SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

NBA Brilliance, Part I

Okay, so I'm exaggerating a bit, for two reasons. First, the brilliance doesn't belong to the league, but to a particular team. Second, well, it's not really brilliance, but just smart business sense that combines results with a sense of generational continuity.

Yes, the 76ers are going to offer head coach Maurice Cheeks a three-year contract extension.

Why is this a great move?

First, despite last night's disappointing loss to Minnesota, Coach Cheeks has the team playing excellent team basketball. He's shown that he's adept at developing young players and in getting veterans to buy into his offense, which includes everyone.

Second, he's a class act to top all class acts. Perhaps you don't remember, but before coaching his first playoff game while at Portland several years ago, he came to the rescue of a young teenage girl who forgot the lines while singing the national anthem. She was before a full house (about 18,000 people) and froze. Maurice Cheeks -- before his first playoff game as a coach -- hustled over to the girl and helped her sing the national anthem to a packed house, rescuing the girl and teaching us all a lesson as to why we should try to make someone else's day if we can. Here is the video from YouTube, and it's one piece of evidence that demonstrates what an extraordinary man Maurice Cheeks is.

Third, he was a great point guard for the 76ers, quarterbacking one of the best NBA teams of all-time, the 1982-1983 76ers (with Moses Malone, Julius Erving, Bobby Jones and Andrew Toney). He played the game with great effort and efficiency, and is beloved in the City of Brotherly Love for the excellence and professionalism he brought to the Spectrum every night.

If the 76ers sign Maurice Cheeks to this extension, it's a great day for Philadelphia sports and another step in the right direction for the hometown basketball team.

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