Will James Harden be the newest sports hero in Philadelphia? Is Ben Simmons misunderstood, or has he cemented his spot as one of the greatest Philly villains?
It’s likely too soon to say for either, but there’s something to be said for appreciating local sports heroes while they’re here. For example, how long is Claude Giroux going to be with the Flyers? Probably not much longer.
It’s true that there’s a lot of respect behind the dislike for certain players. Perhaps we can’t stand how well they play against our local teams or how their attitude of self-confidence crosses over into sheer arrogance. Sometimes, however, the loathing doesn’t have a shred of respect to it — or the strong antipathy is the result of feeling betrayed, because we once cheered that player and now feel let down.
How about another Philly sports icon who has always represented her hometown, even as she has gone to accomplish many things in other places? Of all the things that Dawn Staley has done, Mike Jensen considers whether becoming a great sports villain could be the role she finally fails to utterly carry off.
— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport
Tell us who has been your sports hero or your favorite sports villain to boo: firstname.lastname@example.org
Top prospect Bryson Stott is getting in workouts with about 60 other Phillies minor leaguers at the team’s spring training home in Clearwater, Fla., with an eye toward the 2022 season (whenever it begins). His strong showing in the Arizona Fall League helped him refine his approach at the plate, and that could bolster his case for winning the starting shortstop job.
Off the Dribble
As The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey aptly said, the 76ers couldn’t play any worse than they did Tuesday against the Boston Celtics. The Sixers lost, 135-87, as the Celtics led wire to wire, and they never threatened to mount a comeback.
The Sixers were true to form, playing like a team in transition as they wait for their second star to return to the court. James Harden has not played since he was acquired in a Feb. 10 trade for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round picks.
Next: The Sixers take on the Milwaukee Bucks at 8:30 tonight on the road before they enter the All-Star break (TNT).
On the Fly
Flyers captain Claude Giroux will in all likelihood be traded by the NHL’s March 21 deadline. But the 34-year-old isn’t entertaining those questions to this point and instead is focused on getting the team back in the win column.
“To be honest, I haven’t talked to Chuck [Fletcher] yet about any of this,” Giroux said Wednesday. “I’m sure we will at one point. But right now, I’m committed to this team and start winning some hockey games and keep working as a team here.”
Giroux, who has been with the Flyers for parts of 15 seasons, will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and also has a no-move clause in his contract. Regardless of what Giroux says publicly, it is starting to seem like a trade is inevitable at this point.
Next: The Flyers will look to snap a three-game skid when they host the Washington Capitals tonight at 7 (NBCSP).
Jim Curtin, who helped the Union get to the Eastern Conference championship game last year, is still looked on by many Union fans as a hero for his coaching acumen. However, his gamble of trading away top striker Kacper Przybyłko, and more recently Jamiro Monteiro, could prove a bad move, The Inquirer’s Jonathan Tannenwald argues. It won’t backfire, though, if Curtin invests in the club’s young players and gives them more opportunities to contribute and improve.
Worth a look
Dashed dreams: Local hockey players Gracie Dwyer and Laney Potter were named to Team USA’s roster for January’s U18 Women’s World Championship. But with the tournament canceled because of COVID-19 — at least for now — both are worried about the impact that could have on their long-term dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal.
Coach calls cheating: Adam Rippon knew how strict the doping rules were during his time as a skater. Now that he’s a coach, he’s angry and indignant about the Kamila Valieva situation.
Arizin legacy: The love of the game of basketball has been passed down from father to son to grandson.
Photo flashback: Paul Arizin in his Philadelphia Warriors glory days
We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Jonathan Tannenwald, Gina Mizell, Keith Pompey, Ellen Dunkel, Olivia Reiner, Manning Snyder, Alex Coffey, and Mike Jensen.