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Something Special Is Brewing In Philadelphia

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Early Struggles

Trust the process.  For the last three years, this is the phrase Sixers fans have been uttering non-stop.  When the former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie decided that the best way to move forward with the team was to blow up the roster and start from scratch, many figures around the league scrutinized him and the team relentlessly.

The Sixers during this stretch had been a laughing stock and a joke to fans of the league.  After drafting big men in three straight drafts, many thought the organization had no idea what it was doing.  This was especially the case when Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, and Joel Embiid all missed extended periods of time during their rookie seasons.

Losses began to stack up year after year, and lottery picks continued to get injured.  Many people even called the 76ers a “D-League team” playing in the NBA, and based on the talent on the roster it wasn’t an unfair comparison.

The “losing culture” that started to form around the Sixers organization became a huge turnoff for many agents of players, and soon very few agent wanted their client to sign with the team.  This left the Sixers with draft picks and D-League call ups forming the majority of the roster.

Players became frustrated, management became frustrated, and even the league became frustrated.  Last season, the NBA seemingly forced Jerry Colangelo to step in and co-manage the team with Sam Hinkie in an attempt to speed up “the process.”  Not long after, after realizing that he would not be able to see out his vision to fruition, Hinkie stepped down as GM, and Jerry Colangelo’s son, Bryan, stepped in to replace him.

With the Colangelo’s now in control of the team, agents became more willing to negotiate with the team and assets became more available.  Then, in the summer of 2016, the future of the organization had become brighter than it had ever been before.

The Turning Point

When the Sixers won the draft lottery, attaining the number one pick in the draft, all of a sudden the team had hope.  They won the prize that was Ben Simmons.  Often times compared to guys like Magic Johnson and Lebron James, if Simmons can become even half as good, Philadelphia is going to be dangerous very soon.  Just like each of Philadelphia’s previous three first round picks, however, Simmons injured himself before the season and has not played a game yet.

Simmons being sidelined certainly hurt, but once Joel Embiid stepped on the court for the first time, the fans forgot all about him.  In his first game action since 2014, Embiid showed off a plethora of post moves many people say are similar to Hakeem Olajuwon.  Although he has been on a minutes restriction this season, the Sixers instantly became one of the most entertaining teams to watch thanks to “The Process,” as Embiid likes to call himself in honor of former GM Sam Hinkie who drafted him.

Embiid, believe it or not, isn’t even the only rookie on the Sixers flourishing.  Dario Saric, a Croatian drafted with Embiid in 2014, has finally made the transition to the NBA and is playing well as a 6th man for the Sixers.  Averaging almost ten points and six rebounds a game, Dario has been a solid defensive presence on the court.  Coach Brett Brown has said of Saric that he embodies the toughness that the city of Philadelphia represents.

Add all of these new additions to pieces such as Robert Covington, Gerald Henderson, TJ McConnell, and Ersan Illyasova, and all of a sudden the Sixers are playing competitive basketball.  In 2016 this team showed they could compete on any given night, and this was seen in their two games against the Cavaliers where they only lost by one point then four points.

Off the court, the Sixers have been bonding on a level unseen in the past due to the constant turnover of the roster.  Nerlens Noel has said that the atmosphere is starting to finally feel like an actual team after expressing early frustrations with the log jam at the center position.

Joel Embiid is not only dominating on the court, but his off the court personality has also taken the league by storm.  His All-Star campaign caught on fire when he revealed that he wanted to make the team to date his crush.  His sense of humor is so infectious, and his fanbase seems to grow every day as a result.  At the last All-Star vote reveal, Embiid was fourth in voting behind Kevin Love, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Lebron James.

Noel, Simmons, Embiid, Stauskas, and McConnell even spent New Years Eve together, enjoying the holiday while also bonding as teammates.  Situations like that are exactly the kind of thing that Sixers fans love to see, because the closer a team is to each other, the better the team tends to play on the court.

Since the New Year began, the team bonding has seemed to be paying off in a big way.  In 2017, the team is 5-2, with their only losses coming against a very good Celtics team, and against the Wizards without Embiid in the lineup.  Embiid has ripped off nine straight games with 20 points or more, and the Sixers are statistically the best defense in the league in January.

As a part of Embiid’s All-Star campaign, he has said his goal is to make the playoffs this year.  Realistically, that will not happen, but creating a fun, winning atmosphere around the Sixers is exactly what the team needed after years of struggles.  All of a sudden, basketball fans in Philadelphia have a team to rally around, and the team is giving their best efforts to reward them for their patience.  It’s not easy to stick with a team that constantly loses 60+ games a season, but after four seasons of tanking there is finally a reason to be excited.

The Future

When Ben Simmons returns to the court, the process will finally begin to finalize.  The Sixers are already winning more games than they were expected to win, and they will only get better with Simmons’ playmaking and scoring ability.

When the season is over, the Sixers are expected to have not only their draft pick, but unless the Lakers obtain a top three pick the Sixers get their pick as well.  Lucky for them, this draft is loaded at the guard position, which is exactly what the Sixers need to bolster.  Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, Dennis Smith Jr., Malik Monk, Josh Jackson, and Jayson Tatum are all elite point guards and wing players who the Sixers should target.  If they come out of the draft with two of those names, they will be scary in a few seasons.

The team also still has yet to move Jahlil Okafor and/or Nerlens Noel, and if they can get a valuable shooting guard or small forward in return for those guys, that would help solidify the balance of talent on the roster.

Overall, the team already has the foundation set in place with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and after this upcoming offseason, “the process” will finally be coming to an end.  The Sixers will no longer be the laughing stock of the league, and might catch some people off guard with how fast they become a good team.  Hang in there Sixers fans, soon the East will run through Philly, and you can thank “the process” for the success.

NBA

Eagles’ Jalen Mills Arrested

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Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills was arrested in Washington D.C following an altercation with Washington Wizards player Devin Robinson, according to the Associated Press’ Howard Fendrich (via the Washington Post).

Both men were charged with disorderly affray, which is described as fighting in a public place.

According to the Washington Post’s Candace Buckner, a verbal altercation broke out between the two that escalated into a physical fight that took place on the sidewalk.

Robinson was transported to a hospital following the fight with Mills and upon his release he was taken to to department’s 2nd District station where Mills was detained.

Mills and Robinson were “involved in a verbal altercation which escalated into a physical altercation on the sidewalk adjacent to the Opera Night Club” in the early hours of Saturday morning, according to the police report.

Both teams have since responded, with the Wizards essentially parting ways with Robinson due to the incident.

“We are aware of the incident this morning involving Devin and are disappointed in his actions. We will not extend him a qualifying offer for the 2019-20 season,” the Wizards said in a statement.

The Eagles issued a statement saying that they are “aware of the situation” and “continuing to gather more information.”

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Dallas Mavericks

Mavs’ Kristaps Porzingis Accused of Rape in New York

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Dallas Mavericks big man and former New York Knick Kristaps Porzingis is being investigated back New York for an alleged rape that a woman told police took place sometime last year, according to the New York Post.

The woman, who informed police about the alleged rape on Thursday, says that she waited more than a year to come forward regarding the incident because she had discussed receiving $68,000 from Porzingis to keep quiet.

Roland G. Riopelle, the attorney for Porzingis, has since denied the allegations and has said they had previously referred the case to federal authorities due to the “accuser’s extortionate demands.”

“We are aware of the complaint that was made against Mr. Porzingis on Friday and unequivocally deny the allegations,” Riopelle said. “We made a formal referral to federal law enforcement on Dec. 20, 2018, based on the accuser’s extortionate demands. We also alerted the National Basketball Association months ago, and they are aware of the ongoing investigation of the accuser by federal law enforcement. We cannot comment further on an ongoing federal investigation. Please refer any questions to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the National Basketball Association.”

The woman alleges that the incident took place on February 7th, 2018, at the Sky building in New York, where Porzingis lived, just hours following Porzingis suffering a torn ACL, the injury that has kept him off the court for more than a year.

An NBA spokesman said the league is aware of the situation while the Knicks’ team spokesperson said; “This is Kristaps’ personal matter and not related to the Knicks.” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stated that the team is aware of the situation but “we have been instructed by federal authorities not to comment.”

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks had informed the Mavericks of the pending Porzingis rape allegations during a trade call with NBA headquarters, that took place on January 31st,  that finalized the deal that sent Porzingis to the Mavericks.

A spokesman for the New York Police Department issued the following: “The NYPD takes sexual assault and all rape cases extremely seriously, and urges anyone who has been a victim to file a report so we can perform a comprehensive investigation, and offer support and services to survivors.”

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Golden State Warriors

Warriors’ DeMarcus Cousins Says Fans Have Called Him ‘N—-r’, Says He’s Reported it to League

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Golden State Warriors big man DeMarcus Cousins is speaking out about how NBA fans treat players, revealing that fans have called him the N-word during games and stating that he had reported the incidents to the league.

Cousins discussed the incidents during an interview with Chris Haynes on the ‘Posted Up’ podcast:

“Oh, I’ve been called n—-r, and it’s crazy because this has happened to me on a few occasions. I reported it to the league, and, you know, I may have said whatever I said back, and I was still punished for it. But obviously it became a bigger issue when it was Russ [Westbrook] and he was still fined for it. I don’t really understand it. We’re the product. We push this league. So, I don’t understand. When does our safety, when does, it become important?”

While Cousins spoke candidly about his experiences, he did not specific which cities in which he heard the racial slurs.

“I don’t really want to, because I’m not really trying to put a label on an entire fan base” Cousins said when discussing which cities he heard the slurs. T”here are ignorant individuals in every city. I’ll just put it like that. [NBA] tells you to ignore it, or whatever the case may be. But how many times am I supposed to ignore that? Me coming from where I come from [Mobile, Alabama]. They lucky all they got was a response.”

While Cousins did not mention any cities or teams, Haynes reported that one city was Sacramento, where Cousins spent the majority of his career playing for the Kings.

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