Take a Look Inside the Philadelphia 76ers’ Locker Room

According to the 76ers’ PR people the Sixers are the only NBA team that allows fans in their locker room. I don’t know if that is true or just PR propaganda to shed a positive and unique light on the team; either way it is pretty cool they let fans in there.

As you already know, Saturday I was at the San Antonio game. I went with my gf who got tickets through her college’s (Franklin & Marshall) Philadelphia alumni chapter. (The Sixers’ VP of Sales is an F&M alum.) They raffled off a chance to walk through the 76er locker room during the game. And with my luck, we won (16 in 120 chance). There was a downside though. The tour was during the entire 3rd quarter! Well, the die-hard fan that I am I decided I couldn’t miss an entire quarter so my gf went instead. Below are the great pictures she got during the tour. Enjoy.

NOTE: I had a picture of the 76ers’ whiteboard before the San Antonio Spurs victory on here when I first posted this article. After some thought and being contacted by the Sixers organization I decided to take it down. Why? As loyal fans of the Sixers we can’t have the team’s plays and strategies posted on the Internet for opponents to figure out how we are kicking their @$$es, now can we? Let’s go Sixers!

Andre Miller's Lockers
Above: Andre Miller’s two lockers. Count ’em, he has 30 boxes of sneakers.
Sixers' workout room
Above: Sixers’ workout room
Sixers' pre-game workout
Above: Sixers’ pre-game workout
Sixers Lockers
Above: Louis Williams – sportin’ the pink button-up (left), Thaddeus Young (middle), Willie Green (right)
Sixers Lockers
Above: Andre Iguodala (left), Louis Williams (middle), Thaddeus Young (right)
Center of the Sixers Locker Room
Above: This is the center of the 76ers’ locker room. The lockers shown above are located to the right.
Wilt Chamberlainimage and John Wooden Quote in Sixers Locker room
Above: Is the hallway outside the showers. The entire locker room and hallways are covered with similar images and quotes.
Charles Barkley image in the Sixers locker room
Above: This is part of a huge image of Charles Barkley in the locker room with a very famous quote all Philadelphia 76er fans should be familar with.
Charles Barkley Quote in the Sixers Locker room
Above: Continuation from the Barkley image above. This is one of his most famous quotes. Gotta love that the image is the Round Mound dunking against the hated Boston Celtics.
Maurice Cheeks office in the Sixers locker room
Above: Maurice Cheeks’s office in the locker room with the assistant coaches’ area in that back room. Is it just me or is this pretty low budget?

Sixers All-Star Weekend – Or Lack Thereof

Allen Iverson 2005 NBA All-Star MVPForgive me while I show my true “homerism” and rant about my disappointment/anger regarding Philadelphia’s non-existent representation in the 2008 All-Star festivities.

Rookie/Sophomore Challenge

Why the hell was Thaddeus Young not on the All-Star rookie team?!? Can you say BULLSHIT.  If you need a refresher on why he should have been playing Friday night check this out.  Who would I replace for Young?  Jeff Green.  He has been nothing short of mediocre considering he plays 24.5 minutes per game and takes almost 8 shots a night.  On a p/40min basis he doesn’t stack up and shoots a rookie All-Star worthy 44% from the field.  Add the fact that Seattle sucks and his selection makes less sense.

When you also consider the potential entertainment value for the fans of having a high flying, super athletic Thaddeus Young in the game it should have been a no brainer to have him representing the Sixers.  It’s one thing to be Tim Duncan and have a boring, yet dominant game. It’s a completely different story when your game is just as boring and your name is Jeff Green.  Matter of fact, did he even play in the game?  I think John Hollinger sums it up best in his post-game grade of Green (D-) “Plenty of time (34 min.) to prove unworthiness.”  Enough said.

Skills Competition

For a competition that rewards speed I think we all agree the first Sixers player that comes to mind is Lou Williams.  His athletic ability fits perfect for this event.  Blazing fast with and without the ball, ability to stop on a dime and quickly change direction. 

You put Lou in the competition this season vs. the current contestants – Jason Kidd (former winner), Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and two-time defending champion Dwyane Wade and I’d argue he’d give these guys a run for their money.  Wade is all beat to crap now, Kidd is aging (albeit still quick), Paul has failed to win the past two years, and Deron Williams I think is the least quick of the bunch.

Passing ability you say?  If Wade can win being the weakest passer in groups composed of Nash, LeBron, Kobe and Paul I wouldn’t worry about Louis Williams’ passing skills for this event.

Slam Dunk Contest

This section is best served with videos.

Rodney Carney

I don’t know about all of you but I am an animated basketball watcher.  When this dunk happened I was screaming.  Posterizing like this is always better when it’s a high profile player getting banged on.  D. Wade can you say FACE!

Andre Iguodala

We can all agree he got completely shafted at the 2006 dunk contest, right?

Three-Point Shootout

Ummmmm……………Willie Green?  OK ok moving on.

2008 NBA All-Star Game

We have no iconic superstar that would get voted in by the fans.  (Sad)  More importantly, not having a stud big man on the Sixers makes getting a current player selected by the coaches even tougher in the East.  I think the PF and even more so the center position is the weakest in terms of depth in the Eastern Conference. 

So right now our best hope is Iggy to get in over players like Joe Johnson or Rip Hamilton.  The #1 thing he can improve individually to make it next season?  Shooting percentage (44.7% this season and last).  Since his shots per game increased over 10 he hasn’t shot as well from the field.  Why? 3.6 three-pointer taken per game and this has increased each of his 4 seasons.  That’s fine, but he isn’t hitting the magic number – 33%.  Add some more Sixers wins next season and I don’t see how Andre doesn’t make it with marginal improvement.

Here’s a good article from Philly.com about Andre Iguodala and the All-Star game by Phil Jasner.

Even without any Sixers representation I am still excited about Dwight Howard in the dunk contest tonight and the All-Star game on Sunday, although not as much because of all the injuries.  How bout you?

Lou Williams Block and Dunk – Wow

I know not many people watch the Sixers these days. But Lou Williams is turning out to be worth pulling yourself away from whatever horrendous reality show you’ve been watching during the writers strike.

Last night, the 6’1” Williams blocked 6’11” Mehmet Okur’s dunk attempt, immediately started running the other way, and found himself flying through the air and absolutely hammering down an alley-oop pass from Andre Miller. Needless to say, the excitement nearly killed Sixers play-by-play announcer Mark Zumoff, who was screaming so loud you could hardly hear what he was saying. Below is a link to the only YouTube clip I’ve found, if I find one of better quality, I’ll load it. Or you can watch SportsCenter, it’s the #1 play on their top 10.

You can check out the play here – http://youtube.com/watch?v=65dwHOZChoY

Sweet Lou – Explosive and The Key to Philly’s Future

The blow by Wade and banging on Udonis Haslem was nice.  What’s more impressive is the rapid development of Louis Williams as a real baller for the Sixers.  At 21-years-old, plenty of potential and his contract expiring this summer, Lou has made a strong case for signing him to a long-term deal.

Facts:

  • 3pt%, FT%, RPG, APG and PPG has each increased over his first 3 seasons.
  • Williams is scoring 19.5 per 40 minutes
  • His player efficiency rating (PER) at 17.73 is above league average and has also increased every season.

With that said the big question is can he run this team and play the point effectively?  As a natural scorer and pass-second guard, he will need to improve his ability to penetrate with the goal of finding teammates, limit his turnovers and adapt the score-first game he is accustomed to playing.  I believe he can. Hopefully he is learning the in’s-and-out’s from a perfect example in Andre Miller.  At 6’1 his long-term career and significant minutes will be found playing the point, not as a wing scorer. 

For the Sixers, Lou represents a tremendous asset and opportunity.  With the expectation of Miller being traded, Lou can immediately fill that spot and allow Stefanski to focus on bringing in a dynamic shooting guard and the dominant post scorer this team is in desperate need of.

The Philadelphia Spurs

Bart Miadich's steroid-enhanced signatureNow that I have come to terms with Josias Manzanillo’s and Bart Miadich’s rampant steroid use as revealed in the Mitchell Report, I can get back to what I love most –writing in blogs that nobody reads.

Like Dannie, and many Philadelphia basketball fans, the ousting of Billy King and subsequent hiring of Ed Stefanski, gives hope to a fan base starving for a championship anyway they can get it. Remember, this is city that was ready to parade Barbaro down Broad Street because he was raised and trained in the general area of the city. Of course, Barbaro subsequently died.The Sixers represent the Philadelphia team likely the furthest away from a championship, but they play in a league where a couple lucky ping-pong balls, smart cap maneuvering, and inventive trades can turn things around quickly (see: Boston Celtics, 20-2).

Since Dannie has already outlined the offseason options for the Sixers – I’ll give my semi-educated opinion on the state of the current team, and my fool-proof blueprint for the future. With the exception of Ryan Bowen, everyone in the NBA is good, that’s why they are in the NBA, and there are 40-50 players not in the NBA that could thrive if put in the right situation. As a result, it’s hard to evaluate non-superstar players on an individual basis. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to see if you could picture them being a productive member of a championship caliber team – in this year’s case, the San Antonio Spurs. Let’s look at where the current Sixers players would fit on a team like this… 

Starters 

Andre IguodalaGood defender, decent scorer, great energy guy and someone you want on your team and can fill up a box score. However, could never, ever, be the #1 guy on a championship team. Think Michael Finley with an uglier shot.

Andre Miller – Borderline. Would never start over Tony Parker, but can run the show and throw the best one-handed back-door pass in the business. Can’t score enough (see: Snow, Eric). Also, looks like Richard Pryor and provides team with comic relief when he tries to go with cornrows.

Rotation 

Samuel Dalembert – I have been impressed with Sammy the last couple weeks. 9 blocks (and some emotion, for god’s sake!) against Minnesota and 19 boards against the Cavs. However, no one with his lack of basketball intelligence would start in an NBA Finals. His shot-blocking and defense would make him a key reserve – and he’s probably be good for one big game a playoff series.

Reggie Evans – Exactly the kind of guy you see coming off the bench for championship-caliber teams. Hustles, rebounds, plays D and has a fire for the game. As is the case with most players with those attributes, he is a comically bad free throw shooter. I could do without him trying a guard the PG in the back court.

Kyle Korver – Brent Barry, Derek Fisher, John Paxton, Mario Elie, etc, etc. All championship teams have great 3-point shooters. Korver might have been the best pure shooter in the NBA last year. He doesn’t do much else, but that’s just fine coming off the bench.

Louis Williams – I love Louis Williams. I have yet to see anyone able to stay in front of him, and he is the only guy on the team who can create his own shot at will. He’s only 21, leads the team in points per 48 minutes (24.1) and is fearless in the lane. Next year, I imagine he would switch places with Andre Miller on this list.

Jason Smith – Very pleasant surprise this year. Not sure what his ceiling is though. Good at just about everything (shooting, blocking shots, rebounding, post moves), but not great at anything. Already the greatest Colorado State basketball player in NBA history.

 

Buried On The Bench 

Thaddeus Young – He certainly has the potential, but right now, he looks lost at times. He’s 19, and appears to be a hard working kid, so I’ll reserve judgment.

Louis Amundson – Looks too much like a vampire to be a successful pro, but hustles too hard to be cut by a team like the Spurs.

Kevin Ollie – You laugh, but Jacque frickin’ Vaughn logs time for the Spurs. Old, crafty PG’s who don’t turn the ball over are always good to have on the deep bench.

 

Never Signed, Drafted or Traded for, ever 

Willie Green – Has the skill to be a Devin Brown-type flash off the bench, but will occasionally (frequently) take horrible, momentum killing shots. He drives me absolutely crazy.

Shavlik Randolph – A whiter version of Josh McRoberts

Rodney Carney – No.

Calvin Booth – Billy King’s last move – and what a move it was.

For The Future: 

Obviously, I feel we should trade/release anyone at the bottom of this list. You also will have to assume that Andre Miller will be traded, lets say to a decent team for a late first round pick.

It’s easy to see that we are more than a couple players away from being a true contender. Luckily, we have some money and a potentially high draft pick. If we use the money to sign Elton Brand (if healthy) and use our two first round picks (ours and Andre Miller’s new team) to trade up in the draft, like we didn’t last year, to pick a SG (Eric Gordon, if there is a god) the Sixers would trot out, if nothing else, a very exciting starting 5 next year.

PG- Lou Williams

SG- Eric Gordon

SF- Andre Iguodala

PF- Elton Brand

C- Samuel Dalembert

Bench: Evans, Korver, J. Smith, T. Young, lesser FA Signing (Chris Duhon?)

That looks like a playoff team to me, and with a few more good draft picks and creative trades during the season, could be a contender in the East. This will not be a one-year fix, but the right moves could get us on the right track. I hope that our readers (Dannie’s girlfriend and mom) enjoyed my first post.  

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You’re the Sixers’ new GM – What would you do summer 2008?

I thought it only fitting that the first real post on the ReclinerGM Sports blog be related to big upcoming decisions for new Sixers’ GM – Ed Stefanski.  So let me start by setting the stage… 

Fact: The Sixers will likely be the only team with enough cap space to be a major player for a big time free agent next summer.  Why? 22 NBA teams are either over or within $4 million of the luxury tax threshold. So what, right? You gotta pay to win in pro sports, right?  Yes, but the trend of late has owners being more frugal and pulling back the reigns on NBA GMs’ spending sprees.

With that said the Sixers might not have enough money to offer a max deal if:

  1. They have a large cap hold for a top first-round draft pick.  At 10-14 they are only a half game out of the 8th playoff spot.  Figure in a weak Eastern Conference, their propensity to compete every night, especially now since everyone is playing for a job next season under Stefanski and this point is still to be determined.
  2. Stefanski decides to give big deals to both Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams who are both restricted free-agents.  Speaking of Iggy, what the hell was he thinking turning down a $57 million contract extension?  With Philadelphia the only team out there to pay him big time money it makes his decision that much more DUMB!

First thing to consider – do you re-sign Iggy? More importantly do you pay him more than what was already offered if there happens to be another team competing for him? PSST here’s a hint: HELL NO! You don’t over pay for a non all-star. A guy who is widely considered a 2nd tier player.  If that’s not enough, look at his numbers.  As his shot attempts go up, his turnovers per game (3.6 – most of his career) are also going up and his shooting % (43.9% – worst of his career) are going down.  Don’t get me wrong I want him on the Sixers but not for top superstar money.

Ok, I think you get the picture. Here are what I consider to be the top free agents this upcoming summer worth considering.

Tier 1 Players:  These players have an “early termination option” in their contracts and can become unrestricted free-agents.

1. Elton Brand, Clippers – As long as he completely recovers from his Achilles injury he will be the most talented and most coveted player available, not to mention the low-post scorer that has been absent from the Sixers since Charles Barkley.

2. Gilbert Arenas, Wizards – Personally, I love his blog, his personality and his ability to score, but how much different is he than the last real super star (see #6) we had in Philly that everyone gave up on?

3. Shawn Marion, Suns – Great defender, rebounder and runs the floor like a race horse.  But at 30 years old and reliant on a good point guard to get him the ball in order to score, do we really want to pay him top dollar?

4. Baron Davis, Warriors – In my opinion the best guard on the board and having the best season of his career.  At 29 he is obviously vying for a long-term contract.

5. Jermaine O’Neal, Pacers – Has been injury-prone the last few seasons.  He is only 29, and the big question is whether he can stay healthy.

6. Allen Iverson, Nuggets – AI back in Philly.  In my dreams!

7. Ron Artest, Kings – 4 years ago he would have been a great signing.

Tier 2 Players:  The 2004 draft class.  These guys are restricted free agents.

1. Luol Deng, Bulls – Do you like him better than Iggy?

2. Emeka Okafor, Bobcats

3. Shaun Livingston, Clippers – Would love to have him if he can recover from that devastating injury.

Tier 3 Players:  These are the no strings attached unrestricted free agents.

1. Antawn Jamison, Wizards

2. Patrick O’Bryant, Warriors – He was the No. 9 pick in the ’06 draft and a 7-footer with upside.  With GS bringing in Brandon Wright we may be able to steal a quality big away.

There you have it.  Stefanski really has his work cut out for him.  But I ask all the “ReclinerGMs” out there – what would you do?

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