Watch: Mark Howe's Number Retirement Ceremony

Watch: Mark Howe's Number Retirement Ceremony

The Philadelphia Flyers gave Hall of Fame defenseman Mark Howe a great ceremony to retire his number 2, with his family in attendance along with 20,000 of their closest friends. For those who may have missed it or just want to watch again, below is a video of the tribute the team put together to honor Howe, including the raising of his banner.

And here's a transcript of Howe's speech.

I stand before you today a proud yet humbled man.  I am being honored tonight in the presence of the two teams that have been a part of my life for the past 30 years.  In Detroit, I had the opportunity to play with the great Nik Lidstrom.  I got to wear the uniform that my father proudly wore for 25 years.  And I have had the opportunity to work for Mike and Marion Ilitch.  Their passion for hockey and their compassion for those who have worn a Red Wing uniform is second to none.

I am, however, being honored here today for my playing days wearing the #2 as a Philadelphia Flyer.  As I reflect upon those days, the passion for hockey and compassion for those who wore the Flyers uniform were equally displayed by Mr. Ed Snider.  It was truly the “Flyers Family.”  As I said at my Hockey Hall of Fame induction speech in November, when I first came to Philadelphia back in 1982, it was as if I was born to be a Flyer.  The orange and black began to flow through my veins and instantly consumed my heart.  The memories of playing for the Flyers will be a part of me forever.

I had the opportunity to play with and learn from Bill Barber and Bobby Clarke.  They passed on to me the expectations that came with wearing a Flyers uniform.  Throughout my 10 years, I had the privilege of playing alongside so many gifted players and an incredible staff.  Pat Croce, Ed Van Impe, Cagey, Mike, Sudsy & Kurt, the medical staff, Gene Hart, Poulin, Propp and Kerr, Hexy, Pelle, Brownie, Chief, Homer, Illka, Tock, Ronnie & Rich, Cocker, Kjell, Brad Marsh, Cross and my dear partner the Beast.  These people and many others contributed so much to this tremendous individual honor of having my #2 jersey hung in the rafters alongside Bernie Parent, Barry Ashbee, Bill Barber, & Bobby Clarke.  Our teams from the mid 80’s will always have a special bond because of the work ethic and commitment we made to each other.

I am blessed to have my family by my side to share in this joyous event: Dad, Marty & Mary, Murray, Sharon, Travis and Kristine; Azia, Josh and Ella; and Nolan.  And I know my mother is looking after me from above.  I am incredibly lucky to be able to call you all family.  I love you all.

I would like to applaud both the Red Wings and the Flyers organizations for doing all they have to financially help the families of those who lost their loved ones last September.  I would also like to thank all of the men and women who have served in our armed forces and made all of this possible.

Over the course of 10 years, I wore my #2 jersey in front of a sold out Spectrum crowd.  Sometimes we succeeded and sometimes I failed, but you always stood by my side and supported me, and for that I thank you, the fans.

On December 31st, I had the opportunity to wear my #2 Flyers jersey one last time at the Winter Classic in front of 46,000 passionate Flyers fans.  The chills I got from hearing Lauren and Kate sing God Bless America and the thrill I got from scoring a penalty shot goal for my granddaughter Ella were incredible.  To top that, I can only wish that the Red Wings and Flyers meet here in June for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

To the fans of Philadelphia and the entire Flyers organization, it was my honor and privilege to have represented your city and your team wearing the #2 jersey of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

Elton Brand on national anthem protests: Sixers working with NBA, having 'discussions internally'

CAMDEN, N.J. — Pockets of NBA players have increasingly started to speak up about what they believe to be racial and social injustices taking place in the United States.

With San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the national anthem sparking protests from other players around the NFL and various sports, now the NBA as a whole is preparing for potential protests prior to games.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association union executive director Michele Roberts came together last week to formulate a joint letter to players to express how the two sides plan to take "meaningful action."

Whatever that action is, Sixers veteran Elton Brand is all for it and the overall discussion of issues going on around the country.

"There are e-mails and direct texts from the NBPA. We’re working with the NBA. They’re going to talk to us soon,” Brand said. “My thing is if you want to stand up for something, that’s a good thing. Especially in America, the tensions and the injustices that are going on right now. 

“Even in our locker room we’re discussing who feels like this, who feels like what and ways that we can display how we feel about things. I’m all for it. I stand behind it and stand with other athletes and people that want to stand for a cause. Whatever their cause is, they want to stand for a cause. Our cause may be different.”

The NBA is significantly more diverse than the NFL, and Brand even admitted it’s been an eye-opening experience having talks about issues affecting African Americans inside a locker room with players from around the globe.

“We have a lot of international players,” he said. “I’m looking around the room and there are seven people that aren’t from this country. So you talk about the flag, talk about the constitution and to them it’s like, ‘I represent America because I’m working here, but I’m pro-Spain and I have problems there, too.’ We’re all sorting it out. We’ve had discussions internally also. I’m looking forward to what the NBPA and the NBA have to offer."

What the league and players association come up with will likely serve as something other than protesting during the actual anthem. Unlike the NFL, the NBA has a rule in place that explicitly states players, coaches and trainers must stand on the foul line or sidelines in a dignified posture during the playing of national anthems.

If Sixers players do ultimately decide on some sort of protest before games, they will have the support of the organization to express their rights.

"We haven't been together collectively long enough to have a real robust discussion about it," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said. "I think we just addressed it briefly this morning with the players in an opportunity to say the following. Basically, we as an organization are going to be supportive of the views of our players. As the league and the players association formulate perhaps an approach, they've already circulated some information to teams. Things are probably still at the discussion phase. I hope to think that's where things are with our players, that they're still at the discussion phase. 

"Once again, I'm assuming that there will be a desire to express an opinion or viewpoint. I've always been supportive of people in society having freedom to express a viewpoint. Again, going back to the league and the players association, in a positive way I think they've always been out in front of some of these social issues and if they can affect social change in a positive way they probably will. You can just anticipate that there's still some unknowns to this, but you can estimate that we will be supportive as an organization as to how our players want to express their views."

Joel Embiid expects to play in Sixers' preseason opener

Joel Embiid expects to play in Sixers' preseason opener

CAMDEN, N.J. — The long wait could be over next week.

Joel Embiid expects to play in the Sixers' first preseason game Oct. 4 at UMass-Amherst against the Celtics, he said Monday at media day.

“The first thing for me is just get back on the court,” Embiid said of his expectations this season. “It looks like in a couple days I’m going to have the chance to do that.”

Embiid has missed the past two seasons since being drafted third overall because of foot injuries. Even though he is taking his rookie year one step at a time, he has a positive long-term outlook given how healthy he feels. 

“I’m confident that I’m going to have a long, successful career,” he said. “From what it looks like right now, I’m going to have a 20-year career.”

Embiid has grown as a player and a person during his recovery. He noted had he been competing in an 82-game season, he would not have had as much time to dedicate on his development. As a result of the specialized workouts and the hours he has spent in an individual practice format, he has improved his shooting and gained strength and speed. 

“What I was two years ago, I’m not even close to what I am right now,” he said. “My game has gotten so much better ... I’m not the same guy. I’m different.”

Embiid has been following a well-mapped out rehab plan during which he has had to adhere to restrictions, and will continue to do so this season. He admits the restrictions have been frustrating, but he now understands they are being implemented for his best interest long term. The lengthy recovery has forced him to change his outlook on maintaining his health. 

“The main thing I learned about myself is, I could be patient,” Embiid said. “When I was first doing my rehab, going through that, the only thing I thought about was getting back on the court. I would try to get back on the court and play more than I was supposed to. After the doctor [said] you had to heal well and I needed the second surgery, that’s when I told myself be patient and do whatever I can and make sure I listen to what people have to say.”

Head coach Brett Brown wants Embiid to become the “crown jewel” of the defense. Embiid, who stands at a towering 7-foot-2, 275 pounds, is ready to embrace those expectations. He has studied tape of Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing, among others. Embiid likes the game of Marc Gasol and appreciates how DeAndre Jordan communicates as a big man. 

“I love playing defense,” he said. “I hate when the other team scores.”

Embiid's debut will be the culmination of years of work. Now that the season is approaching, he is eager to count down the days. 

“I’m really excited,” Embiid said. “I’ve gone through a lot and it’s been two years. The fact that I’m healthy now and ready to get back on the court, I just can’t wait.”