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In other words: Go crazy with the kick-ass historical references, Philly.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]

Flyers Notes: Promising performances from young defensemen

Flyers Notes: Promising performances from young defensemen

The most impressive thing about the Flyers' 4-0 preseason win over the Islanders on Tuesday night was the play of the their young defense and the outstanding work by the penalty kill.

Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers each gave a strong accounting of themselves while veteran Andrew MacDonald proved why experience helps with some terrific PK work during an extended five-on-three Islanders power play in the third period.

“Overall, they did a good job,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “I look at some of the opportunities we gave up, especially in the second period, we gave up three or four Grade A opportunities that Mase (goalie Steve Mason) was great on, but I put those on our forwards.

“We’re still not into regular-season form on our play without the puck. I thought as a whole, the group of defensemen did a good job and the young guys in there were good tonight.”

Sanheim had strong plays the entire game from the point and picked up two assists (see highlights). He gets the puck quickly on net and joins the play up front.

“It took me a little bit, even in this game,” Sanheim said. “As I play more, I started to jump up more and you start to see my game more. It’s something I want to bring to this next level.”

Provorov logged 21:43 of ice time following nearly 29 minutes at New Jersey. He had 5:17 on the PK. Some of his clears weren’t deep or hard enough, at times, possibly because of fatigue.

He also took a bad boarding hit on Joshua Ho-Sang in the third period that set up an Isles five-on-three power play. It became extended because of a trip call to Myers but MacDonald did yeoman’s work on the extended PK.

Provorov quarterbacks the first-unit man advantage for now until Shayne Gostisbehere joins the crowd. He had some very skillful passes. The Russian can find the seam up the ice on the breakout quickly and had a no-look, hard pass to Nick Cousins in the second period for a quality one-timer on net.

Expect Provorov to handle the second-unit power play during the season, should he make the roster.

The goals
Although the Flyers, using a better NHL lineup, were lacking for offensive chances early against the Isles' "B" squad, they found their way in the final four minutes of the opening period.

First, Dale Weise had one of those pinball goals as a bouncing puck hit a couple of players in the slot, including goalie Chris Gibson, to make it 1-0 during four-on-four play.

That was the Flyers' first goal of preseason in three games. A little more than a minute later, Wayne Simmonds scored off a rebound just as a Flyers power play ended. Simmonds had two goals in the game, including a wrister from the left circle to open the final period.

Smallish (5-foot-7) — but bullish — centerman Andy Miele, a former Hobey Baker Award winner as college hockey’s top player (Miami-Ohio), made it 3-0, out-battling Thomas Hickey for the rebound of Michael Raffl’s shot.

The shield
Simmonds is wearing a visor for the first time. It’s an experiment for now.

“Everyone is all over me about it,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. It wasn’t too bad tonight. The only thing is trying to track pucks in the sky when you are getting the glare from the lights. A little bit of an adjustment."

He said neither his mother nor girlfriend had pushed him as hard to wear the shield as someone else: “Ron Hextall,” he said flatly. “He gave me a call.”

Because of his tenacious play in the slot where sticks are high and pucks are deflected, a shield makes sense.

“Yeah, I think so, being that front guy and doing work on the PK,” he said. “Getting sticks in lanes like that, the game is really fast and pucks get deflected.

“Sometime you don’t know where they’re going and can’t react to that. Obviously, the shield is good for that."

He added he would wear the shield in a fight, too.

“Every time I fight and someone has a shield on, I’m at a disadvantage so I guess this evens it up,” he said.

Loose pucks
Weise did a nice job sticking up for teammates late during a melee after a Ben Holmstrom crosscheck to linemate Nick Cousins. “It was a bad crosscheck and you’re defending your teammates,” he said. “The ref was in the way and I kind of went overtop him. That’s what I’m about. Guys take liberties on my linemates, I’ll stand up for them.” … Matt Read had just 6:54 ice time through two periods. Fourth-liner Boyd Gordon had more ice time there — 9:39 — but Read finished with 13:55 to Gordon’s 13:41. More than half of Gordon’s ice time was on the penalty kill. … Goalie Steve Mason faced some point-blank chances among the first 17 shots he faced and finished with 23-save shutout.  

Carson Wentz named NFC Offensive Player of the Week

Carson Wentz named NFC Offensive Player of the Week

Another week, another award for Carson Wentz.

This time the Eagles' electrifying rookie has been named the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Steelers.

In the 34-3 win over Pittsburgh, Wentz completed 23 of 31 passes for 301 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 125.9. It was the first 300-yard game of his very young career.

Wentz is the first rookie QB in Eagles history to win an Offensive Player of the Week award.

Through three games, the 23-year-old has completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 769 yards and five touchdowns. He's the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to achieve those stats in the first three games of a career. He still hasn't thrown an interception in 102 passing attempts, which is a record for rookies.

It looks like Wentz will have plenty more opportunities for awards this season.