Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pick Thaddeus Young's number

-Courtesy of the Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia, Pa. - June 30, 2007 - The Philadelphia 76ers and forward Thaddeus Young, the 12th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, are offering fans the chance to select Young's jersey number via an online poll at

Fans will be given Young's final four choices - numbers 5, 21, 30 and 31 - and can cast their votes online starting Thursday, July 5, through Friday, July 27, at The winning number will be announced online on July 30, 2007.

A 6-foot-8, 210-pound guard/forward, Young was one of the top freshmen in the country last season while playing at Georgia Tech. He scored a team-high tying 14.4 points per game while adding averages of 4.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.29 steals. The 19-year-old also connected on 39 three-pointers on 41.9 percent shooting in 31 games played.

Sixers Summer League plans

-Courtesy of the Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia, Pa. - June 30, 2007 - The Philadelphia 76ers will host a four-day summer mini-camp for rookies and free agents from Monday, July 2, through Thursday, July 5, at the Sixers Practice Facility, in preparation for the 2007 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas (July 6-11) and the 2007 Rocky Mountain Revue (July 12-20) in Salt Lake City.

The team will depart for Las Vegas immediately following the practice on Thursday, July 5. Among the players expected to participate in this year's summer league competition are 2007 NBA Draft acquisitions Derrick Byars, Herbert Hill, Jason Smith and Thaddeus Young, along with Louis Amundson, Rodney Carney, Bobby Jones, Shavlik Randolph and Louis Williams.

The Sixers tip-off their five-game schedule in Las Vegas on Friday, July 6, at 4 p.m. (EDT) against San Antonio. All of the Sixers games will be played at the Cox Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Comcast SportsNet will televise three of the NBA Summer League games: Monday, July 9, vs. Golden State (8 p.m.); Tuesday, July 10, vs. L.A. Lakers (8 p.m.); and Wednesday, July 11, vs. Phoenix (8 p.m.).

Following the game on Wednesday, July 11, the 76ers will travel to Salt Lake City for a six-game slate, opening on Friday, July 13, against Chicago at 4:30 pm. (EDT). All Rocky Mountain Revue games will be played at the Lifetime Activities Center located on the Redwood Campus of Salt Lake Community College.

2007 NBA Summer League Schedule (Cox Pavilion - Las Vegas)
Fri, July 6 4 p.m. vs. San Antonio
Sat, July 7 6 p.m. vs. Detroit
Mon, July 9 8 p.m. vs. Golden State (CSN)
Tue, July 10 8 p.m. vs. L.A. Lakers (CSN)
Wed, July 11 8 p.m. vs. Phoenix (CSN)

2007 Rocky Mountain Revue Schedule (Lifetime Activities Center - Salt Lake City)
Fri, July 13 6:30 p.m. vs. San Antonio
Sat, July 14 9 p.m. vs. Utah
Mon, July 16 4:15 p.m. vs. Chicago
Tue, July 17 6:30 p.m. vs. San Antonio
Wed, July 18 TBD vs. Dallas
Fri, July 20 2 p.m. vs. Atlanta

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: 2007 Summer League Roster
No. Player Pos. HT WT DOB Yrs. Pro From
4 Derrick Byars G/F 6-7 220 4/25/84 R Vanderbilt
11 Bobby Jones F 6-7 215 1/9/84 1 Washington
14 Jason Smith C/F 7-0 240 3/2/86 R Colorado State
20 Louis Amundson F 6-9 225 12/7/82 1 UNLV
21 Edin Bavcic F 6-10 230 6/5/84 R Bosnia
23 Louis Williams G 6-1 175 10/27/86 2 South Gwinnett HS (Ga.)
25 Rodney Carney F 6-7 205 4/15/84 1 Memphis
30 Thaddeus Young F 6-8 220 6/21/88 R Georgia Tech
35 Herbert Hill F/C 6-10 240 10/1/84 R Providence
42 Shavlik Randolph F 6-10 240 11/24/83 3 Duke

Summer League Rookie Free Agent Invites
No. Player Pos. HT WT DOB From (D-League Experience)
50 Christian Burns C/F 6-9 240 9/4/85 Philadelphia U.
41 John Cox G/F 6-5 210 7/6/81 San Francisco
40 Rashad Jones-Jennings F 6-8 230 8/31/84 Arkansas-Little Rock
5 Gerry McNamara G 6-2 180 8/20/83 Syracuse (Bakersfield Jam: 2006-07)
31 Dustin Salisbery G 6-8 210 10/19/84 Temple

Join us on the radio

Join The Phanatic Magazine's John Gottlieb and John McMullen at 6:00 p.m. (et) Saturday for another edition of Johns on Sports at We will be talking NBA Draft with Newsday's Ken Berger and the Chris Benoit tragedy with Irv Muchnick, nephew of legendary St. Louis NWA promoter Sam Muchnick and author of Wrestling Babylon. Will McMullen be able to fit in the studio with Gottlieb's ego? Tune in to find out or join the program by calling (845) 651-1110 or e-mailing

Friday, June 29, 2007

Soul send Preds packing in home playoff debut

By Michael Rushton
Phanatic Magazine

Philadelphia, PA - In a game, and for a team, known for its offense, the Philadelphia Soul got defensive in their first-ever home playoff game.

The Soul D allowed just six points in the second half, and was backed by three Tony Graziani second-half touchdown passes on the way to a 41-26 victory over the Orlando Predators.

It was Philadelphia’s second straight win over Orlando after closing out the regular season with a 63-49 win over the Preds in its regular season finale. It also avenged a loss to Orlando in last year’s National Conference Division Round, which is exactly where the Soul head next.

“It’s very difficult, especially against what I think is the best arena football coach in the league in (Orlando head coach) Jay Gruden,” said Soul head coach Bret Munsey of playing the Predators in consecutive weeks. “The guys won more championships than anybody and I’m not going to lie to you, I was a little nervous heading into that one.”

The fourth-seeded Soul will either play on the road at Dallas or Georgia, depending on the results of Saturday’s game between Tampa Bay and Columbus.

But for now, the Soul can just relish in picking up a win in their first-ever playoff game in front of the Philadelphia faithful.

“It’s great,” said Graziani. “I’ve been here three years now. We’ve been through a lot, it’s been a roller coaster and to bring it back and have a home game is pretty special, especially to get the win.”

Meeting for the second time in seven days, the squads were deadlocked at 20-20 at halftime.
On the opening drive of the third, Orlando marched to the 10-yard line, but a holding call on the offense followed with a sack by Gabe Nyenhuis forced the Predators into a 4th-and-14 situation. The club had to settle for a 34-yard field goal by Jay Taylor and a 23-20 edge.

That is when the Soul took over, especially on defense, an area Philadelphia has struggled in all season long.

Graziani had an answer to Orlando’s score in the form of a four-yard touchdown pass to J.J. McKelvey to put Philadelphia ahead by four.

A sack by Bryan Save on fourth down of Orlando’s next drive gave the Soul the ball back at the Predator 17-yard line with a chance to extend their lead, and they did just then when Graziani hit a wide-open Charles Pauley for a 17-yard scoring strike and a 34-23 advantage with just over two minutes remaining in the third frame.

The defense continued to come up with stops. Orlando drove to the Philadelphia six, but defensive back Brian Mance broke up a pass play on third down, and an offensive pass interference call on Predator wide out Ron Johnson erased a touchdown catch on the following play.

“Brian is a guy…(who) continues to get better in practice and its one of those you scratch your head going, ‘we might need to get him more time on the field.’ Every time I put him on the field he makes plays,” said Munsey, who was on Orlando’s coaching staff from 2003-05.

Now pushed back, the Preds only came away with a 31-yard field goal by Taylor and trailed 34-26 early in the fourth.

The Soul then began to pull away on their ensuing drive after Graziani connected with a leaping Jerrian James for a 23-yard scoring pass to make it a 41-26 game with 9:49 to go.

James was waived by the Predators on April 25 of this year, two days before he signed with the Soul.

“(James) came up with a great catch,” Graziani said. “It wasn’t a very good ball, he made a good adjustment on it and I’m just happy that he was able to kind of stick it to (Orlando).”

Eddie Moten’s interception on fourth down with under 4 ½ minutes to go all but iced the game for the Soul.

“We had a good pass rush, the guys in the secondary just running around, basically we just had fun tonight,” Mance said.

The Soul put together a lengthy opening drive to the game, but Graziani couldn’t punch it in from one yard out on fourth down. On the Predators first play from scrimmage, Johnson slipped behind the defense for a 49-yard catch-and-run up the right side for a 7-0 edge with 8:03 to go in the first.

The Soul had to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Todd France on their next drive, but went ahead 14-10 on the resulting kickoff, as Mike Brown knocked the ball out of T.T. Tolliver’s hands with James recovering in the end zone.

The clubs then exchanged touchdowns before two Taylor field goals put the Predators ahead 20-17. Taylor’s second kick came with just five ticks on the clock, but his ensuing kick off went out of bounds, giving the Soul the ball at the 20-yard line.

After a short pass by Graziani to Sean Scott, France booted a 38-yard field goal as time expired to even things at 20 heading into the break.

Play to win

By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magazine

Philadelphia, PA - Playoff games aren’t exactly a common occurrence at the Wachovia Center these days. And, after taking in the Sixers’ draft yesterday it’s becoming pretty obvious Billy King isn’t trying to change that fact too quickly.

Down the hall, there is hope. The Flyers are Ed Snider’s true love and the Chairman will not tolerate failure for the Orange and Black. At least that’s the party-line with the puck heads in town who seem to forget their hockey team hasn’t strutted down Broad Street in 32 years. Sure, the Flyers no longer have Bob Clarke weighing down the franchise like an anchor. But, let’s remember how deeply Clarkey buried the club last year – rebuilding takes time..

That brings us to the Philadelphia Soul and the 8,013 alternative sports fans that were thrilled to take in an actual postseason encounter on Friday as Philly’s arena football team welcomed the Orlando Predators for the first home playoff game in franchise history.

Of course, most of the bad drivers in town were taking in the Phillies latest implosion and the fireworks across the street at Citizen’s Bank Park while the Soul gave their faithful a rather easy 41-26 win and moved on to the National Conference Divisional Round.

I learned last week that most of you may yawn at that.

Much like it took Ric Bucher of ESPN to break the story that the Portland Trail Blazers would take Greg Oden in the NBA Draft yesterday, it was the Inky’s Phil Sheridan that let me know that arena football will never compare with the major sports in town last week.

That got me thinking on two fronts.

First I wondered whether the great investigative journalists of my time like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were checking the rearview mirror for the young lions like Bucher and Sheridan. But, more importantly -- in a city starved for a winner -- it may be time to switch gears and get behind the Soul.

Great coaches say winning is a habit. I don’t know if that’s true but losing sure is. Poor management and coaching has killed every franchise in South Philly with the exception of your beloved Eagles. And even their lack of public relations savvy and servitude to the bottom line have kept the Vince Lombardi trophy as nothing more than a dream.

Win, lose or draw, the Soul do things right. They play to win.

“When you talk about Jon Bon Jovi, Ron Jaworksi and the rest of the organization, honest to god they will give these players whatever they want...the world,” Soul head coach Bret Munsey told me.

“They are just wanting to win and to bring a winning team and a championship to this city.”

Philadelphia's Price named to AFL All-Ironman team

By Michael Rushton
Phanatic Magazine

Philadelphia Soul fullback and linebacker Idris Price was named to the AFL All-Ironman Team.

Price, Philadelphia's lone representative on the team, started all 16 games for the Soul this year and did so on both sides of the ball in every game, the only Philly player to accomplish that feat.

Offensively, Price ran the ball 27 times for 67 yards, but rumbled into the end zone eight times. On the flip side of the ball, the 6-foot-2, 240-pounder posted 39.5 tackles, 5.5 tackles for losses, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

He also tallied a league-lead tying three blocked kicks.

Two Soul players land on All-Arena squad

By Michael Rushton
Phanatic Magazine

Philadelphia Soul offensive lineman Phil Bogle and defensive back Eddie Moten were both named to the All-Arena First Team. Also, offensive lineman Mike Mabry was selected for the second team.

The 6-foot-3, 322-pound Bogle started all 16 games for the Soul this year and was part of a solid offensive line. He was also elected to the All-Rookie squad.

Moten, meanwhile, lands on the All-Arena first team for the second straight season after finishing third in the league with nine interceptions, three of them returned for touchdowns. The hard-hitting back also tallied 89 tackles and broke up 24 passes.

Mabry also started all 16 games and was very effective at the center position.

Phanatic Phantasy All-Star Team

By Michael Rushton
Phanatic Magazine

Since everyone else gets to pick their own All-Star squads, I have decided to do the same. However, since I need to fill my fantasy column for this week, I'm going to select my players bases solely on their fantasy impact.

Also, I'm just going to put together one All-Star team, meaning it will be a combination of NL and AL players.

The envelope please...

Catcher - It comes down to Los Angeles' Russell Martin and Victor Martinez of Cleveland, but the nod goes to Martin. Their averages are close enough to cancel out, and Martinez has the edge in homers and RBI, while Martin is up in runs. So, the deciding factor ends up being stolen bases. Martin has 13 while Martinez has none. SB's are a tough category to get a hold of outside of a few players, so it's a huge plus anytime you get that kind of base path production from a catcher.

Honorable mention: Martinez (Cleveland)

First base - This one is a no-brainer and it's Prince Fielder, who leads all first baseman with 27 homers, seven more than Justin Morneau's 20. Also, unlike a Ryan Howard or Paul Konerko, Fielder isn't hurting in the average department by hitting .282. He is also tops at the position with 63 RBI.

Honorable mention: Morneau (Minnesota)

Second base - Few things are a sure bet, but Chase Utley is one of them. He actually trails Dan Uggla by one homer for the lead among second baseman, but his RBI total (64) and lofty .331 average vaults Philadelphia's Utley to the top of the list by far.

Honorable mention: Brian Roberts (Baltimore)

Shortstop - The Mets' Jose Reyes seemed like a lock for this spot early in the season, and still gets the nod here, but barely. I'm going Reyes over Florida's Hanley Ramirez because the New York shortstop is still hitting over .300, while his 38 stolen bases have probably been single-handily winning you that category each week.

Honorable mention: Ramirez (Florida) and his .322 average, 11 HR's and 23SB's.

Third base - David Wright gets the...okay, I'm just kidding. This one has been decided since day one, and it is the other New York third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, dominating this spot. With a stat line that reads a .327 average, 28 homers, 78 RBI, 72 runs scored and nine stolen bases, he's the MVP of the major leagues, let alone the fantasy world.

Honorable mention: Miguel Cabrera (Florida)

Outfield - Three spots here with a pair of Detroit Tigers getting the first two. Magglio Ordonez is hitting an incredible .377 with 13 homers and 68 RBI. And, if your league does this sort of thing, he has a 1.087 OPS as well. Gary Sheffield, meanwhile, seemed like a lost cause when the season started, but has rebounded for a .289 average, 18 homers and a surprising 10 stolen bases. Finally, I'm giving the last spot to Adam Dunn of the Reds. Dunn's 23 HR's are no surprise, but his .271 average and seven stolen bases have been pleasant for anyone who drafted him while seemingly sacrificing their AVG category.

Honorable mentions: Tough to leave out Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle) and his .364 average. Carl Crawford (Tampa Bay) and Carlos Lee (Houston)

Starting pitcher - We'll tap three pitchers for our All-Star squad. Jake Peavy of the Padres is the obvious choice to anchor our rotation. Peavy has 113 strikeouts and a ridiculous 2.14 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. He also has nine wins and has been dominate all year. Next, the old reliable Johan Santana and his 114 strikeouts. Santana has eight wins, but also six losses. However, you can't ignore his 2.83 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. Finally, Dan Haren squeaks into the final spot. The Oakland ace has nine wins, a sub-two ERA at 1.91 and an awesome 0.94 WHIP. His 93 strikeouts aren't bad either.

Honorable mentions: Chris Young (San Diego), Brad Penny (Los Angeles) and Justin Verlander (Detroit)

Closers - Two spots here. First is J.J. Putz of Seattle. His 22 saves are enough of a blessing, but how about a 0.99 ERA and 0.58 WHIP. Good to see Putz prove all those injury-doubters wrong. Second, Francisco Cordero of Milwaukee. A league-high 27 saves after being run out of Texas last year with a 2.16 ERA and 0.99 WHIP.

Honorable mentions: Jose Valverde (Arizona) and Takashi Saito (Los Angeles)

Send you fantasy All-Stars, questions and comments to

One Benoit mystery solved

By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magazine

Law enforcement officials were stunned to learn that someone had posted an update on the popular Wikipedia website stating that Chris Benoit missed a WWE pay per view date due to the death of his wife Nancy.

The posting was uploaded a full 13 hours before police discovered Benoit and his family dead in their suburban Atlanta home. The IP address of the posting was from Stamford, Conn., the home of WWE, and had the authorities wondering if Benoit had alerted any of his friends or co-workers after murdering his wife and before killing his young son and hanging himself.

But, it all turned out to be a hoax perpetrated by an unnamed fan . Wikipedia posted a "confession" from the person who penned the entry on Friday but kept the perpetrator‘s name private.

"I just want to say that it was an incredible coincidence,” the poster wrote. “Last weekend, I had heard about Chris Benoit no showing Vengeance because of a family emergency, and I had heard rumors about why that was. I was reading rumors and speculation about this matter online, and one of them included that his wife may have passed away, and I did the wrong thing by posting it on Wikipedia to spite there being no evidence.

“I posted my speculation on the situation at the time and I am deeply sorry about this, and I was just as shocked as everyone when I heard that this actually would happen in real life. It is one of those things that just turned into a huge coincidence.”

Meet the new Sixers

After all the wheeling and dealing, the Sixers ended up with four new players after the NBA Draft. Here's a look at how good people at broke them down..

Thaddeus Young - 6-foot-7, 210-pound small forward - Georgia Tech

Billy King on Young: "All along we were going to take the best player on the board and that was Thaddeus Young for his upside. We looked at some guys for the now but we felt that looking for the now and the future that Thaddeus was the right pick."

NBA Comparison: Paul Pierce

Strengths: Elite level athlete ... Extremely fluid and explosive ... Blessed with incredible gifts ... Prototypical small forward ... Has the advantage of being left handed, making him tougher to defend ... Has great length for a wing player ... Strong competitor ... Outside shooting and shot off the dribble have shown solid improvement ... Foot speed and length make him a terrific pressure defender ... Triggers the press defense well with his speed and quickness ... Great attitude, hard worker. Excels in the classroom with a 4.0 GPA ... His potential is incredible, but he still needs to gain confidence in his abilities and body strength ...

Weaknesses: Still a bit inconsistent shooting the ball from outside, but showing vast improvement ... Skills are still raw ... Ball handling can be sloppy at times ... Needs to add a great deal of weight, right now he can get pushed around inside. Another 20 pounds of muscle will make him a lot stronger on the glass and finishing in traffic ...

Jason Smith - 7-foot, 240-pound power forward - Colorado State

Billy King on Smith:
"The next big guy on the board was Jason Smith and that's why we made the maneuver with Miami to get Jason Smith, giving them a future second-round pick and cash to get the big guy that we wanted. We didn't want to take that chance that they would take him."

NBA Comparison: Brian Cook

Strengths: 7-footer who shows solid mobility, able to run the court with no problems … Active player who constantly works the blocks to get open … Has developed into an above average rebounder … Underrated post passer who does a good job of recognizing double teams and reacting to them … Fundamentally sound player with few bad habits … Does a good job of keeping the ball high and not putting it on the floor after receiving the ball … For his size Smith is an adequate ball handler … Once Smith gets position in the post he makes his body wide giving his guards a bigger target … Great post footwork, and moves with good fluidity … Offensively he has range out to 18 feet when facing the basket … Excels at taking advantage of size mismatches … Back to the basket skills are still developing but have improved greatly … Owns a nice turnaround jumper in the post … Mobility allows him to be a sufficient help defender … Shows good touch around the basket where he is a solid finisher … Better athlete than he's given credit for as he is more than capable of getting off the floor quickly … Does a great job of creating contact and getting to the free throw line …

Weaknesses: Back to the basket moves have greatly improved but are still very much a work in progress … Needs to continue to add more upper body strength … Struggles to establish position against physical defenders as he can easily get pushed off the blocks … Rebounding has improved greatly this year but he needs to focus on boxing out better … Doesn’t always finish strong after absorbing contact … Above average shot blocker in college but likely will not be as fortunate in the NBA … Will need to upgrade his foot speed while adding weight, which could be a challenge … Athletic opponents tend to frustrate him defensively on the perimeter … Needs to take care of the ball better when making offesnive moves … Doesn’t shy away from contact but certainly does not seek it out … Lacks the killer instinct to consistently dominate games …

Derrick Byars - 6-foot-7, 225-pound shooting guard/small forward - Vanderbilt

Billy King on Byars:
"We were looking at trying to get a strong athletic guy or a big guy and we felt that Derrick Byers was the right fit."

NBA Comparison: Brandon Roy/Shane Battier

Strengths: Complete player with good lateral quickness and athleticism … Defensively Byars does a great job staying in front of his man … Fundamentally there are few guards in the draft that have his array of tools … Plays the game with a good level of moxie and toughness … Excellent ball handler who has played point guard several times during his collegiate career … Above average passer with solid court vision … Has legit three point range on his jumper that he can hit with regularity … Great finisher on the break where his body strength and athleticism allow him to finish with some flair … Adequate rebounder who does a good job of getting rebounds out of position … Has the ability work off screens for the quick jumper … Is an explosive scorer who has the mentality and skill to take control of a game … Possesses an NBA ready body that is strong enough to absorb contact and finish … Unselfish almost to a fault as he will often look to pass off to open teammates … Intelligent player with a good feel for the game … Will be viewed as one of the most complete prospects in the draft …

Weaknesses: Shot selection at times can be questionable … Would benefit his game if he utilized the mid-range shot more … Settles too much with shooting from the perimeter mostly from the three point shot … Needs to work on taking care of the ball better as he can get careless … Has a habit of getting out of control on his drives … Needs to move better without the ball has a tendency to stand around a little … Defensively Byars is solid but can reach a little too much on defense trying to get the quick steal … Doesn’t explode on his first step which could be the reason why he doesn’t always get full separation from his defender … Byars isn’t always consistent in games as he can go through periods where he is aggressive and dominates and then there are times he isn’t … Surprisingly despite his shooting touch he is a below average free throw shooter …

Herbert Hill - 6-foot-10, 240-pound power forward - Providence

Billy King on Hill:
"I just loved his athletic ability, rebounding, and toughness. I think he can really shoot the ball."

NBA Comparison: John Salley

Strengths: Shows good mobility, running the court with ease … Has worked hard to improve his touch around the basket … Possesses great hands, capable of catching most passes without fumbling or losing control of the ball … Solid rebounder who uses his long arms and hands to tip balls out of position to himself … Solid finisher where he wastes little time, keeps the ball high and goes right up … For his size he shows above average lateral movement … This enables him to make an impact as a very good help defender on the weak side of the court … Offensively Hill has a very good jump hook that he converts from a multitude of angles … What makes this even more impressive is that Hill will adjust his release on his shot depending on his defender's position … Surprisingly an excellent post passer possessing the court vision to hit cutters or pass to the open shooter … Shows quality shot blocking ability due to his long arms and top notch timing … Does a good job of absorbing contact in the lane and finishing the play for free throw opportunities … Plays solid post defense with good intensity and constantly works to keep himself between his man and the basket … Has shown signs of an emerging face-up game as Hill now hits shots from 12 feet out … Approaches the game with a blue collar attitude, with no problem doing the dirty work … Work ethic has been applauded by many throughout his 5 years in college … Late bloomer who displays good potential despite being a 5th year senior …

Weaknesses: Offensively Hill has developed quality moves but must continue to build on his limited variety of back to basket moves … Must continue to expand his shooting range consistency from 12-14 feet out … Post footwork must be refined as Hill can go through periods of ineffectiveness … Upper body strength isn’t terrible, but will need to be upgraded for the NBA … To his credit he has the perfect body type to add weight without sacrificing much quickness … This lack of strength can work against him when he faces physical forwards limiting his ability to get good position in the post … Can be stunted by double teams as he doesn’t always read the defense quick enough to react … Below average free throw shooter … Has a habit of playing his man too aggressive leading to foul trouble … Has struggled with confidence issues in the past but has really blossomed this year …

Thursday, June 28, 2007

As I see it… from my living room couch.

By Jeff Glauser

The Phanatic Magazine

As I sit, anxiously awaiting the long-awaited moment, two things cross my mind: 1) I sincerely hope that this draft signifies the rebirth of basketball becoming relevant in this area again; and 2) How much I doubt that will, in fact, happen.

As I mentioned in a January column, Billy King, since becoming the ultimate personnel decision-maker of the Sixers, is the Anti-Midas – everything he touches turns to crap.

But then I do a quick inventory, realize how many other GM’s in the NBA currently fit that profile and a semblance of hope returns, albeit briefly.

You have the All “I Was a Kickass Player So I Deserve a Few Mulligans” Group in the Celtics’ Danny Ainge, the Knicks’ Isaiah Thomas and the Wolves’ Kevin McHale. Then there’s the Grizzlies’ Chris Wallace, fresh off running the Celts into the ground and now shooting for double doodie. You have the Hawks, whose ownership group does a fantastic Keystone Cops impersonation.

And, of course, there’s always the Clippers, who… well, they’re the Clippers and obviously cursed in such a way only we Philadelphians can understand.

With the blind dealing with the blind, deaf and dumb, the law of averages dictates that something good is bound to fall our way, right?


Well, time to turn on ESPN and find out. But not before I make myself a stiff drink. This might be a long evening…

7:01 – And so it begins. We can do without 80’s-esque cheesy theme song. Something about the future arriving today. Felt like it could have used a keyboard solo. Though Mike Tirico does his best Bob Costas and waxes poetic to open things up.

7:04 – Yo, Stephen A.! What are you yelling about? Why the raised voice? Have a drink, relax. I am.

7:05 – Garnett’s not going anywhere tonight. Fans throughout Phoenix collectively curse at their television sets.

7:06 – Meanwhile, Danny Ainge won’t quit until someone trades with him. Anyone. For anything. He’s like a middle child vying for attention. Probably stemming from the days when Bird and McHale got all the chicks.

7:09 – Stephen A. Smith is getting progressively louder. I put the TV on mute and still hear him. He’s reaching Sam Kinison-esque levels. Plus, I believe I saw some spittle fly onto Mark Jackson as he was disagreeing with him on the potential Ray Allen-to-the-Celtics deal. It’s a matter of time until he turns to Jackson, and exclaims: “You’re wrong, pal! Boston needs to make this deal! SAY IT!! SAY IT!!!”

7:12 – Our first Dick Vitale spotting, the Paula Abdul of the draft. Mr. Positive. And apparently trying to out-yell Stephen A.

7:16 – Just realized there’s another 16 minutes of gratuitous buildup until Oden gets selected. I’m getting another drink.

7:19 – Supposed “close friends” Oden and Conley take the early lead for most awkward moment of the night, dancing around questions as to how good it feels to go through the draft together. Plus, we learn that Oden is a fan of cartoons and Conley was “not down with that.”

7:20 – Joakim Noah a runaway winner for the Tommie Harris Award, given to the draftee with the most hideous suit. He must have left the squeaking clown nose at home.

7:25 – I don’t like Jim Gray. He’s such a weasel. Only he could make someone feel sorry for Pete Rose. However, we do learn that now the Warriors have jumped into the Kevin Garnett Sweepstakes. Which leaves every team except the Albany Patroons in the running as of now.

7:31 – “Here they are. The first steps. The foundation… of the future.” Tirico waxing poetic: Every half hour on the hour!

7:33 – Blazers now have five minutes to make their selection. Why? Wouldn’t it make sense that, as soon as David Stern announces them on the clock, something sneaks behind him, taps him on the shoulder and gives him the pick? C’mon guys, who we kiddin’ here?

7:36 – Portland generously saves two of those minutes and makes their anti-climactic selection: Greg Oden, come on down and welcome to the purgatory which is the Northwest!

7:40 – Stuart Scott came this close to getting Oden to admit he’s actually 36 years old.

7:44 – Durant goes next and poo-poos the fact that he can’t lift 185 pounds, making me feel like I have at least a fighter’s chance of kicking the ass of a world class athlete.

7:48 – The Hawks choose Horford, as they attempt to become the first team in NBA history to develop a roster consisting entirely of forwards.

7:56 – After Conley predictably goes to Memphis, Ainge seems to get his wish, selecting Jeff Green but seemingly in agreement to go to the Sonics in exchange for Ray Allen. Boston fans do a collective “Huh?”

8:01 – Right on cue, Tirico compares the draft to a “spring flower in full bloom.”

8:03 – Milwaukee decides to piss off an entire nation by selecting China’s Yi Jianlian, even against his and the Chinese’s pleas. I guess they’re not fans of Happy Days, cheese and beer. Speaking of, I could go for a beer.

8:08 – BTW, it must be said: Props to the Bucks for not allowing the player to dictate the destination. Seems to happen far too often lately.

8:17 – Brewer goes next and gives the Cheshire Cat a run for his money with his six-foot wide smile. Then, after FAR too much riffing from the analysts AFTER the Bobcats’ five minutes expire, they finally select Brandon Wright, where he and Michael Jordan can sing the Tar Heel fight song together.

8:24 – Five minutes are done. No one at the podium. Why even bother timing this thing?

8:25 – Joakim Noah goes 9th to the Bulls. Whatever’s living in his hair goes 10th. His bowtie 11th.

8:34 – Just found out that Spencer Hawes possesses an “I love George Bush” bumper sticker. Have fun in California, buddy.

8:37 – Uh-oh, the Bulls picking Noah got Stephen A. worked up again. His popping blood vessel is blocking the view of Jay Bilas.

8:38 – Acie Law – who must feel like a chaperone tonight - goes to the Hawks, as anticipated. And with that, the moment of truth begins… Will the Sixers do something other than pick Al Thornton? Will Billy King force me to continue my drinking? Will “the first steps, the foundation… of our future” start now?

Screw this. I need another drink.

8:45 – For the love of God, STOP TALKING AND MAKE THE PICK!!!

8:46 – Thaddeus Young.

Thaddeus F’ing Young.

The Sixers need rebounding more than anything and, on the profile shown for him, it says “Must Improve: Rebounding.”

Thank you, Billy King. You’ve done it again. I need another couple drinks…

8:52 – As my head begins to stop ringing from banging it against the wall, the Hornets select Julian Wright. Meanwhile, Al Thornton is becoming the Brady Quinn of this draft.

8:58 – A poll pops up: “Were You Surprised At The T. Young Pick? Yes: 76%, No 24%.” And then Al Thornton gets selected two picks too late by the Clippers, rubbing salt in the wound. Why was it so predictable that the Sixers would be unpredictable?

9:06 – Rodney Stuckey goes to the Pistons with the blah blah yadda yadda… What the hell was King thinking? I mean, c’mon! I hope he becomes fast friends with Kevin Kolb.

9:10 – Wizards select Nick Young. Speaking of Youngs… Thaddeus Young? Really??

9:14 – The Knicks give up a head case in Francis and acquire a more talented head case in Zach Randolph. Spike Lee applauds and gets ready for his next film: “Mo Betta Contract.”

9:16 – Keeping on topic, Sean Williams goes to the Nets. Alum Jayson Williams immediately calls and invites him to dinner.

9:22 – Warriors take Marco Belinelli. Getting harder to type. I could go for another drink. Perhaps some munchies, too.

Oh, the Sixers are now three picks away from driving me to alcoholism.

9:30 – Lakers take Javaris Crittenton. He might as well wear “Not Garnett” on the back of his jersey this season, as Kobe is not swayed.

9:32 – Whoever is still reading by this point, please email me at and I will acknowledge you in my next column. You’vre earned it.

9:35 – Heat take Jason Smith and the Sixers are mercifully back on the board. And here is where I actually hope they are NOT predictable. Please don’t pick Josh McRoberts, please don’t pick Josh McRoberts, please don’t…

9:41 – Redemption, perhaps? Announced deal for Sixers picking Daequan Cook and then swapping him and cash with the Heat’s Smith. I confess, I like Smith. But where is this cash coming from? Perhaps one of the six players and coaches no longer associated on the team but still on the payroll?

9:43 – On that note, it’s time to break the seal…

9:48 – Vitale sings the praises of Bobcats pick Jared Dudley. He also gives props to the Bush Administration, the Iraq War, the ozone layer and child manual labor.

9:52 – Isaiah Thomas tries to one-up King and drafts Wilson Chandler far too high. Meanwhile, Ainge feels left out and wants to trade half his roster to the Knicks.

10:25 – Some guys got chosen. Nothing impressive. Then the San Antonio United Nations picked Tiago Splitter. Then nothing groundbreaking again. Sixers up soon. They need personality. Therefore, they should choose Glen “Big Baby” Davis. Plus his nickname seems to be indicative of the common fan around here.

I like rum. The world seems better now.

10:32 – After Vitale praised the Suns’ pick of Alando Tucker and mankind in general – and his head then spontaneously combusting - the Sixers are on the clock for the third time in this final pick of the first round… I’m not sure if I’m drunk enough for this…

10:38 – They select Petteri Kopenen. Or Preterayi Kompernaxarn. I don’t know. It all looks the same now. A back-up point guard, probably remaining overseas. Joy.

Oh, apparently, he’s Finnish.

And so am I. Finished, that is.

Forever Young...and Wrong

By Jared Trexler
The Phanatic Magazine

Color me unimpressed. (If a deal is not in place and the pick stays put)

Looking at the pick from a scout's point of view, Thaddeus Young could be considered "athletically raw." Nowhere near the NBA-ready talents of Julian Wright and Al Thornton -- both still on the board when the Sixers selected the Georgia Tech freshman.

Watching a lot of college basketball, I can imagine Young could be a fairly decent professional one day, or he could turn into another athlete who didn't quite inherit the basketball genes. He can run the floor and has all of the NBA's prerequisite measurements: speed, jumping ability, length and strength.

But can he play? That question wasn't quite answered under Paul Hewitt at Georgia Tech, where the McDonald's All-American averaged 14.4 points per game. He shot just well enough from beyond the arc for a "tweener," in NBA speak a player with the height of a smallish power forward (6'8") and the weight of a wing man (218 soaking wet). He got beat up under the basket by players capable of pushing him off the box. His defensive foot speed isn't up to the level of the players he'll guard in the league.

But he can run. And he can play in space. And it's possible Billy King reached past mock projections because he envisions a perfect storm of Andre Miller on point with Andre Iguodala and Young filling the lanes. If no one is open, Miller can stop and pop his lethal mid-range jumper or kick it to the wing off the secondary break, where sharpshooter Kyle Korver will be waiting.

But that's the perfect storm. And in a deep draft with two more polished players on the board and perhaps his job on the line, King's decision was gutsy.

And likely not the correct one.

Color me unimpressed.

Sixers reach for Thaddeus Young with top pick

By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magazine

If you heard a moan or groan Thursday night, it was likely Billy King awkwardly reaching for Georgia Tech forward Thaddeus Young with the 12th pick of the NBA Draft.

The league’s worst personnel man actually had a solid Plan A for once. King wanted to trade up to acquire Yi Jianlian, the Chinese star many have compared favorably to Dirk Nowitzki. But, Milwaukee ignored the fact that Yi didn’t want to play in a city without a large Chinese population, spurned the Sixers, and drafted the future star.

That left BK reeling. Not surprising since he’s a one-trick pony and had no alternative plan. Sure, John Paxson and Wayne Cooper felt bad for the overmatched one and tried to help the embattled Sixers’ president by plucking a pair of over-hyped and unfavorable players off the board, Joakim Noah and Spencer Hawes, right before King got to stick his hand in the candy jar.

It was almost perfect for the Sixers. King couldn’t screw it up. He had his choice between two competent players at a need position, Julian Wright and Al Thornton. Neither player is a world-beater but both would have been solid picks that could have contributed right away. Instead, King indulged his self-destructive tendencies and went for Young, a multi-year project that will take three or four years if he ever develops.

Even Young was surprised by his good fortune. "It was a big surprise," the young wingman said on a conference call . "I thought they'd take Julian Wright or Al Thornton, but I had a good workout with them and they took me early."

Apologists will say Young has the bigger upside, and since the Wachovia Center is filled with King groupies, the spin has started in earnest.

Don't buy it. Philadelphia is stuck in a basketball purgatory that will feature 7,000 fans per game and a losing team.

We all know there is only one way to fix that, but I’m tired of ripping King and pointing out his ever accumulating flaws. It’s become a cottage industry to insult the poor guy and frankly it has become boring and uninteresting.

Much like the team he has cobbled together.

2007 NBA Draft

Round 1:
1. - Portland Trail Blazers - Greg Oden - Center - Ohio State
2. - Seattle SuperSonics - Kevin Durant - Forward - Texas
3. - Atlanta Hawks - Al Horford - Forward - Florida
4. - Memphis Grizzlies - Mike Conley Jr. - Guard - Ohio State
***5. - Boston Celtics - Jeff Green - Forward - Georgetown - Will trade pick to Seattle along with guard Delonte West and forward Wally Szczerbiak for guard Ray Allen and the 35th pick.
6. - Milwaukee Bucks - Yi Jianlian - Forward - China
7. - Minnesota Timberwolves - Corey Brewer - Forward - Florida
8. - Charlotte Bobcats - Brandan Wright - Forward - North Carolina
9. - Chicago Bulls - Joakim Noah - Forward - Florida
10. - Sacramento Kings - Spencer Hawes - Center - Washington
11. - Atlanta Hawks - Acie Law - Guard - Texas A&M
-Billy King will have his choice between Julian Wright and Al Thornton. The guess here is Wright.
12. - Philadelphia 76ers - Thaddeus Young - Forward - Georgia Tech
-Wow...You gotta love BK. John Paxson and Wayne Cooper tried to save him by taking Noah and Hawes off the board. The Sixers couldn't have gone wrong with Wright or Thornton. Let's just hope a trade is brewing.
13. - New Orleans Hornets - Julian Wright - Forward - Kansas
14. - Los Angeles Clippers - Al Thornton - Forward - Florida State
15. - Detroit Pistons - Rodney Stuckey - Guard - Eastern Washington
16. - Washington Wizards - Nick Young - Guard - USC
***Trade Alert - The New York Knicks have agreed to send guard Steve Francis and forward Channing Frye to Portland for forward Zach Randolph, guard Dan Dickau and guard Fred Jones.
17. - New Jersey Nets - Sean Williams - Forward/Center - Boston College
18. - Golden State Warriors - Marco Bellinelli - Guard - Italy
19. - Los Angeles Lakers - Javaris Crittenton - Guard - Georgia Tech
20. - Miami Heat - Jason Smith - Forward/Center - Colorado State
-Smith is who you should have wanted. If the name here is Josh McRoberts, except a sharp spike in prescription drug use over the coming days.
21. - Philadelphia 76ers - Daequan Cook - Guard - Ohio State
***Sixers will trade Cook, a 2009 second-round pick and cash for Jason Smith - Nice recovery by King after the awful opening pick.
22. - Charlotte Bobcats - Jared Dudley - Forward - Boston College
23. - New York Knicks - Wilson Chandler - Forward - DePaul
24. - Phoenix Suns - Rudy Fernandez - Guard - Spain
***Suns are expected to trade Fernandez to Portland.
25. Utah Jazz - Morris Almond - Guard - Rice
26. - Houston Rockets - Aaron Brooks - Guard - Oregon
27. - Detroit Pistons - Arron Afflalo - Guard - UCLA
28. - San Antonio Spurs - Tiago Splitter - Forward - Brazil
29. - Phoenix Suns - Alando Tucker - Guard - Wisconsin
-Expect the Sixers to go overseas here because they don't want the guaranteed deal.
30. - Philadelphia 76ers - Petteri Koponen - Guard - Finland
-Bingo...Koponen is a long-term project that the Sixers will keep overseas.

Round 2
31. - Seattle SuperSonics - Carl Landry - Forward - Purdue
***Trade Alert - Golden State to send Jason Richardson and 36th pick Jermareo Davidson to Charlotte for the eighth pick, Brandan Wright
32. - Boston Celtics - Gabe Pruitt - Guard - USC
33. - San Antonio Spurs - Marcus Williams - Forward - Arizona
34. - Dallas Mavericks - Nick Fazekas - Forward - Nevada
35. - Seattle SuperSonics - Glen Davis - Forward - LSU
***This pick will go to Boston in the Ray Allen trade.
36. - Golden State Warriors - Jermareo Davidson - Forward - Alabama
***Sixers traded Koponen to Portland for the 42nd selection and cash.
37. - Portland Trail Blazers - Josh McRoberts - Forward - Duke
38. - Philadelphia 76ers - Kyrtlo Fesenko - Center - Ukraine
Sixers traded Fesenko to Utah for the rights to the 55th overall pick, -- Providence center Herbert Hill.
39. - Miami Heat - Stanko Barac - Center - Bosnia
40. - Los Angeles Lakers - Sun Yue - Guard - China
41. - Minnesota Timberwolves - Chris Richard - Center - Florida
42. - Portland Trail Blazers - Derrick Byars - Guard/Forward - Vanderbilt
***This pick goes to the Sixers in the Koponen trade
43. - New Orleans Hornets - Adam Haluska - Guard - Iowa
44. - Orlando Magic - Reyshawn Terry - Forward - North Carolina
45. - Los Angeles Clippers - Jared Jordan - Guard - Marist
46. - Golden State Warriors - Stephane Lasme - Forward - Massachusetts
47. - Washington Wizards - Dominic McGuire - Forward - Fresno State
48. - Los Angeles Lakers - Marc Gasol - Center - Spain
49. - Chicago Bulls - Aaron Gray - Center - Pittsburgh
50. - Dallas Mavericks - Renaldis Seibutis
- Guard - Lithuania
51. - Chicago Bulls - JamesOn Curry - Oklahoma State
52. - Portland Trail Blazers - Taurean Green - Guard - Florida
53. - Portland Trail Blazers - Demetrius Nichols - Forward - Syracuse
54. - Houston Rockets - Brad Newley - Guard - Australia
55. - Utah Jazz - Herbert Hill - Forward - Providence
56. - Milwaukee Bucks - Ramon Sessions - Guard - Nevada
57. - Detroit Pistons - Sammy Mejia - Guard - DePaul
58. - San Antonio Spurs - Giorgos Printezis - Forward - Greece
59. - Phoenix Suns - D.J. Strawberry - Guard - Maryland
60.- Dallas Mavericks - Milovan Rakovic - Center - Serbia

NCAA slaps Cheyney with three years probation

-Courtesy of the NCAA

INDIANAPOLIS---The NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions has penalized Cheyney University of Pennsylvania for major violations in the institution's athletics program. The violations include ineligible participation by football student-athletes, unethical conduct by the former head football coach, as well as a failure to monitor and lack of institutional control. Penalties for the violations included placing the university on three years of probation, a vacation of records, and a one-year show-cause penalty for the former football coach, among other sanctions.

The Committee on Infractions stated in its report that the case, "involved a serious breach of ethical conduct legislation by the former head coach and the failure of a long-time Division II member institution to have in effect a viable, comprehensive compliance system administered by knowledgeable personnel."

The most serious violations took place in the football program and were knowingly committed by the former head coach. During the 2004 football season, six ineligible student-athletes, five of whom were partial qualifiers, received extra benefits in the form of travel expenses while traveling to away games. Further, four of the six ineligible student-athletes

competed in one or more of the away contests and another impermissibly participated in practice. These violations were committed at the direction of the former head coach, who had been told two years earlier after similar violations occurred that ineligible student-athletes were not allowed to travel to away contests. One of the student-athletes stated that he confronted the former head coach on at least one occasion when he was told to travel to an away game even though his name was not on the list of eligible student-athletes. According to this student-athlete, the former head coach told him to "shut up," get on the bus and prepare to participate. Another student-athlete also stated that, prior to a game, the former head coach had him switch his jersey number to that of an eligible student-athlete before he participated in the game.

The committee also found the university failed to withhold two student-athletes from competition during the 2005 football season even though it had acknowledged they had previously competed in away games while ineligible. This was despite the fact the school was told by the NCAA enforcement staff that the young men would have to go through the reinstatement process before becoming eligible to compete. The university did not seek reinstatement before allowing them to compete in the 2005 football season. Further, the university again failed to withhold one of these student-athletes from competition without initiating the reinstatement process during the 2006 season.

The committee found the university failed to monitor the conduct of its coaches and the administration of its athletics programs during the summer of 2002 through September 2006, based on a lack of system for effectively monitoring various aspects of its athletics program. These aspects included participation by ineligible football student-athletes, purchasing health insurance for student-athletes, failure to provide the required graduation data and official visit limitation information to prospective student-athletes, failure to track countable athletically related activities, publicizing oral commitments from prospective student-athletes, failure to notify student-athletes regarding financial aid renewal, and the provision of benefits to enrolled student-athletes by individuals whose actions triggered the booster status.

The university did not agree that all of these violations were major infractions. However, the committee noted in its report that "while standing alone many of the violations would be considered secondary, they are all major as part of the cumulative case."
The committee also stated in its report that it is "dismayed that this case continues the recent trend of Division II member institutions, either through inadvertence or ignorance, failing to devote the necessary resources to effectively operate a Division II athletics program. The committee also strongly reiterates…that member institutions have the duty to establish and maintain thorough and comprehensive campus-wide compliance systems operated by trained and competent personnel. To fail to do so will, as in this case, result in the committee concluding that that institution failed to monitor its athletics program and lacks institutional control, and will be followed by the imposition of appropriate sanctions."

In determining the penalties, the committee considered the university's self-imposed penalties and corrective actions. The penalties, some of which were self-imposed by the institution and adopted by the committee, are as follows:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Three years of probation (June 28, 2007 to June 27, 2010). The committee also reserves the right to extend the term of probation for an additional year if, by the end of the initial probation period, the institution's Compliance Blueprint Review has not yet been received and implemented.
  • The university must complete a Compliance Blueprint Program Review during the 2007-08 academic year and abide by all recommendations by the reviewer to improve the university's program. A compliance blueprint review is a tool provided by the NCAA membership services staff to Division II institutions and conferences to assist an institution in analyzing how well it organizes, communicates, documents and evaluates its rules-compliance efforts.
  • Football coaching staff are precluded from having more than one contact by telephone per week with prospective student-athletes during the 2007-08 contact period, except those that are permitted by Bylaw (self-imposed by university).
  • Football coaching staff are precluded from having more than one in-person contact with each prospective student-athlete beginning with the period following the 2007 football season through the 2008 National Letter of Intent signing period (self-imposed by university).
  • The former head coach is prohibited from performing all off-campus recruiting activities for a period of one-year beginning June 28, 2007, through June 27, 2008, at his present employing institution. The former head coach is also required to attend ethics training within one-year of the date of this report. Should the present institution fail to reinforce these sanctions, it and the former head coach shall appear before the committee and show cause why it should not be penalized.
  • Forfeiture of one victory in 2004, two in 2005 and one in 2006 when ineligible student-athletes participated. The institution will inform the opposing schools involved in those contests, in writing, of this action and report the action to the committee in its required reports. The university's records regarding football, as well as the record of the head coaches from the 2004, 2005 and 2006 seasons, will be reconfigured to reflect the university's vacations. Finally, the vacations will be recorded in all publications in which football records for the 2004, 2005 and 2006 seasons are reported, including, but not limited to, institutional media guides, recruiting material and archives.
  • All individuals with athletics responsibility in the offices of admission, housing, academic services financial aid, compliance and the registrar, including the faculty athletics representative and director of athletics, shall attend an NCAA Compliance Seminar prior to the expiration of the probation period.
  • Reduction of its countable hours in the football program from 20 hours to 15 hours for one week during either the spring 2007 semester or the spring 2008 semester.

Soul place three on All-Rookie team

By Michael Rushton
Phanatic Magazine

The Philadelphia Soul had a league-high three players land on the AFL's All-Rookie Team. Those three were offensive lineman Martin Bibla and Phil Bogle and defensive lineman Bryan Save.

Bogle and Bibla both started all 16 regular season games for the Soul, helping to anchor a solid offensive line. Save, meanwhile, led all rookies in tackles for loss with five, was second with four sacks, and ranked fourth with three forced fumbles.

Feds raid Benoit's doctor

Federal drug agents raided the office of a doctor who prescribed testosterone to pro wrestler Chris Benoit, who killed his wife and son and then hanged himself...

NBA Draft means everything for Sixers

By Tim McManus
The Phanatic Magazine

It's a bit of a sad state, really, when the 76ers organization is looked at as second rate.

Notice that as the Kevin Garnett/Kobe Bryant trade winds continue to howl, that nobody has even had the heart to make up a scenario that would send one of them to Philly. They realize that the Sixers' chips are few, and that even if they could conjure up an appetizing package, the star would nix the deal well before it had a chance of going through.

Once upon a time, the best were pining to come here. It was LA, it was Boston, and it was Philadelphia.

The mix of poor drafting and even worse contracts, though, strangled the allure out of the 76ers and turned them into nothing more than a light workout -- a sparring session -- for actual contenders.

All of this has happened with Billy King in the upper circle.

And now, he sits at the controls with three first-round picks in one pocket and all of the power in the other. The luxury of rebuilding is not often given to the man in charge during the destruction. But, the professional sports world spins in its own unique way.

And so King stands on top of the heap, looking out at the most critical time for the 76ers in maybe three decades.

Cap space is freeing up and the Sixers have four picks in a great draft. If they hit it right, they could pull out a pair of All-Stars and another contributor. If they do OK, they can get a role player or two that can help down the road.

If they botch it, the results are crippling. They'll have lost Allen Iverson -- one of the greatest players in team history -- in vein. They'll be saddled with several bad, guaranteed contracts. They would have suffered through a tough season for nothing.

They will further lose the faith of the fans, and just as damaging, the players around the league. They will be known as the team who had the answers right in their grasp, and didn't have the competence to close their hand.

If tonight brings failure, it will affirm the beliefs of those who choose to stay away from a once proud franchise.

This draft decides whether the echoes will be awoken, or sealed off.

God speed, Billy King.

Rumor: Briere gets offer from Sabres

It's not Flyers news per say, the is reporting that the Buffalo Sabres have offered soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Daniel Briere a long-term contract.

Briere, set to be arguably the best available free agent when the market opens on July 1, is expected to be a target of the Flyers this offseason. The high-scoring center would fill a big void up the middle for Philadelphia if they can convince him to come to the City of Brotherly Love.

The same report as says the Sabres have been discussions with center Chris Drury. Drury is also expected to get top dollar this summer, but isn't on the Flyers radar as most reports have him going to a west coast team if he doesn't re-sign with Buffalo.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sixers to host NBA Draft Party

-Courtesy of the Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia, Pa. - June 27, 2007 - The Philadelphia 76ers will host a 2007 NBA Draft Party, sponsored by T-Mobile, at the Wachovia Center on Thursday, June 28. Doors open to the general public at 7 p.m. and admission is free.

All picks will be shown live to fans on a large screen located on the Wachovia Center event floor. Fans will also witness a "show within the show," as 76ers Play-by-Play Announcer Marc Zumoff and Comcast SportsNet Post-Game Analyst Bob Salmi will provide draft analysis through exclusive interviews with both current and former Sixers players as well as Philadelphia-area college coaches in between picks.

Among alumni expected to attend are Bobby Jones (1978-86) and Clint Richardson (1979-85), both members of the 1983 championship team; Aaron McKie (1997-2005), a member of the 2001 team that reached the NBA Finals; Manute Bol (1990-94), who ranks second in league history with an average 3.34 blocks per game; one of the top-20 scorers in franchise history, Clarence Weatherspoon (1992-98); Ambassador of 76ers Basketball World B. Free (1975-78, 1986-87); current college assistant coaches Johnny Dawkins (1989-94) of Duke University, Tim Perry (1992-96) of Holy Family University, and Ed Pinckney (1995-96) of Villanova University. Also joining in the festivities will be Villanova University Head Men's Basketball Coach, Jay Wright.

All fans in attendance will receive a collector's draft poster highlighting the past, present and future, as well as the Draft Edition of Drive, the Official Magazine of the Philadelphia 76ers, courtesy of T-Mobile.

The first selection in the 2007 NBA Draft will be made at approximately 7:30 p.m. The Sixers have three first-round picks (Nos. 12, 21, 30) and one second-round pick (No. 38) entering the 2007 NBA Draft. Teams have five minutes to make selections in the first round.

From Keith the Thief to Paul the Purloiner?

By Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

The Flyers made their most surprising, and most savvy move in forever, and the NHL draft was four days away.

Last Monday, the team acquired the rights to forward Scott Hartnell and defenseman Kimmo Timmonen from Nashville. The price -- the 23rd overall pick originally acquired in the Peter Forsberg trade.

That's right. A two-for-none. An absolute steal. You just don't see moves like this anymore.

This is the unspoken manner in which championship teams are made, and it's unfortunate that teams facing immediate salary issues or are victims of bad management have to be the ones raided for talent.

Read more at The Phanatic Magazine's web home.

Durant lands on the cover of March Madness 08

By Michael Rushton
Phanatic Magazine

While Greg Oden may beat him out as the first overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Kevin Durant has already captured one honor Oden has not.

The former University of Texas star will be featured on the cover of EA Sport's upcoming college basketball game, NCAA March Madness 08.

Durant, at 18-years-old, becomes the second youngest athlete to grace the cover of an EA Sports game and just the fourth teenager. Freddy Adu was the youngest athlete to get cover honors when he landed on FIFA Soccer 06 (North America) as a 16-year-old.

Read more at The Phanatic Magazine's web home.

Benoit tragedy signals dark road for WWE

By Michael Rushton
Phanatic Magazine

"This is all going to end badly."

Those words were muttered by a shocked Banky Edwards to Holden McNeil in Kevin Smith's humorous movie, "Chasing Amy."

There is nothing funny about what happened in Georgia over the weekend in the Chris Benoit household. But the above quote still holds true.

It has already ended badly for three people, two them seemingly innocent bystanders in one man's sick, twisted grand finale.

And it is going to end badly for the World Wrestling Entertainment company.

Due to the murder of two people, one a seven-year-old child, Benoit's popularity and loyal fan base, and the simple fact that professional wrestling has always been the black sheep of American entertainment, the WWE is about to enter a dark light it will probably never get out of.

Read more at The Phanatic Magazine's web home.

The reality in life's ring

By Jared Trexler
The Phanatic Magazine
Prayer doesn't always make it better. Erase the visceral image of a father's psychopathy. Turn back the clock on a seven-year-old's life taken in some sort of twisted game of wrestling.
This isn't staged. There is no bell. Only tears of a finality drawing more questions than answers.
Everyone who spoke of Chris Benoit -- fans who met him, neighbors who lived near him, wrestlers who worked with him -- used the words "family" and "caring" to describe their fallen friend. Today, those words can't be further from the truth.
Benoit's legacy now slides closer to O.J. Simpson than Owen Hart. The only difference being Simpson's love for his children. The Juice is most certainly a murderer, but one would think he'd never harm his own flesh and blood.

Pitkanen to Hurricanes?

The Charlotte News and Observer is reporting that the Carolina Hurricanes are trying to make a swap of defensemen. The deal would be Niclas Wallin for the Flyers' Joni Pitkanen. Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford confirmed Monday that a deal is being delayed while a Carolina player decides whether to waive his no-trade clause. Wallin is the only defenseman on the Hurricanes with a no-trade clause.

Searching for answers...

By John McMullen
The Phanatic Magazine

In the ring, Chris Benoit could do it all. The Montreal native was a technical marvel, considered the best in-ring technician of the generation. His name was mentioned with the all-time greats like Lou Thesz, Dory Funk Jr., Harley Race, Ric Flair, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels.

Benoit was so good, he was crowned World Wrestling Entertainment world champion on the company’s biggest stage in the world’s most famous arena when he beat Michaels and Triple H at Wrestlemania XX at Madison Square Garden in 2004.

But, Benoit destroyed any legacy he might have enjoyed over the weekend when he murdered his wife and young son before hanging himself. Nancy Benoit, 43, was found in an upstairs den at the family's suburban Atlanta home with her wrists and feet bound. His son Daniel was in his bed. Originally authorities leaked that the seven-year old was smothered with bag but Fayette County district attorney Scott Ballard switched gears Tuesday and said he believed Daniel was killed with a choke hold -- a sick twist to an already senseless story since one of Benoit’s many moves in the ring was a choke hold.

Read more at The Phanatic Magazine's web home.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sixers close out pre-draft workouts

The Philadelphia 76ers will finish their pre-draft workouts on Wednesday at PCOM with visits from LSU's Glen Davis, Virginia's Jason Cain, Purdue's Carl Landry and Sean Williams of Boston College.

Rutgers to launch Ray Rice Heisman website

-Courtesy of Rutgers Athletic Communications

Rutgers Athletics will debut a website for Heisman Trophy candidate Ray Rice on Wednesday, June 27. The website,, is a comprehensive site featuring everything you need to know about Rutgers' junior running back. The site includes a complete biography on Rice in addition to game-by-game statistics, highlight video, photo gallery and news and notes on the All-America running back.

WWE claims steroids weren't part of Benoit tragedy

Fearing a media backlash, World Wrestling Entertainment issued a statement regarding the Benoit tragedy"

-Courtesy of World Wrestling Entertainment

STAMFORD, Conn., June 26, 2007 World Wrestling Entertainment is stunned and saddened by the details released by local authorities concerning the double homicide-suicide involving Chris Benoit, his wife, Nancy, and his son, Daniel.

However, WWE is concerned with the sensationalistic reporting and speculation being undertaken by some members of the media following the press conference held by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney. During the press conference, the investigating authorities made the following points, all of which run contrary to the media speculation that "roid rage" was a factor in the senseless murders and suicide:

  1. The authorities stated that all drugs found in the house were believed to be legal prescriptions.
  2. Steroids were not, and could not, be related to the cause of death (asphyxiation). Authorities had no factual basis to speculate as to Benoit’s state of mind, and rightly did not do so.
  3. Toxicology tests have not even been completed, so there is no current evidence that Benoit even had steroids or any other substance in his body. In that regard, on the last test done on Benoit by WWE's independently administered drug testing program, done on April 10, 2007, Benoit tested negative.
  4. The physical findings announced by authorities indicate deliberation, not rage. The wife's feet and hands were bound and she was asphyxiated, not beaten to death. By the account of the authorities, there were substantial periods of time between the death of the wife and the death of the son, again suggesting deliberate thought, not rage. The presence of a Bible by each is also not an act of rage.
  5. WWE strongly suggests that it is entirely wrong for speculators to suggest that steroids had anything to do with these senseless acts, especially when the authorities plainly stated there is no evidence that Benoit had steroids in his body, pending the toxicological reports, and that they had no evidence at this time as to the motive for these acts.

WWE is continuing to monitor the ongoing investigation being conducted by local authorities.

Benoit strangled wife, smothered son

Fayette County, Georgia district attorney Scott Ballard said law enforcement officials believe that Chris Benoit strangled his wife Nancy on Friday night, smothered his seven-year-old son Daniel on Saturday morning and hung himself on Saturday night.

Authorities believe the former World Wrestling Entertainment star used an electrical chord to strangle his wife and a bag to asphyxiate his son before hanging himself inside the weight room of his suburban Atlanta home.

Ballard said Nancy Sullivan Benoit‘s wrists and feet were bound with tape and that there was some blood under her head. Daniel Benoit was found dead in his own bed in his upstairs bedroom.

Read more at The Phanatic Magazine's web home.

With the first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft...

By John Gottlieb
The Phanatic Magazine

We here at The Phanatic have hypothesized about who the new players joining the Sixers will be on Thursday night, but here's how the rest of the league wil fare.

1) PortlandGreg OdenOhio State – This is the type of player that you build a team around and then dominate the rest of the league for years to come.

2) SeattleKevin DurantTexas – Any other year Durant would be a clear-cut No. 1. He needs to put on weight before he can be a dominant NBA player. He’ll take longer to develop than most people think.

3) AtlantaAl HorfordFlorida – When you think of the National Champion Florida Gators you think of Joakim Noah’s energy and defense, Corey Brewer’s tenacity and willingness to take a big shot, Lee Humphrey’s range, and Taurean Green’s leadership. In no uncertain terms they would not be back-to-back champions without the physical prowess of Horford.

4) MemphisMike Conley Jr.Ohio State – He’s coming out too early, but still has the most upside of any point guard in the draft. As long as the Grizzlies can find a way to keep Gasol and add another piece, Conley will thrive in the NBA.

5) BostonJeff GreenConnecticut – The Big East Player of the Year will stay in New England and try and turn the ship around in Beantown. He may not be enough to keep Paul Pierce from requesting a trade but he’ll be another young playmaker on the squad.

6) MilwaukeeYi JianlanChina – He’s listed as a center but doesn’t play with his back to the basket. He’s got good range for a seven-footer but may not be adept at making the three to play the four or have enough strength to play the five.

7) MinnesotaCorey BrewerFlorida – He showed the poise to be a very good player in the last two NCAA tourneys. He’s a fantastic defender but he must keep improving his offensive game.

8) CharlotteJoakim NoahFlorida – He’ll be a decent role player but will never be an NBA superstar. He brings a ton of energy and cleans up on the boards, but his offense lacks something to be desired.

9) Chicago (from New York)Spencer HawesWashington – The Bulls just keep going about their business and getting better and better each year. Hawes will be the true center that Chicago lacks. He’s got excellent hands but probably needs more schooling after one year at Washington.

10) SacramentoAl ThorntonFlorida State – He may be one of the most complete players in this draft. He’s got great size, runs the floor well and can defend. The only weakness to his game is his rebounding ability.

11) Atlanta (from Indiana)Acie LawTexas A&M – The Hawks desperately need a point guard and feel that Law isn’t that far of a drop-off from Conley. He’s got good ball-handling skills, wants to take the big shot and showed his leadership ability at Texas A&M. He needs to be more aggressive.

Monday, June 25, 2007

WWE star Chris Benoit dead in murder-suicide

Investigators believe World Wrestling Entertainment star Chris Benoit murdered his wife and son over the weekend and then killed himself on Monday.

Benoit, his wife Nancy and young son Daniel were all found dead at their suburban Atlanta home at about 2:30 (et). Tommy Pope of the Fayette County, Georgia Sheriff’s Department told ABC News that Benoit missed several appointments over the weekend and neighbors and WWE personnel both asked the local police for a "welfare check." and the bodies were found.

Pope indicated there were no signs of gunshot wounds or stabbing but said the instruments of death were located on scene and the police were not actively searching for any suspects outside of the house.

An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. (et).

The 40-year old Benoit was scheduled to win the ECW heavyweight tile on Sunday at a pay per view event in Houston, Texas but bowed out of the match citing a "family emergency.”

Following the announcement of the deaths, the WWE issued the following statement: "Chris was beloved among his fellow superstars, and was a favorite among WWE fans for his unbelievable athleticism and wrestling ability. He always took great pride in his performance, and always showed respect for the business he loved, for his peers and towards his fans. This is a terrible tragedy and an unbearable loss. WWE extends its sincere condolences and prayers to the Benoit family and loved ones in this time of tragedy."

WWE then canceled its scheduled sold out live three-hour "Monday Night RAW" television taping in Corpus Christi. The event was originally programmed as a "memorial service" for WWE chairman Vince McMahon, whose character was recently killed off in an over the top scripted storyline.

Instead McMahon, looking worn and disheveled, opened the program from center ring in an empty arena and told his viewing audience that Benoit and his family had died "in reality." McMahon then called Benoit "one of the greatest WWE superstars of all-time" and aired a three-hour tribute to the former world champion.