The stars have aligned, and so the Sixers got to play in a playoff atmosphere in Wednesday’s win. James Harden made his home debut in a Philadelphia uniform, nearly had a triple-double, and the Sixers came back in the second half to beat the Knicks thanks to Tyrese Maxey as well.
It feels like something special is happening these days, doesn’t it? That’s what star power brings you — early-arriving crowds, John Calipari hanging out, the Harden-Joel Embiid bromance seemingly growing with every game. The MVP chants are getting louder.
The Sixers have won every game Harden has played for them. Madison Square Garden was invaded by Sixers fans. Then they came home to more adoration at the Wells Fargo Center. The party seems to be just getting started.
These are the best of days, aren’t they?
— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport
How are you liking the Sixers’ Big 3?: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jalen Hurts received yet another statement of support from GM Howie Roseman on his status as starting quarterback for the Eagles. Roseman’s taking the podium at the NFL scouting combine and expressing confidence in Hurts is not nothing.
But, as beat writer Jeff McLane reports, the Eagles continue to actively monitor the situation with Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Would the Eagles actually mess with Hurts, who helped lead the Eagles to the playoffs at a time when his affordable contract enabled them to improve other areas of the team? Odds are that it won’t happen, but the Eagles are doing their due diligence.
Looking back on the quarterback situation one year later, my, how things have changed since the Carson Wentz trade. The Eagles went to the playoffs while the Colts did not and also gave up a first-round pick for the pleasure of dealing with Wentz. Now the Eagles have three first-rounders and are talking up Hurts — quite the opposite of how the Colts aren’t exactly showing support for Wentz.
Baseball doesn’t seem to be returning anytime soon, so how about learning a bit more about a prospect who figures to be a big part of the Phillies’ future? Bryce Harper has been a friend and mentor to Bryson Stott for a long time, but there’s another Las Vegas native who is playing a role in the development of one of the Phillies’ top prospects. Reds pitcher Amir Garrett has known Stott since childhood and now, in addition to being the target of teasing, he’s giving the shortstop a valuable perspective in his development.
Baseball’s “disastrous outcome” is here. What does canceling games mean, and what is next in the lockout? We answer all the big questions.
The owners really seem so deluded as to think they can take MLB off the radar for months at a time, ruin fans’ spring training vacation plans, and lop games off the schedule — and expect consumers to come running back. It’s worth wondering if the game will ever be the same.
Off the Dribble
Harden’s acclimation to the 76ers has been much smoother than anyone expected. The perennial All-Star has played at a star level and raised the performance of those around him. One player who has benefited from his arrival is Matisse Thybulle.
On the eve of Harden’s home debut, Thybulle discussed life alongside his All-NBA teammate. He said Harden, who has shown support to teammates and received all-around praise, “inspired” the Sixers. “When you have one of your best players be one of your most passionate, vocal, outspoken leaders, that’s all you can ever wish for in a leader,” Thybulle said. “And it trickles down to everybody.”
Harden continued that process Wednesday night, leading the Sixers to a 123-108 win over the New York Knicks in his first game at the Wells Fargo Center.
Next: The Sixers play another home game, taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers at 7 p.m. Friday at Wells Fargo Center (NBCSP).
On the Fly
Gerry! Gerry! Gerry!
There haven’t been many positives for the Flyers (16-27-10) this season, but fans at the Wells Fargo Center have found a new favorite player to root for: Gerry Mayhew.
The 29-year-old forward has endeared himself to fans this season with his hard work, toughness, and gritty style of play, especially of late. Mayhew has chipped in six goals in the last 13 games and has been one of the Flyers’ most consistent and best players since the turn of the year.
Olivia Reiner recently talked to Mayhew — and those close to him — about his rise from underdog to cult hero and even learned the origin story of #GerryTime.
Next: The Flyers host Mayhew’s former team, the Minnesota Wild, on Thursday at 7 p.m. (NBCSP).
They’re back! Or at least, the U.S. women’s national soccer team, fresh off its equal-pay lawsuit settlement with the federation, is planning to come back to the Philadelphia area to play this spring. The team is undergoing a generational transition, with a number of new players for fans to get to know. Jonathan Tannenwald has the latest information.
Worth a Look
The long road: Detroit Lions running back Craig Reynolds, an Abington native, didn’t reach the NFL with the benefit of a scouting combine invitation and wasn’t drafted. He still made it, and carries with him the NFL dreams his brother wasn’t able to realize.
Villanova’s vets: Yes, it’s tantalizing to have the younger Wildcats get more playing time, but it has been the veterans who are carrying the team to a high seed in the NCAA tournament. Especially this year, they’ll need to rely upon that experience.
Westtown’s shooting star: Kaylene Smikle is the most highly-ranked girls’ basketball player in the area, and after an adjustment period at Westtown School, the Rutgers-bound wing and the team are two wins away from a state title.
We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Keith Pompey, Josh Tolentino, Jeff McLane, Marcus Hayes, Scott Lauber, Alex Coffey, Gina Mizell, Olivia Reiner, Jonathan Tannenwald, Matt Breen, Mike Jensen, and Joey Piatt.