If you missed it last night, veteran NBA writer Chris Sheridan shared on Twitter a column he wrote for the New York Daily News titled “76ers’ Brett Brown is heading for coaching purgatory.”
Sixers VP of Communications Dave Sholler read the piece and did not like it, calling it an “irresponsible hack job” and “steaming pile of trash” –
This is one of the most irresponsible hack jobs I’ve ever seen in more than a decade of working in sports. Factual inaccuracies, made-up stories, and references to convos that never happened. This is a steaming pile of trash. Steaming. Pile.
— Dave Sholler (@DaveSholler) April 17, 2019
Strong response right there!
So here’s a bit of background –
Sheridan has been in the business for decades. He was an NBA writer for ESPN and The Associated Press back in the day. Then he started his own site, SheridanHoops.com, and covered the Sixers for two months last season for NJ.com before resigning for what he describes as a “family emergency” on his Linkedin page. He had replaced Zack Rosenblatt on the beat, who moved over to the Eagles after Matt Lombardo took NJ.com’s Giants gig. Now Sheridan contributes to the NY Daily News as an NBA and sports gambling writer.
Right, so why does Sholler think the column is trash? Let’s look after the jump:
…the Sixers are a mess internally, with Brown having long ago lost the locker room following the acquisition of Jimmy Butler, but before the acquisition of Tobias Harris. The breaking point came at a game in Portland when Brown had Bruce Bowen address the team about “San Antonio Spurs culture” – a speech that went over like a lead balloon to such an extent that Joel Embiid and Bowen got into each other‘s faces.
The Bowen thing was reported by Keith Pompey earlier this year. But the alleged incident didn’t happen in Portland, that was the conflict between Brett Brown and Jimmy Butler. The Bruce Bowen thing apparently took place on December 17th in San Antonio. The Portland game was on December 30th and addressed by Butler and Brown in January.
Further, Brett cussed out the team at halftime the other night, according to Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, and they responded with a 51-point third quarter. I’d be wary of any absolute statements, i.e., a coach has “lost” the locker room. These things ebb and flow throughout the course of the season. Keeping an NBA locker room together is a fluid and challenging exercise, and this group seems to be in a better spot now.
The degree to which Brown lost the locker room was amplified on March 25 when Ben Simmons sat out a 21-point loss to the Orlando Magic due to a “stomach virus.”
In actuality, a source close to the team told the Daily News, Simmons had spent the previous night partying in Orlando. The “stomach virus” was a fallacy, although that is nothing new for the Sixers organization. They used to do the same thing when Allen Iverson was partying and gambling his nights away in Atlantic City and showing up for practice hung over. Larry Brown was the mastermind of those cover-ups, although the stories eventually came out.
This passage was edited. It originally noted that Simmons was out in “Miami” and that Kendall Jenner was also there. Kendall’s social media shows her at what appears to be her home on March 25th, watching the Sixers game on TV. So unless she caught a redeye from Orlando to Los Angeles, she wasn’t involved. Plus, the 24th was a Sunday, and I don’t know anyone who parties in Orlando on a Sunday. Either way, Kendall references were slashed, so I guess NYDN editors they realized this was incorrect.
Also, the Iverson thing is totally irrelevant. The “Sixers organization” featured different owners, different players, a different coach, and a different public relations staff back then.
A source who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity said general manager Elton Brand made it known to ownership sometime before the trade deadline that the organization needed to consider trading Simmons because the youngster was simply not coachable, and was a regular-season player annually exposed in the playoffs.
This doesn’t make sense, because Ben Simmons is playing his second NBA year. I’m not sure how a player can be “annually exposed” when he only has one year of playoff experience under his belt. And while he had issues in the Boston series, he was good vs. Miami. It’s not like people don’t know what the problems with Ben are, it’s a matter of getting over the hump with him, and there’s nothing to suggest the Sixers are trying to move on from him already.
But back to the Sixers: Ever wonder why Simmons is such a poor free throw shooter? It is because he does not bend his knees. Countless coaches have tried to tell Simmons that bending his knees would solve his problems, but he refuses to listen.
Ben’s free-throw shooting problem extends well beyond “bending his knees.” His elbow sticks out and he spins the ball like a top upon release. I mean, yeah, sure, he could use some mechanical help across the board, but his upper body is the bigger issue, not his lower body. He shoots left with the mechanics of a righty.
Anyway, I think the telling thing here is that Sholler jumped all over this. Communications people rarely do this, because the problem is that it paints you into a corner. If this article is garbage, does it mean that stories he does not address are, in fact, true?
Maybe, maybe not. But this one must have been a real clunker for Dave to act with this kind of brevity and severity, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen this kind of response from him, ever.