‘WANTED TO QUIT’: SIXER EMBIID WAS HURT AND LOST HIS BROTHER!

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Joel Embiid wasatulate him on being appointed Tottenham head coach.”I received messages from everybody, everywhere (from my former clubs),” he told Sky Sports News.”Maybe I get the opportunity to apologise for not answering 500 of them that I couldn’t answer. I hav already hurt when the Sixers drafted him with the third pick in 2014, and he continued to struggle with right foot injuries for two and a half years, undergoing two major surgeries.

He also lost his younger brother during that span and was very far from his home, Cameroon.

In an interview with ESPN, Embiid explained how close he was to leaving theng Real Madrid as a teenager.Neymar famously trialled at Real as a junior player before eventually lerd.The Manchester City boss has won the Premier League and League Cup this season.He will win a domestic treble if City can clinch the FA Cup on Saturday.”It’s an honour to receive this award,” Guardiola said in a pre-recorded video shown at the dinnaving Santos for Barcelona. Both LaLiga giants are now trying to prise the Brazilian away from PSG.Meanwhile, Teixeiera told AS: “If he didn’t go the sport he might soon dominate:

HOTTER THAN HELL NOLA PUNCHES OUT METS AS PHILS WIN 3-1!

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Aaron Nola held an opponent to two runs or fewer for his 10th straight start, had a go-ahead single and the Phillies beat the New York Mets 3-1.

Nola (9-7) gave up one run and two hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts and two walks. He is 6-2 with a 1.71 ERA in his last 10 starts and is the only Phillies pitcher since 1900 to have 10 straight starts of at least six innings while allowing two runs or fewer, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Cesar Hernandez and Tommy Joseph also had RBI for the Phillies, who won despite just five hits. Odubel Herrera extended his career-best hittin-year-old has expressed his desire to leave United amid interest from Real Madrid.But Kleberson thinks the Red Devils would be letting one of the world’s top players walk out the door.He said: “Pogba is a very good player, we saw his quality in the Wg streak to 15 games with an eighth-inning single.

“It’s nice to come in here with a smile,” Philadelphia manager Pete Mackanin said. “Nola was fantastic.”

New York lost at Citizens Bank Park for the first time in six games this season. Having already traded Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda and Addison Reed, the Mets dealt veteran infielder Neil Walker and cash to the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named. Walker was scratched from New York’s lineup and left the ballpark in the sixth inning.

Steven Matz (2-6) dropped to 0-5 in his last eight starts, but improved over Blackburn Rovers veteran Stewart Downing has taken a swipe at Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers.Downing is upset about the way Rodgers treated him at Liverpool.He said on the Training Ground Guru Podcast, “The second year at Liverpool with Brendan recent outings by allowing two runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. Matz is 0-5 with a 9.51 ERA in his last seven appearances.

“He was much, much better,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “He kept us in the game. A couple of ground balls. Other than that, he pitched well.”

Matz held the Phillies hitless until Nick Williams’ leadoff infield single in the fifth. Maikel Franco singled, Nola sacrificed, and singles by Hernandez and Galvis put the Phillies ahead 2-1.

Ricardo Pinto struck out Cespedes on a 98 mph pitch to strand two runners in the eighth, and Tommy Joseph hit a sacrifice fly against Erik Goeddel in the bottom half.

Luis Garcia came on with one on and one out in the ninth and earned his second save in his fifth tries by striking out pinements.The Manchester United legend lead Wales to next year’s tournament after Tuesday’s win over Hungary sealed a second-placed finish in Group E.”It’s doesn’t get any better,” Wales manager Giggs told Sky Sports. “It’s amazing. From where we were ich-hitter Wilmer Flores and retiring Travis d’Arnaud on a groundout.

RAPTORS EVEN SERIES AT 2-2 WITH 101-96 WIN OVER SIXERS!

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Kawhi Leonard scored 39 points including a three-pointer with 1:01 to play to lift the Toronto Raptors to a 101-96 win over the Sixers.

And now the Sixers and Raptors head back to Toronto for Tuesday’s Game 5 of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference series all tied up at two wins apiece.

Leonard shot 13-for-20 in 42 minutes and grabbed a team-high 14 rebounds on another magnificent night. He has 152 points through the four games of this series. And for the first time in a couple of games, he got some decent help from his teammates. Marc Gasol had 16 points, Kyle Lowry had 14, Serge Ibaka chipped in with 12, and Danny Green had 11.

Lowry, Gasol and Ibaka had been a horrible 4-for-22 combined in Game 3.

A day after he was listed as doubtful with a calf injury, Pascal Siakam started for the Raptors, but the lingering injury seemed to affect his shooting –Southampton move for Spezia striker David Okereke.The Daily Mail says Southampton are set to make an approach for €15m striker Okereke.The Saints will pull the trigger on a move for the Spezia striker.The 21-year-old Nigerian bagged 10 Serie B goals and has also been linked with West Ham and Crystal Palace among other European clubs. the team’s second-leading scorer in the post-season went 2-for-10 for nine points.

Jimmy Buttler had 29 points, while JJ Redick had 19 for Philly. The Raptors held Joel Embiid, who had scored a playoff career best 33 points on Thursday, to just 10 points.

Lowry and the Raptors traditionally bounce back after big losses, and there’ve been few bigger losses than Thursday’s 116-95 rout that made Sunday’s matchup a “must-win” according to Lowry, and one of the most important in franchise history.

The Raptors were 5-1 after back-to-back losses in the regular season, and hadn’t lost three straight since Nov. 12-16. And they revved up their intensity from the get-go, particularly on the defensive end, assembling an 11-point first-quarter lead.

Lowry Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers says Jamie Vardy deserves a place among the elite.Vardy has scored 12 goals in 16 games under Brendan Rodgers at Leicester.”He has so much to his game,” said Rodgers. “That hunger, appetite and ability to score. I’ve worked closely with Jamie [Vardy] for a while now and there aren’t many players I’d swap him for. He’s up there with the veryr Joe Hart has missed out on a move to AC Milan.The Sun says it is understood he was on a list of candidates to replace Aston Villa-bound Pepe Reina at Milan.But the Italian giants have decided to go for 32-year-old Bournemouth ace Asmir Begovic inst elite strikers.”cranked up his intensity about five-fold, blowing past Simmons and feeding Ibaka for a first-quarter dunk. A Raptors fan stood in the arena’s aisle and rocked an imaginary baby two days after a showboating Embiid did the same thing.

The Sixers took their first lead since early on a minute into the third quarter and would go up by five in front of a raucous capacity Wells Fargo Center crowd of 20,639 fans that included Julius (Dr. J) Erving, retired NFL star Terrell Owens, and Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.

The Raptors responded. And when Lowry dished to Siakam for a dunk, the power forward’s first field goal of the game, it capped a 7-0 Raptors run and put Toronto back up with 4:15 left in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter started all tied up at 75-75.

In a final nailbiting 12 minutes, a Butler three-pointer had the Sixers up by three before the Raptors slugged back with a 6-0 run to go up by three with 4:55 to play. A Redick three-pointer sliced Toronto’s advantage to just a point with 2:08 left, then with 1:01 on the clock, Leonard launched a three-pointer over Embiid as the shot-clock buzzer sounded, putting Toronto up by four points and all but clinching the victory.

Game 6 will be back in Philly next Thursday. The series would return to Toronto for Game 7 if necessary.

THE FUTURE IS NOW! WIRE-TO-WIRE SIXERS SKUNK PISTONS 97-86!

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Ben Simmons and JoJo Embiid must have gotten tired of hearing the carping from the lame-ass local media, which has been sniping at them for the first three games of the season, all losses.

Simmons had 21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, and Embiid scored 30 points to lift the visiting Sixer in India.United fan and Entertainment producer Dev Bhatia uploaded a picture of the jersey after seeing it at an adidas store in Delhi.The shirt is beige in colour his first goal for the club.The Argentine star has struggled to adapt to his new club, with injuries causing him significant frustration.He made his full debut for Spurs against Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League last night, and he got his firand features black trim. The words ‘Manchester United Football Club’ are embroidered s to a 97-86 win over the Detroit Pistons.

Detroit fell behind by 21 again in the second quarter against the 76ers. The Pistons chipped away and were within three in the fourth, but Philly held on.

Simmons was the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft before missing all of last season with a foot injury. He finished two assists shy of a triple-double at Toronto on Saturday n.The Blues are sweating on a ruling, as are PSG, reports Le 10 Sport, with several potential deals in place with Chelsea.Fullback pair Thomas Meunier and Layvin Kurzawa are both interesting Chelsea, plus defender Thiago Silva and attacker Julian Draxight, and his skill and versatility were evident in Detroit.

The Sixers never trailed. It was 56-43 at halftime and 75-67 after three quarters before the Pistons cut the deficit to three on a 3-pointer by Anthony Tolliver. The teams traded baskets for a bit before a three-point play by Robert Covington and 3-pointer by T.J. McConnell put the 76ers up by nine.

BLUE-COLLAR AL HORFORD NOW OFFICIALLY A SIXER!

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The Sixers made it official yesterday:

Horford appeared in 68 games (all starts) for Boston last season and posted 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.3 blocks in 29.0 minutes per game, joining NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo as the only two players in the league to hold such averages. The five-time NBA All-Star also shot .535 from the field, .360 from three-point range and a career-high .821 Griezmann knew he was going to be barracked by his old Atletico Madrid fans on Sunday.Griezmann was whistled and jeered during Barca’s 1-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano.In the mixed zone, Suarez said: “(Antoine) Griezmann was aware of what he was gfrom the free-throw line. Horford’s seven seasons with a field-goal percentage of .500-or-better are the fourth-most among active NBA players, behind only Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and LeBron James. Among other accolades, Horford wasive-year contract with Leicester City.The 21-year-old spent the first half of the campaign on loan at Sky Bet Championship side West Brom but was recalled in January after scoring nine times in six appearances for the Baggies.He subsequently made 16 selected to the 2017-18 All-Defensive Second Team and the 2010-11 All-NBA Third Team.

For his career, Horford has played in 786 games (782 starts) with Boston and Atlanta and holds averages of 14.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 blocks in 32.8 minutes per game. Further, a veteran of 120 cr they finalise a move for Aaron Wan-Bissaka.United are very keen on signing the young Crystal Palace and England right-back.A move is on the cards, per the Manchester Evening News, when the two clubs can agree on a fee.And the source reports that afareer postseason games, Horford’s teams have qualified for the playoffs in each of his 12 NBA seasons, dating back to 2007-08. The 12-year pro was originally selected by Atlanta with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.

Horford will wear No. 42 for the 76ers.

BRYCE HARPER’S ’18 HOME RUN DERBY EXPLOSION ON MLB.COM TODAY!

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Major League Baseball begins its fourth week of the pandemic pause, so MLB has been hustling to keep its product on your mind in hopes that you’ll come back when play starts in a month or so.

So, MLB.com has a great schedule of highlights:

Bryce Harper puts on a thrilling Derby display for the hometown fans in Washington, D.C., as he outslugs Kyle Schwarber on his final swings for a walk-off win.

Robinson Canó sets a final-round record with 12 home runs to beat Adrián González in a Yankees-Red Sox rivalry matchup for the Home Run Derby crown.

The Red Sox shatter the Curse of the Bambino and clinch their first World Series championship since 1918.

Boston shows its strength after the 2013 marathon bombings and Daniel Nava’s late home run le.Arsenal have had two bids of £15million and £18m rejected for the Scotland international with the Scottish champions said to value their star left-back at £25m.“It can be a little bit unsettling, a lot of us have been in thaarotta has confirmed they tried to sign Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud last month.Giroud’s camp have blamed Inter for the deal never eventuating.But Marotta said, “There were some priorities, which were the players we signed, so were completely satt position before,” ads the Red Sox to a win.

The Red Sox celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park before a rivalry clash with the Yankees.

The most epic comeback in baseball history begins, as Dave Roberts and David Ortiz’s heroics start Boston’s rally from down three games to none against the Yankees.

Félix Hernández pitches the 23rd perfect game h from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.The 38 year-old striker made his ‘second’ debut for Milan in last night’s 0-0 draw with Sampdoria.Gandini insists Ibrahimovic cannot transform the club’s fortunes alone, he told Sportitalia: “I think the management knows verin MLB history on Aug. 15, 2012. There still hasn’t been one since.

Max Scherzer achieves one of baseball’s rarest feats on May 11, 2016, becoming just the fifth pitcher to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning game.

Edgar Martinez hits “The Double” — his memorable 11th-inning walk-off at the Kingdome that brought home Ken Griffey Jr. with the winning run and sent the Mariners past the Yankees into the ALCS.

Manny Ramirez provides one of the most memorable “Manny Being Manny” moments, diving to cut off fellow Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon’s throw.

In the 71st Midsummer Classic, Chipper Jones hits a home run for the hometown fans at Turner Field, but the American League wins 6-3 behind All-Star Game MVP Derek Jeter.

Games to be announced.

Royals ace Bret Saberhagen no-hits the White Sox at Royals Stadium on Aug. 26, 1991, the fourth and most recent no-hitter in franchise history.

The Cubs prevail over the Giants in Game 163 at Wrigley Field on Sept. 28, 1998, to win the NL Wild Card, sparked by Gary Gaetti’s home run to break a scoreless tie.

Trailing 8-1 against the rival Cubs at Wrigley Field, the Cardinals come all the way back thanks to star slugger Albert Pujols, who records the first three-homer game of his career — including the go-ahead, two-run blast in the top of the ninth.

Possibly the best regular-season game last year saw two powerhouse offenses go toe-to-toe at Target Field. The Yankees needed rally after rally to keep up with the Bomba Squad Twins, scoring nine times in the final three innings before taking a lead into the bottom of the 10th. Then, with Minnesota threatening a walk-off, Yankees center fielder (and former Twin) Aaron Hicks ended the affair with a sensational diving catch.

Jackson homers three times on just three swings, sending Yankee Stadium into a frenzy as New York closes out the Dodgers to win its first World Series championship in 15 years.

A pair of NL West rivals staged a wild back-and-forth affair in this winner-take-all game in Phoenix. The D-backs knocked out Rockies starter Jon Gray, as a three-run homer by Paul Goldschmidt helped Arizona jump out to a 6-0 lead. But the Rockies roared back against D-backs ace Zack Greinke, cutting the lead to just one in the seventh inning. The tide turned again when D-backs reliever Archie Bradley knocked an extremely rare two-run triple, extending an Arizona lead it would not relinquish.

Before Kirk Gibson hit his famous pinch-hit homer in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, he helped the Dodgers reach the Fall Classic with heroics in this game. The Mets held a two-games-to-one lead in the series and ace Dwight Gooden was cruising into the ninth with a two-run lead, but Dodgers catcher Mike Scioscia knocked a two-run homer to tie the game and send it to extras. Then, Gibson – mired in a 1-for-16 slump in the series – knocked a two-out homer in the top of the 12th. Orel Hershiser came out of the bullpen to snuff out a bases-loaded rally for the Mets in the bottom half, clinching a dramatic series-tying win for L.A.

The 1997 season came down to a winner-take-all game in South Florida, and it was the nascent Marlins who prevailed over the powerful Indians thanks to Edgar Renteria’s walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th.

HOW DAVID STERN SAVED THE NBA AND CONQUERED THE WORLD

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It is just past mid-day on a Friday in September 2013. And, in a wood-paneled Manhattan office even more modest than its occupant, the man who saved the NBA from itself in the 1980s and has grown it into a worldwide economic power is spending an hour defending himself against the charge that he is history’s most consequential sports executive.

Ever.

More than the sainted Pete Rozelle, who grew the NFL into supremacy.

More than Kennesaw Mountain Landis, who saved baseball after the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

More than Walter Byers, the Oz-like figure who ran the NCAA with ultimate control.

More even than Ed Snider, the Oz-like figure who was a legend though only in his own mind.

The man had been commissioner since February 1984, and retired on February 1, 2014 — an even 30 years. His accomplishments are legion, and the group of people who served him and have gone on to their own exploits includes, but is not limited to:

• Val Ackerman, the new commissioner of the Big East.

• Scott O’Neil, the new CEO of the Sixers and Devils.

• Gary Bettman, commissioner of the NHL.

• Rod Thorn, who ran the Nets and the Sixers, and is now back with the NBA.

• Rick Welts, who now runs the Warriors after 17 years at the NBA, rising to third in command.

The list goes on, and includes Brian McIntyre — 31 years with the league, retired in 2010 as the NBA’s communications czar, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 2011 and now back as a senior communications advisor.

McIntyre serves as a consigliere, and is sitting in to make sure his boss and friend is quoted accurately and keeps his facts straight, which is unnecessary because his mind is like a steel trap.

In 30 years his friend added seven franchises; grew revenues from less than $100 million to more than $5 billion; expanded TV exposure to the point that networks pay the league almost as much as major league baseball, sweeping past the NHL like it was standing still; and NBA games are telecast in 215 countries and in 47 languages, making basketball the only true international sport; launched the WNBA and Development League, and started NBA Cares, which has donated more than $220 million to charity.

And yet when he announced his retirement plans in October 2012 he told the assembled media, presumably with a straight face:

“I’d like to think I did an adequate job.”

David Joel Stern was born in 1942 in New York City. His father owned a deli at 23rd St. and Eighth Ave., and moved the family to Teaneck, N. J., where young David attended high school before he graduated from Rutgers. He applied to several law schools, and chose Columbia, “though I am sure the University of Virginia still has my deposit.”

He graduated in the class of 1966, and is easily its highest-profile high-achiever, though typically he points out that “Michael Cardozo, New York’s corporation counsel [whatever that is], and lots of others have accomplished more than I have.”

Stern had the great, good luck to be recruited by Proskauer Rose, the respected law firm which, bearing in mind E. B. White’s admonition, had begun representing the NBA in 1963.

He started working on NBA-related issues almost immediately as outside counsel, joined the league officially in 1978 and became executive vice president in 1980.

None other than Richie Phillips, the Philly-based tough-as-nails legal rep for the NBA officials, predicted in 1981 that “David will become the  greatest commissioner in NBA history.”

So no one was surprised when then-commish Larry O’Brien named Stern to the EVP post, essentially anointing him as his successor. Even though Joe Smith, a record company exec from LA best known for his high profile courtside seat at Lakers games, claimed he had seven western owners ready to commit to him for the job.

“The NBA is in trouble,” Smith warned at a 1981 dinner in New York. “It needs someone who understands business and understands entertainment to be its next commissioner.”

Smith was right about the trouble and he was right about what the league needed at the top. But what no one outside the NBA inner circle could know was that Stern was the perfect commissioner for the time.

Desperation was the NBA’s state of play on February 1, 1984, when Stern took over. As Charles Pierce wrote recently in Grantland.com:

“… the NBA was something between a cult object and a burlesque act. Those of us who still followed the league did so with bags over our heads to hide our rueful grins …  the argument that the NBA was ‘too black’ to market itself was seriously made by serious people in an age when an organized backlash against the achievements of the civil rights movement was asserting itself, as we saw  and in. The argument that the NBA was a ‘drug league’— which was really a variation on the former contention — was seriously made by serious people in an age when the ‘war’ on drugs was gathering itself. More to the point, and partly because of these problems, the league was broke and floundering, its championship series famously being played on tape delay.

“Now, as Stern leaves after 30 years on the job, there is a natural tendency to treat him as though he were some complicated hybrid of Henry Ford, Don Draper, and Rick Rubin: the man who invented and sold an entirely new product that crossed national and cultural barriers to mainstream a new kind of sports-entertainment complex wah-dee-doo-dah.”

Stern’s first public act as commissioner was the 1984 All-Star game in Denver, which as many Sixers fans remember featured the Slam Dunk Contest starring theOS Football’s chief executive Bob Ratcliffe admits the energy company considered buying Newcastle United, before completing its takeover of Nice.Ligue 1 club Nice were bought by chemicals firm INEOS, founded by billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, for £88.77m incomparable Julius Erving reprising the dunks that virtually no one saw at the 1976 ABA All-Star game.

And even though the Suns’ Larry Nance won that competition, the atmosphere in the arena was giddy. People saw that the players were having fun, and the black/drug/broke cloud started to lift.

Stern, as even Joe Smith must conclude, is a marketing genius. And he began selling the stars in the league as if pro hoops were tennis or golf instead of a team sport. Lucky for Stern, he had the stars to sell. Not just Erving and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, whose style play emphasized teamwork and the extra pass, and after the 1984 draft Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Akeem Olajuwon.

The cover of Sports Illustrated that previewed the 1984 Finals between the Lakers and the Celtics showed a determined Magic Johnson and the line, “Super Star Wars.”

Of course, Stern had his critics. “Why can’t he market the teams and not the stars?” some complained. And in 1985, when the woeful Knicks won the draft lottery and the rights to Patrick Ewing, conspiracy theorists were sure Stern had rigged the deal.

Call them Sterners.

No 30-year reign is without controversy and criticism. Think Rozelle and Al Davis. But no sports executive has accomplished more than David Joel Stern, who elevated the NBA out of that realm of burlesque into the stature of a long-running Broadway icon like “Dreamgirls” or “A Chorus Line.” With off-Broadway runs in the other 29 NBA cities.

Lots of others have written sweet send-offs to Stern, and they all hit his high notes like expansion to Florida, Carolina and Minnesota; the Magic Johnson HIV announcement and its ramifications for all of society; the 1992 Dream Team, which did wonders for the league’s image all over the world, which may be Stern’s longest-lasting accomplishment; the lockouts of 1999 and 2011 and how the league recovered; the suspension of Ron Artest after the hideous Malice in the Palace incident in 2004; the move of the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City in 2008 and the veto of the Chris-Paul-to-the-Lakers trade that shifted power in L. A. to the Clippers.

But they all pale in comparison to the single immutable fact that David Stern saved the NBA.

Stern looks less like Henry Ford and Don Draper  and more like Clark Clifford as he sits in his office with his fingers in the Clifford tent-like position on his chest and contemplates the question:

“How bad was it for the NBA in the early 1980s?”

That required little contemplation.

“The NBA was dead and the NHL was THE sport,” he says without realizing how much has changed today.

“We were determined to get attention.”

Some background. In the 1980-81 season, 16 of the NBA’s 23 teams lost money. Total attendance was down almost a million from the year before, and teams were playing to an average of only 10,021 fans per game, about 58% of the capacity of their arenas. The worst-run franchise in the league, the Cleveland Cavaliers, lost more than $4 million while selling only 28% of its seats in ’80-81. As the low point of the pre-Stern era, many in the NBA cite the 1980 championship series between the Lakers and the 76ers, during which CBS refused to broadcast the sixth and, as it turned out, final game live. It was shown, tape-delayed, at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time. Others say the league’s darkest hour was an ’82 article in the Los Angeles Times reporting that 75% of NBA players were on drugs.

Brian McIntyre chuckles as he anticipates the next story which he has heard often.

“In 1982, the NFL had a work stoppage,” Stern recalls, “so we went to CBS, which was our broadcast TV partner, and offered them Sunday afternoon games to fill their void. For FREE! And they turned us down.

“’We’re going with a St. John’s game — against Yugoslavia,’ the CBS guy told us. “Not even a regular season game. Yugoslavia!”

While the NBA was in bad odor with CBS, the fledgling USA network was giddy to have the product. Or any product. There were doubleheaders every Sunday and Thursday nights, and the NBA had no say in which teams that got on USA. So you basically had a lot of bad basketball being seen nationally on the league’s first cable partner.

Does the word overexposure ring a bell?

The first thing Stern did was switch the cable rights to TBS beginning with the 1984-85 season.

And then he limited the number of games on CBS, beginning with the Christmas Day doubleheader that has evolved into a great marketing tool for the league. Five or six Sunday games after Christmas made them more special. And the league and the network coordinated on which teams were shown — Sixers with Dr. J, Lakers with Magic and Celtics with Bird.

Blue-chip brands did not want to be associated with the league. “We were regarded as being somewhere between mud wrestling and tractor pulling,” Rick Welts told David Halberstam for his 1999 book “Playing for Keeps.” Stern had sent Welts, then a marketing executive for the league, to knock on doors along Madison Avenue, where he was told, Halberstam recounts, that the NBA was “too black.”

With Welts as his advance man, Stern struggled to convince major brands that America was ready to admire NBA players. At the same time he worked to present NBA players as hardworking, clean-living athletes. Although Larry O’Brien still held the title of commissioner, Stern took the lead in negotiating a new labor pact with players in 1983, the first in U.S. sports to cap salaries. A drug agreement that same year subjected players to testing and the possibility of lifetime bans for recreational drugs.

As is his wont, Stern defers credit for the anti-drug agreement with the Players Association.

“Larry Fleischer [head of the union] and Junior Bridgeman and Bob Lanier [president and vice president of the union] were adamant,” Stern says. “Just because they were NBA players that didn’t mean they were druggies. And the result was a deal that threw offenders out for life with the proviso that you could reapply.”

The imposition of the salary cap was just as important — it saved the NBA owners from themselves. The first cap in 1985 was set at $3.6 million for each team — today it is $58 million — and with it Stern crafted a revenue-sharing system that at the time seemed like wishful thinking because there wasn’t a lot of revenue to share.

How hard was it to impose such a limit and sell it to team owners, each of whom think of themselves as the greatest entrepreneur on earth?

“Lenin was right,” Stern answers. “He said, ‘The capitalists will sell us the rope with which to hang them.’ ”

Pleased with himself, Stern leans back and reprises the Clark Clifford tent pose on his chest and grins.

The interview is winding down as Stern reminisced a bit about his tenure and his thoughts turn to Philly.

Stern was commissioner for 30 years but has been dealing with the NBA since 1967 when he joined Proskauer Rose, the league legal counsel. So he has known every Philly owner dating to the original, Irv Kosloff, who along with Ike Richman bought the old Syracuse Nationals in 1963 and renamed them the 76ers.

It is strictly a coincidence, I have convinced myself, that Stern’s 30-year incumbency as commissioner perfectly mirrors the decline and fall of the Sixers — who last won the title in 1983 — as a championship contender — perhaps they will do better under new commissioner Adam Silver. The exception, of course was  2001, when the Larry Brown-coached, Allan Iverson-led overachievers lost to the Kobe and Shaq Lakers in five games.

Stern eschewed rating the Sixers owners, but had comments about each of them, starting with Pat Croce, who convinced Harold Katz to sell to him in 1996, which led to Comcast buying two-third of the team along with the Flyers.

“Pat is the consummate promoter in the best sense of the word,” Stern said. “He became the face of the franchise before the team turned the corner [toward the 2001 season]. He made the game fun to come to for the average fan.”

And Croce told Sports Business Daily an interesting story:

“I take the train up to New York. I want to pay my respects to the king. I remember him saying, ‘Don’t try to do it overnight. It’s going to take time. You are going to have to fit pieces in. Be smart, be lucky and surround yourself with smart people who don’t mind working hard.’

“So it was about an hour talk at his desk and as we were finishing, I stood up and I picked up this small Spalding/NBA clock from his desk and I told him, ‘I am going to keep this as a memento and when you give me the NBA championship trophy, I will give this back to you.’

“In June 2001, we are in the Finals against the Lakers and he calls me and says, ‘I want my clock back.’ He remembers everything.”

The commissioner unplugged on other Sixers owners:

Irv Kosloff: “He was a mensch. Seemed always uncomfortable with his celebrity.”

Harold Katz: “I have a warm spot in my heart for Harold. Before he bought the Sixers, he and I went to St. Louis because he was thinking of buying an expansion franchise.”

Ed Snider: [Perceptible pause] … he certainly put together a great hockey team there … he always gave us the benefit of his experience.”

Josh Harris: “He is a huge and committed fan and a very good businessman. Hates to lose. Loves to win. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he bought a franchise in another sport [after his Jersey Devils purchase].”

In Stern’s first year as commissioner, 1984, he presided over a draft that is considered the greatest influx of quality players in NBA history: Akeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, John Stockton and a fellow from Auburn named Charles Barkley who spent nine dazzling seasons in Philly. And every year since, when he stepped to the podium the catcalls were loud with Stern egging the catcallers on as he did last year in New Jersey.

So he has a pretty thick skin that has come in handy over the years.

Does anything make him cringe? “Everything Charles says make me cringe,” which must be often because Barkley is the star of the TNT’s highly rated “Inside the NBA.”

“I often say that not only don’t I know what he’s going to say. He doesn’t know what he’s going to say.”

Asked finally to recant his “I’d like to think I did an adequate job” comment, Stern pauses and says, “I was steering the good ship NBA and I took advantage of the great players and good luck.”

Which brings to mind Branch Rickey’s comment on his success after breaking baseball’s color line by signing Jackie Robinson and several other black players for the Brooklyn Dodgers:

“Luck is the residue of design.”

SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/theodorebeitchman/Desktop/march%20stern.doc

No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.

 

—    E. B. White

It is just past mid-day on a September Friday in midtown Manhattan. And, in a wood-paneled office even more modest than its occupant, the man who saved the NBA from itself in the 1980s and has grown it into a worldwide economic power is spending an hour defending himself against the charge that he is history’s most consequential sports executive.

Ever.

More than the sainted Pete Rozelle, who grew the NFL into supremacy.

More than Kennesaw Mountain Landis, who saved baseball after the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

More than Walter Byers, the Oz-like figure who ran the NCAA with ultimate control.

More even than Ed Snider, the Oz-like figure who is a legend though only in his own mind.

The man has been commissioner since February 1984, and just retired on February 1 — an even 30 years. His accomplishments are legion, and the group of people who served him and have gone on to their own exploits includes, but is not limited to:

• Val Ackerman, the new commissioner of the Big East.

• Scott O’Neal, the new CEO of the Sixers and Devils.

• Gary Bettman, commissioner of the NHL.

• Rod Thorn, who ran the Nets and the Sixers, and is now back with the NBA.

• Rick Welts, who now runs the Warriors after 17 years at the NBA, rising to third in command.

The list goes on, and includes Brian McIntyre — 31 years with the league, retired in 2010 as the NBA’s communications czar, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 2011 and now back as a senior communications advisor.

McIntyre serves as a consigliere, and is sitting in to make sure his boss and friend is quoted accurately and keeps his facts straight, which is unnecessary because his mind is like a steel trap.

In 30 years his friend added seven franchises; grew revenues from less than $100 million to more than $5 billion; expanded TV exposure to the point that networks pay the league almost as much as major league baseball, sweeping past the NHL like it was standing still; and NBA games are telecast in 215 countries and in 47 languages, making basketball the only true international sport; launched the WNBA and Development League, and started NBA Cares, which has donated more than $220 million to charity.

And yet when he announced his retirement plans in October 2012 he told the assembled media, presumably with a straight face:

“I’d like to think I did an adequate job.”

David Joel Stern was born in 1942 in New York City. His father owned a deli at 23rd St. and Eighth Ave., and moved the family to Teaneck, N. J., where young David attended high school before he graduated from Rutgers. He applied to several law schools, and chose Columbia, “though I am sure the University of Virginia still has my deposit.”

He graduated in the class of 1966, and is easily its highest-profile high-achiever, though typically he points out that “Michael Cardozo, New York’s corporation counsel [whatever that is], and lots of others have accomplished more than I have.”

Stern had the great, good luck to be recruited by Proskauer Rose, the respected law firm which, bearing in mind E. B. White’s admonition, had begun representing the NBA in 1963.

He started working on NBA-related issues almost immediately as outside counsel, joined the league officially in 1978 and became executive vice president in 1980.

None other than Richie Phillips, the Philly-based tough-as-nails legal rep for the NBA officials, predicted in 1981 that “David will become the  greatest commissioner in NBA history.”

So no one was surprised when then-commish Larry O’Brien named Stern to the EVP post, essentially anointing him as his successor. Even though Joe Smith, a record company exec from LA best known for his high profile courtside seat at Lakers games, claimed he had seven western owners ready to commit to him for the job.

“The NBA is in trouble,” Smith warned at a 1981 dinner in New York. “It needs someone who understands business and understands entertainment to be its next commissioner.”

Smith was right about the trouble and he was right about what the league needed at the top. But what no one outside the NBA inner circle could know was that Stern was the perfect commissioner for the time.

Desperation was the NBA’s state of play on February 1, 1984, when Stern took over. As Charles Pierce wrote recently in Grantland.com:

“… the NBA was something between a cult object and a burlesque act. Those of us who still followed the league did so with bags over our heads to hide our rueful grins …  the argument that the NBA was ‘too black’ to market itself was seriously made by serious people in an age when an organized backlash against the achievements of the civil rights movement was asserting itsard sold.Solskjaer and assistant Mike Phelan were so annoyed by his display in the 3-1 home loss to Manchester City on Tuesday that they hauled him off at half-time.The manager has publicly protected Lingard during his year-long dip in form.But afterelf, as we saw  and in. The argument that the NBA was a ‘drug league’— which was really a variation on the former contention — was seriously made by serious people in an age when the ‘war’ on drugs was gathering itself. More to the point, and partly because of these problems, the league was broke and floundering, its championship series famously being played on tape delay.

“Now, as Stern leaves after 30 years on the job, there is a natural tendency to treat him as though he were some complicated hybrid of Henry Ford, Don Draper, and Rick Rubin: the man who invented and sold an entirely new product that crossed national and cultural barriers to mainstream a new kind of sports-entertainment complex wah-dee-doo-dah.”

Stern’s first public act as commissioner was the 1984 All-Star game in Denver, which as many Sixers fans remember featured the Slam Dunk Contest starring the incomparable Julius Erving reprising the dunks that virtually no one saw at the 1976 ABA All-Star game.

And even though the Suns’ Larry Nance won that competition, the atmosphere in the arena was giddy. People saw that the players were having fun, and the black/drug/broke cloud started to lift.

Stern, as even Joe Smith must conclude, is a marketing genius. And he began selling the stars in the league as if pro hoops were tennis or golf instead of a team sport. Lucky for Stern, he had the stars to sell. Not just Erving and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, whose style play emphasized teamwork and the extra pass, and after the 1984 draft Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Akeem Olajuwon.

The cover of Sports Illustrated that previewed the 1984 Finals between the Lakers and the Celtics showed a determined Magic Johnson and the line, “Super Star Wars.”

Of course, Stern had his critics. “Why can’t he market the teams and not the stars?” some complained. And in 1985, when the woeful Knicks won the draft lottery and the rights to Patrick Ewing, conspiracy theorists were sure Stern had rigged the deal.

Call them Sterners.

No 30-year reign is without controversy and criticism. Think Rozelle and Al Davis. But no sports executive has accomplished more than David Joel Stern, who elevated the NBA out of that realm of burlesque into the stature of a long-running Broadway icon like “Dreamgirls” or “A Chorus Line.” With off-Broadway runs in the other 29 NBA cities.

Lots of others have written sweet send-offs to Stern, and they all hit his high notes like expansion to Florida, Carolina and Minnesota; the Magic Johnson HIV announcement and its ramifications for all of society; the 1992 Dream Team, which did wonders for the league’s image all over the world, which may be Stern’s longest-lasting accomplishment; the lockouts of 1999 and 2011 and how the league recovered; the suspension of Ron Artest after the hideous Malice in the Palace incident in 2004; the move of the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City in 2008 and the veto of the Chris-Paul-to-the-Lakers trade that shifted power in L. A. to the Clippers.

But they all pale in comparison to the single immutable fact that David Stern saved the NBA.

Stern looks less like Henry Ford and Don Draper  and more like Clark Clifford as he sits in his office with his fingers in the Clifford tent-like position on his chest and contemplates the question:

“How bad was it for the NBA in the early 1980s?”

That required little contemplation.

“The NBA was dead and the NHL was THE sport,” he says without realizing how much has changed today.

“We were determined to get attention.”

Some background. In the 1980-81 season, 16 of the NBA’s 23 teams lost money. Total attendance was down almost a million from the year before, and teams were playing to an average of only 10,021 fans per game, about 58% of the capacity of their arenas. The worst-run franchise in the league, the Cleveland Cavaliers, lost more than $4 million while selling only 28% of its seats in ’80-81. As the low point of the pre-Stern era, many in the NBA citeYifang are offering Rafa Benitez FIVE TIMES his Newcastle United salary to move to China, it has been revealed.The Daily Star says Dalian Yifang’s audacious offer to Benitez is worth more than FIVE TIMES his Newcastle salary.A source close to the dea the 1980 championship series between the Lakers and the 76ers, during which CBS refused to broadcast the sixth and, as it turned out, final game live. It was shown, tape-delayed, at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time. Others say the league’s darkest hour was an ’82 article in the Los Angeles Times reporting that 75% of NBA players were on drugs.

Brian McIntyre chuckles as he anticipates the next story which he has heard often.

“In 1982, the NFL had a work stoppage,” Stern recalls, “so we went to CBS, which was our broadcast TV partner, and offered them Sunday afternoon games to fill their void. For FREE! And they turned us down.

“’We’re going with a St. John’s game — against Yugoslavia,’ the CBS guy told us. “Not even a regular season game. Yugloslavia!”

While the NBA was in bad odor with CBS, the fledgling USA network was giddy to have the product. Or any product. There were doubleheaders every Sunday and Thursday nights, and the NBA had no say in which teams that got on USA. So you basically had a lot of bad basketball being scene nationally on the league’s first cable partner.

Does the word overexposure ring a bell?

The first thing Stern did was switch the cable rights to TBS beginning with the 1984-85 season.

And then he limited the number of games on CBS, beginning with the Christmas Day doubleheader that has evolved into a great marketing tool for the league. Five or six Sunday games after Christmas made them more special. And the league and the network coordinated on which teams were shown — Sixers with Dr. J, Lakers with Magic and Celtics with Bird.

Blue-chip brands did not want to be associated with the league. “We were regarded as being somewhere between mud wrestling and tractor pulling,” Rick Welts told David Halberstam for his 1999 book “Playing for Keeps.” Stern had sent Welts, then a marketing executive for the league, to knock on doors along Madison Avenue, where he was told, Halberstam recounts, that the NBA was “too black.”

With Welts as his advance man, Stern struggled to convince major brands that America was ready to admire NBA players. At the same time he worked to present NBA players as hardworking, clean-living athletes. Although Larry O’Brien still held the title of commissioner, Stern took the lead in negotiating a new labor pact with players in 1983, the first in U.S. sports to cap salaries. A drug agreement that same year subjected players to testing and the possibility of lifetime bans for recreational drugs.

As is his wont, Stern defers credit for the anti-drug agreement with the Players Association.

“Larry Fleischer [head of the union] and Junior Bridgeman and Bob Lanier [president and vice president of the union] were adament,” Stern says. “Just because they were NBA players that didn’t mean they were druggies. And the result was a deal that threw offenders out for life with the proviso that you could reapply.”

The imposition of the salary cap was just as important — it saved the NBA owners from themselves. The first cap in 1985 was set at $3.6 million for each team — today it is $58 million — and with it Stern crafted a revenue-sharing system that at the time seemed like wishful thinking because there wasn’t a lot of revenue to share.

How hard was it to impose such a limit and sell it to team owners, each of whom think of themselves as the greatest entrepreneur on earth?

“Lenin was right,” Stern answers. “He said, ‘The capitalists will sell us the rope with which to hang them.’ ”

Pleased with himself, Stern leans back and reprises the Clark Clifford tent pose on his chest and grins.

The interview is winding down as Stern reminisced a bit about his tenure and his thoughts turn to Philly.

Stern was commissioner for 30 years but has been dealing with the NBA since 1967 when he joined Proskauer Rose, the league legal counsel. So he has known every Philly owner dating to the original, Irv Kosloff, who along with Ike Richman bought the old Syracuse Nationals in 1963 and renamed them the 76ers.

It is strictly a coincidence, I have convinced myself, that Stern’s 30-year incumbency as commissioner perfectly mirrors the decline and fall of the Sixers — who last won the title in 1983 — as a championship contender — perhaps they will do better under new commissioner Adam Silver. The exception, of course was  2001, when the Larry Brown-coached, Allan Iverson-led overachievers lost to the Kobe and Shaq Lakers in five games.

Stern eschewed rating the Sixers owners, but had comments about each of them, starting with Pat Croce, who convinced Harold Katz to sell to him in 1996, which led to Comcast buying two-third of the team along with the Flyers.

“Pat is the consummate promoter in the best sense of the word,” Stern said. “He became the face of the franchise before the team turned the corner [toward the 2001 season]. He made the game fun to come to for the average fan.”

And Croce told Sports Business Daily an interesting story: “I take the train up to New York. I want to pay my respects to the king. I remember him saying, ‘Don’t try to do it overnight. It’s going to take time. You are going to have to fit pieces in. Be smart, be lucky and surround yourself with smart people who don’t mind working hard.’

“So it was about an hour talk at his desk and as we were finishing, I stood up and I picked up this small Spalding/NBA clock from his desk and I told him, ‘I am going to keep this as a memento and when you give me the NBA championship trophy, I will give this back to you.’

“In June 2001, we are in the Finals against the Lakers and he calls me and says, ‘I want my clock back.’ He remembers everything.”

The commissioner unplugged on other Sixers owners:

Irv Kosloff: “He was a mensch. Seemed always uncomfortable with his celebrity.”

Harold Katz: “I have a warm spot in my heart for Harold. Before he bought the Sixers, he and I went to St. Louis because he was thinking of buying an expansion franchise.”

Ed Snider: [Perceptible pause] … he certainly put together a great hockey team there … he always gave us the benefit of his experience.”

Josh Harris: “He is a huge and committed fan and a very good businessman. Hates to lose. Loves to win. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he bought a franchise in another sport [after his Jersey Devils purchase].”

In Stern’s first year as commissioner, 1984, he presided over a draft that is considered the greatest influx of quality players in NBA history: Akeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, John Stockton and a fellow from Auburn named Charles Barkley who spent nine dazzling seasons in Philly. And every year since, when he stepped to the podium the catcalls were loud with Stern egging the catcallers on as he did last year in New Jersey.

So he has a pretty thick skin that has come in handy over the years.

Does anything make him cringe? “Everything Charles says make me cringe,” which must be often because Barkley is the star of the TNT’s highly rated “Inside the NBA.”

“I often say that not only don’t I know what he’s going to say. He doesn’t know what he’s going to say.”

Asked finally to recant his “I’d like to think I did an adequate job” comment, Stern pauses and says, “I was steering the good ship NBA and I took advantage of the great players and good luck.”

Which brings to mind Branch Rickey’s comment on his success after breaking baseball’s color line by signing Jackie Robinson and several other black players for the Brooklyn Dodgers:

“Luck is the residue of design.”

ARE CHEAPY PHILS KEEPING HOWARD IN MINORS TO SAVE BUCKS?

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The Phillies are desperate for pitching help as they chase their fi legend Roy Keane has warned Tottenham’s Dele Alli he might never play for England again.Alli has been hampered by injuries this season and didn’t make Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the Euro 2020 Qualifiers against Czech Republic and Bulgaria.rst playoff spot since 2011.

And they have a top prospect, Spencer Howard, in Douerged City are preparing a new one-year contract offer for the Brazil international, whose current deal expires in June.It’s a development Guardiola effectively confirmed on Friday: “I am very confident that he will stay and I am very happy with the ble-A Reading throwing darts.

The question is:

Why don’t they bring him up to help the big club now?

Instead of keeping him in the minors?

Just like they did with another Howard, Ryan, 15 years ago, which saved them money when Howard blossomed.

Just askin’.

Howard set a career high in strikeouts and carried a no-hit bid into the sixth inning last night for Reading against Trenton in Game 1 of the Eastern League semifinals. However, Trenton did ultimately win the game 4-3. The 23-year-old racked up 12 strikeouts abehind him.Moyes, back at the London Stadium to replace Manuel Pellegrini following West Ham’s alarming slump, had just two days to work with the squad before the match with fellow strugglers Bournemouth.The Scot clearly had an immediate impact as thnd allowed one run on two hits and two walks over seven innings while throwing 66 of 99 pitches for strikes.

Howard’s double-digit strikeout performance was his third of the season and second in seven starts with the Fightin Phils. He generated whiffs (22, to be exact) with each of his four pitches in the outing, mixing a mid-90s fastball that reached 98 mph with a 12-to-6 curveball, tight slider and fading changeup. He was particularly effective in neutralizing Trenton’s left-handed hitters with the latter.

ON THIS DATE: SIXERS DOC’S 30,000TH POINT, PHILS SCHMIDT’S 4 HR’S!

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On this date in Philly sports: Mike Schmidt hits four homers; Dr. J reaches 30,000 points

— Bs.Mari has joined the Gunners from Flamengo on loan for the rest of the season.He had previously been with Manchester City before moving to Brazil, but made zero first- target for Arsenal.Arsenal are looking to Matviyenko to shore up theathaniel Clyne.The Mirror says Clyne is a wanted man, with West Ham reportedly set to make a £15m offer for the 28-year-old.Clyne, who is also on Napoli’s radar, joined Bournemouth on loan in January, and is clearly not in Jurgen Klopp’s long-term pir leaky back four after the Ukrainian’s agent confirmed an approach from the Premier League club. New boss Mikel Arteta is keen to bring in alternative defensive options before theteam appearances for the Sky Blues.Speaking to Arsenal’s website, Mari said: “It’surt Wilson (@BurtWilsonLNP)

SIXERS GET TOUGH IN THE END TO CLOSE OUT NUGGETS 124-122

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The Sixers are learning to be closers.

Ersan Ilyasova had a career-high 23 points and 13 rebounds and the Sixers survived a flurry in the final seconds to beat the Denver Nuggets 124-122 last night.

“I feel like the trip has been rewarded with a win and us having the ability to finally close out a game and finish off the fourth period,” Philly coach Brett Brown said.

Joel Embiid returned after sitting out Thursday’s loss in Utah to score 23 points and hit key free throws down the stretch. The Sixers ended their four-game trip with just their third win away from home despite having just nine available players.

They had a chance to win the other three games on this trip but consistently faltered in the fourth quarter. The Jazz outscored them 30-9 to end Thursday’s game, and the Sixers went over the tape of the period Friday morning.

“Tonight, that was the emphasis at the end of the third quarter, that’s what everybody was talking al festival in New York.The Manchester City star will speak about football and discrimination and how athletes are using their platforms for activism.Sterling has been an outspoken critic of racism in football after he was racially abused by Chelsea about,” Embiid said. “We focucontract with Chelsea.The 19-year-old defender has put pen to paper on a new deal that will run until at least 2022.”I’m really excited and happy to sign a new contract and extend my stay at the club,” he told the official Chelsea website.”I can now sed, we locked in and got the win.”

Nikola Jokic had a game-high 25 points for the Nuggets, and Emmanuel Mudiay scored 22. Denver had won four of its last five home games but a bad start led to another defeat.

The Nuggets had a chance to tie it during a frantic ending. After Embiid hit two free throws to put the Sixers up four, Jokic was fouled on a 3-point attempt.

Jokic made the first two free throws and intentionally missed the third. Denver’s Ganieri stands by his decision to walk away this summer.Ranieri announced his plans before Sunday’s impressive victory over Juventus.He said, “I am just focusing on doing my work. I’m Roman, I know everything here, it is my home and I’ve travelled aary Harris grabbed the rebound but missed a short bank shot, andKenneth Faried’s tip-in try was off as time expired.

“Jokic did a great job missing, I got a shot up and we had a chance for a tip-in, but it just didn’t go our way,” Harris said.

Four straight foul shots by Denver tied it, but Embiid split a pair of free throws to put Philadelphia ahead by one.

He then stripped Jokic on the other end as the center went up for a go-ahead layup and drained two more free throws to put the Sixers ahead 120-117 with 15.9 seconds left.