BOSTON - At the 76ers' shootaround on Friday morning at TD Garden, I saw team general manager Tony DiLeo standing courtside. Since we were told on Oct. 24 that all updates on the health of Andrew Bynum would come through DiLeo, I asked him whether he could give an update. I was directed by him to ask public relations director Mike Preston. When asked, Preston said there is no update, so DiLeo wouldn't be talking. It was the second time during the week reporters asked about the health of the Sixers' prized possession (the Inquirer's Bob Ford asked in New Orleans), only to be quickly told both times "no update."
Preston is just doing his job, no question about that. Coach Doug Collins isn't answering Bynum questions, which is understandable, as he and his staff must concentrate on the team they have now and how they can win games with the players taking the court every day.
But why the secrecy from the higher-ups about Bynum? Why can't DiLeo let us know whether Bynum is on the new, weight-bearing treadmill that seemingly was brought to the Sixers' practice facility specifically for him? Or whether he is taking to the court with his team at any time to observe? Or whether he is working out on his own to sharpen his basketball skills? Or maybe how much longer they think the "non-basketball activities" rule will be in place?
Since the new ownership, led by Josh Harris and Adam Aron, took over, it has been all about improving the relationship between the fans and the organization. The owners already had a coach in place whom the fans adored from his playing days in the 1970s and '80s and from his undeniable knowledge as an NBA analyst. Then they made it more affordable for fans to come see games and listened to suggestions about the in-game experience for fans and improved it tremendously. All the while, Aron tweeted endlessly about how the group is all about winning and doing whatever it takes to be relevant again. Then they acquired Bynum in a blockbuster, four-team deal and that sort of cemented what was being said.
Some may roll their eyes at the "Look what we've done" connotation often stemming from Aron's tweets, but it was hard to argue, because the new ownership was making moves to both improve the team and please the fans.
Now, the ownership has completely dropped the ball in regards to Bynum. The whole situation, with him suffering a bone bruise during a workout before training camp to perhaps being able to practice before the season to not giving regular updates is just wrong. If ownership wanted pats on the back - and it deserved them - when acquiring Bynum, it at least should be up front enough to answer the questions fans want answered about his injury. The only way fans get those answers, of course, is through the media. So what if he is slow recovering from his injury? What's wrong with saying so? What is wrong with telling the fans the truth?
Getting Bynum was a risk; everyone knew that when it happened. But it is only a 1-year contract, and if it all works out, good for them. If it doesn't and Bynum can't play much this season and ultimately moves on, well, so be it. But what's wrong with being honest?
Sure, more behind-the-scenes stuff probably goes on than we will never know. And Bynum is looking to get a huge contract, so getting on the court when he is not feeling totally healthy would be a big risk for him.
But we don't know anything, because that's the way the owners seem to prefer handling this situation.
We'll let you know as soon as we find out, as soon as ownership realizes that the fans not only want to know what's going on, they deserve to know.
Shooting woes no concern
Coach Doug Collins has long been a big fan of Reggie Miller, going all the way back to his high school playing days at Riverside Polytechnic, when Collins tried to recruit him to Arizona State. So when the subject of the Sixers' struggles from behind the three point line (they were shooting 31.4 percent after their first four games), naturally, Miller's name came up.
"I think the big thing is what kind of conscience do you have," Collins said. "I had none. I could be in and out of a slump in one game. You have to have the ability to miss four or five shots and not worry about taking the sixth. It's easy when you're on a roll to keep looking for those shots. What you can't do is you can't shy away from that fifth or sixth shot because you missed.
"What Reggie Miller was the king of was starting the game and getting a layup or getting to the free throw line, where you don't have to hit a home run every time. When you hit home runs, you get a lot of strikeouts.
"To me, a three-point shooter is like a hitter in baseball. If you make 37 percent from the three-point line, you're probably a damn good shooter, and that means you're failing 63 percent of the time. You can be in the Hall of Fame in baseball by failing 70 percent of the time. You can play 10 years and hit .300. You have to deal with the failure aspect of it. In baseball, you can go up there and hit the ball hard four straight times and make outs, then you can hit two broken-bat singles. Three-point shooters, you can be behind the line and look like three shots are going in and they come out, but you just have to keep taking the shot. I'm not worried about that."
With starting shooting guard Jason Richardson out with a sprained ankle, the main shooting threats become Dorell Wright and Nick Young. But those two haven't exactly reminded opponents of Miller, as they've shot only 11-for-45 (24.4 percent) combined from beyond the arc, entering the weekend. Panic is still a long way off for either player or their coach, though.
"I'm not worried about that," Wright said of his shooting. "I feel good about my all-around play right now. I'm rebounding the ball, playing defense, doing other things besides shooting the ball. One thing I've learned by being in the league this long is when you're not shooting the ball well, do something else that's good that's going to help the team.
"My shooting will be back. It's something shooters go through, and I'm glad I'm going through it right now. Last year, it took me a while to get my shooting back where I wanted it to be. I've got time, I'm not really worried about something like that. The only way I can get back on track is if I keep shooting them and I'm going to continue to do that."
Everyone has the backing of their coach in that regard, as Collins has continually said he will never stop a good shooter from shooting.
"It's a work in progress, just trying to find my spots out there in games," Young said. "I know my teammates and coaches still believe in me, and that's a big confidence boost. Once I see two go down in a row, it's pretty much of a wrap. You all need to get some easy baskets out there to start, and then that could change how the game goes for the rest of the night. I've seen it all, I've been in the league a while now. I've had three bad games in a row [before] and then in the fourth game I came out and had [43, with Washington in 2011]. So I've been here before."
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