Of course there were a couple of things I didn’t quite get about a bunch of it—which is par for the course, I suppose. For instance, why is it that Villanova can pack the much-larger Wachovia Center, while Temple struggles to fill the second deck of the Liacouras Center? Both teams play exciting, up-tempo basketball and likely will be involved in some sort of madness come March.
Of course with money as tight as it is for a lot of folks, it’s understandable why some folks might not be able to get tickets for a basketball game. Still, compared to other ways to spend your entertainment dollar, the $15-to-$35 ticket prices for a game at the Liacouras Center aren’t too bad.
For Vllanova games at the Wachovia Center the prices start at $17 and go up to $65 for the lower bowl. Of course club box seats and other hoity-toity things like that go for a little more, but given the budgets most families must adhere to these days, it’s not awful. No, it’s not cheap when everything is factored in, and it’s not like the old days when families could regularly attend games, but those days, as they say, are gone.
Affording things ain’t so easy any more.
Nevertheless, the most interesting thing that occurred this week happened when I was up at the Temple game and I’m kind of bummed that I missed it. Fortunately, there is some compelling video out there of Sixers’ center Sam Dalembert sprinting from the airport to the Wachovia Center in order to get there in time for the opening tip. Even more compelling was the tearful recollection of Dalembert’s trip to his birth city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti where the devastation and grimness of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit last week undoubtedly will be something he will never forget.
Coincidentally, Matt Pesotski, of the always trenchant The 700 Level, was on the same flight from Florida as Dalembert and saw the Sixers’ center dash from the plane, through the concourse and on his way to the arena. Yet after spending the previous two days in Haiti and flying all day, Dalembert showed up in time to score 10 points and grab 15 rebounds against the Trailblazers…
… And the Sixers lost.
Check out the really good video produced by the gang at CSN of Sam hurrying to the game:
Speaking of the 76ers, there was an interesting little nugget in the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated concerning the NBA’s most underrated players. According to a poll of 190 NBA players, John Salmons of the Bulls finished second in the voting behind Joe Johnson of the Hawks.
Now Johnson isn’t exactly underrated considering he has averaged 21 points per game over the past five seasons and went to the last three All-Star Games. Calling Johnson underrated is like calling certain rock bands “alternative” when they move over a million units. What’s “alternative” about that?
So by default John Salmons is the most underrated player in the NBA. Remember him? You know, the kid from Plymouth-Whitemarsh who played collegiately at Miami and was drafted in the first round of the 2002 draft by the Spurs and immediately traded to the Sixers?
Yeah, that guy.
When Salmons was with the Sixers he never averaged more than 7.5 points per game and never more than 25 minutes per game. With Allen Iverson, Willie Green and Kyle Korver in the backcourt and Chris Webber splitting up the shots with Iverson, Salmons was a role player for the Sixers. However, after jumping to Sacramento after the 2006 season before moving on to Chicago in a trade midway through the 2009 season, Salmons didn’t have to wait for his turn anymore.
Sure, his scoring numbers are down from 18.3 in 2009 to 13.3 this season, but where Salmons stands out is on defense. Check out a Bulls game sometime and chances are Salmons will be checking the opposition’s best scorer.
Chalk Salmons up to one of those “What if?” situations, especially considering that only the lowly Nets allow the opposition to shoot at a higher percentage than the Sixers amongst Eastern Conference clubs. Worse, opponents shoot better than 41 percent from three-point range against the Sixers—that’s the worst (or the best) rate in the NBA.
Clearly Salmons was underrated by the Sixers, too.