Now that the ball is no longer bouncing at the Wachovia Center for the Philadelphia 76ers’ 2009-10 campaign, players have some free time to do things outside the basketball realm. Recently Sixers forward Marreese Speights was at the Copabanana on South Street as a guest bartender in order to raise money for the Ronald McDonald house in Philadelphia. Speights is possibly following in the footsteps of fellow teammate Samuel Dalembert who recently received the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for helping out mightily with the relief effort in Haiti.
“Helping out with the Ronald McDonald house is a great feeling,” said Speights. “I realized that it’s harder to serve drinks then I thought it was, but I’m doing my best to help out the children.”
The Sixers finished the season with the 4th worst attendance record in the NBA. The only teams who had less of a home court advantage were the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings, and New Jersey Nets. So helping out in the community is the right thing for players to do so they can help get Philadunkia’s home team back in the good graces of the fans.
“I would recommend to any player to go out and do things for their communities,” said Speights. “You get to meet a lot of your fans and people give you more respect for doing things like this.”
All Margaritas aside, Speights has an important off-season ahead of him. Hampered by knee injuries all season, Speights didn’t become the dominant player the Sixers expected in his sophomore campaign. Although his scoring and rebounding numbers were up from his rookie year, much more was expected from the big man on the offensive and defensive end. The Sixers will need all the help they can get next season to get back on track, so having Speights fully healthy is a must.
However, right now the biggest concern for the Sixers this off-season is obviously finding a new head coach. After firing a blank with coach Eddie Jordan last season, the Sixers must hit the bulls-eye next season for the welfare of the franchise. Rumors have swirled about the possibility of stealing Larry Brown away from the Charlotte Bobcats to be a Sixers head coach once again. Most of us here at Philadunkia think that would be a brilliant move considering that Larry Brown is one of the greatest defensive masterminds to ever coach at the NBA level, as well as one of the most successful and classiest guys on the market. As coach of the Sixers, Brown had the Sixers ranked as a top five defensive team every season except for his first (1997-98). Whoever the Sixers get, Speights is gearing up to work hard for him.
“You always get excited when there’s an opportunity for a new start,” said Speights. “Obviously we have one here in Philly now that coach Jordan is gone. So I’m excited just to see who we get so we can get a plan together for next season.”
Hopefully whoever the Sixers get to coach next year can solve the teams perimeter defensive woes as well as help defense in the paint. Speights will see plenty of playing time with Samuel Dalembert and Elton Brand down low so finding an effective way to use him on the defensive side of the ball will be an important issue to solve. For now, however Speights is just trying to get back to full strength and expects to do some more events in the community this summer.
“I expect to do a few more event’s like this in the off-season just to establish a better relationship with the community and my fans.” said Speights. “I think it’s a great thing to do if you have the time for it.”