Philadelphia 76ers

Isaiah Miles to go: St. Joe's alum looks to define hoops career with Sixers this summer

Isaiah Miles to go: St. Joe's alum looks to define hoops career with Sixers this summer

Isaiah Miles grew up in Baltimore and played his college hoops in Philadelphia (specifically, at St. Joe’s), so yes, there was a cultural adjustment when he spent last season, his first as a professional, with a team in France.

That was due in no small part to the language barrier; as comedian Steve Martin once observed, those French seem to have a different word for everything.

“I know a few phrases,” Miles said, “like Ca va: ‘How you doing?’ Bonjour (i.e., ‘hello’). That’s about all I know.”

His career lacks definition as well. The 6-foot-7 forward is in the Sixers’ rookie summer league camp, and obviously, hopes to make an impression – on them, or some other team – in the games next week in Salt Lake City and those that follow in Las Vegas.

“It would be a dream to play here,” he said.

But he also has a fallback position, having signed to play the upcoming season in Turkey. There is a provision in his contract that would allow him to latch on with an NBA team, should one show interest. But much is to be determined.

Nothing new there. He is something of a late bloomer, having shed 24 pounds heading into his senior year on Hawk Hill (2015-16) and becoming the leading scorer (18.1) and rebounder (8.1) on a 28-8 club. Miles, listed at 216 pounds then and 220 pounds now, told the Inquirer’s Mike Jensen in January 2016 that fast food was the culprit, particularly that which was offered at the Wendy’s across City Line Avenue from the SJU campus.

A particular favorite was the Baconator, a 939-calorie monstrosity featuring 56 grams of fat.

No longer weighed down, Miles’ game took off. He was chosen the Most Improved Player in both the Atlantic 10 and Big 5 his final season, and he combined with DeAndre’ Bembry to lead the Hawks to their second NCAA Tournament berth in three years, and their first victory in the Big Dance in 12 seasons – that coming over Cincinnati courtesy of Miles’ go-ahead three-pointer with nine seconds left.

If he has one regret, it’s that the lightbulb didn’t go off sooner.

“It kind of hurts that I had to wait 'til my senior year to play so well,” he said, “but I don’t try to think about that now. It’s in the past. There’s nothing I can do about it now.”

He managed to keep the weight off last season, even though he developed a taste for eclairs and croissants, and if nothing else, his game translated overseas. He averaged 12.2 points and 4.9 rebounds, albeit for a team that finished 12-22 playing out of Dijon, a city of some 152,000 in eastern France.

He considered a return to France this year, and also weighed an offer from a team in Italy, before signing on June 17 with Usak Sportlif in Turkey. The league in which that club plays is more highly regarded than the one in which Miles played last season, he said, and he overcame whatever trepidation he might have had over the state of affairs in that nation.

A failed military coup last year led to a crackdown by the regime of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. One NBA-related offshoot was the issuing of an arrest warrant last month for Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter, a native Turk, for supporting the group blamed for the coup attempt.

There have also been terror attacks, notably at the Istanbul Airport last June and at a nightclub in that city on New Year’s Eve. The latter attack shook current Sixer Dario Saric, who spent two seasons with a team in Istanbul before coming to Philadelphia last year, as well as former Sixer Ersan Ilyasova, a native Turk.

“All those things kind of build up now,” Ilyasova said before he was traded to Atlanta in February, “and it’s tough for the people right now, to go through that. But it is what it is. We are right in the middle of a war right now, with ISIS and all that stuff, but we have to stay united as a nation.”

His younger sister Neli lives in Istanbul but was out of town when the nightclub attack left 39 dead. Saric, having once frequented the place and knowing former teammates who still did so, reached out to them in the aftermath. Thankfully, all of them were safe.

“I was feeling very bad,” he said in January, “because I think so many times a sports person goes there. My friends go there. I cannot change what happened there, but I’m very sorry, because of that loss.”

Miles has heard all about things like this.

“It bothered me at first,” he said. “Definitely thought about it with my decision, where I was going to play.”

While he has not had the chance to speak with Saric – about Turkey or anything else – he has been in touch with others who have played there. They told him that Usak, a city of 500,000 some five hours south of Istanbul, is not nearly the potential hot spot the capital is.

So he signed on while hoping for something more. In particular, he hopes to put his best foot forward in summer league, after failing to do so for Dallas last July.

He was just “happy to be there,” he said, and his play, as a result, was “really shy.”

“I was going through the motions,” he said. “I was happy to be in summer league. It was my dream to play in the summer league, but this year I want to accomplish something out of that. I want to get invited to a training camp. I want to, hopefully, make a roster. I have a different mindset coming into this year. I want to get further than I did last year.”

All a matter of whether his game translates. Nothing more than that.

Donald Trump starts war with sports, and athletes have united

Associated Press

Donald Trump starts war with sports, and athletes have united

OAKLAND -- As President Donald Trump lurches closer to certified insanity, he is unwittingly doing the country a great service that, should we survive his dangerously whimsical term, will bring us closer to realizing our potential.

He’s unifying the previously disconnected and energizing the formerly apathetic. He’s even shaming some of those previously beyond shame.

It is because of Trump’s rage, unleashed in a span of less than 24 hours, that the NBA champion Warriors were more united Saturday morning than they were Friday afternoon.

After a speech in Alabama urging NFL owners on Friday to fire any “son of a bitch” who dared to protest peacefully to shine a light on injustices, Trump woke up Saturday and turned his Twitter ire upon Stephen Curry and the Warriors, conceivably the most wholesome representatives of American sports.

“That’s not what leaders do,” Curry said after practice Saturday.

“We know we’re in a fight,” Warriors center David West said. “And we’re going to continue to fight for our right to be human beings.”

But by advocating the job loss of peaceful protesters and then informing the Warriors they are not welcome at the White House -- because Curry said he’s not in favor of going -- we can only hope Trump has flung open a door of activism that never closes.

Trump’s radical combo ignited mighty blasts of blowback from players and coaches and commissioners of the NBA and NFL.

Among the many NBA figures issuing statements in one form or another, with varying degrees of condemnation: LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, the players association and commissioner Adam Silver.

“The amount of support I saw around the league this morning was amazing,” Curry said.

Among the many NFL figures who were moved to comment: Seahawks players Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett, Broncos lineman Max Garcia, 49ers owner Jed York, New York Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, Packers boss Mark Murphy, the players association and commissioner Roger Goodell.

Trump has, in short, started a war with American sports.

His strike began with the comments made Friday night that were directed at Colin Kaepernick and others who have declined to stand for the anthem. Trump’s aggression intensified Saturday when he went after Curry in the morning and Goodell in the afternoon.

How did we get here?

The Warriors on Friday announced their plan to meet as a team Saturday morning to decide whether they would accept from the White House the traditional invitation extended to championship teams. Though it was fairly certain they would not, they left open the slightest possibility. General manager Bob Myers had been in contact with White House.

Curry at the time said he, personally, did not wish to go, and then he carefully and patiently expounded on his reasons.

Trump responded, at 5:45 a.m. Saturday, to tell the world that the Warriors would not be invited and, moreover, that Curry’s resistance is the reason.

And all hell broke loose.

The Warriors came back Saturday afternoon with a statement that made clear there no longer would be a team meeting on the subject, that they were disappointed there was no open dialogue and that they will instead utilize their February visit to “celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion -- the values we embrace as an organization.”

“Not surprised,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Trump’s decision not to invite the Warriors to the White House. “He was going to break up with us before we could break up with him.”

Trump has fired upon every athlete in America. He is waking up this country in ways we’ve never seen or felt and, my goodness, he’s doing so at a level we’ve needed for centuries.

“Trump has become the greatest mirror for America,” West said. “My cousin . . . she brought that to me. Because there are a lot of things have been in the dark, hidden, and he’s just bold enough to put it out on ‘Front Street.’"

NBA Notes: Warriors spurn White House; Knicks agree to trade Carmelo Anthony to Thunder

USA Today Images

NBA Notes: Warriors spurn White House; Knicks agree to trade Carmelo Anthony to Thunder

SOMERSET, N.J. -- President Donald Trump denounced protests by NFL players and rescinded a White House invitation for NBA champion Stephen Curry in a two-day rant that targeted top professional athletes and brought swift condemnation from league executives and star players alike on Saturday.

Wading into thorny issues of race and politics, Trump's comments in a Friday night speech and a series of Saturday tweets drew sharp responses from some of the nation's top athletes, with LeBron James calling the president a "bum."

Trump started by announcing that Curry, the immensely popular two-time MVP for the Golden State Warriors, would not be welcome at the White House for the commemorative visit traditionally made by championship teams after Curry indicated he didn't want to come. Later, Trump reiterated what he said at a rally in Alabama the previous night -- that NFL players who kneel for the national anthem should be fired.

The Warriors said it was made clear to them that they were not welcome at the White House.

Curry had said he did not want to go anyway, but the Warriors had not made a collective decision before Saturday -- and had planned to discuss it in the morning before the president's tweet, to which coach Steve Kerr said : "Not surprised. He was going to break up with us before we could break up with him."

Others had far stronger reactions (see full story).

Knicks agree to trade Carmelo Anthony to Thunder
NEW YORK - Carmelo Anthony won't be at Knicks training camp after all. He'll be in Oklahoma City, joining Russell Westbrook and Paul George in a loaded lineup.

The Knicks agreed to trade Anthony to the Thunder on Saturday, saving themselves a potentially awkward reunion next week with the player they'd been trying to deal since last season.

New York will get Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a draft pick, a person with knowledge of the deal said. The person spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the trade had not been announced.

The Knicks had said just a day earlier that they expected Anthony to be there when they reported for camp Monday. But it was clear they didn't want him anymore and he no longer wanted to be in New York, where he arrived with so much hype that was never fulfilled in February 2011.

He rarely had a championship core around him in New York but jumps right into one in Oklahoma City along with Westbrook, the NBA MVP, and fellow All-Star George, who was acquired from Indiana this summer.

Anthony will see his old teammates soon: The Knicks open the regular season at Oklahoma City on Oct. 19 (see full story).