On October, 10th2009 All-Star forward Elton Brand headed down north Broad Street to Girard College high school to hand out his brand new Converse EB2’s to kids from many neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia. Usually the only time Girard College high school is in the news is when highly rated senior guard and University of Pittsburgh commit John Johnson hits the court for the Cavaliers, but on this day it was Brand that brought the media out to the high school.
Brand has a special love for the Converse open gym and it is the second straight year that Brand is handing out his signature shoes to the kids. Brand told us that he used to attend open gyms and thinks it’s a great thing for the game of basketball. “Basketball has a way of getting guys together to form comradery and form friendships,” said Brand. “You can meet guys from different neighborhoods just by playing the game of basketball. That’s the love of the game and that’s what basketball is all about.”
Converse just released the EB2’s and hope’s that with their affordable price of $65 that they will be a high selling shoe off the rack in J.C. Penny. “Their structured for speed and agility and everything else and their free for the kids but a great price point at J.C. Penny so hopefully they get to use them,” said Brand. “They can use them when they go back to school to play ball and just as regular shoes.”
Open gym aside, the Sixers are now 3-0 in the pre-season and as much as we loveheartfelt stories like this, we had to get the scoop on the upcoming season which is now less than a month away. Just yesterday we found out that the Sixers have cut Philly local Sean Singletary and the high flying Stromile Swift off of the pre-season roster and it looks like Temple University’s own Dionte Christmas will score the last and final roster spot on the team. For a kid who was passed up by every team in this years draft after high projections, we here at Philadunkia hope only the best for the 3-point producing machine Christmas. He is definitely an upgrade on the perimeter and hopefully him, Kapono, and Williams can really do some damage from long range this year.
Brand realizes that pre-season doesn’t mean much compared to the regular season, but is excited that the team seems to be on track to have a good season come the end of October. “It feel’s good to be 3-0 right now,” said Brand. “We’re trying to instill winning, it’s about winning and when we’re out there on the court we want to win. We’ve done that thus far and it’s just a great feeling.”
The most important thing the team needs to do in order to be successful this season is to master Coach Jordan’s new Princeton offense where Brand admits that the team is still learning. “Sometimes the offense we look better at it than other times,” said Brand. “When its flowing its flowing well and we’re doing well, but other times we get bogged down a little bit. We’re finding ways to fight our way out of it, we’re still learning the new system but Coach Jordan is teaching it well and so far it’s been going well.” So far, the most offensively challenged Sixer seems to be Andre Iguodala. Andre is averaging 12 points a game but on 35 percent shooting, while committing a team high five turnovers per contest. This is something that has to be changed by the end of pre-season if the team is going to be successful.
As far as Brand is concerned, his past two seasons in the league have been riddled with injuries, but according to Thaddeus Young the man has been a “beast” at practice where some days Thad doesn’t even want to come out of the locker room to guard him. Philadunkia just wanted to make sure that what Thad said was accurate, considering that the Sixersorganization has been littered with terrible forward acquisitions for the past 15 years. “I’m as close to 100 percent as a 10 year NBA veteran can be,” said Brand. “All the major injuries are totally behind me and I feel great. Plus Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala have gotten better over the summer as well as I so we’re going to have a good formidable team.”
As for the rest of the team there are a couple players that are serving new roles this season. Lou Williams has stepped in as the new starting point guard of the team, while Samuel Dalembert who last year was considered an offensive liability will now see a significant increase in the number of touches he receives. Brand cued in on each of the issues at hand and feels confident in each of their jobs for next season. “Lou Williams has really adjusted to the new role well,” said Brand. “I think the system bodes well to his abilities. He’s athletic, he can slash, finish at the rim, and it’s a system so he brings it up to a certain point than he’s passing the ball and cutting. He’s not your traditional point guard that has to break somebody down and dish the ball so I think that serves his game well.” It will be interesting to see how the offense runs for the upcoming season. Obviously everybody on the team has to practice their handles or else the team will have too many turnovers. Too many turnovers usually lead to L’s in the NBA.
Sammy D is one of the players for the past few seasons who is notorious for dropping passes in the low post and following a great defensive stop with a turnover of his own. For Sixers fans this has only created migraine headaches and it was unbelievable to us that Sammy just couldn’t get it right after all his years in the NBA. According to coach Jordan however, Sammy has been doing well in practice with the new offense so far and Brand thinks so too. “Sam is going to be one of the x-factors of the team,” said Brand. “He has to be out there to play defense and block shots, but also the offense needs to go in the low post. When it’s in that low post he’s going to have to do some things and move the ball around and he’s doing well at it in practice but it has to translate to the games.”
It’s always good to hear good things about the Sixers and when this off-season/pre-season is all said and done, I think the Sixers organization (especially Ed Stefanski) did a hell of a job to put together a team that will win and maybe even go far in the playoffs. The Sixers are yet again an under the radar team and the Celtics, Magic, and Cavaliers are clearly the favorites to win the east this year. The Sixers may not be the team to beat this year, but they’ll give you one hell of a fight.