Andre Iguodala's Signature Philly Sports Moment

Andre Iguodala's Signature Philly Sports Moment

As overly dedicated Philly sports fans, we all probably watch too many hours of ball games every week. Multiply that over 52 weeks a year, times however many years you've been alive, and you've surely seen thousands and thousands of hours of your favorite athletes competing. But when you think back on any one player or any particular team's season, typically most of us only remember a couple of the game-changing plays.

Every superstar has their signature moment. Some even have a few. Allen Iverson stepping over Tyronn Lue is always the first play I think of when I recall the glory days of Bubba Chuck. The young rookie A.I. crossing up Michael Jordan is certainly at the forefront of my Sixers memories as well. Jimmy Rollins had the two-out walkoff in Game 4 of the 2009 NLCS against the Dodgers. Chase Utley had the deke and throw home in the game that crowned the Phillies WFC in 2008. Dr. J had the up-and-under brilliant layup against the Lakers. Ryan Howard had "Get me to the plate, boys." Mike Richards had "the shift" against Montreal in 2010. These are my memories of the superstars I've watched in Philadelphia. Donovan McNabb had the scramble and heave against the Cowboys.

Andre Iguodala, despite playing here for the better part of a decade, never really had a signature moment. Yes, he's hit a couple big game winners, a nice one against the Lakers in 2009, and the dagger against the Magic in the playoffs down in Orlanda that same year, but those shots were from mostly forgettable games/series from a forgettable team. I'd even go so far as to argue that the most memorable moment of Iguodala's career, for me at least, was his sick-nasty-ridiculous dunk from Iverson off-the-backboard in the dunk contest years back when he got robbed of a victory by Nate Robinson. Still bitter.

The often misguided vitriol towards Iguodala becomes tired. But his free throw shooting during clutch time truly was abominable.

So it was with great joy that I sat in the stands of the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night and watched Iguodala slam his place into the positive memories of Philadelphia sports fans in the most absurd of fashions. By not slamming at all.

It was story book alright, but mostly because anytime he got to the line late in games this season, anyone who watched them for even two games this season knew how awful he was down the stretch from the charity stripe.

Your thoughts on Dre aside for one night, you absolutely had to feel happy for him after hitting those two shots.

If Dre had hit two free throws to win a meaningless regular season game in March we'd probably remember that moment like it were yesterday, but he hit two free throws to propel his team on to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade, a No. 8 seed over a No. 1.

And he had one heck of a story to go along with it.

After struggling from the line earlier in the Bulls series, Dre got some advice from teammate Tony Battie: think of something you love when you're shooting the freebies.

"Actually, I started thinking of my son when I shoot free throws,” Iguodala said when asked about what was going through his mind before he drained a pair. "So I’m kind of talking to him when I shoot free throws. It makes it a lot easier. You relax a little bit more and it kind of becomes like practice. You shut everything else out.”

"It’s like I’m teaching him how to shoot free throws, and when you’re teaching your son how to shoot free throws, you can’t miss. You’d look kinda crazy."

Iguodala's son now has some playoff game tape to watch if he ever wants to learn how to be clutch.

And No. 9 now has one truly memorable signature Philly sports moment.

*

Dre on hitting the free throws:

Worst loss of the year for excuse-less Sixers against Magic

Worst loss of the year for excuse-less Sixers against Magic

Another new feeling for the rebuilding Sixers: The bad loss with no excuse. For at least one and possibly multiple seasons, there was no real such thing as an inexcusable L, because they were so never the favorite going into any game that their excuse could almost always be "the other team was better." But four wins and one transcendent player into this season, the Ballers actually do need an excuse for dropping a home game against a subpar team by double digits. And if they had one last night in their 105-88 loss to the Orlando Magic, they weren't telling the rest of us.

Really, this game couldn't have been teed up much better for Philly: We were home, well-rested after Wednesday's weird-ass cancellation, against a 7-12 team we nearly beat early in the season, who were on the second night of a back-to-back after ceding a tough one to the Grizzlies -- and we had Joel Embiid for up to 28 minutes. If this one was to be a laugher by early in the fourth quarter, you'd almost have to assume that it'd been the Sixers who put it to bed early. 

Instead, the Sixers slumped horribly from the field in the first quarter, missing bunny after bunny and plenty of open jumpers, as they dug themselves a hole they were never quite able to climb out of. Philly kept it manageable and D.J. Augustin and Nik Vucevic caught fire for Orlando in the third quarter, and the game was suddenly in Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot territory before we could even process what was happening. 

Of course, you can't blame Embiid for this one. Though JoJo was a little out of sorts defensively on this one -- and personally, I really wish he'd stop trapping five feet outside the arc, it may cause panic in the Magic's ball-handlers but it really seems to compromise our own half-court D -- he still finished with a resounding 25-10-4 with three triples, and for the first time in his young career, 0 turnovers. (I coulda swore I saw at least one, but so says the box score, anyway.) Just another game for the Process, though the Sixers (for some reason) needed him to be immaculate last night, and he was merely phenomenal. 

Less phenomenal were the rest of the Sixers' shooters. Our bench in particular was absolutely putrid, going a combined 0-12 from three, with Nik Stauskas's streak of consecutive games with a three snapped at 15 after his scoreless, 0-6 performance. (Five assists for Sauce, at least.) Jahlil posted a dominant stat line of 16 and 13 (on 8-10 shooting) but was again hapless on defense, ending a team-worst -19 for the night. And Dario Saric's slumping continued with a 1-5 shooting outing with no rebounds or assists, likely his worst game of the season. 

It was a surprisingly listless effort from a team that should have looked much sharper, and the most positive non-Joel-related thing to be said about it is that it's (sort of) nice to finally have expectations high enough to have them let down. It'll be a lot harder for Philly to let down tonight against the Celtics, without JoJo, against a pretty good and mostly healthy Boston team. But that's five losses in a row already for the improving Sixers, and it'd be nice to cut off that streak soon, before it starts threatening double digits -- we could certainly do with being done with those for the forseeable future.

No longer feeling like a rookie, Wendell Smallwood more comfortable as lead back

No longer feeling like a rookie, Wendell Smallwood more comfortable as lead back

As the Eagles prepared to face the Green Bay Packers last week, rookie Wendell Smallwood readied himself for a big role.
 
Then he got just nine carries. 
 
It wasn’t that those carries went elsewhere, it was that the Eagles got away from the run game early in the 27-13 loss to the Packers despite being down one score for most of the game. Ultimately, he had half of the team’s carries. 
 
On Friday, head coach Doug Pederson said the disparity in play-calling didn’t have anything to do with having Smallwood as the lead back instead of Ryan Mathews. 
 
“Not really,” Pederson said. “Again, that's something – when I go back ask evaluate after the game – it's something I have to consider more of: Did I run the ball enough or throw the ball enough or not enough or did I do it too much, one way or the other. 
But no, that did not dispel anything, run or pass.”
 
For the second straight week, Mathews is out with an MCL sprain, which means Smallwood is preparing for a bigger role in the offense again. That could also mean his second career start in as many weeks. 
 
Having gone through this process last week has made this week even easier. 
 
“I think I'm very comfortable, more than I was last week,” Smallwood said. “I kind of knew I was going to have a lead role, kind of thinking about a lot, how to play better and take on the load that I was probably going to get. So this week, I think it was kind of natural for me, not really worrying about it.”
 
Smallwood, who was a fifth-round pick out of West Virginia, has 66 carries for 290 yards and one touchdown this season. Smallwood's average of 4.4 yards per attempt is sixth in the league among rookie with at least 60 carries this season. He also has the most rushing yards of any Eagles rookie since Bryce Brown in 2012. 
 
While the Eagles would probably have preferred to use Mathews more this season, the veteran has played just 53 more snaps than Smallwood. 
 
Does Smallwood even feel like a rookie anymore? 
 
“Nah, definitely not, definitely not,” he said with a smile. “Probably after Week 3 I stopped feeling like a rookie. And guys tell me all the time, 'we need you to play, we don't need you to be a rookie right now.' So kind of forced not to be a rookie.”