Sixers get taste of rebuilding in loss to Nets


Sixers get taste of rebuilding in loss to Nets


For a team in a rebuilding mode, there will be times of great growing pains and the Sixers are not hiding from this fact. It’s going to get rough during the 2013-14 season for the youthful and inexperienced Sixers.

How rough? The Brooklyn Nets gave the Sixers a little taste of what they can expect at times during the season with a 127-97 victory at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday night (see Instant Replay).

“I feel like it was born out of a reality check,” head coach Brett Brown said.

The good part is that it’s still the exhibition season and the games don’t count in the standings yet. But the bad part is that the game showed just how much work the Sixers have to do to reach the elite level in the NBA.

That’s the part that worried Brown because he noticed some of his young players drop their heads when the Nets built a lead to 35 points in front of a crowd of 6,315. But that also presented a chance for Brown to teach a few lessons to his players.

Brown believes it won’t be the last time he gets a chance to do some teaching, either.

“You can’t let your energies and your emotion be dictated by our inability to score and the fact that they just kept going,” Brown said. “I thought that there was an emotional letdown that you see in young teams and I think the veterans continued to battle. But I felt like some heads dropped and it’s something that we’re going to have to deal with throughout the course of the year.”

Rome wasn’t built in a day, of course. And if the Sixers’ brass is looking for some reassurance, they need to look no further than the Nets. Two years ago, they finished in last place in the Atlantic Division. With a revamped roster and a new coach, the Nets are looking to challenge the Heat in the Eastern Conference.

They might be able to do it, too. The Nets smoked the Sixers even with All-Stars Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Andrei Kirilenko sitting out. Meanwhile, Kevin Garnett played just 15 minutes and no starter played more than 26 minutes in the rout.

Apparently, that was enough. The Nets shot 54 percent from the floor and 52 percent from three-point range. They also scored 32 fast-break points, easily beating the Sixers at their own strong suit.

Reality check.

“Guys compete, but it’s about executing,” said Evan Turner, who led all scorers with 23 points on 8-for-16 shooting. “I don’t think there is anyone slacking on this team, it’s just executing and getting things together. Sometimes we’re there, we just have to go to finish off the play.”

Then again, the Nets and Sixers are teams headed in different directions. The Sixers blew it up in the offseason and are putting it back together from scratch. The Nets added veterans with championship rings and are the favorite to win the Atlantic Division.

“Obviously, that’s a great team over there,” Turner said.

The Nets were able to get out and run because of their rebounding advantage. With former Sixer Reggie Evans pulling down 10 boards in 16 minutes, the Nets outrebounded the Sixers, 54-31. The Nets also grabbed 18 offensive boards to the Sixers’ 18 defensive rebounds.

That means every shot the Nets took was essentially a 50-50 ball.

Talk about a reality check.

Nevertheless, the game film of the loss to the Nets will be a treasure trove for Brown to decipher before the team plays again on Thursday. The Sixers learned a hard lesson, but it won’t be so bad if they can take something from it.

At least that’s the tact Brown is taking.

“I get a lot of stuff out of this because I think this is reality,” Brown said. “You go and see the level of talent and you look at the level of experience and the physical stature of their players. I get stuff out of this. It’s clear that our physical stature is not going to change. We better spend a lot of time in box-out drills or trying to run is not going to pay the dividends we need it to pay.”

The Sixers return to action on Thursday when they go to Charlotte to play the Bobcats. Following that game, the Sixers play the Cleveland Cavaliers at Ohio State University in Columbus.

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.