Read Grantland's Zach Lowe Just Gush over the Philadelphia 76ers' Name

Read Grantland's Zach Lowe Just Gush over the Philadelphia 76ers' Name

Art by Milton Un for Grantland.

You're not going to find the 76ers in the Top 5 of many lists this offseason. Unless it's a list for potential Top 5 picks in the 2014 draft or maybe teams who are the furthest under the salary floor. In Hinkie we trust!

But fret not Sixers fans. You have a new reason to puff out your chest in the month of August, and it doesn't involve Adam Aron, Andrew Bynum's hair of the ghost of Jason Richardson. (In fairness, the Sixers' floor spacing was substantially better with J-Rich than without J-Rich last year, and I feel a strange, sincere and wholly inexplicable yearning to pay him the $6.6 million he could command by exercising his 2014-15 option).

More to the point, Grantland NBA aficionado Zach Lowe, as a follow up to his highly controversial "Let's give the Pelicans" a nickname treatise, has compiled a list of the National Basketball Association's best team names from No. 30 to No. 1.

And at No. 2 -- much like in the 2010 draft (I'm practically giddy about the impending Evan Turner-Sam Hinkie "hey, how about my $8.7 million qualifying offer?" meeting) -- your team, your town, your ... Philadelphia 76ers.

Lowe:

What a magical nickname — a combination of numbers and letters that sounds so nice, with all those "S" sounds. It carries a shorthand in "Sixers" that is just as good, evokes the city's monumental place in U.S. history, and stands out as one of the great creative nicknames in sports.

The name is obviously a reference to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia in 1776, an event worth loud and proud commemoration, and "Seventy-Sixer" has the Knickerbocker effect of working as a shorthand for people from Philadelphia. Most major highways that run through and around the city include the number "76," the Liberty Bell is there, the Founders signed the Constitution there, and the city served as the nation's capital at times during and after the American Revolution.

In other words: Go crazy with the kick-ass historical references, Philly. You deserve it. The inherent patriotism of the name has allowed the Sixers to play with red, white, and blue color schemes and to toss some flag elements into their logo designs. The minimalist white basketball with blue trim, a red "7," and a circle consisting of 13 stars (for the original 13 colonies) is high basketball art.

Alas, the Sixers have struggled to come up with a workable mascot — the downside of the Knickerbocker-style name. The team mercy-killed Hip-Hop the sunglasses-wearing rabbit after the lockout, sending out a bogus press release indicating Hip-Hop had "fallen in love" and left the franchise — not all that different from the time Poochie died on the way back to his home planet. They then asked fans to choose a new mascot form three options — a generic goofy dog (Poochie II?), a basketball-playing moose (getting warmer), and a hooping Ben Franklin (ding!), but the franchise ultimately chose none of the above. Get this right, and the Sixers may ascend to the throne.

No. 1 on the list? The Portland Trail Blazers, which is plainly acceptable to all of us who grew up playing Oregon Trail.

Alright, let's turn this into something. Give us favorite and/or least favorite names in sports.

This Deadspin piece from 2012 NBA Finals is a continued source of entertainment.

LINKS:
>>The Definitive Guide to NBA Team Names, Part 2 [Grantland]
>>The Definitive Guide to NBA Team Names, Part 1 [Grantland]
>>The Thunder Are A Matchup Nightmare For Copy Editors. So Is The Heat. [Deadspin]

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Phillies' right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration -- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos (see Instant Replay).

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to be better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.