Last night the Sixers invited assorted media and bloggers to the Wells Fargo Center to preview their new magic court projection system. We were each given our own locker in NBA Locker Room 2 (I presume this is used solely for LeBron’s entourage when he’s in town) which came with a nameplate, official NBA socks (HOT), and four tickets to the home opener (nothing like kissing up before this festering turd of a season). After showing off the wiz-bang projection system – which is pretty fantastic and I imagine even cooler in an arena
full partly full with at least tens of fans in attendance – we were led down to the floor for custom intros complete with (terrifying) smoke machines, Sixers Phlight Squad chest bumps (bungled mine), and Matt Cord, who most likely would’ve preferred to have been doing anything else at that particular moment.
There was a game of Knockout, which kicked off with me taking a rogue Spalding to the face. Thankfully, no blood. But I was this close to being the blogger who got a bloody nose all over the Sixers’ court… though that may have proven to be the hardwood’s high point of the season.
And then, a three-point contest. Jim and I each made two shots.
Jump shot breakdown:
Jim: Low release point, but gets the shot off quickly enough to avoid being blocked. Could use a little more height on the jump. His spring forward resembles a bird hopping to its next breadcrumb, which creates a weird juxtaposition with his Zach Galifianakis-meets-Shawn-Marion overall look. But still, effective. B-.
Mine (written by Jim): I didn’t get video of Kyle’s three-point contest round — and I don’t remember how many he made — but his shot is certainly more rhythmic and dare I say normal than mine. It’s fundamentals from bottom to top, and where it seemed like my shot was either in or not even remotely close, Kyle’s were at least consistently rim-adjacent. I also bit pretty hard on one of his pump fakes in the 5-on-5 game and envisioned coming down wrong on my ankle and making a real fool of myself. Luckily, I landed relatively balanced. B.
Sixers and Devils CEO Scott O’Neil won both Knockout and the three-point contest. He’s a monster. But more on him in a second, because I have to talk about the 5-on-5 game.
Side 1 (with sub): Me, Marshall Harris (CSN), Derek Bodner (Liberty Ballers, 97.3 ESPN), Eliot Shorr-Parks (NJ.com), and two Sixers employees that I didn’t know who are probably super important.
Side 2: Jim, Scott O’Neil (Sixers and Devils CEO), Mike Missanelli (97.5 The Fanatic), Jason McIntyre (The Big Lead), and another Sixers employee that wasn’t Sam Hinkie.
Selective scouting reports: Eliot is all-around solid and able to drive effectively, though Jim did send one of his shot attempts into, no joke, the third row. Jim and his hipster sweatpants are deceptively skilled, and they ran at least one effective backdoor cut thanks to a nasty screen Missanelli set on yours truly. I think it was a moving pick, to be honest, but I’d expect nothing less from someone who teaches in the shadow of Phil Martelli at St. Joe’s.
My heat check was lukewarm at best. I think I went 0-for-4 from the field with a couple of rim-outs and a circus shot miss as I drove the lane one-on-one against O’Neil. There it was, my one shot at glory and an NBA contract, and I missed everything.
O’Neil, who can’t stop, wouldn’t stop moving*, was the story of the game. Whatever quality makes someone successful enough to be the CEO of two sports teams, is exactly the same quality that suits them up in official NBA game shorts and layered team-issued warmups, and gives them an on-court demeanor that I would describe as “friendly, but no seriously I came to win get off my floor if you’re not here to do the same” for a late-night pickup game against strange bedfellows. At one point I was doubled over, wondering if I was about to become that 31-year-old who suffered a heart attack, and looked up to see what I think was O’Neil trying to get his team to run a full-court trap on Harris. I was searching for oxygen, O’Neil was searching for the nail in the coffin. His team eventually found it. They finished us off, 11-10, and not a moment too soon. The legs hurt today. The legs hurt.
*We’re celebrating Taylor Swift’s album release by crowbarring one of her lyrics into every post today. Jim might quit by the end of the day.