Wells Fargo Center

Sixers to host Australia's Melbourne United in 2018-19 preseason game

Sixers to host Australia's Melbourne United in 2018-19 preseason game

The Sixers’ 2018-19 preseason slate just got a bit of international flavor.

The Sixers will host the National Basketball League’s Melbourne United on Sept. 28 at the Wells Fargo Center. Melbourne United will be the first of five NBL teams to play seven games against NBA teams during the upcoming preseason between Sept. 28 and Oct. 5.

The matchup is significant for the Sixers because of Brett Brown and Ben Simmons’ ties to the league.

Head coach and interim general manager, Brown, served as coach in the NBL from 1988-98 and 2000-02. Brown was an assistant on the 1993 Melbourne championship team. He also had stints as the head coach of the North Melbourne Giants (1993-98) and Sydney Kings (2000-02) as he won two championships (1994 and 2002) and was named NBL Coach of the Year in 1994.

“My history in Australia and my history especially with Australian basketball has helped shape my current status as an NBA head coach,” Brown, who also spent time as an assistant on the Australian national team between 1995 and 2003, said in a statement. “The basketball scene is extremely well-organized, extremely well-coached, and the growth of the game is not to be disputed. The wonderful Australian culture only adds to the rise of the game. Australia has been good to me and I am thrilled to be able to give back in some small way.”

Melbourne native Simmons has a direct connection to Melbourne United through his family. The new Rookie of the Year’s father, David Simmons, played in the NBL for the Melbourne Tigers (now Melbourne United; 1989-96), the Newcastle Falcons (1997, 1998-99), Sydney Kings (1998) and Canberra Cannons (1999-2001). David Simmons led that 1993 Melbourne team to the title with Brown as an assistant and had his No. 25 jersey, that his son now wears for the Sixers, retired by the Tigers.

“We are fortunate to have a head coach in Brett Brown and dynamic young star in Ben Simmons who have rich histories and foundations in Australia,” Sixers managing partner David Blitzer said. “To have the chance to play Melbourne United in Philadelphia later this year is special not only for them, but for our entire organization. Interest in the 76ers brand has skyrocketed in new markets all over the world, especially Australia, and we embrace this opportunity to compete on this stage against such a respected NBL team.”

Melbourne United, Adelaide 36ers, New Zealand Breakers, Perth Wildcats and Sydney Kings will play seven total games against the Sixers, Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz to mark the most from an international league in a single preseason.

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Ed Snider's memory to be honored with statue outside Wells Fargo Center

AP Images

Ed Snider's memory to be honored with statue outside Wells Fargo Center

Comcast Spectacor will honor the memory of legendary Flyers owner Ed Snider with a nine-foot-tall bronze statue outside of the Wells Fargo Center.

The 1,300-pound statue will be unveiled during a special ceremony on Oct. 19, the 50th anniversary of the Flyers' first-ever home game.

Comcast Spectacor president Dave Scott, Flyers president Paul Holmgren, mayor Jim Kenney and Snider’s family members will speak during the ceremony, which is free to the public.

Built by Chad Fisher of Fisher Sculpture of Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, the statue took over eight months to complete, with design and layout input from Comcast Spectacor and Snider's family.

After a battle with cancer, Snider passed away on April 11, 2016. After bringing NHL hockey to Philadelphia in 1966, Snider oversaw two Stanley Cup-winning teams and was the driving force behind the construction of the Wells Fargo Center, where he will now be immortalized in bronze.

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.