The Sixers open training camp today at Saint Joseph's University.
Let's repeat that in case it gets lost in the shuffle of the Phillies trying to clinch their third straight division title and the buzz that always surrounds the local pro football team: The Sixers open training camp today.
The Sixers might be under the radar in this city due to the success of the aforementioned teams, lest we forget about the high hopes for the Flyers, too. But that's OK with them. Whether they go unnoticed by local sports fans or anyone else who follows the NBA, it's really OK with them.
"We can't take away from the success that the Phillies are having and we can't take away from the Eagles being a very good football team," guard Lou Williams said at yesterday's Media Day at the Wachovia Center. "We can only go out and do our part, so that doesn't really play a big part in the way we feel. That chip [on the team's shoulder] is dependent on our performance and not other Philly teams."
His answer brought praise from teammate Andre Iguodala, who starts his sixth season with the club. Iguodala, arguably the leader of this young team, seemed excited about the new season and a chance to play for new coach Eddie Jordan. He also talked of how important it is for the team to get off to a fast start.
"That's been an issue of ours the past couple of years, getting out," Iguodala said. "We always make our run around February, around the All-Star break, and we start making moves then. I think [Jordan] knows that and we know that. We just need to not start so slow. The earlier we start to win, the better."
It would also go a long way in garnering more interest from fans. Last season the team averaged 15,802 fans at home games, 23rd in the league. A quick start would go a long way in boosting attendance.
With a healthy Elton Brand, fully recovered from the Achilles' injury of 2 years ago and shoulder surgery from last season, and an athletic roster, optimism is high.
"We've made some really good moves; we did a good job in the draft," Iguodala said. "Thad [second-year player Thaddeus Young] has come along great and very quickly. Lou is going to be starting for us. We're the sixth-youngest team in the league. We had the Eastern Conference champions [Orlando Magic] on the edge [a playoff loss in six games]. There's not too much negative that we can say about ourselves."
The team signed four free agents and upped the roster to 17 heading into training camp. The four signees were Brandon Bowman, Dionte Christmas, Sean Singletary and Stromile Swift. Singletary (Penn Charter grad) and Christmas (Samuel Fels and Temple) have local ties . . . Center/forward Jason Smith, who tore his left anterior cruciate ligament before last season, deemed himself 100 percent . . . After a photo shoot, center Sam Dalembert ran by some kids playing on the floor and did a full split for the youngsters . . . Former Temple standout Mark Tyndale has been added to the Milwaukee Bucks' training-camp roster.