The 76ers made a number of bold moves during the 2012 off-season that for one reason or another did not work out in the best interest of the franchise. Andrew Bynum, Kwame Brown, Nick Young and Jason Richardson immediately come to mind.
However, the one acquisition the Sixers made prior to last season that worked out beautifully was the addition of television sideline reporter Molly Sullivan. Think about it for a minute.
Sullivan appeared in more games than Bynum and Brown combined, made better on-court decisions than Swaggy P and her number is certainly more cap friendly then Jason Richardson’s.
In short, you don’t need advanced analytics to determine that Sullivan was the newcomer of the year in Philadunkia nation.
The lovely and talented (borrowing that line from David Letterman) Sullivan recently gave Philadunkia editor C. Smith a few minutes via email to answer a number of Sixers related questions. After the jump, Sullivan talks Andrew Bynum, the Holiday trade, the end of the DC era and racing Ryan Lochte in the pool.
C. Smith: Bring us up to speed on Molly Sullivan…What have you been doing since the Sixers’ season came to a merciful end?
Sullivan: A merciful end? Come on. I was just hitting my stride. And I’ve decided that I’m really bad at the offseason. I tried to tough it out, and stayed in Philly for the first three months, but have returned to my hometown of Las Vegas for the rest of the way. Get this, fellas. My friends and family have the ability to make me pretty darn good at the offseason. I also get to do some reporting and hosting for Top Rank Boxing. Basketball and boxing…it’s a beautiful thing. If we could add college football and swimming to the mix, it would be a match made in work heaven.
C. Smith: There’s been a tidal wave of change surrounding the Sixers…So set the record straight for us, will you be back on the sideline next year for Sixers games?
Sullivan: Yes, I’m super excited to return and run the floor with you guys again.
C. Smith: Before we start talking hoops, can you clear up an online legend for us…Did you really get fined by the Sixers/CSN for wearing a “green” shirt during a game vs. the hated Celtics?
Sullivan: Turquoise! It was a turquoise shirt, not Celtic green. That was during a home-and-home series and I also called Glenn Rivers, Doc, at Wells Fargo Center on the second night. There’s only one Doctor in Philadelphia and I’ve learned to stay away from all shades of green when the Sixers play the C’s. See, I’m coachable.
C. Smith: So it sounds like you were in fact fined by CSN/76ers for wearing that “turquoise” shirt against the Celtics?
Sullivan: No, I was joking when I said I was fined…
C. Smith: We’ll get into the 2012-13 season in a minute, but we want to get your thoughts on the recent activities in and around the organization…
Sullivan: Bring it, gentlemen.
C. Smith: What are your thoughts on the Sam Hinkie hiring?
Sullivan: I haven’t met Sam yet. But on paper, I love it. I have a good friend who worked under him in Houston for five years, another friend who covered the Rockets last season, and I’ve spent some time asking them questions. Really looking forward to meeting Sam and getting to work. Tony DiLeo is another good man and has taught me a lot about the game.
C. Smith: What was your knee jerk reaction to the Sixers trading Jrue Holiday?
C. Smith: After you had some time to digest the Holiday trade, were you on board with the move and the rebuilding plan?
Sullivan: The franchise is in great hands and there is a lot for Sixer fans to be excited about. I had a chance to catch up with Jrue in Las Vegas last week when he was in town for USA Basketball. Such a classy guy and someone you want to root for. It will be interesting to watch the Jrue and Anthony Davis pairing develop. I can tell you after watching practice that they already have the chemistry. Davis even told local media in Vegas last week that Jrue is one of the smoothest players he’s ever seen and that nothing seems to rattle him. Jrue did a tremendous amount for the city and the franchise but the future is also incredibly bright for the Sixers.
Sullivan: That’s a bold question for late July. Let’s reconnect in October.
C. Smith: Okay, let’s reminisce on last year for a few painful minutes…
Sullivan: Okay. Ready.
C. Smith: Fill in the blank: Bynum was viewed by guys on the team as…
Sullivan: A distraction? I asked the guys that very question. Part of being a pro is that you don’t get distracted, but it had to be challenging. I know Doug never viewed Andrew Bynum as a distraction…he was very supportive of the situation and what he was going through. I can recall the Portland game at home in March when we first reported Bynum would undergo arthroscopic surgery and miss the remainder of the season. I could immediately sense the team, the arena, the city, taking a collective deep breath of relief. No one knows if Bynum could have altered the Sixers’ season, and it may not have been the answer Sixer fans were hoping for, but it was indeed a firm plan of action. It also shifted the attention back to the guys on the floor, where it should be, and they appeared to play looser. The media swarm around Bynum’s locker before games ended, as did the constant questions dished out to Tony, Doug and his team.
C. Smith: Outside of the Bynum injury, what do you view as the biggest issue that plagued the 2012-13 76ers?
Sullivan: Malik Rose is on Line 1…
C. Smith: Can you pinpoint a game or moment from last year, where you knew the 2012-13 Sixers would never get on track and that they were headed for a disappointing season?
Sullivan: These bad boys might be better questions for Rosey, an analyst, not a reporter. I know it was a frustrating season for Sixer fans and everyone involved with the organization but, for me, it’s time to move forward.
C. Smith: Do you think the team tuned out Doug Collins last year or that he “lost” the locker room?
C. Smith: Who was/is the toughest Sixers player to deal with?
Sullivan: None of the guys last season were tough for me to deal with. They respect me and know I have a job to do. It was a high-character group and that started at the very top.
C. Smith: There will be a lot of new faces on the Sixers in 2013-14. I have to assume that will that make your job more difficult, right?
Sullivan: You bet. I live for a good old-fashioned challenge. With my rookie season in the books, I have a much better understanding of my role. I grew so much as a sports broadcaster the past 16-months. Now I’m excited to take it to the next level in October.
C. Smith: Walk us through your typical schedule on a 76ers game day.
Sullivan: I get fired up just thinking about it. While I tend to be a creature of habit, I don’t really have a typical schedule on gamedays. A reporter needs to stay pretty fluid. The foundation being that of an early run, cappuccino, shoot-arounds, production meetings, team bus rides to arena, locker room with the players and coaches pre/post game, phone call or text to my parents to discuss the broadcast, reading and responding to tweets, team flight on the charter jet home while preparing for the next game. My favorite part of any day is simply talking ball with Marc, Malik, our producer JR Aguila, director Nick Marchetta and associate producer Josh Schrager. I used to think you’re only as good as your opportunities but, really, you’re only as good as your team…and I have the best teammates.
C. Smith: You’ve become a fan favorite with the Sixers faithful and Philadunkia’s readers. Are you enjoying your increasing popularity here in Philadelphia?
Sullivan: Thanks for that. They say Philadelphia is a city that will love you back and that’s truly how I feel. You guys have embraced me and I’m so grateful to be in this position. I ultimately work for the person on the other side of the TV and take my role very seriously. It’s my job to tell the story…it’s not about me, so that makes it easy to stay focused while also understanding that you’re only as good as your last game. I remember when I received the big call up to Philly after five years on college football and basketball sidelines…I thought to myself, I finally made it…now what? You guys helped provide me with some added perspective because it’s all about the people and relationships you form along the way. Meeting Sixers fans before and after the game, even around town and across the country, is what it’s all about for me.
C. Smith: Do you think the Sixers will ever decide on a mascot (sarcastic tone here)?
Sullivan: Good question, with or without sarcasm. But I honestly have no idea. My incredibly talented friend Dayna Hafetz has your back on the entertainment side of things though. She runs point on the Sixers Dream Team and just put together the best group of dancers yet. You’re welcome.
C. Smith: What’s your relationship like with the first lady of the Sixers — Dei Lynam?
Sullivan: I think Lara Price is the First Lady of the Sixers, but Dei is awesome, too. I learned a lot from her in my first year covering the NBA. I really enjoy her father’s analysis on our pre and postgame shows. We are lucky to have the Coach in our corner. (Editor’s note: Price is the 76ers Senior Vice President of Business Operations.)
C. Smith: How do handle the frequent “unnecessary” comments/criticism sideline reporters receive from a number of fronts?
Sullivan: Philly sports fans are knowledgeable, passionate, tough, but also very fair. Dr. J once told me that if a player can make it in Philly, he can make it anywhere…and perhaps the same can be held true for sports broadcasters. I think with everyone, not just sideline reporters, a kind tweet or comment simply means that a tough guy is on deck. Balance. And truthfully, I like to win the tough guys over, one game at a time. I’ve been pretty lucky with the interaction, which certainly says more about Philly sports fans than it does me. But I hope viewers can tell that I’m in it for the right reasons. I also think that being an athlete myself provides me with a perspective that helps relate to our audience, the players, coaches, and to hopefully read a situation in a manner that is appreciated by the fans. I didn’t just play high school sports…those 14 years that I spent as a swimmer at an elite level continue to help me every day as a sports reporter.
C. Smith: What’s the funniest/strangest thing you’ve had to deal with as a female sports journalist?
Sullivan: A lady never tells. Kidding. Well, kind of. I will say this…two strong women who have helped pave the way with their professionalism and knowledge for the game are Hannah Storm and Doris Burke. I look up to them, big-time. If I had the ability to combine Hannah, Doris, Katie Couric and Jenny McCarthy, it would be one heck of an assignment and right in my wheelhouse. I also love seeing what Michelle Beadle has carved out for herself and respect her work tremendously, along with Erin Andrews. And it was fellow swimmer Summer Sanders who helped start my path to the NBA sidelines. Every Saturday after swim practice in junior high and high school, I would watch Summer and Ahmad Rashad on NBA: Inside Stuff. I’ve always wanted to talk hoops and cover the league, it just took me a few years to find my way.
C. Smith: Who wins in a 1650 meter freestyle race, you or the worst reality TV show “actor” in the world — Ryan Lochte?
Sullivan: I only saw the highlights, but who needs acting chops when you have 11 Olympic medals. Lochte is great for the sport. As for the scouting report…he’s a sprinter and I’m a distance swimmer so my hand would definitely hit the wall first in the mile and not just because I’m the most competitive girl on the block. On any block, that is. I do love that you guys picked my race. But he will lap me in a 25-yard sprint. And yes, that’s only one lap to begin with. Jeah!
(Editor’s note: In her UNC days, Sullivan was an ACC Champion & 4-time NCAA qualifier in the 1650 meter freestyle.)
Thanks to Molly Sullivan for her time. You can follow her on Twitter @MollyESullivan.
You can follow us @philadunkia.