NBA Notes: Heat back in familiar territory


NBA Notes: Heat back in familiar territory

While there are plenty of coaching hires being made and roster moves being discussed, the Sixers have been relatively quiet since the regular season ended (see story).

Now let's look at some news and notes from around the NBA:

Heat: Familiar territory for Miami
MIAMI -- LeBron James has been wearing a good amount of camouflage attire at times during the NBA playoffs, with some of his vests, pants and even ties done in the design.

It doesn't seem fitting, since there's really no where for him to hide.

He has more at stake than any other Miami player in these NBA Finals, especially now that the San Antonio Spurs are one game away from grabbing the title. If the Heat lose, it'll be perceived as James' failure. If the Heat win, his status as the game's best player not only becomes even more cemented, but he might even win over a few more doubters.

James says he looks forward to the challenge that starts when Miami hosts Game 6 of the series on Tuesday night (see full story).

-The Associated Press

Spurs: Duncan closes in
SAN ANTONIO -- It's all right in front of Tim Duncan now, and the big fella can feel it.

You can tell when he broke out that little spin move in the paint in Game 5 on Sunday night, a nimble little display of footwork that has mostly been in moth balls for the past four or five seasons.

You can tell by the elevation he got on a first-quarter dunk, one of the most emphatic he's had in years.

And you can tell by the glimmer that can't be hidden by the far-away look in his eyes when he talks about being one victory away from title No. 5.

"I think every one of us wants this very badly from the top on down," Duncan said after scoring 17 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in a 114-104 victory over the Miami Heat that gave his San Antonio Spurs a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals (see full story).

-The Associated Press

Nuggets: Connelly hired for front office
The Denver Nuggets have hired Tim Connelly as executive vice president of basketball operations.

Team President Josh Kroenke confirmed in an email to The Associated Press on Monday that Connelly will take over for Masai Ujiri, who left to become general manager of the Toronto Raptors.

Connelly has been the assistant GM with the New Orleans Pelicans since 2010. His first order of business with the Nuggets will be finding a replacement for George Karl after the longtime coach was fired nearly two weeks ago (see full story).

-The Associated Press

Bucks: Drew adds assistants
ST. FRANCIS, Wis. -- Bob Bender and Nick Van Exel are following Larry Drew to Milwaukee.

The Bucks announced Monday that Bender and Van Exel will be assistants on Drew's staff. Bender also was an assistant during Drew's three years as head coach in Atlanta, while Van Exel was the Hawks' player development instructor from 2010-12.

Drew says the two were "important pieces" of his staff in Atlanta and will be dedicated to teaching Milwaukee's young players.

Bender spent the past nine years in Atlanta after two years as an assistant in Philadelphia. As a college coach, he led Washington to four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances (1996-99) and was Pac-10 coach of the year in 1996.

Van Exel, a Kenosha native, played 13 years in the NBA. He was an All-Star in 1998.

-The Associated Press

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.