In the five or so minutes it may take you to read this article however, I am going to take you down memory lane and by the time you’re finished reading I guarantee you that you will have some more respect for the man who suited up for the Sixers in 2007-08 and 2008-09.
Remember September 10th, 2007
That is the date when Reggie Evans along with the draft rights to Ricky Sanchez were shipped over to Philly in exchange for the ineffectiveve Steven Hunter and rarely used Bobby Jones. What many don’t remember about this trade was that it was one of the last moves that former Sixers GM Billy King made in an attempt to make his Sixers team better. Where is Billy King now you ask? Well he is one of the main investors in building the Foxwoods Casinos in Philadelphia and a partner in CHOPS steak house. So to all the Philadelphians out there that already hated Billy King as a Sixers GM, there is some more fuel to add to the fire. Bad GM’s aside, this trade at the time was actually considered a smart moveby Billy King. Evans was known as a rebounding machine in the season prior to the trade where he averaged 7 in a mere 17 minutes per game. While not the most prolific scorer in the NBA, Evans’ scrappy play often earned him easy buckets on the offensive end.
In Evans first season with the Sixers he registered 33 games of nine rebounds or more and 15 games of nine points or more. To put these numbers in perspective, Reggie Evans only stands 6’8” which is at least two inches smaller then most of his main competition on any given night. Evans’ 7.5 rebounds per game that season would put him second behind Samuel Dalembert for rebounding on the Sixers this season, while he only received 23 ticks a game. For even the deepest fans of the Sixers this was something which went under the radar for that entire season. The Sixers as a whole had lost their fan base that year. When Allen Iverson was shipped off to Denver later in the year for Andre Miller, most Sixers fans simply jumped ship. The Sixers were losing, and it wasn’t until the Sixers made an improbable late season surge to the playoffs that the crewmen decided to climb back on board.
This is when the Reggie Evans who everybody hadn’t gotten to see all season arrived. It was an improbable match-up. The #7 seeded Sixers going up against the #2 seeded Detroit Pistons. The Pistons were a team who had made it to the Eastern Conference finals the past five seasons, and were looking to cruise through Philadelphia in the first round. That was before the Pistons and most Philadelphians met Reggie Evans. Reggie Evans fought his way to 11 points and 14 rebounds on a road win in Detroit. A feat like that hadn’t been done since Allen Iverson knocked off the Lakers in Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals and Sixersfans who were watching the game took notice. Evans followed up the Game 1 performance with a 13 point and 11 rebound fight in a Game 2 loss in Detroit, but with the series tied 1-1 going into Philadelphia there was once again a buzz around the Sixers in Philadelphia.
Remember “REG-GIE, REG-GIE, REG-GIE”
When Reggie Evans was introduced in Game 3 of the series against the Pistons, this was the chant which the crowd belted out loud and proud for the man who earned a spot in their hearts, and a spot of instant fame for the heroic display which he showed in Games 1 and 2. Evans knows that fans in this town as much as they love winning, lovewhen a player shows toughness and are willing to play above and beyond their athletic abilities to get the job done. “Tough is the definition of me period,” said a smiling Evans. “The fans told me that I’m tough and to me that just shows that they appreciated me as a player during the time that I was here. We had a lot of fun, me and the fans. We had a good relationship and I’ll always remember my time here.” In the season following the first round loss to the Pistons, Sixers fans gave plenty more “REG-GIE” chants throughout the Wachovia Center and Evans fed off the energy on a nightly basis.
A Sad Goodbye
On June 9th, 2009 the Sixers traded Reggie Evans to the Toronto Raptors for Jason Kapono. The Sixers needed a shooter and were stacked with power forwards on the team which made Reggie Evans the odd man out. This past Friday night, Evans made his first trip into Philadelphia since being traded in June and had several things to say about both the trade and the moment.
“It’s really different but I understand that it was a business decision,” said Evans. “You kind of feel bad but you don’t take it personally cause it was just business. It feels good though to be back in town even though it’s on the other bench and it’s good just to see my old teammates and play against them even though I’m not physically playing.”
Evans had very fond memories in Philadelphia and didn’t necessarily have one favorite moment. He just enjoyed whatever came his way. “My favorite part of being on this team was the fact that things at times wouldn’t go good but we were still able to come out and pull things through,” said Evans. “We would just find a way to make things happen like making the playoffs the last two years. We were overachieving from a media standpoint and from a lot of critics. I really just enjoyed being on the team and going through all the ups and downs and still coming out on top.”
Here at Philadunkia I think that saying the team came out on top is a little too big of an overstatement, and if last year was the high point of the Sixers, then this year is definitely a low point. Evans left a team who showed a lot of promise in the playoffs against the Magic and there were a lot of expectations for the team this season which clearly haven’t been met as the team now sits at (11-25). Evans says that these are the types of things that happen to teams who change drastically in an off-season. “Their uniforms are different, the color of the basketball court is different and you know team wise you just go through ups and downs,” said Evans. “They’ve got a new coach, a new system, a couple new faces in Jrue Holiday and Jason Kapono and when you’re trying to make all of that work, sometimes it just doesn’t all work out the way you want it to. Situations like those take time and sometimes you just have to be patient and eventually I’m sure things will work out for them but I hope just not when we’re playing them like tonight.” Things didn’t work out for the Sixers and Evans although he never suited up was able to enjoy a victory as a spectator / cheerleader on the Raptors bench last night. Evans and I both would have loved to hear some “REG-GIE” chants going throughout the crowd, but I’m sure he enjoyed the experience nonetheless.
I wish that Reggie Evans heart were in better athlete’s bodies. It’s a statement which is used too often, but it a statement which should be said anyway. He enjoys every minute of playing time that a coach gives him, and he will try his best to help his team win at all costs. This is the mentality which the Sixers players should use instead of giving up double digit leads on a nightly basis. A basketball game is 48 minutes, but for the Sixers this season it’s about 36. Reggie Evans was a player who savored every minute in a game, one that never talked out of line and listened to what a coach told him to do, and one that truly felt bad when he was not able to give fans what they wanted. Too many players in the NBA don’t even do any of these things, and that is why Evans should be remembered and respected in Philadelphia as a true role model on how to play the game of basketball the right way.