Philadelphia 76ers

Let's say the Sixers' glass is half full ...

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Let's say the Sixers' glass is half full ...

I recently had a conversation with someone who works for the Sixers. He had a lot to say. This was the short version: The team’s glass “isn’t half empty, it’s half full.” He actually used those words.

Cheery clichés generally make me recoil, but he’s a naturally positive guy so I let it go. The attendant implication was that I’m a negative guy. It hurt the black cavity where my feelings should be.

Ah well. If you can’t beat 'em, pander to 'em. (Pretty sure that’s how the old adage goes.) As the Sixers (22-29) prepare to return to the court on Wednesday, here are some (mostly) positive points. Also: rainbows and unicorns and puppies! Hooray.

Lavoy Allen: He’s averaging 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 23.3 minutes this season. All of those numbers are up from a year ago. If/when Andrew Bynum returns, Allen will likely see his court time dip and his bench time increase, but less responsibility might actually help his game. He’s been better as a reserve than he was when Doug Collins used him as a starter earlier in the year.

Kwame Brown: Oh, man. Already testing me here. OK. Staying positive. He’s 6-foot-11, 290 pounds. He has been consistently large all season. Every night, every game, he shows up and he’s big. And he convinced the Sixers to give him a contract with a player option for the second year. That’s impressive.

Andrew Bynum: After a long, long (long) wait, Bynum said he hopes to practice in the next week or two. Rinse. Repeat. Ugh. But we’re being positive, so … The Sixers are 20th in rebounds and 25th in points in the paint. Bynum would obviously help in both areas. When he’s right, he’s one of the top-three centers in the NBA. Plus, he has a sweet Pop-A-Shot game, which is important.

Spencer Hawes: Some people (not me) might point out that a 7-foot-1 center should spend less time taking mid- and long-range jumpers and more time down low. Some people (not me) might note that Hawes is a large human who is only averaging 6.4 rebounds, 50th in the NBA. Some people (not me) might even question his sometimes-suspect defense. Some people (not me) are such downers. Hawes had that sweet quasi-mullet earlier this year, and he wore an excellent headband too. What more do you want?

Jrue Holiday: Unquestionably the best player on the team. Among all NBA point guards, he’s second in minutes per game, fourth in assists and fifth in points. And he’s only 22 years old. This season marked his first All-Star game, but it won’t be his last.

Royal Ivey: His name is Royal Ivey and he’s a professional basketball player. As lives go, his is pretty good.

Jeremy Pargo: The Sixers recently signed him for the remainder of the season. In his first game with Philly, Pargo had 12 points, six assists and four rebounds. And then there’s this.

Arnett Moultrie: There were high expectations for Moultrie. The Sixers acquired him from Miami, who took him with the 27th overall pick after the former Mississippi state power forward led the SEC in rebounding. Moultrie struggled to start the season and was sent to the D-League. He could have gotten discouraged. He could have pouted. He didn’t do any of those things. To his credit, he’s done what’s been asked of him without becoming a problem in the locker room. Acting like a professional is underrated. And with Thaddeus Young out (hamstring), Moultrie had some solid outings. He put up a career-high 12 points against the Pacers, and he grabbed 21 total rebounds in three games against the Bobcats, Clippers and Bucks.

Jason Richardson: He’s out for the season (knee). But –- as the Sixers reminded everyone all year -- he’s still No. 13 on the NBA’s all-time list of most three-pointers made. Huzzah.

Evan Turner: He’s having his best season as a pro. Turner is averaging 13.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists over 36.2 minutes -- all career highs. By his own admission, he needs to be more consistent -- not taking those four or five random bad shots per game would be a start –- but at least he’s aware of it.

Damien Wilkins: He’s NBA royalty. Son of Gerald, nephew of Dominique. That’s good work if you can get it.

Dorell Wright: He’s starting to get more court time, and he plays better defense than some people on this list (some people who might be listed directly below). He once led the NBA in three-pointers. The guy has more skill than he’s been allowed to show so far.

Nick Young: Since getting benched, Young is suddenly playing better. Maybe all his detractors were wrong about him.

Thaddeus Young: After sitting on the bench for long stretches against the Celtics in the playoffs, Young bulked up in the offseason and dedicated himself to playing better defense and rebounding (he leads the team with 7.4 per game). He’s been excellent this year. It’s a shame he hurt his hamstring. At least the other one still works.

Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons among Sixers at Eagles' home opener

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Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons among Sixers at Eagles' home opener

Philly teams supporting Philly teams.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, Richaun Holmes and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot attended the Eagles’ home opener together Sunday.

While the Sixers watched the Eagles' game against the Giants from a suite, Embiid still high-fived with fans during the afternoon.

The Sixers and Eagles have close ties. Justin Anderson has longstanding friendships with Torrey Smith, Rodney McLeod and Chris Long (see story)

Sunday is the final day of the Sixers' offseason. Media day will be held Monday and training camp begins Tuesday at their training complex in Camden, New Jersey. 

Donald Trump starts war with sports, and athletes have united

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AP Images

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.’"