Thursday, April 22, 2004

"Allen will be here next year"

With those words at yesterday's press conference announcing the hiring of Jim O'Brien as the 20th Sixers head coach, Billy King nixed the persistent rumors that Iverson would be shopped around the league this summer. I was not able to catch the press conference live as I was tied up in interviews, however, I did listen to it in its entirety this morning. Joe Juliano has coverage of the press conference, where O'Brien told King, prior to accepting the job, "If I'm going to take this job, I want to have the chance to coach Allen Iverson." Bob Ford has mixed feelings about whether this latest "marriage" will work. Phil Jasner asked a couple of questions regarding Derrick Coleman's status with the team questioning Billy King's statements on WIP about a week ago that Coleman would not return (O'Brien later told Jasner Coleman's return was "unlikely"). John Smallwood might not have taken the same risks King is taking, but he's on board with his decision. He says O'Brien was not going to dwell on this past season that saw the Sixers miss the playoffs for the first time in 6 years, and that "clearly, what happened last year did not scare me off from wanting to lead this team into next season." Dana Pennett O'Neil says Speedy Morris is saying a few prayers for the Sixers new head coach. In some out of town coverage, the Boston Globe's Shira Springer actually says O'Brien and Iverson "met briefly yesterday." The Boston Herald's Mark Murphy quotes O'Brien: "It was amazing, after doing so many interviews, of just how much Allen was a huge focus."

When you consider the fact this was the Philadelphia media, this should not come as a surprise. For instance, what of Howard Eskin's alleged "inside sources" (the ones that, even if they existed, in retrospect, had no idea what they were talking about). Wouldn't these supposed sources have known something about the March 25 meeting between King and O'Brien in Boston? In typical fashion, rather than admit he didn't know what he was talking about when he emphatically stated on Sunday's Sports Final that Jim O'Brien had "no interest" in coaching a Sixers team with Iverson on the roster, he completely changed gears on yesterday's show by lamenting King's decision to keep Iverson on the roster. Apparently Eskin thinks Billy would have been better off trading Iverson for a stick of gum, though Howard doubts whether Iverson could have even yielded that in return. His anti-Iverson personal bias and obvious agenda to chase Allen out of town had a lot of success this year, especially with the team's lack of success due to injuries. However, it's quite ironic that Eskin continues to remain very chummy (and often has as a call-in guest on his show) with the always controversial Charles Barkley. I guess Howard fails to see the hypocrisy in his stance. Not that it should surprise anyone of course.

The Daily News writers make their second round picks. Sam Donnellon submits a confusing article that appears as if a baseball and a hockey article of his got caught in a blender. Don't say you weren't warned. Marc Narducci already has fighting words coming from the Toronto camp. Tim Panaccio's notebook reveals the somewhat surprising news that, because of the Penn Relays this weekend, there are no hotels available in the Philadelphia area (including South Jersey), and thus, Toronto will be "commuting," at least for the first two games of the series. Toronto reporters managed to find a few scattered rooms in Valley Forge and Bucks County.

The Phillies continued their series against the Marlins last night, and in what will surely surprise many, lost again. Todd Zolecki has all the gory details. Todd's notebook says that Jimmy Rollins is getting frustrated over his batting slump. Marcus Hayes can't believe the number of different ways the Phillies are finding to lose. He also mentions Larry Bowa going ballistic over what should have been a Phillies victory in the bottom of the 9th. Upon seeing this replay, it appears the Phils definitely got hosed on this one, and the game was played under protest at that point (which, if history is any indication, means little to nothing). Paul Hagen talks about one of the new rituals of Citizens Bank Park, that of the fans throwing back homers by the visiting team. Not to hammer on the irrelevance (and often illogical positions) of the issues he covers on his show, but Eskin made a big deal about this on WIP earlier this week, complaining that the Phillies were "letting the inmates run the asylum" in allowing this "dangerous" behavior. Give it a rest Howard. Go back to plugging those furs you like to wear at Eagles games, or LA Weight Loss.

Note: Due to a publishing error with this afternoon's posting, yesterday's links were lost. Sorry if you were looking for those. Also, at the late time of this writing, due to interviews again today, the Phillies had aready played their afternoon matinee, and lost, to the Marlins, for the ninth straight time).

Comcast SportsNet has Game 1 of Toronto/Philadelphia at 7:30 (HD available). TNT has what is sure to be a combustible Nets/Knicks game at 7 followed by Spurs/Grizzlies at 9:30. Sixers fans were probably a bit pleased to see that Larry Brown's Pistons are the only team that has lost so far at home in the playoffs. Through 16 games, the home team is now 15-1, meaning only Bucks/Pistons is tied at 1-1, and all the other series are 2-0. I'd be curious to see when the last time the road team was this unsuccessful.

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