Fran Dunphy Discusses Eating Cake with Alonzo Lewis on the Last Day of the Man's Life

Fran Dunphy Discusses Eating Cake with Alonzo Lewis on the Last Day of the Man's Life

Following his team's 80-79 win over the La Salle Explorers on Wednesday night, La Salle graduate and Temple coach Fran Dunphy entered the media room and conducted a fairly routine press conference (save for his second argument of the year as to why "the carry" should be allowed in basketball).

After he exited, but before La Salle coach John Giannini sat down to address reporters, Dunphy re-entered the room, called all to attention, and paid tribute to the life of Big 5 Hall of Famer Alonzo Lewis.

Lewis, 77, scored 1,137 points in his career at La Salle and helped lead the Explorers to the 1955 NCAA Final, where they ultimately lost to Bill Russell's San Francisco. Lewis would go on to coach a number of local schools, most notably Chester High and Cheyney University.

He was killed tragically on Tuesday evening after being hit by a car while attempting to cross Henry Ave. He was on his way to Philadelphia University to watch the Catholic League Girls' semifinal between Archbishop Carroll and Neumann-Goretti.

Audio and text of Fran Dunphy's postgame comments on Alonzo Lewis and (as one would expect) words from John Chaney below...

"I go the Big 5 Hall of Fame yesterday, and I was thrilled to be there. One of my players, Matt Maloney, Mark Jackson, one of the Temple greats, Kelly Greenberg,  who I coached with at Penn for a long period of time, so I'm hobnobbing. I'm having the time of my life just because I know most of the room. I'm just having a tremendous time. And I get to eat my meal late. And I get back, I'm in the back of the room, and I sit down beside Alonzo Lewis.

"And I spent an hour with Alonzo Lewis yesterday afternoon. And, last night, the man lost his life in a tragic car accident. And I got the chance to be with that guy. A great La Salle player and a guy I admire so much as a human being. How many he kids that he helped along the way.

"When I got that phone call this morning. I've got to tell you, my heart was broken, for a lot of different reasons. And even if I hadn't been with him for that period of time, my heart still would have been broken. But to sit next to him...

"There was a piece of chocolate cake, and he said, I can't eat this. I would love to eat this, but I can't. But I'm going to bring it to my daughter, and she'll enjoy it. And it just, it blew my mind. I couldn't...and I need to tell that story, because of what I feel about Alonzo Lewis and the quality and the character and the integrity that the man lived his life.

"I'm just so proud to have known him. To be honest with you, I was proud to sit there with him, so much, yesterday afternoon. So, I apologize, go on, but I loved the guy and I feel so bad. Thanks."

Listen to the audio here:

Former Temple coach John Chaney, a lifelong friend of Lewis, was quoted in the Daily News, reminiscing about how he and Lewis used to kid each other about who owed the other milk from when they used to play one-one-one. Allegedly, they played for milk, rather than sodas (as Chaney wanted), because, according to Chaney, Lewis was a health nut.

Said Chaney: "He was a great basketball player, one of our great players...He will be somebody that, every time I look over my right or left shoulder, I'll always think that he'll be there."

RIP, Alonzo Lewis.

In long-awaited NBA debut, Joel Embiid treats Sixers fans to a show

In long-awaited NBA debut, Joel Embiid treats Sixers fans to a show

The crowd erupted as Joel Embiid stepped to the free throw line. They chanted a phrase Embiid has been repeating for the past two years, a fitting welcome to his NBA debut.

“That was great,” Embiid said after the Sixers' 103-97 loss to the Thunder on Wednesday (see Instant Replay). “That’s my motto, 'Trust the process.'”

After two years of rehabbing foot injuries, Embiid has his first regular season game behind him. Embiid scored a team-high 20 points, shooting 6 for 16 from the field, 1 for 3 from long range and 7 for 8 from the line. He also recorded seven rebounds, two blocks, four turnovers and four fouls in over 22 minutes. 

“The beginning I was nervous, but once you make that first shot it just goes away,” he said. “The fans were so into the game that it was fun. I love having fun.”

Brett Brown enjoyed watching Embiid on the court as much as he liked being on it. Brown has seen the 7-foot-2 center grow and develop during his rehab. Finally, he was able to utilize his versatile skills in a real game setting.

“I can't say this loud enough,” Brown said. “For the city to be rewarded with a player that we all understand has unique gifts, special gifts, for him to go through all the things he has been through and play like he did on opening night, the city deserves it. Most importantly, he deserves it.”

Now that Embiid has been cleared to play, he would like to do so for longer periods of time. He began the preseason at 12 and was increased to 20 in segmented spurts for opening night. Even though he exceeded that limit by over two minutes, Embiid is itching to be cleared to play more extensively. 

“It sucks,” Embiid said. “I feel like I could have played more but you know you’ve got to trust the process, got to trust those guys. If I have my minute restriction at 20 minutes, I guess I’m going to go with that. But obviously I want to play more and more and I think it can help the team better. But they have a plan for me and I’ve got to follow it.”

Embiid has maintained he wants to be a clutch player. Brown looked to him toward the end of the game as the Thunder pulled ahead late in the final quarter. He drained a fade away jumper to tie the game at 97 apiece with 50.7 to go. 

Later trailing by four with 10 seconds left, the Sixers went to Embiid. While he was whistled for an offensive foul, Brown was glad to have a go-to unlike in years past. 

“You have a target,” Brown said. “We tried to get the ball to him a lot. … By and large, to have somebody like Joel, where the mystery is solved like, 'What do you do?' You get him the ball as much as you can.”

The more the Sixers found Embiid, the more the Thunder had to try to defend him. Thunder head coach Billy Donovan knew what his team was going up against. He watched Embiid as a high schooler and coached against him during his tenure at Florida. 

“He’s gifted and skilled,” Donovan said. “It was probably our guy’s first time seeing him … I knew the talent, the gifts. The one thing with him is, he’s got great footwork. He’s hard to guard because he’s herky-jerky. He moves. He’s got a lot of (Hakeem) Olajuawon to him.”

Opening night had been two years in the making. Even though the Sixers didn't win, the significance of the evening didn't disappoint. 

"I thought this moment was going to be special," Embiid said, "and it was just great."

Best of NBA: Davis' 50 points not enough in Pelicans' loss to Nuggets

Best of NBA: Davis' 50 points not enough in Pelicans' loss to Nuggets

NEW ORLEANS -- Jusuf Nurkic scored 23 points, Will Barton added 22, and the Denver Nuggets survived a dominant performance by Anthony Davis to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 107-102 in both teams' regular season opener Wednesday night.

Davis had 50 points, 16 rebounds, seven steals, five assists and four blocks. His production helped New Orleans trim a deficit as large as 14 late in the second quarter down to two points in the waning minutes. He simply didn't have enough help.

The rest of the Pelicans combined to shoot 21 of 58. Tim Frazier scored 15 for the Pelicans. E'Twaun Moore added 10 points, but missed a 3-point attempt that could have tied it with 24 seconds left.

Danilo Gallinari scored 15 for Denver and Wilson Chandler added 12 points (see full recap).

Celtics top Nets in Horford's home debut
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas had 25 points and nine assists, Jae Crowder added 21 points and Al Horford pitched in 11 in his Boston debut on Wednesday night as the Celtics survived a late scare to beat the Brooklyn Nets 122-117 in their season opener.

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 21 for Brooklyn, including a 3-pointer to make it 120-117 with 47 seconds left after the Nets erased most of a 23-point deficit against the Boston bench. But he missed one with a chance to tie it after Joe Harris intercepted Thomas' cross-court pass, and the Celtics were able to hold on.

Justin Hamilton came off the bench to score 19 points and grab 10 rebounds for the Nets in coach Kenny Atkinson's debut (see full recap).

Turner's opening act leads Pacers past Mavs in OT
INDIANAPOLIS -- Myles Turner scored 30 points, tied his career high with 16 rebounds and made a 3-pointer with 1:18 left in overtime to start an 8-0 run that allowed the Indiana Pacers to close out a 130-121 victory Wednesday night over the Dallas Mavericks.

Three-time All-Star Paul George added 25 points, including another 3 with 55 seconds left to seal Indiana's fifth season-opening win in six years.

Deron Williams scored 25 points, while J.J. Barea and Dirk Nowitzki each added 22 as the Mavs lost their fifth straight in the series. They still haven't won in Indianapolis since February 2014.

Dallas didn't tie the score or take a lead until the fourth quarter, yet still forced overtime when Harrison Barnes' open 3-pointer made it 115-all with 2.3 seconds left.

Turner could have won it with a long buzzer-beating 3, but it bounced off the back of the rim (see full recap).