Damon Holley speed-walked up and down the sidelines of the Wells Fargo Center challenging the nine or so kids on his squad. He occasionally gave them a fist bump when they were subbed out of the game and returned to the bench. As he guided his team, he channeled his most animated impression of Sixers coach Brett Brown.
“I’m a dragon. We takin' over,” he said, sticking both hands out around his waist, running up and down the bench as another member of his team, the white squad, scored, adding to its 25-point lead over the blue team.
“It’s really a dope event," said Holley, who is a member of the Sixers' dunk squad. “Just emulating what a coach does and being real supportive.”
The Sixers on Wednesday were hosting 18 students, ages 9-18, from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Camden County and Philadelphia. The youngsters experienced a day of feeling like a member of the Sixers organization.
The afternoon began with the students' changing into practice gear before meeting Sixers general manager Elton Brand to sign one-day contracts. They then proceeded to their locker room where they were presented with a personal locker with a name plate and a personalized Sixers jersey. Then they went through player introductions for the blue-and-white scrimmage and received gifts, including video games, Sixers T-shirts and high-tech speakers, from Sixers guards Shake Milton and Landry Shamet. That night, the kids went down to center court to be honored during halftime of the Sixers game against the Knicks.
“It’s good this time of year to give back. That’s the good thing about Christmas, is making everyone feel good. So this is fun coming out here for the kids and doing this,” said Shamet, who grew up in Kansas City and attended similar events with the Chiefs and Royals at a young age. “It was always cool to have those personal interactions with pros and people you looked up to. It’s cool to kind of be on the other end. I hope they have fun."
The Sixers have been in the giving spirit this week. Just the day before, Tuesday, they held their annual Season of Giving event at Cathedral Kitchen in Camden, serving 400 meals to Camden families. Around 50 or so volunteers from the Cathedral Kitchen lined up to distribute plates to every table. Despite playing the previous night against the San Antonio Spurs, Sixers power forward Mike Muscala came out to help.
"Super grateful I got invited to do this,” Muscala said. “Just a time to give back. It’s that time of year. ... It’s cool to meet some people here tonight and see the smiles on their faces.”