game 5, go outside tomorrow and enjoy the sunshine. My advice is, do the same for yourself and put a little time between yourself and the 2017-18 Sixers.

T.J. McConnell talks legendary Game 4, Arizona hoops, NBA culture with Marc Zumoff

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USA Today Images

T.J. McConnell talks legendary Game 4, Arizona hoops, NBA culture with Marc Zumoff

The toast of Philadelphia following his legendary performance in the Sixers'Game 4 win over the Boston Celtics Monday night, T.J. McConnell sat down with the voice of the Sixers, Marc Zumoff, to talk about the wild ride he's been on on the latest Zoo's Views podcast.

They obviously touch on T.J.'s career-best performance over the Celtics, but Zoo also asks McConnell about his work ethic, his relationship with University of Arizona head basketball coach Sean Miller, the amazing fact he's known his wife since they were kindergarteners and what the Sixers need to do to keep this season alive.

On playoff basketball
"I don't want to say that regular season basketball is different, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't. Every possession matters in the playoffs. Especially when you're down in a series, you have to claw your way back, and you have to do it one possession at a time."

On culture
"Culture is hard to come by in the NBA in my opinion. It's about what you do every day, doing it the right way, being a good person, and we do that."

On Brett Brown creating the culture
"Brett has built a culture here since he's been here and it's been contagious to everyone. You don't have any bad dudes here and it makes it fun to go to work every day."

Listen to the whole pod below and be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you listen to podcasts.