Most Sixers fans never knew Jeff Millman.
He was one of those unheralded employees, behind the scenes, who did his job every day and was beloved by everyone in the organization. Tuesday morning, Millman lost his battle with cancer. He was 67 years old.
For over 50 years, Millman was a staple in the Sixers’ locker room, for many of those years as the team's longtime equipment manager. Last Wednesday, before the Sixers’ season opener, many of the club's biggest names turned out to honor Millman in a pregame ceremony which he called "overwhelming." Rarely have I seen so many of the Sixers’ stars in one place, with one purpose, to show their appreciation to a man who has meant so much to so many.
Imagine the logistics of getting Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, Billy Cunningham, Doug Collins, Bobby Jones, Darryl Dawkins and many others, including former team president Pat Croce, all together at the same time. It was a fitting tribute to a man who never wanted any attention.
Last year, when Barkley visited the Wells Fargo Center for a TNT broadcast, the first place he went when he arrived to the building was to check on Millman. The two held court in the team's laundry room, just shooting the breeze, talking about basketball and life. Millman brought Barkley a Diet Coke as he folded towels in the middle of the room. He knew the likes and dislikes of the players in the locker room. They respected him, but would poke fun at him at the appropriate time.
There were many good times in Millman’s life, and many of those moments centered around the Sixers. The team will hold a moment of silence prior to Wednesday night's game against the Washington Wizards, and on Thursday family and friends will say their final goodbye.
Fortunately, Millman saw lots of love in his final days from his second family, which will mourn his passing by wearing a black stripe on the shoulder of both their home and road jerseys for the remainder of the month.
Rest in peace, Jeff.