HIP HOP IS DEAD

HIP HOP IS DEAD

No, not just the genre! The Sixers mascot of the same name has met his end. When we first heard this was likely and/or possible, we couldn't have been happier. And it's not like we're in the minority or part of some vanguard revolution against the roided up rabbit here. I can't think of any fans Hip Hop had.

And now, per an investigative report by Rich Hofmann, the Sixers have announced the retirement of Hip Hop, who has fallen in love, married (far be it from him to live in sin), and moved away to start a family. So in short, we have another reason to hate Hip Hop. WHAT WE AIN'T GOOD ENOUGH TO RAISE YOUR HARES NEAR? HUH, HIP HOP?

And now, the search for a new Sixers mascot begins. Any ideas?

Per Hofmann:

The task of coming up with a replacement for Hip Hop will fall to two firms specializing in the business. One is Jim Henson's Creature Shop, which began as the workshop of the late creator of the Muppets. The other is Raymond Entertainment Group, whose founder is Dave Raymond, the original Phillie Phanatic.  

Cancel Henson Inc. and whoever. Dave Raymond's got this. (CC: The Phanatic's best friend, Tom Burgoyne.)

It's not an easy city to be a mascot. The shadow of the Phanatic looms large. But Hip Hop was an experiment gone bad, and, importantly for the franchise that wisely put him down, it wasn't just because of the character.

I'm a Sixers fan, though not nearly as big as some of the others posting here. The team's been a part of my life as long as I can remember, and I still really enjoy going to the games, trying to hit a few per season. The one thing that really bothered me every time though was Hip Hop. Not just because I thought he was a paper-thin, obviously transient concept, but because he was loud and annoying while I was trying to watch basketball. As if to call more attention to the fact that the arena's been empty on most nights lately, he would clap thundersticks together, the sound echoing throughout. I probably let it bother me more than I should have, but what can I say. It's not easy reconciling the wish to fight a mascot with the reality that you'd probably lose.

In any case, whatever the new character is, he needs to go to Phanatic camp to learn the arts. Tip of the cap to the new ownership for moving swiftly on this front. Now that this significant hurdle has been cleared, let's get the men back on the court.

So, now that we know Hip Hop is no more, any ideas for what should replace him? What shouldn't?

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

NEW ORLEANS -- The weeks and months have quickly piled up. Nerlens Noel has not played an NBA regular-season game since last season ended for the Sixers on April 13. Nearly eight months later, Noel is nearing the return he has been eyeing for quite some time now. 

“It’s always an excitement to be able to play basketball after this amount of time, including the summer, not being able to play organized basketball at a competitive level,” Noel said Thursday. “I’ve been really looking forward to this. I think I’ve gained some momentum coming back from this minor surgery, and I think I’m in a really good place and I’m feeling good with my body. Everything is on point.”

Noel has been sidelined since undergoing elective left knee surgery in October to address an inflamed plica. He traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to join the Sixers ahead of their 99-88 win over the Pelicans (see game recap). Noel continued his rehab Thursday while the team prepped for the game. 

“I’ve been able do five-on-five, full contact,” Noel said. “I’ve tried to maximize my opportunities of that with the team being gone on the road. I came down here and went through most of shootaround and it went well. Now these next couple of days, [I will be] going through practice, still working on my wind. I do like where I’m at now.”

The Sixers’ next game is Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Brett Brown had given Noel’s availability for that game a “maybe” (see story)

“I’m not sure,” Noel said of playing Sunday. “I’m ready to go with these next couple of days and see how my wind feels and how my body feels, which I have been feeling good. So it’s a possibility.”

When Noel does return, there is a scenario in which he could be paired with center Joel Embiid. Last year, the Sixers struggled finding the best way to utilize Noel and Jahlil Okafor, also a center, at the same time playing the four and five positions. As Okafor has said of playing with Embiid, Noel also believes his off-the-court friendship with the towering rookie would translate onto the court. 

“I think it would be something that’s experimented,” Noel said. “It’d definitely be interesting.”

Noel candidly expressed his opinion of the Sixers’ logjammed frontcourt at the start of the season. Since speaking to the media after his surgery, Noel has mentioned he is in a good mental place (see story). For him, that means being out on the court again. 

“I love myself and I love the game of basketball,” Noel said. “When I step out here to come and play, it just brings a lot of enjoyment and excitement to me. Regardless of what the details of it are, I just love the game and I’m happy to just be playing.”

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dougie Hamilton scored 1:09 into overtime, Chad Johnson stopped 27 shots and the Calgary Flames beat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Thursday night.

Mark Giordano scored for the Flames in a chippy game filled with big hits and multiple fights.

Hamilton capped a fast-paced overtime by deking Arizona's Mike Smith with a forehand before flipping in a backhander. Calgary has won five straight and eight of 11 (8-2-1).

Max Domi scored before leaving with an upper-body injury and Smith stopped 33 shots for the Coyotes, who have lost six straight and 11 of 14 (3-7-4).

Arizona captain Shane Doan became Arizona's all-time assist leader and is the fifth player in NHL history to own his team's records for games played, goals, assists, points, game-winning goals and power-play goals (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins roll over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby got his 18th goal and added an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Thursday night.

Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Matt Cullen and Carl Hagelin also scored for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray made 28 saves.

The Penguins have won four straight and five of their past six.

Jaromir Jagr scored his 755th career goal, and Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots for the Panthers. Luongo allowed three goals on Pittsburgh's first five shots.

Panthers coach Tom Rowe, who replaced Gerard Gallant on Nov. 28, made his home debut. The Panthers have lost five of six under Rowe, but managed a point in three of those losses (see full recap).

Price loses cool as Habs beat Devils
MONTREAL -- Carey Price lost his temper after being bumped twice in his crease and made 19 saves to help the Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night.

Torrey Mitchell scored twice and Phillip Danault, Artturi Lehkonen and Max Pacioretty also had goals for the Canadiens in their return from a five-game trip.

Adam Henrique scored a goal and set up one by Taylor Hall for New Jersey, which ended a two-game winning streak.

Montreal had a season-high 49 shots on Cory Schneider.

A wild first period included three goals, four goal reviews and Price's meltdown (see full recap).