Can we talk? Can we ask whoever insists on asking Maurice Cheeks to compare the arrival of Elton Brand with the arrival of Moses Malone in 1982-83?
There is no comparison. None.
When the Sixers acquired Malone from the Houston Rockets, they had lost three times in the Finals: In '77 to the Portland Trail Blazers, in '80 and '82 to the Los Angeles Lakers, all in six games. They were, then, one step from a championship. Their roster included Hall Of famer-to be Julius Erving, All-Star guards Andrew Toney and Cheeks, good soldier Marc Iavaroni, All-Star defender Bobby Jones and solid bench players Clint Richardson, Franklin Edwards and Earl Cureton.
Moses was the final piece.
Brand, as talented as he is, as much as he brings to the current Sixers, is simply the next piece. The Sixers won 40 games last season. They made it to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.
''I don't think there's any comparison,'' Cheeks said. ''when Moses came, we had been to the Finals with a lot of established players who had been around for a while. We still have a very young team. Certainly some of the things elton brings are very good, but certainly not the impact Moses had.''
Miller Time: Agent Andy Miller, client Andre Miller and Sixers president/general manager Ed Stefanski quietly had a preliminary meeting last Friday to begin the process of determining where all sides stand on a possible contract extension for the Sixers' point guard, who is in the final season of his contract. And before you ask, there is no news beyond that. ''There's a lot to be sorted through, there are a lot of variables, and this is just a beginning, but there's no question we're talking,'' Andy Miller confirmed.
Shav The Trail Blazer: Ex-Sixer Shavlik Randolph, who signed a make-good free agent contract with Portland, found his way to 19 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks in 20 minutes of a recent 102-80 preseason victory over the Atlanta Hawks in Kansas City. ''Watching him in training camp and some of the things he does, he's tricky with the ball,'' Blazers coach Nate McMillan told the Oregonian. ''He has a very high basketball IQ in playing off guys.''
Eric The Analyst: Eric Snow, the Sixers' point guard during their run to the Finals in 2000-01, is apparently going to be an NBA-TV analyst while his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, files a disability claim. Snow is going out on an arthritic knee. It'll be fun to see whether he can use his skill as a debater in the studio. I never saw him lose a debate in the locker-room, and I mean that in a good way.
Speights Sighting: This was Cheeks after rookie Marreese Speights scored 12 points in Sunday's preseason victory in Toronto, packing 10 into the fourth quarter: "He's doing great. Really. In fact, I put him in and he made a couple of plays and I was getting ready to take him out and Elton Brand gave me a sign to basically leave him in, and he played great.''