Scott O'Neil

Sixers to face Celtics at London's O2 Arena

Sixers to face Celtics at London's O2 Arena

The Sixers are heading to London.

They will take on the Celtics at The O2 Arena on Jan. 11, 2018. This will count as a home game for the Sixers. CSN will broadcast the game. 

“The NBA has done an exceptional job of attracting and cultivating fans from across the world, and we’re thrilled to bring the Philadelphia 76ers to London, a special city with rich culture and tradition,” president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said.

The Sixers last played in the U.K. during the 2013 preseason as part of the NBA Global Games Manchester against the Thunder. This game will be a return to London for Brett Brown. He coached the Australian national team there for the 2012 Olympics. 

“Participating in NBA London Game 2018 is a great opportunity for our players to compete in front of an international audience at the historic O2 Arena,” Brown said. “The basketball fans there are very passionate and I am looking forward to playing the Celtics there in January.”

Tickets for the London game will go on sale in October. Because this is a home game for the Sixers, season-ticket members who have paid in full for the season have two options. They can request a refund for the game or put the charges toward a credit for future games.

The scenario is different for season-ticket members on an automatic payment plan. They will not be charged for this game and it will be removed from their plan statements in January. 

The Sixers have close ties to professional sports in London. Managing general partner Josh Harris and co-managing general partner David Blitzer co-own Crystal Palace F.C. of the EPL. Crystal Palace will play Burney two days after the Sixers’ game. 

“This is a tremendous opportunity to showcase our dynamic team filled with exciting international players to a fan base that has a clear passion for world-class sporting events,” Harris said. 

Echoed Blitzer, who lived in London for 10 years, “It’s really exciting and encouraging to see the NBA continue to skyrocket in popularity internationally.”

The Sixers also are linked to London through their esports franchise, Team Dignitas, whose president and founder Michael “ODEE” O’Dell lives in the city. 

“With the support of our international fans and our family of dynamic sports and entertainment brands awaiting our arrival, we anticipate a very welcoming experience,” chief executive officer Scott O’Neil said.

The complete 2017-18 regular season schedule is expected to be released in the coming days. The Sixers will kick off their preseason action on Oct. 4 against the Grizzlies at the Wells Fargo Center. They also reportedly will play the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Christmas.

Teams, Wells Fargo Center staff react to postponement of Sixers-Kings

Teams, Wells Fargo Center staff react to postponement of Sixers-Kings

The Kings first noticed it during their morning shootaround. The court at the Wells Fargo Center felt slick, the conditions didn’t seem right. 

By the time both teams arrived to the arena for pregame warmups on Wednesday, players were unable to get a grip with their sneakers.

“It’s squeaking,” Omri Casspi commented as he ran his foot over the court. 

The floor was so slippery, Robert Covington said, some players didn’t want to go through their warmup routines. 

As the game neared, arena staff members were on the court with wet mops trying to alleviate the problem. The Sixers and Kings made a request to the NBA to delay the 7 p.m. start. The extra time wasn’t enough to resolve the conditions. A little over an hour after the scheduled tip-off, the matchup was postponed (see story)

"The Philadelphia 76ers announced that tonight's game against the Sacramento Kings has been postponed due to an issue with the surface of the court and with player safety in mind,” the Sixers said in a statement. “Arena officials worked diligently to address the issue, but NBA officials determined that the court was not suitable for play.”

Before that, the Sixers, Kings and game officials worked collaboratively on how to proceed. Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and vice president of basketball operations/general manager, Vlade Divac, were in the arena, which Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil said made for an “easy dialogue.” O’Neil also added the referees were in unanimous agreement. 

The decision was ultimately made by the league, which issued its own announcement that the game was “postponed due to unsafe playing conditions on the arena floor.” The players understood the ruling. 

“Playing on a slick floor, that’s a risk that’s waiting to happen,” Covington said. “They weren’t willing to put our careers in jeopardy. The good thing about it, they tried their hardest to get everything taken care of, but it just kept getting moist. They did what they were supposed to and they made the best decision.”

Said Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins: “It’s a little disappointing. Guys were looking forward to playing tonight and coming out there doing what we love to do. It’s unfortunate, but at the same time I think they made the right decision. They put the players’ safety first and that’s how it should be,” (more from Cousins here)

What led to the moisture?
The cause of the problem has not been determined. There are several factors to look into and possibilities to explore. John Page, president of the Wells Fargo Complex, was alerted of the moisture around 6 p.m. 

“It’s an extremely unfortunate situation,” Page said. “Player safety is the most important thing for us as we look at our playing surface. We’re not exactly sure what caused the situation. Was it condensation? Was it preliminary activity during the day? Those are all the things that we’re going to investigate to see what would have caused this so that it doesn’t happen again.”

Multiple people who arrived to the arena hours before scheduled tip-off commented the temperature inside was uncharacteristically warm. Wednesday’s forecast was on the higher side for Nov. 30, in the 60s with rain. 

“[The indoor temperature] ranges based on the outside temperature,” Page said. “With our ice surface, sometimes humidity is our biggest opponent when you look at how we prepare for a game. Those are things on every daily and pregame prep we evaluate what our humidity levels are, what our in-arena temperatures are and what the outside conditions are as well.”

The Wells Fargo Center, owned by Comcast Spectacor, is the Flyers' home arena. The Sixers essentially are tenants in it, with their basketball court laid on top of the ice. The question of whether the ice played into the problem was posed. 

“We looked at some of the outside ancillary areas and there’s no visible condensation on our ice deck,” Page said. “So that’s what caused us to figure out, what really caused this issue and how do we address it?” 

What’s next?
The NBA will reschedule Wednesday’s game for a later date. The coordination is trickier than other matchups since the Kings are in the Western Conference. They currently are in the middle of their East Coast swing, which includes Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., Boston and New York. 

There has been talk of squeezing in a return to Philadelphia in late-January. The Kings have a trip in which they are scheduled for seven games in 11 days from Jan. 21-31. It isn’t exactly in the Sixers’ backyard. Sacramento plays in Memphis, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Indiana, Charlotte and Houston during that stretch.

The building staff will have to find the root of the problem, and its solution, quickly. The Wells Fargo Center is booked over the next three days. On Thursday, Five Finger Death Punch and Shinedown have a concert. The Sixers play back-to-back home games on Friday and Saturday evenings. The Flyers also play an afternoon game on Saturday as part of a doubleheader for the building. 

“It’s something that you don’t ever want to have happen,” Page said. “It’s a black mark and we take great pride in what we do. We perform flawlessly all the time in what we do. Look at the quick changes and how we execute. We’ll make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

What happens to the tickets?
The Sixers will honor Nov. 30 tickets for the rescheduled date. Those who had tickets for the game will also receive complimentary ones from the Sixers for one of three upcoming home games. They can choose from Dec. 5 against the Nuggets, Dec. 14 against the Raptors or Dec. 18 against the Nets. 

"I know this is a tremendous inconvenience for the fans," O'Neil said. "I certainly apologize on behalf of the organization."

For fans who paid for parking at the arena, parking receipts will be honored at the rescheduled game. 

Sixers CEO Scott O'Neil: Ben Simmons 'will be back this season'

Sixers CEO Scott O'Neil: Ben Simmons 'will be back this season'

The 2016-17 NBA season is underway, and Ben Simmons will play in it, Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil said on TCN's Breakfast on Broad

Simmons, the first overall pick in the 2016 draft, suffered an acute Jones fracture in his right foot during the final scrimmage of training camp. He underwent surgery on Oct. 4 and recently had the sutures removed. 

“Injuries happen, as we saw with Simmons, who fortunately will be back this season, which is terrific news,” O’Neil said Wednesday morning. 

There had been speculation as to whether Simmons' agent, Rich Paul, would let him play this season. O’Neil shrugged off that chatter.

“No, it’s not true,” O’Neil said. “Yeah, he’ll be back.”

While no timeline has been announced, Simmons is expected to be sidelined for three months. Last week, Brett Brown said, "Ben is coming back in January.” Brown later clarified, “I did mention a January hopeful return, and that was premature. That was a coach doing a lot more wishing than receiving instruction.” 

Simmons has been with the Sixers for his rehab process. They plan to implement a multi-faceted recovery of education, health and improving his shot.

Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists his freshman (and only) year at LSU.