Extras: Why is the NBA losing money?

Extras: Why is the NBA losing money?

David Murphy examines the four biggest questions for the Phillies coming into this season, and declares one month later, they are still exactly the same. We've seen the best of Cole Hamels, and the worst, while Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero have been on the field very sparingly. With the injuries continuing to mount, they'll likely need all three to bounce back to keep this season on track. Antonio Bastardo though? If they were relying on this guy in a spot, they had greater problems than I anticipated. [High Cheese]

The times are official from the annual Broad Street Run... even if they're not. 17 runners complained that a new time keeping system failed to record their times correctly. A chip is normally placed in the runner's shoe which signals when they've crossed the finish line, but this year it was embedded in their race number bibs. Seems organizers are sorting out the errors though. [NBC Philadelphia]

Speaking of Broad Street, a new documentary airing on HBO tonight at 10 p.m. pays homage to the Bullies who once occupied it. "Broad Street Bullies" features interviews from Ed Snider and the players who made up the scoundrels of lore that won Stanley Cups in '74 and '75, punishing their opponents along the way. “There’s nothing like driving somebody’s head through the boards to make you feel good.” Indeed. [NY Times]

Mini-camp reports! Are the Eagles switching to a 3-4 defense? Ray Didinger discusses the front office's tendency to draft the type of undersized pass rushers who are frequently utilized as outside linebackers in those schemes, and suggests some possible alignments with their current personnel. The coaches maintain the base defense is still a 4-3, and while they do tend to find players on the smaller side, guys like Brandon Graham (6-1, 270) and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim (6-3, 260) don't necessarily fit that description in my opinion. [CSN]

Are the young Eagles experiencing a "new life" in their first post-McNabb mini-camp? Maybe, maybe not, but things are certainly different. Many photos of Donovan at the Nova Care Complex have been removed, his locker now belongs to Mike Kafka, and Andy Reid is talking about the energy at camp. [Inquirer]

All things being equal, not all of the reports emanating from Eagles mini-camp were positive. Garry Cobb reports the new Kevin Kolb offense was not always firing on all cylinders, as the quarterback forced passes and missed opportunities while receivers dropped balls or failed to get open. Of course it's not unusual for the defense to be ahead of the offense this time of year, and it obviously doesn't mean much in May, but you might like to know not every practice report filed was gold. [GCobb.com]

NBA teams are losing money. Like, all of them. Several franchises are for sale, and Charlotte's Bobcats recently sold for a woefully low figure. The Cleveland Cavaliers require a strong playoff run just to beak even. Is it a sign of the times? There's no doubt the economy isn't helping, but I think it speaks to a larger problem with the Association.

Putting it in local context, the Sixers' attendance problems can mostly be attributed to a lack of interest resulting from their inability to build anything even close to resembling a contender. Poor decision making is partly to blame, but the inflexibility in the system prevents the club from moving bad contracts, making it virtually impossible to rebound quickly. How many teams around the league are in a similar position, with no hope of a significant improvement for years to come?

Granted that doesn't explain why even quality franchises aren't seeing a return on their investments, but how do the Utah Jazz convince fans to come out to see Andre Iguodala when he's in town? A solid business plan like the ones being discussed will only take these individual organizations so far. For any league to thrive financially through this period, a greater percentage of its members has to experience some success, otherwise it risks losing entire markets. [True Hoop]

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

NEW ORLEANS -- The weeks and months have quickly piled up. Nerlens Noel has not played an NBA regular-season game since last season ended for the Sixers on April 13. Nearly eight months later, Noel is nearing the return he has been eyeing for quite some time now. 

“It’s always an excitement to be able to play basketball after this amount of time, including the summer, not being able to play organized basketball at a competitive level,” Noel said Thursday. “I’ve been really looking forward to this. I think I’ve gained some momentum coming back from this minor surgery, and I think I’m in a really good place and I’m feeling good with my body. Everything is on point.”

Noel has been sidelined since undergoing elective left knee surgery in October to address an inflamed plica. He traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to join the Sixers ahead of their 99-88 win over the Pelicans (see game recap). Noel continued his rehab Thursday while the team prepped for the game. 

“I’ve been able do five-on-five, full contact,” Noel said. “I’ve tried to maximize my opportunities of that with the team being gone on the road. I came down here and went through most of shootaround and it went well. Now these next couple of days, [I will be] going through practice, still working on my wind. I do like where I’m at now.”

The Sixers’ next game is Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Brett Brown had given Noel’s availability for that game a “maybe” (see story)

“I’m not sure,” Noel said of playing Sunday. “I’m ready to go with these next couple of days and see how my wind feels and how my body feels, which I have been feeling good. So it’s a possibility.”

When Noel does return, there is a scenario in which he could be paired with center Joel Embiid. Last year, the Sixers struggled finding the best way to utilize Noel and Jahlil Okafor, also a center, at the same time playing the four and five positions. As Okafor has said of playing with Embiid, Noel also believes his off-the-court friendship with the towering rookie would translate onto the court. 

“I think it would be something that’s experimented,” Noel said. “It’d definitely be interesting.”

Noel candidly expressed his opinion of the Sixers’ logjammed frontcourt at the start of the season. Since speaking to the media after his surgery, Noel has mentioned he is in a good mental place (see story). For him, that means being out on the court again. 

“I love myself and I love the game of basketball,” Noel said. “When I step out here to come and play, it just brings a lot of enjoyment and excitement to me. Regardless of what the details of it are, I just love the game and I’m happy to just be playing.”

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dougie Hamilton scored 1:09 into overtime, Chad Johnson stopped 27 shots and the Calgary Flames beat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Thursday night.

Mark Giordano scored for the Flames in a chippy game filled with big hits and multiple fights.

Hamilton capped a fast-paced overtime by deking Arizona's Mike Smith with a forehand before flipping in a backhander. Calgary has won five straight and eight of 11 (8-2-1).

Max Domi scored before leaving with an upper-body injury and Smith stopped 33 shots for the Coyotes, who have lost six straight and 11 of 14 (3-7-4).

Arizona captain Shane Doan became Arizona's all-time assist leader and is the fifth player in NHL history to own his team's records for games played, goals, assists, points, game-winning goals and power-play goals (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins roll over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby got his 18th goal and added an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Thursday night.

Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Matt Cullen and Carl Hagelin also scored for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray made 28 saves.

The Penguins have won four straight and five of their past six.

Jaromir Jagr scored his 755th career goal, and Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots for the Panthers. Luongo allowed three goals on Pittsburgh's first five shots.

Panthers coach Tom Rowe, who replaced Gerard Gallant on Nov. 28, made his home debut. The Panthers have lost five of six under Rowe, but managed a point in three of those losses (see full recap).

Price loses cool as Habs beat Devils
MONTREAL -- Carey Price lost his temper after being bumped twice in his crease and made 19 saves to help the Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night.

Torrey Mitchell scored twice and Phillip Danault, Artturi Lehkonen and Max Pacioretty also had goals for the Canadiens in their return from a five-game trip.

Adam Henrique scored a goal and set up one by Taylor Hall for New Jersey, which ended a two-game winning streak.

Montreal had a season-high 49 shots on Cory Schneider.

A wild first period included three goals, four goal reviews and Price's meltdown (see full recap).