Tag Archives: Wells Fargo Center

Lack of Progress on Injured Right Foot Could Sideline Sixers Embiid for Next Season

18 Jun
Joel Embiid's foot has yet to heal and he could be out for next year.  Photo by Sixers.com

Joel Embiid’s foot has yet to heal and he could be out for next year. Photo by Sixers.com

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—Three weeks before the 2015 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers and their fans had visions of the team using the third pick in the draft to pick up Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell or China league sensation Emmanuel Mundiay to run the offense with Nerlens Noel and 7-foot center Joel Embiid at the Wells Fargo Center.

But the bad news on Embiid’s lack of progress on the injured right foot that forced him to miss all of what should have been his rookie season has Sixers fans shaking their heads instead.

“Joel and Sixers personnel travelled to Los Angeles for a series of routine exams with a number of physicians who have been actively involved throughout this process,” Sixers owner Sam Hinkie said in a statement issued to fans. “During his visit with Dr. Richard Ferkel, a standard CT scan on Joel’s right foot revealed less healing than anticipated at this point …Discussions regarding the appropriate next steps are currently ongoing and we will share an update once it becomes available.”

According to some reports, there’s a distinct possibility that the Embiid may not play next season. That’s really bad considering that Embiid reportedly missed rehab sessions, has had weight issues and has argued with the team’s trainers.

It’s also a bad thing with considering the YouTube videos of Embiid that show that he was getting better and starting to look good on the court during workouts. One of the videos shows Embiid dunking the ball from between his legs at the end of the team’s pre-game shoot-around.

Should he have been doing that given the state of his foot? Especially since now it looks like he could be facing more surgery and thus another year off the court?

For a fan base that’s not only had to endure some of the worst basketball ever played at the Wells Fargo Center, but has also had to watch in horror as former Sixer Andre Iguodala not only picked up a championship ring with the Golden State Warriors, but was also crowned the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, this latest setback to the team’s rebuilding efforts might be the one that makes folks start giving Hinkie the side-eye.

But we won’t know just how bad Embiid’s lack of progress in terms of his injury is until Draft Night. What the Sixers do with the third pick will tell the tale.

According to some recent mock drafts, the Sixers could go after a big man like Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, Kentucky’s Karl Anthony Towns or Latvian power forwards Kristaps Porzingis if neither of their first two choices is available. The team could also take a look at Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein.

But since the Sixers traded former Rookie of the Year point guard Michael Carter-Williams, that might be the need they meet first. They liked Ohio State’s Russell and Hinkie won’t want to let a fan base that’s finally starting to get a little skeptical and a media that always was think that the organization changed its way of draft thinking due to the lack of progress on Embiid’s injured right foot.

The bottom line is that the Sixers need to show that all of the tanking they did to get these lottery picks is going to lead to something. All that the team has gotten in the last two drafts for all of its losses is one healthy player in Noel, and he spent his rookie season riding the pine due to injury and one in Carter-Williams that they traded away before he had a chance to develop.

For those who are enamored by the unconventional thinking of Hinkie and company, it’s all about patience and letting things work themselves out. Hinkie apparently has his own timeline and in his mind, the gumbo is going to be done when he thinks it’s done.

After all, these are merely the quirks of a genius at work. Right? (crickets)

But in the course of getting things done, 76ers fans want to see some semblance of light of what has been a very dark tunnel for a franchise that’s made it to the NBA Finals just twice in the last 32 years.

Especially since foot injuries, specifically the kind that come with shooting yourself in the foot, seem to be this team’s forte.

 

Mason Comes Up Huge for Flyers To Even Series

26 Apr

Flyers Goalie Comes up with 37 Saves in 2-1 win over the New York Rangers

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Steve Mason had 37 saves in win over the New York Rangers Friday night.  Photo by Webster Riddick.

Steve Mason had 37 saves in win over the New York Rangers Friday night. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Until further notice, a horrible game or the end of the Flyers playoff run, Steve Mason is your goalie. Period—end of discussion. There is no goalie controversy in this part of South Philly.

In a must-win situation, Mason did his part stopping 37 shots on goal and the offensive did just enough to support his outstanding effort.

Jakub Voracek’s second-period power-play goal gave the Flyers a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center to even the best-of-seven first-round Stanley Cup playoff series at two games apiece.

With the way, the Rangers were attacking the Flyers net in Friday’s Game 4, Mason simply shut New York down for most of the game.

“He’s been great for us all year long, he’s very strong mentally and he showed that tonight,” said right winger Wayne Simmonds.

The two teams will lock horns in a pivotal Game 5 matchup at Madison Square Garden in New York on Sunday at noon. After having ended a three-year losing streak on the Rangers home ice in Game 2, the Flyers say they are confident that they come away with a win.

“That’s huge getting that win in New York the last time we played there,” Simmonds said. “It’s not on our minds anymore and we’re going to be focused on the game and making sure we do all the right things to be prepared for the game.”

On a night when the Flyers were out-shot by the Rangers 38-25, Mason, who hadn’t played in two weeks, was simply superb, especially after he allowed the game’s first goal by Rangers center Dominic Moore four minutes into the game. That would be New York’s first and only lead of the game. Mason slammed the door on the Rangers for the rest of the night.

“(Mason) played a great game, made some big saves and got some momentum for us when we were playing on our heels a little bit,” said Matt Read, who scored the Flyers first goal in the opening period. “He played a great 60 minutes, he battles in there and he does the right thing. It’s good to see him back and healthy.”

Mason also got help from a tenacious Flyers defense which blocked 14 shots and got physical with the Rangers when they approached the Flyers net. Even when the Flyers lost Nicklas Grossman for the rest of the game with an upper-body injury in the second period, Philadelphia was relentless on defense.

“They did a great job with the blocked shots and the guys picking up the slack after we lost (Grossman),” Mason said. “It’s a big loss. The guy logs a lot of minutes and blocks a lot of shots.

The guys picked up big where he would have left off. Those are the type of efforts come playoff time that you need to be successful.”

A more physical Flyers team came up really big early in the third period when the Rangers had a four-on-three power-play opportunity, but Mason, who had a stick save in that sequence, and the defense successfully killed the penalty.

“Our defense did a good job tonight,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “I thought they broke the puck out well. They were physical down low. Most of their chances were rushed chances and that’s the just coverage and the neutral zone. Our D battled hard and did what they had to do.”

On the offensive end, the Flyers did just enough scoring to win the game. Voracek’s goal with 12:38 left in the second period turned out to be the winning score. The score happened when he guided in a shot from Braydon Schenn into the goal past Rangers net-minder Henrik Lundqvist.

“I was wide open, Schenn made a good heads up play and I tipped it,” Voracek said.

After the Rangers took a 1-0 lead, the Flyers tied on the game on a goal by Read, who rebounded a shot from Jason Akeson that hit the board behind the Rangers net. Read shot it over the left glove of Lindqvist.

 

Former Temple Women’s Star Living a Dream with the Harlem Globetrotters

13 Mar

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Former Temple point guard Fatima Maddox in enjoying the spotlight as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.  Photo by Webster Riddick.

Former Temple point guard Fatima  “TNT ” Maddox in enjoying the spotlight as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Ever since she started playing basketball, former Temple women’s basketball star Fatima Maddox has always dreamed of being a professional basketball and showing off her skills.

During her college days at Temple, Maddox played point guard for then head coach and Basketball Hall-of-Famer, Dawn Staley, leading the Owls to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances and an Atlantic-10 title in 2006.

After Temple, Maddox played professionally in Sweden for a few years. In 2012, Maddox’s pro hoop dreams became even bigger than she imagined when got a tryout with the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters and became the first woman to make the team since 1993.

“I get a phone call to try-out for the Globetrotters and I’m like, ‘Are women allowed on that team?’” Maddox said. “I showed up with no expectations, not really knowing what to expect and it worked out for me … I ended up making it and I’ve been living a dream ever since.”

Now known as “TNT”, Maddox is having the time of her life as a Globetrotter, entertaining the crowd with slick ball-handling skills reminiscent of legendary Globetrotter Fred “Curly” Neal. The former Temple guard was in town for their show at the Wells Fargo last weekend.

As much fun as Maddox is having on the basketball court, the most meaningful part to her as she plays with the ‘Trotters around the country and around the world is the chance she gets to interact with fans on and off the court, especially the kids.

“This gives me a chance to do so much more off the court as well as on the court as far as charities,” she said. “We go to a lot of schools and we do a lot of school visits. “It’s been rewarding for me. Now I visit hospitals with sick kids. I visit schools. It takes everything that I’m about and intertwines it.”

During the Globetrotters recent visit to the Wells Fargo Center, Maddox participated in all the famed Globetrotter antics, the famous weave play, the pre-game circle, hidden ball tricks and she did her signature sliding dribble plays and twirling and spinning the basketball on her fingers.

“I like the slide dribble that I do and so I break that out whenever I can,” Maddox said. “I’ve always been good at dribbling and that adds a little something to it.”

Maddox said Curly Neal has been one of her biggest fans at watching her perform his old moves on the court.

“(Neal) is so encouraging. He’s a legend,” she said. “He tells I’m doing a good job. He’s always encouraging me to get better, so I hoping I’m making him proud.”

When she wasn’t on the floor and playing with her teammates, Maddox was in the crowd hugging the kids and giving them an opportunity to come on the floor with the Globetrotters. That aspect of being a Globetrotter seemed to make her big smile light up even more.

“The smiles on those kids faces, those are priceless,” Maddox said. “If I can bring joy to somebody by doing something I love to do. That’s the fun part for me. It’s been awesome, it really has been.”

As the lone woman on the team, Maddox has held her own with the guys and has earned a great deal of respect from her male cohorts.

“TNT is amazing. … She’s one of the best ball-handlers on the team,” said Chris “Handles” Franklin. “It’s not like she’s a gimmick. She can really play basketball. She can dribble. She can shoot. She can do it all.”

“Most importantly, she’s an inspiration to all the women out there. She show’s you that you can do anything you want when you put your mind to it, “ Franklin said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Last Hurrah for the Answer

2 Mar

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Allen Iverson gives a salute to Sixers fans at the Wells Fargo Center as the team retired his jersey during halftime of the 76ers game versus the Washington Wizards.  Photo by Yahoo.com.

Allen Iverson gives a salute to Sixers fans at the Wells Fargo Center as the team retired his jersey during halftime of the 76ers game versus the Washington Wizards. Photo by Yahoo.com.

PHILADELPHIA—As they raised the banner with his No. 3 jersey above the rafters at the Wells Fargo Center, Allen Iverson looked up in amazement as the crowd roared its approval with some chanting MVP.

It was one last good-bye and one final cheer from the crowd for the 39-year-old Iverson, who wearing a Black fedora, some chains around his neck and some studious-looking glasses. He put his hand to his ear to really feel and hear the energy of the crowd one more time.

After the ceremonies ended, Iverson said hearing that crowd cheer for him was a bittersweet occasion because he knows it may be the last time he gets to hear the roar of the crowd again until he is eventually inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

“It feels good, but you know in some part of my heart, it hurts,” said Iverson, who won four NBA scoring titles and two All-Star Game MVP Awards. “I realize and I understand that it’s over. When I come into the arena, I’m stepping onto the basketball court with street clothes on and I know it will never be in a uniform again.

“That part of it brings back so many memories just hearing the roar of the crowd, doing my signature put my hands up to my ears.  It brings it back, but it hurts still. I’m a basketball fan, it’s hard for me to watch the Sixers play. … It feels like just yesterday I was here trying to entertain these fans.”

The Philadelphia 76ers organization retired Iverson’s number during halftime ceremonies of the Sixers game versus the Washington Wizards.  To keep it real, those who witnessed Iverson’s jersey being raised above the rafters to go along side the likes of Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks and Wilt Chamberlain will probably not remember the outcome of the game itself.

That’s because they came to celebrate a player in Iverson who was perhaps the embodiment of what means to be an athlete in a broad-shouldered city like Philadelphia. If there was a Mount Rushmore of gritty, tough athletes in this town, you’d have to carve out a statue of Iverson.

Philly fans will never forget Iverson leading the Sixers run to the 2001 NBA Finals. The 6-foot former Georgetown star was brilliant in the Eastern Conference semifinal and finals. Fans will never forget the fourth quarter of the Sixers Game 1 win over the Los Angeles Lakers and the three-pointer he hit while stepping over Tyronn Lue.

“The best one was in Toronto when Vince (Carter) got 50 and the next game Allen goes back and gets 50. You don’t see that in a playoff series,” said former Sixers general manager Billy King. “It was games like that … beating Milwaukee, winning the first game in LA. The whole year was magical. (Iverson) getting MVP of the All-Star game, I was blessed to be a part of it and to have a front-row seat.”

During the course of the evening, Iverson was showered with affection from all-time great Sixers like Erving and his former head coach Larry Brown, who appeared on the Wells Fargo jumbotron, congratulated Iverson for having his jersey retired.

There were video accolades from current players like Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Ray Allen and Chris Paul who paid tribute to Iverson and thanked him for being an influence on them as players.

Some of the players Iverson played against were also in attendance. One of them was former Seattle Supersonics guard Gary Payton. Known as the “Glove” for his defensive prowess, Payton said Iverson was difficult to defend.

“He was always a nightmare to guard because you knew he was going to score,” Payton said. “He could get to the basket and hit jump shots. You just had to contain him and hope he had an off night.”

Iverson was also an iconic figure to the mid to late 1990s hip-hip generation. His braided hair, jewelry and tattoos gave a voice to a generation of young fans that the world would prefer not to see or hear. Iverson brought street swag to the NBA like no other player before him.

“He changed a lot of things with the cornrows, he changed a lot of things with the chains,” said former NBA guard Gary Payton. “He changed a lot of things in the NBA as an icon. When he goes to the Hall of Fame, it will solidify his greatness.”

Iverson, who won the NBA’s MVP award in 2001, said he took a lot of criticism from the media for the way he looked, the way he dressed, the friends he hung with and his attitude. If he had to do it all over again, he would still do it his way.

“I enabled this generation now and took the beaten, so they can express themselves and be who they are,” Iverson said. “It’s a bittersweet situation, but I wouldn’t change it for nothing else.”

 

 

 

 

 

Flyer Can’t Overcome Slow Start in Loss to Carolina

23 Jan

 

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux scored the Flyers first goal in the loss to Carolina Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux scored the Flyers first goal in the loss to Carolina Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—For the first 39 ½ minutes in their game against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Flyers looked like a team that didn’t get enough sleep the previous night. The team hadn’t skated in two days thanks to Tuesday’s snowstorm. They were down 2-0 until they got a goal from Claude Giroux with 25 seconds left in the second period.

Three minutes into the third period, a goal by Scott Hartnell evened the game and it looked like the Flyers had found their energy.

Unfortunately, the Flyers once again found out that you can’t fall behind a team and expect to win.   Carolina came with a 3-2 win over the Flyers in front of a sell-out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday night.

 Jiri Tlusty’s goal with 6:10 remaining in the third period was the game-winner for the Hurricanes (21-19-9).  

“We didn’t play very good and we ended up losing the game,” said Flyer head coach Craig Berube. “The whole game we weren’t very good. You’ve got to have a lot more energy than that.”

In the first period, the Flyers (25-20-6) couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end and managed to get off just three shots.

“We can’t be shooting ourselves in the foot like this we need to have better starts,” Giroux said. “I think first period was the way we wanted to play. I know we didn’t skate for two days, but that’s not good enough.”

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes Alexander Semin provided the only scoring of the period when he took a pass from center Eric Staal near the right-wing circle and shot it past Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros and goalie Steve Mason for a 1-0 lead.

“It was just a heck of a shot,” Mason said. “He got a really good shot through (Meszaros) body a little bit. It was just a nice shot.”

The Hurricanes upped the margin to 2-0 on a break-away goal by center Nathan Gerbe, who  took control of the puck that went through the leg of defenseman Luke Schenn, who was standing at the top of the blue near the right wing circle.

Late in the second period, the Flyers got into the scoring column a goal by Giroux, who rebounded a shot by Jakub Voracek that bounced off the pad of goalie Anton Khudobin. Giroux, who was to the left of Khudobin, somehow got the puck behind the Carolina goalkeeper and into the net.

“When (Giroux) scored late that was a big goal for us to give us some momentum,” said Flyers left winger Scott Hartnell.

The Flyers would even things three minutes into the third period on a power-play goal by Hartnell, who shot the puck into the net on a rebound off a shot from Wayne Simmonds that was blocked by Khudobin.

After Hartnell’s goal, the Flyers simply could not sustain the momentum and they looked like a team struggling to find some energy on the offensive end. On defense, they allowed Tlusty’s goal because Voracek broke his stick and didn’t have enough time to get a new one from the bench.  

For the last two games going back to Monday’s overtime shoot-out loss to the New York Islander, the Flyers have been lulled into thinking they can just turn it and off even if they fall behind as they did in Wednesday’s game.

“We just sat back and thought that we were going to wait until overtime and maybe win it in a shootout,” Hartnell said. “That’s not the way to play. It hasn’t been our ‘MO’ when we’ve been successful, but we’ll change that.”

Flyers Rebound from Loss in Chicago

13 Dec

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux had a goal and assist in the win over Montreal. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux had a goal and assist in the win over Montreal. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Thursday Night’s game at the Wells Fargo was a homecoming in more ways than one for the Flyers.

For starters, the Flyers were trying to put an end to a three-game losing streak while getting over the shellacking they took at the hands of the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Black Hawks on Wednesday night to cap a long six-game road trip.

It was also the return of former Flyers and now Montreal Canadiens center Danny Briere, who got a video tribute and a standing ovation from the Flyers fans filled with memories of his 30-point performance during the team’s run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.

“We all loved Danny,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “We loved his time here. He’s a great guy and a very good hockey player. There’s a lot of respect from us and his teammates. He got a great welcome from the fans.”

Showing no signs of having played 24 hours earlier, the Flyers gave the 19,748 home fans something to cheer about with a 2-1 win over the Canadians. It was the Flyers sixth straight win on their home ice.

“After our performance in Chicago … we did a good job of five-on-five today,” Jakub Voracek, who had two assists. “Actually, we weren’t thinking about last night when we got our ass kicked. Every game is zero-zero and we knew it, I think we played very well tonight. It was a huge two points to bounce back after a disappointing loss in Chicago.”

Berube said he was happy with the energy and heart his team showed in their first night at home after a long road trip that ended with a horrific loss.

“I think there’s a lot of character in the room,” Berube said. “They certainly weren’t happy about that loss in Chicago because they wanted to show that they could compete with that team. It didn’t work out they wanted it to, but it was a lot of character and it was a good win tonight. They played a good team game tonight.”

After giving up seven goals against Chicago the previous night, the Flyers clamped down on defense and kept the Canadian from getting any good shots on goalie Steve Mason, who had 20 saves against 21 shots. Montreal didn’t score until there was 56 seconds left in the game.

“It was a great overall effort,” Mason said. “Guys were really hard not to give them too many opportunities to have any rushes because they’re a fast team.”

Claude Giroux, who scored what turned about the game-winning goal in the second period, said the Flyers defensive effort also got the offense going.

“I think we really did a good job,” Giroux said. “Most of our chances offensively is because we played good defensively. When we understand that we’ll have more chances.”

The Flyers also stayed away from the penalty box. The Canadians had just one just one power-play opportunity, but did not score.

With 6:03 left in the first period, Flyers left winger Michael Rafl scored the game’s first goal on a pass from Voracek who was positioned behind the net to the left of Montreal goalie Carey Price. It was Rafl’s second goal of the season. It was really special because his dad was in the building for the Flyers Father-Son Night.

“It was just great, amazing,” Rafl said. “He never saw an NHL game live and all this stuff was just awesome.”

The Flyers took a 2-0 lead midway through the second period on a goal by Giroux, who got the puck on a cross pass from Voracek, who got his second assist of the game.

The Canadians got their only goal late in the game from center Alex  Galchenyuk.

Flyers End Four-Game Slide With Win over the Rangers

25 Oct
Matt Read put the Flyers on the period with an unassisted goal in the first period.

Matt Read put the Flyers on the board with an unassisted goal in the first period.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—Never mind that the New York Rangers are missing several players from their starting lineup and that they are among the worst teams in the NHL (3-6), the Flyers were desperate for a win over anybody.

This is definitely true for a Flyers (2-7-0) squad that has had trouble scoring more than one goal in most of their games this year.  They have yet to score more than two in their first nine games of the season.

Suffice it to say, the Flyers 2-1 win over the Rangers Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center was progress or at least a step in the right direction.

Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn scored what turned out the winning goal with 16:27 left in the third period when he took a pass from Matt Read at the point and shot it past New York goalie Cam Talbot.  Head coach Craig Berube said he was glad to see his team score enough goals to get their second victory of the season-his first as the Flyers coach.

“Getting a win is the most important thing obviously,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “Wins are wins in this league. You play games where you play really well and you don’t win. You’ll play games where you play average or not so good and you win. It’s good for the confidence. That’s what we play for is to win hockey games.”

The goal scorers for the Flyers were not the guys from the team’s top scoring lines. But when you’ve been in a sweltering desert of not putting the puck in the net, you’re happy to get a goal from just about anybody.

The Flyers will definitely take Read’s short-handed, breakaway goal midway through the first period.  He separated the puck from Rangers center Derick Brassard near center ice and streaked in front of Talbot and shot the puck through the five-hole (between his legs) for the goal.

“You always know the length of the pads these days, that five hole’s always open, so you just sit tight and shoot it in the five-hole,” said Read, who also had an assist on Coburn’s game-winning goal.

Meanwhile, Steve Mason had another brilliant in goal for the Flyers with 30 saves. For him, it was an effort that didn’t go to waste because the offense didn’t score enough goals. The Rangers only score of the game came on a goal by center Brad Richards late in the first period.

“You just have to ready for anything,” Mason said. “You know the next save could be the turning point in the game. I think (Cam) Talbot made a huge save coming across on Brayden (Coburn) and that could have swung the momentum in their direction. But it was my job just to make the saves.”

It also helps to have a few breaks go your way as well.  Midway through the third period, an apparent game-tying goal by Rangers center J.T. Miller was overturned by the replay officials, who ruled that the puck was kicked into the net.

“It was a kicking motion, I knew it right away,” Mason said.

But there are still some areas of concern for the Flyers. They were 0-for-4 in the power play including a five-minute power play that came when Rangers left winger Benoit Pouliot hit center Max Talbot and pushed him into the boards.  Pouliot was given a game misconduct and ejected.

“For some reason, it’s not going in right now, but you have slumps like that during an 82-game season,” said Flyers captain Claude Giroux. “The last three years our power play has been the top of the league. We just have to keep working on it and it will come.”

Meanwhile, Talbot, with a band-aid on his nose, was back on the ice in the third period. He said he was checked by doctors and was eventually allowed to get back in the game.

“Not disoriented. It’s a weird feeling obviously,” Talbot said. “I don’t wish that on anybody. No symptoms (concussion), no headaches or anything.”