Category Archive  Interview‘

 
 

CHOCOLATE THUNDER, CAPT. MORGAN & the SIXERS…OHH MY

Posted by: Philadunkia
05/27/11 9:12 am EST

On Thursday night, 76ers legend Darryl Dawkins (with a little help from his friends at Captain Morgan) threw a “house party” to kick off summer 2011 in Philly.  Needless to say if there is a party hosted by “Chocolate Thunder” and sponsored by Captain Morgan, the Philadunkia crew was going to be in attendance.

In addition to promoting Captain Morgan Long Island Iced Tea (a ready-to-pour mix of rum, vodka, whiskey, gin and triple-sec liqueur) the party also benefited two good causes — the Captain Morgan’s First Mate Fund and a charity of Dawkins choosing.

Most importantly, the party provided Philadunkia scribe Nabeel Ahmadieh a chance to spend a few minutes with the man from planet Lovetron who was more then willing to discuss the current state of the Sixers.

Full Darryl Dawkins interview after the jump.


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ET PHONES US

Posted by: Kevin Jones
03/25/11 1:10 pm EST

John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins may be putting up some nice statistics in their rookie seasons. Congrats to them.  Guess what though?  The Wizards and Kings are light years away from making any type of noise in the postseason.

76ers rookie Evan Turner is learning how to win in the NBA right now.  He’s contributing as a member of one of the most talented backcourts — and benches for that matter — in the entire League.  He’s grown to embrace his role off the bench.  Turner’s shown his own flashes of brilliance this season too.  The 20 point, 7 rebound game against Golden State early in March was a defining moment for the combo guard.  The 23 points in Phoenix without Iguodala didn’t go unnoticed either.

The best thing I took away from my time with Turner was his recognition of how mental the game of basketball becomes at the professional level.  Mistakes must be limited.  Improvements must be made.  And progress will come.

Turner can surely become a 20-5-5 guy with multiple all-star appearances.  He didn’t burst onto the scene in high school or college for that matter.  The few of you have already written Turner off are the same individuals who after the 3-13 start wanted the 7-6 to lose games and “tank” this season.

Well this season we have all learned that adjusting your attitude, like Evan has done this season, can make all the difference.

Catch the full Evan Turner interview after the jump.

 
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THAD ON THE HORN

Posted by: Tom Sunnergren
12/14/10 11:22 am EST

Well, the Michael Vick comeback train keeps rolling and it’s certainly an amazing return to glory for a player who hadn’t started a game since 2006 and spent 21 months in prison in the interim.

And now the Phillies have secured the front page headlines after stealing Cliff Lee from the clutches of the hated Yankess and returning him to the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park. 

Across the street though at the Wells Fargo Center, much less ink has been spilt over another former-Atlanta resident in the midst of a pretty remarkable comeback of his own.   And while it might not be quite as impressive as number 7’s recent accomplishments, it certainly has us here at Philadunkia pumped for what lies ahead.

Thad Young had a nice rookie season.  He shot 54% from the floor, posted a WP48 of 0.126 (Average is 0.1 for a vet, 0.04 for a rookie), produced 4.1 wins, and logged playoff minutes. And he was 19. The sky was the limit.

What did he do as a follow-up?  Something no one saw coming.

He got much worse at everything.

Over the next two seasons, as his minutes rose his production fell.  His field goal percentage dipped 70 points. His rebounds per 48 minutes fell by a pair.  He turned it over more, he hit his foul shots less. Rim rattling dunks were replaced by ill-considered 3’s.

Last season was his nadir.  He posted a WP48 of -0.029 and -1.3 wins.  The once-promising Young had entered the Adam Morrison zone, and the Sixers, not coincidentally, entered the Lottery.

Despite Young’s fall, hopes were (relatively) high coming into the season.  The Sixers brought in Doug Collins as coach and also added a hyper-productive young wing who promised to take the team to new levels. And that wing was…Thaddeus Young.

In an inexplicable reversal, through 23 games, Thad is third in the NBA in FG%.  He’s improved on the boards.  He’s shooting a career-best from the line.  He’s halved his turnovers.  He’s back.

He reached critical mass on Dec. 7 against the Cavs. He went 11/12 from the floor and 3/3 from the line for 26 points, pulled in 11 rebounds, swiped two steals, and turned the ball over all of zero times.

Now pick your jaw off the ground, dust it off, and listen to this: I spoke with the renascent Young on Friday night and wrote down what he said.  We covered his resurgence, contract status, Evan Turner’s struggles, and Charles Barkley. You’re welcome.

Q and A after the J.


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INTERVIEW WITH DAVE BERRI of “WAGES OF WINS”

Posted by: Tom Sunnergren
11/30/10 10:39 am EST

There is a lot of resistance to stats amongst the general basketball consuming public.  Well, not stats. New stats. We love the old stats. Points, assists, points…did I say points yet.  We just don’t like people telling us what they mean.  We like the power to control the narrative and we resent it deeply when nerds with quiet certainty wrest that power away from us.  “Why don’t you watch the games?”, is the only counter we can muster in the face of their overwhelming facts.

People hate, absolutely loathe, being proved wrong.  These same people have uniquely strong opinions about sports. And those opinions come from a position of knowledge.

Sports are probably the most complicated thing that the general public understands well, and for a long time, it was the subject area where the knowledge of the average follower most closely rivaled that of the experts, the practitioners.  I’ve read a little about Afghanistan, but I obviously don’t have anything resembling the comprehension of the place that, say, David Petraeus has.  I could though, I’m pretty sure, coach or GM a basketball team better than a lot of the guys who get paid millions to do it.  A lot of people could.

So getting proved wrong about sports, a thing we understand nearly as well as we give our selves credit for, makes people crazy.  One of the most enthusiastic perpetrators of this insanity is Dave Berri.

Berri –economist, professor, author, columnist, blogger– is the architect of win score, wins produced, wp48, and a host of other handy tools for understanding the why and how of basketball outcomes. A couple months ago he answered some of our questions on the Sixers(fyi, he saw this start coming) and now he’s provided some A’s for our Q’s on some of the nitty gritty of his methods.

Berri makes us crazy after the jump…


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EB ON THE MIC

Posted by: Tom Sunnergren
10/19/10 9:49 am EST

Our memories are unreliable historians.

This is why Philadelphia area resident (And we asume frequent Philadunkia.com visitor) M. Night Shyamalan is a tragic figure.  The putridity of his last three movies has overwhelmed remembrance of the legitimately good, maybe great, stuff he did earlier in his career.  He’s an idiot, we now say reflexively, dismissively, as though he were never anything but.

It’s like the way a painful breakup renders you not just unwilling, but in some ways unable to fondly remember the better times: the canoe trip, trying to put together a desk, or that time you rented Signs.  Post-facto, when you stumble into one of these memories you meant to stash in some out of the way hippocampal groove, rather than enjoy it you mine it for signs of dysfunction, the fall that’s to come.  This mining distorts the memory and in doing so not only robs a piece of personal history of it’s proper due, but actually rewrites that history.  This is how Lady in the Water, by the sheer gravity of its terribleness, has ruined Unbreakable.

And it’s how Elton Brand’s last two seasons, by the sheer gravity of their terribleness, have started to ruin Elton Brand.

This is a bummer not just because he’s a nice guy who’s fallen on hard times (Ok, he’s made well over $100 million to play sports, not that hard), but because his first eight years of professional basketball were extraordinary.  And regardless of how the story ends, they deserve to be remembered accordingly.

These were my thoughts Saturday at Converse’s launch party for Brand’s new EB3 signature basketball shoe (available exclusively at JCPenney!) where I was waiting my turn to get at his ear.  When I got it I asked him about his fall from the top, what he’s doing to get back, and what’s happening with Evan Turner. After we went our separate ways, he gave 100 pairs of his sneakers away to some inner-city kids who were waiting on the court downstairs. Like I said, he’s a nice guy.

Q and A after the J.


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DAVE BERRI of “WAGES of WINS” TALKS 76ers

Posted by: Tom Sunnergren
09/27/10 10:00 am EST

I first became acquainted with Dave Berri in a back-issue of the New Yorker at a dentist’s office.  I was flipping though pages, pretending to read so I could avoid eye-contact with strangers when I found myself looking at a large photo of Allen Iverson.  My brain stirred.  I deduced from the photo, and the words “book review,” that the article it accompanied was a review of a book that apparently had something to do with Allen Iverson.

So I read.  Berri and a few cohorts, the article told me, had developed an algorithm that explained, using only box-score statistics, how many actual wins an NBAer produced for his team.  The piece fixated on one of the models more controversial claims: That Allen Iverson – League MVP, eleven time All-Star, four time scoring champ, first overall draft pick, and protagonist of 90 percent of my 10th grade biology notebook doodles – just wasn’t very good.  I was outraged.  The audacity, I thought.  Who the hell does this guy think he is?

A trip to Barnes and Noble and 195 pages later I found out – a guy much smarter about sports than me or any of the guys with their hand on the lever of my teams. I wasn’t alone on that thought. Wages was sufficiently successful to warrant a paperback addition and a sequel of sorts: Stumbling on Wins, which was released earlier this year.

Dave, who maintains a blog that’s essential reading and writes about sports for the Huffington Post when he’s not teaching econ at Southern Utah University, agreed to share with us some of his thoughts on the Sixers, the NBA, the state of sports economics, and why he’s happier in academia than in an NBA front office.  After the jump is part one of multiple part series featuring Berri’s thoughts of the 76ers.

 
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SUMMER MO’

Posted by: Tom Sunnergren
08/24/10 10:19 am EST

Mo Speights has had an interesting career arc.

He showed All-Star potential flashes his rookie season (his PER was so high that February that it called into question the validity of PER as a performance metric) and then faded pretty badly down the stretch (not uncommon when someone used to doing something 35 times is suddenly supposed to do it 82). 

He then came out of the gates hot his sophomore year before partially tearing his left medial collateral ligament in game ten (He was averaging a super-efficient 13 points and 6.4 rebounds at that point, sported a 0.215 WP48, and looked poised to make “the leap”), and when he returned never quite re-found his swing (He finished with a WP48 in the negative, mostly because he went from shooting 64 percent at the rim to 55.8 percent and started to attempt 20 footers –which in his defense went in more often than you would expect them to, though not necessarily often enough to justify taking them).  At best, he’s moving sideways.

But despite his tough year, the Sixers, as evidenced by their trade of Dalembert, are clearly counting on him to contribute.  Is that unreasonable?  Maybe not.  He’s young, and if he’s healthy – which he assures us he is – Speights has a chance to be a very productive basketball player.  If the 7-6 are going to get even within shouting distance of the playoffs (so Iguodala can yell “Please take me with you” to the Heat) they’re going to need a big season from the Big Mo.

Last night the big guy in question was generous enough to put aside some time, tolerate an incredibly lousy connection, and talk with Philadunkia from Las Vegas, where he’s hard at work training for the upcoming season.  Hopefully what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas.


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