No Good: Sixers Hang Tough in Game Three But Ehhhhhhhh

No Good: Sixers Hang Tough in Game Three But Ehhhhhhhh

Man, this is tough. Not as tough as losing as a favorite, not as tough as getting barely outplayed by a peer, but tough all the same. To see your guys do their best, to play hard, to execute, to hang in there, and still come up short...it's not heartbreaking, it's not even depressing, it's just damn dispiriting. It's hard to say that losing two games the way the Knicks have, off bad ref calls, late-game flubs and last-second Celtics shots, would be preferable—it probably wouldn't be—but you do have to be a little envious of the Knick fans for at least being able to feel some sort of righteous indignation for feeling they were the better team in both games that they lost. With the Sixers, there's no such feeling of injustice: They keep losing to the Heat—as they did tonight, 100-94—simply because they're not as good as the Heat are.

In a way it's not so bad, because none of the Sixers really have to feel bad about the way they played in tonight's loss. Elton Brand was a beast, going for 21 and 11, helping to keep the team afloat in the second half. Lou Will penetrated and scored as he failed to do in the first game, ending with 15 and four assists, with a couple threes and no turnovers. Spencer Hawes was often the Sixer that the Heat sagged off of defensively, and he did a decent job of making them pay, going 6-11 for 12 points. Andre Iguodala had his struggles—and believe me, we'll get to them later—but he also handed out 10 assists to only one turnover, and played hounding defense on LeBron, who was "held" to 24 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. (It could have been a lot worse, sadly.)

And the player of the game, the series, and possibly the season for the Sixers would have to be Jrue Holiday. Scoring 20 points with the versatility we've come to expect of him (jumpers, bankers, up-and-unders, threes) and handing out eight assists with only two turnovers, he looked like the Sixers' best offensive weapon on the court all night. Most encouraging to me was the open top-of-the-arc three that he stepped into with the Sixers trailing late in the fourth—it wasn't the smartest shot, but it was a shot that the team desperately needed, and one that Holiday would never have had the confidence to take earlier in the season. Getting Jrue that kind of big-game experience might end up being our biggest takeaway from this series, and seeing him respond to it like he has is a real positive. You'd like to see Evan Turner, who got just seven first-half minutes after scoring a team high 15 in game two, get some of that good stuff as well, but with Coach Collins needing 'Dre's defense on LeBron pretty much the whole game, it's not terribly surprising that ET got the snub.

And ah yes, let us talk a little further about Mr. Iguodala. 'Dre's performance tonight was a microcosm not only for this Heat series at large, but his entire run in Philly since graduating to the role of franchise player. He did so many things on the court—without his defense and playmaking, the team's probably not even close in this game—but all that most Sixer fans are likely to remember from his effort tonight are the trio of wide-open threes that he spotted up for, badly bricking all three. It sucks for such a great player to forever be remembered for the one thing he can't do, but the team needed so badly for him to hit one of those shots, and he just couldn't make it happen. With his 10 points tonight, 'Dre has a mere 19 points combined in the first three games of this series. Damning, to say the least, and yet another illustration why as much as 'Dre does for this team, he'll never be the guy to lead them to the promised land on his lonesome.

Meanwhile, another guy whose lack of shooting tough is coming back to haunt him is Thaddeus Young. After being the Sixers' biggest (only) weapon in Game One of the series, the Heat appear to have made it a point of emphasis for Young to get no easy lanes to the basket, forcing him into a variety of hook shots and jumpers, none of which have been dropping for him. He was able to pad his stats in garbage time in game two, but Thad had no such luck in this contest, and only a late scoop prevented him from posting an 0-fer in the field goal column, ending with four points total. Ironically, Thad's tailing off in this series might end up being a good thing for the Sixers long-term, as it might either prevent him from demanding an over-inflated contract on the open market in the off-season, allowing Philly to afford keeping him, or it might persuade them to let him walk, saving the Sixers from tying up their precious little remaining cap space to keep him. (Of course, a lackluster '08 post-season didn't stop the Sixers from giving 'Dre $80 million, so who knows, really.)

So now what? The Sixers threw their best punch and still lost, Miami's Big Three (a combined 77 points and 31 rebounds) displaying too much firepower for the Liberty Ballers to contain, and their size on the offensive boards (20 offensive / 50 total to Philly's 11 / 34) proving too much to match up with. They'll try again on Sunday to stave off the sweep, and we certainly hope they'll be able to, but we're not really holding our breath at this point. You can't really get on the guys or the coaching staff for it, since they're legitimately doing the best they can, but the best the Sixers can do at this point is just to try to delay the inevitable as long as possible. The 76ers' '10-'11 season will be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

Michal Neuvirth mum on reports of new contract talks with Flyers

Michal Neuvirth mum on reports of new contract talks with Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. -- As the Flyers try to re-sign goalie Michal Neuvirth on trade deadline day (see report here ), the 28-year-old Czech was both nervous and cautious in talking to the media after Wednesday's practice.

Do you expect to get a deal done?

"I don't know, I don't know," Neuvirth said. "You got to talk to Hexy about that."

Hoping it gets done?

"We'll see."

Neuvirth said he lets his agent, Patrik Stefan, handle everything.

He said he speaks to him every day but would not elaborate on what was said either last night or today. Neuvirth seemed genuinely fearful of saying anything that would upset Flyers general manager Ron Hextall.

He did say he wants to remain a Flyer.

"Yeah, it's a great group of guys here and I love the city and the organization," Neuvirth said. "I'm gonna try whatever I can to be here."

Asked about the negotiations, Neuvirth said, "I don't know if I can say anything, you have to talk to Hexy about contracts. For me, I am here to stop pucks."

Asked whether Stefan needed assurances that if he were to be re-signed Wednesday, he would not be traded this afternoon to another club before the 3 p.m. deadline, Neuvirth replied, "I have no idea.

"What can I tell you guys? Sorry. I don't want to get in trouble. I don't know what I can say and can't say, so I say nothing."

Q & A with ABC 7 Chicago anchor Dionne Miller

Q & A with ABC 7 Chicago anchor Dionne Miller

Q: What experience has had the biggest impact on your life and career in sports and why?
A:
It’s hard to point to just one experience, I mean I have loved sports for as long as I can remember. Honestly, I cried when John Elway led “The Drive” to beat my Browns! Actual tears!! That was the moment I knew sports meant more to me than just entertainment. As I got older, I realized sports is just like real life… sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail, but the next day, the next play we all try our best to be a little bit better. This is why I love sports!!

But my plan was never broadcasting. My plan was teaching- English Lit- to high school kids. I think I watched Dead Poets Society a dozen too many times and wanted to see kids standing on desks citing poetry. Clearly, I took a detour! It was actually thru some pretty big real-life struggles in college, and taking a semester off -- that I realized how much I wanted to be a writer --not creative writing but a journalist! I attended a small private liberal arts school that had no professional writing program to speak of, so they sort of created curriculum for me -- what a gift!

On my way to becoming a magazine columnist, I had to fulfill a communications requirement. On a whim, I signed up for TV Broadcasting. One of my first assignments was to report from a “fire” for our faux news cast. I prepared, researched, took my place in front of the “fire” back drop, and the red light went on. Game. Changer. I have no clue what I said, but I remember what I was wearing when I realized what I wanted to do with my life. I left the class, called my parents and immediately added a minor in communications. Though it honestly never crossed my mind to do news. I was already talking about sports, and binge watching ESPN. Sports just made sense. 

Q: Who’s had the biggest impact and why ?  
A:
Because I didn’t attend a journalism school, I graduated knowing precious little about this job I wanted so badly. I was advised to pursue an internship, which I did at WWSB ABC7 in my hometown of Sarasota, Fla. I walked in the first day, wide-eyed and so eager to learn all I could. I had the best teacher in Kevin Neghandi. Kevin was the weekend sports anchor at the time and honestly taught me everything. Everything. 

Shawn McClintock (VP Root Sports Pittsburgh). I met Shawn when I took it upon myself to show up in his news room and interview for a position I wanted. He didn’t hire me, told me to accept a job offer I had in San Diego (which I did) and then told me to keep in touch. Less than a year later, I was let go from my job in California. I had never dreamed I would be fired. Let alone for no other reason than new management wanted someone else. I called Shawn. He not only encouraged me through that time, but led me to the two jobs that would change my life forever.  

He told me he had a college friend who was at a start-up station in Columbus, Ohio and they were looking for a female anchor. Shawn also said he wanted to send my reel to Fox Sports Ohio as he was good friends with the bosses there. Well, that “college friend” not only helped get me hired in Columbus, he became my husband. And after the station we met at folded, Fox Sports Ohio hired me. That job with FSO led me to Big Ten Network, which led me to Chicago and here we are. 

Q: What are some of the funniest moments you’ve experienced as a woman in sports?
A:
When I was hired at FOX 32 in Chicago, they sent a station-wide email welcoming “ Dionne Miller to the Sports Department”… I was told later they all thought I was an African- American man. This cracks me up. 

Q: What was the most negative moment you’ve experienced? The one that got you fired up or perhaps made you think about quitting?
A:
Losing my job sucked! I pride myself on being a team player, I work my butt off, & I did everything I was asked to do and then some. But it wasn’t enough. Still makes me mad! I see now what a gift it was that this happened. I had so many more blessings as a result. And I can truly say it NEVER made me want to quit. It only drove me to push harder. 

And as a woman in sports, I already know I HAVE to push harder. I have to know more, I have to research more, I have to work harder. I can’t make as many mistakes. I am fully aware of this fact and it’s a drag sometimes. But it will never make me want to quit. I know what I signed up for. I pray that one day there is more equality in sports broadcasting -- especially when it comes to pay. But no job is perfect. And I love mine! 

Q: Have you had any teachable moments?  I.e. someone made an ignorant comment, but had no idea you were offended until you said something?
A:
I remember one of my first college football experiences, I interviewed the coach at Montana State University. I asked a question about his failing secondary and he basically answered me like I didn’t know that his team played football. It stuck with me. Especially because the next question came from a male reporter who asked virtually the same thing and got a specific football answer. Annoying. 

Q: Any awkward moments?   
A:
Let’s face it, every time I march into a locker room, it’s awkward.  It just is. Athletes have gotten comfortable with it, and truthfully so have I. We all understand I am there to do a job, but it took some getting used to. I always wonder how I would feel if men came into my bathroom while I’m trying to get dressed or undressed. AWKWARD! But show respect, get respect. That’s kind of how approach it. 

Q: What are you most proud of?
A:
I’m a mom of little people… sometimes I’m most proud that I am awake for work at 10pm, and dressed! Kidding aside I am most proud to be a working wife and mom in a city I can’t believe I get to call home, at a station that gives me the opportunity to do so many amazing things, and continue to sharpen my skills. Six months into my first job in Billings, Montana, I was filming a HS Football game for work. Got tackled and broke my leg in 3 places. Never once during months off the air, rehab and being thousands of miles from home, did I consider quitting. Not once. I am so proud of where I am and my journey to get here. Because it’s MY story. I can’t wait to see what happens next! 

Q: Many girls look up to you. Any advice for those that want to get into sports media? 
A:
 First: NO JOB IS BENEATH YOU! I feel like I need to shout this at young girls wanting to get into the business. Try everything, trust your talents and dive in. If someone offers you an opportunity you think isn’t “ideal”, remember that it could open a door you never imagined if you just go for it. Trust me, you will not be stuck in “Montana." Nothing will last forever and you will not die.

Also, understand what the landscape of the business is. Yes, we will always be outnumbered. Yes we will be judged by our dress, hair, and make up before anyone actually hears the words we say. None of this is a surprise. I’m not saying just accept ignorance. Not at all. But to act like this isn’t happening is ridiculous. It is. And its not just in TV. It happens in every job. 

BE KIND! To your co-workers, your competition and yourself! First of all, you need absolutely everyone in the building you work in to make you look good on the air. DO not take this for granted. Be kind to your competition -- especially other women. Yes, work hard to get your story correct and the best it can be. But do not tear down others on the way. This business is small. Everyone knows everyone. A bad reputation will ruin a stellar resume and incredible on-air talent. Male or female. 

And be kind to yourself. You will make mistakes. You will. I do. It’s ok. It will always be ok. Nothing is ever as bad as you think or as good. Stay humble, but don’t beat yourself up. If you make a mistake, or miss a story, learn, make a change and know you’ll do better next time… there is always another show coming. 

Q: How has social media changed how easily fans can reach out to you? Do you let it bother you?
A:
I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I love it for keeping me connected with what’s going on all over the sports world. But I hate that if I have one slip up on the air, I get immediate comment on twitter. Or if I show personality and it rubs someone the wrong way, I get an email attack. It’s the worst when someone attacks my clothes and hair… um, did you even hear what I said? Yes.. It sucks. And honestly, sometimes it does bother me. But I am working towards letting that stuff go. I have to remind myself that the people who use social media to attack me, don’t know me. I know the men I work with get comments too, so I never feel singled out. I just wish people would pause before they lash out. Social media gives us no reason to filter. People are mean. But we can rise above.