Remembering the beloved Jeff Millman


Remembering the beloved Jeff Millman

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.

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

Report: Nerlens Noel expected out 3-5 weeks after left knee surgery

It appears the Sixers' frontcourt logjam may not be an issue early on.

Nerlens Noel, who is having surgery Monday for an inflamed plica in his left knee, will miss the first three to five weeks of the season, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Noel suffered a left groin injury in the first preseason game against the Celtics and missed the rest of the preseason. While undergoing treatment, Noel reported left knee soreness, which led to the discovery of the inflamed plica.

It's been an odd start to the season for Noel. The big man was outspoken about his displeasure with the Sixers' frontcourt situation early in camp. With the deadline for Noel's rookie contract extension approaching on Oct. 31, the team has not had conversations about it, according to a report.

The Sixers are already without No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons as he recovers from surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. The team will also be without their starting point guard Jerryd Bayless who is dealing with a ligament issue in his left wrist. Bayless won't require surgery and will be reevaluated in two weeks.

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

MIAMI — A woman performing the national anthem before an NBA preseason game in Miami on Friday night did so while kneeling at midcourt, and opening her jacket to show a shirt with the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

The singer was identified by the Heat as Denasia Lawrence. It was unclear if she remained in the arena after the performance, and messages left for her were not immediately returned.

Heat players and coaches stood side-by-side for the anthem, all with their arms linked as has been their custom during the preseason. Many had their heads down as Lawrence sang, and the team released a statement saying it had no advance knowledge that she planned to kneel.

"We felt as a basketball team that we would do something united, so that was our focus," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Throughout all of this, I think the most important thing that has come out is the very poignant, thoughtful dialogue. We've had great dialogue within our walls here and hopefully this will lead to action."

The anthem issue has been a major topic in the sports world in recent months, starting with the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand for its playing. Kaepernick cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest, and athletes from many sports -- and many levels, from youth all the way to professional -- have followed his lead in various ways.

"All I can say is what we've seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in New York earlier Friday, at a news conference following the league's board of governors meetings. "It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do."

The NBA has a rule calling for players and coaches to stand during the anthem.

Heat guard Wayne Ellington often speaks about the need to curb gun violence, after his father was shot and killed two years ago. He had his eyes closed for most of the anthem Friday, as per his own custom, though was aware of Lawrence's actions.

"At the end of the day, to each his own," Ellington said. "If she feels like that's the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her."

Making a statement in the manner that Lawrence did Friday is rare, but not unheard of in recent weeks.

When the Sacramento Kings played their first home preseason game earlier this month, anthem singer Leah Tysse dropped to one knee as she finished singing the song.

Tysse is white. Lawrence is black.

"I love and honor my country as deeply as anyone yet it is my responsibility as an American to speak up against injustice as it affects my fellow Americans," Tysse wrote on Facebook. "I have sung the anthem before but this time taking a knee felt like the most patriotic thing I could do. I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability."