Collins opts not to address future before Friday's game


Collins opts not to address future before Friday's game

WASHINGTON -- Doug Collins is four games away from completing his third NBA season as head coach of the 76ers. Whether he returns for a fourth season has been a hot topic of discussion as the 2012-13 campaign winds down.

A story published in the Inquirer, citing league sources, claimed that the team “privately hopes that [Collins] decides not to return for the 2013-14 season.”

However, a source told on Thursday that if Collins does not return to coach the Sixers next season, it won’t be because the Sixers want him out. The source said that the Sixers are completely supportive of Collins as he heads into the last season of his contract as the team's head coach (see story).  

Collins declined to discuss the matter prior to Friday night’s game against the Wizards.

“I am going to talk about the NBA, about Washington, so let’s move forward to the basketball game,” Collins said. “We have four more games to play. I have told you all along that I am not the topic of conversation. We are going to focus on the games. We are going to play those.

“We will sit down at the end of the season like I have always done. I have a wonderful relationship with [Sixers majority owner] Josh Harris and we will discuss what we need to do next year.”

If Collins does not want to return for the final year of his contract, Harris would not have to pay the 61-year-old the reportedly $4.5 million he stands to earn.

There is the possibility that the two sides agree to a settlement.

The Sixers’ season comes to a close on Wednesday in Indiana. Harris will be available the following day to discuss the team, the coach and what the future holds for the franchise.

Sixers apologize for replacing anthem singer, say 'wrong decision was made'

Sixers apologize for replacing anthem singer, say 'wrong decision was made'

The Sixers on Friday issued an apology to Sevyn Streeter, the artist who was supposed to perform the national anthem before Wednesday night's home opener.

Streeter was replaced by the Sixers for wearing a shirt that said "We Matter."

The team released the following statement:

“We are sorry that this happened. After receiving feedback from our players, basketball operations staff and ownership group, we believe that the wrong decision was made, and Sevyn should have been welcomed to sing. We apologize to her, and in an effort to move the conversation forward, we have reached out to offer her an opportunity to return and perform at a game of her choice. We are waiting to hear back.”

Streeter turned to social media during the game to voice her displeasure. CBS3 did report Thursday that she had signed a contract that barred her from making a political statement during the performance.

The Sixers addressed their players in a team meeting to get their opinion on how they would like to the situation to be addressed.

“At the end of the day, if we as an organization had to do what we did again, that decision would not have been made,” Brett Brown said on Friday.

The Sixers were pleased by the decision to extend an invitation to Streeter. They had discussed the situation in a team meeting on Thursday where they shared their opinions on the matter and considered options on next steps moving forward.

“Personally, I didn’t think it was right,” Gerald Henderson said. “She wanted to wear a t-shirt that she felt was important. I don’t know if telling her that she couldn’t sing was saying that her statement was unimportant. But she should be able to do what she chooses. That’s why we’re going to call her back to sing.”

Jahlil Okafor, who learned of the incident the day after the game, called it an “unfortunate situation.”

“I think the majority of us wanted to see her get a chance to come back and sing the anthem,” Nik Stauskas said. “Whether she wanted to wear the shirt or whatever it was, we felt like we should give her that opportunity.”

The Sixers do not have additional plans to address the situation. They did not share other options they had considered. Brown would like the team to continue making an impact through community outreach. On opening night, Jerami Grant and Hollis Thompson presented a check to the International Institute for Advanced Instruction-Gateway to Re-Entry on behalf of the team. The players contributed $10,000.

“We’ve talked about some things as far as declaring something to make our stand. We’re not in a position to do that,” Brown said. “I think our best effort to date has been Jerami and Hollis and the organization presenting that check pregame. Trying to do it in ways that we feel is responsible and still bold enough to make the stance that we want to make. I think as it relates to this anthem situation, we simply want to say that we apologize, we’ve made a mistake, and we want to move on.”

CSN's Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.

Sixers fan apologizes to Russell Westbrook for flashing middle fingers

Sixers fan apologizes to Russell Westbrook for flashing middle fingers

Richard Harkaway, a urologist from North Philadelphia, has been identified as the Sixers fan who flashed a double middle finger to Thunder star Russell Westbrook during opening night on Wednesday night.

Harkaway on Thursday issued an apology for his actions and revealed a new detail about the confrontation with Westbrook.

"As a part-time comedian I realize that my words and actions are sometimes inappropriate," Harkaway said in a statement to issued by a personal representative.

"In this instance, after standing up to boo and being provoked by Russell Westbrook calling attention to my being overweight, my action in response was clearly inexcusable and I am embarrassed. I sincerely apologize to my fellow Sixers fans, the Sixers organization, my colleagues and patients, and to Mr. Westbrook for my behavior."

The story gets a little weirder with the allegation that Westbrook poked fun as Harkaway's weight, but at least he apologized for his actions. 

The incident, coinciding with the controversy over the national anthem, put a black eye on an otherwise fun night for the Sixers and their fans.