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Ma Fine once asked if Tom Seaver was going to pitch in Madison Square Garden. My mom is more the Met Opera than the New York Mets. 

So, Mother’s Day, on Sunday, was spent going to a movie with her, not watching Game 7 of the Boston Celtics—Philadelphia 76’ers second round playoff series However, this Game 7 took me back over 4 decades ago to wonderful memories of another Game 7 between these 2 teams. Meanwhile, the Sixers first round series with the Brooklyn Nets has conjured up thoughts of 3 past dealings these franchises have had, two of which have made their indelible mark in NBA lore.

The 1981-82 Sixers, coached by the Kangaroo Kid-Billy Cunningham, featured the incomparable Dr. J, Maurice Cheeks—the Perfect 10 (my nickname for him…sorry Bo Derek or Bo Diaz?), the Boston Strangler (Andrew Toney), Lionel “The Train” Hollins, the great Bobby Jones and even Chocolate Thunder, Darryl Dawkins, came in from his planet, Lovetron. The Boston Celtics, coached by the irascible Bill Fitch, had the Evil Big 3—Bird, Parish and McHale, the greatly underappreciated Dennis Johnson, Cornbread Maxwell, Tiny Archibald and the Towel Wavers—ML Carr and Chris Ford. Can you tell where my sentiments lied?

En route to a World Championship, the prior 1980-81 season, the Boston Celtics had defeated the Philadelphia 76’ers, surmounting a 3 games to 1 deficit, to win the Eastern Conference Finals, with Game 7 at the Boston Garden. Then Boston prevailed in a 6-game Finals triumph over the overachieving 40-42 Houston Rockets. For all intent and purposes, the Eastern Conference Finals victor was, invariably, going to win the NBA Title. So, that Game 7 Sixers loss was heartbreaking to Cheese-Steakers. I was one of them and was disconsolate.

Fast forward to 1981-82. The Sixers and Celtics face off, again, in the Eastern Conference Finals. Again, Philadelphia goes up 3 to 1. Again, the Celtics claw there way back to even the series at 3-3. Again, Game 7 was going to be at the Boston Garden.

Everybody counted out the Sixers. Overconfident Celtics fans. (Congenitally?) jaded Philly sports fans. The media. But not me! My thoughts, as I was a college student at Penn in Philadelphia, and an avid 76ers fan, was that what happened the last season had nothing to do with the series at hand, and I believed Philadelphia would prevail. Sure enough they did—120-106! Elation!!

The most amazing thing happened down the stretch of Game 7, when the outcome had pretty much been determined. (Carr and Ford had stopped waving their towels.) The Celtics crowd chanted, in unison, “Beat LA. Beat LA…..”, encouraging the Sixers to defeat the Lakers team that awaited them in the Finals. The Lakers won the NBA Championship Series in 6 games. But this did not diminish the joy Philadelphia fans had by winning Game 7, against all odds, at the Boston Garden.

The 76ers and Nets have had 3 transactions throughout the years that have been attention-getting. Two of them have made NBA history. The Nets went from Brooklyn, to New Jersey to New York (Long Island) in reverse chronological order: 

1.       What looked like a Blockbuster at the time, has been downgraded tremendously. James Harden and Ben Simmons were the 2 principles. The Beard, James Harden, was traded from the Brooklyn Nets to the Philadelphia 76’ers for the Enigma (my nickname for him), Ben Simmons. Other players and draft picks were involved. This took place in February 2022.

Most of the narrative has involved Harden. The Nets were breaking up the superstar trio of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, whom they had hoped would bring them championships. They only appeared in 16 games together. And, subsequently, Irving was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, with Durant dealt to the Phoenix Suns a short time thereafter.

Meanwhile, the Sixers had hoped that teaming Harden with Joel Embiid would bring back the glory days to Philadelphia. Embiid was named the NBA MVP for 2022-23. Yet, the Embiid-Harden duo did not lift the Sixers past the second round of the playoffs. Now, there is some sentiment that Harden, a free agent, will depart Philly, possibly rejoining the Houston Rockets.

              Simmons has hardly played for the Nets, due to injury and/or emotional issues.

2.       Can an NBA player score for both teams in the same game? An overzealous NBA official, a subsequent trade and an unusual resolution made this happen!

The New Jersey Nets and Philadelphia 76ers played in an early season game in New Jersey, an otherwise forgettable affair, in November of the 1978-79 season. The Nets got into a big argument with the officials, and referee Richie Powers assessed star player Bernard King, who had previously been T’d up in the game, 2 additional technical fouls. So, King was ejected from the game, as the rules called for after a second technical foul, but still was assessed a third T. Nets coach Kevin Loughery, who made getting technical fouls an art form, argued vociferously (but justly) with Powers that the rules did not allow a third technical foul to be given to a participant in an NBA game. So, Powers T’d up Loughery once. Loughery persisted. Tech 2 came. And Loughery would not leave the floor. So, Powers handed him a third technical.

An aside….An obscure Nets assistant coach named Phil Jackson coached the team the rest of the game. The Sixers prevailed in double-overtime 137-133, although that victory was short-lived.

The Nets sent in an appeal to the NBA, saying the NBA rules had no provisions for a third technical foul to be assessed to a player or coach. Commissioner Larry O’Brien upheld the appeal and suspended Powers for 5 games. From the 5:50 mark of the third quarter, when King and Loughery both got their third technical fouls, the game would resume at that point, with the score being Philadelphia 84 NJ 81. But it would not take place until the 2 teams were scheduled to next play, not until March, in Philadelphia. There would be a double-header of sorts. First the initial contest would resume from the 5:50 mark of the third quarter. Then there would be a break and the 2 teams would play their regularly scheduled game. Any points scored after the 5:50 mark of the third quarter of the first game in November would be removed from the ledger.

But, before this took place, a trade between the 2 teams occurred in February. Philadelphia dealt Harvey Catchings, Ralph Simpson and cash to New Jersey for Eric Money. These players had played for their original teams in November. The NBA ruled that they could play for their new teams in March! I was in attendance at the Spectrum!!

Of the three players who played for their new teams in the conclusion of the first game, Money was the only one who scored during the March resumption. He tallied 4 points for Philadelphia. Meaning Money scored for both New Jersey and Philadelphia in the same game! If you can find the Box Score, you can verify this!!

Ironically, he ended up losing points in the deal, individually. In the November matchup, Money had scored 37 points for the Nets, but 13 of them had come after the Technical Foul foulup. So, as only statistics up to that point counted, he ended up with 24 points for the Nets, to go with his 4 for the Sixers. Philadelphia won the resumed game 123-117…in regulation. Richie Powers was not assigned to the game! And it was a doubleheader sweep of sorts for the Sixers as they defeated the Nets 110-98 in the regularly scheduled game. We do not think this is what Ernie Banks had in mind when he said Let’s Play 2!

3.      Nets fans have probably gotten over the departure of Harden, although are still left scratching their heads with the curious case of Ben Simmons…Their doubleheader loss to the 76ers has probably receded into their memories, joining many other losses they have endured throughout many largely mediocre seasons. But many a geriatric Nets fan might still be seeking long-term psychological care for what transpired on October 26, 1976. (I believe this date, in conjunction with having to be a country-music disc jockey at the impressionable young age of 21 in Tallulah LA have been 2 of the more traumatic experiences in my lifetime!)

Still sky-high from the New York Nets 1975-76 (ABA) Championship, Nets fans eagerly anticipated the Nets proving themselves in the NBA, which had absorbed 4 teams from the dissolved ABA, including the Nets for the 1976-77 season. Then, the illusions of grandeur were shattered. 

Surely, Boe Jests? No, that was not the case, as Nets owner Roy Boe sold his superstar player, Julius Erving, to the Philadelphia 76’ers for $3 million on October 26 1976. Nets fans never had the chance to see Dr J play for them in the NBA. New York ended up with a record of 22-60, its fandom heartbroken. Yes, at the time I was a die-hard Nets fan.

Go Jackets!



By Scott Osborne

Sorry LSU baseball fans, but you can no longer confidently predict this year’s team will make it to Omaha. There is simply too much pressure on the offense and Skenes to carry the team.

Amazingly, LSU is 2-3 in games they have scored four or fewer runs. The most amazing part of that stat is that, against the schedule LSU plays, the Tigers have been held under 5 runs just 5 times this year. That is incredible.

In football, over the long run, you have to be able to run the ball. In basketball, you have to be able to win in the paint. And in baseball, you must pitch and play defense. 

This year, LSU has had stretches where they don’t catch fly balls, can’t throw strikes, and don’t make the plays needed on defense (not just errors). On Sunday, Mississippi State scored the winning run on what should have been an inning ending double play. LSU got the first out, so there was no error, but the defense did let down.

Even more amazing is that LSU struck out 29 batters in the last 19 innings of the series against the Bulldogs, which is 51% of the outs. That means LSU needed to record just 28 outs in the field on batted balls, and the Bulldogs were still able to score 23 runs.

The inability to minimize damage is the issue. A run here, a run there happens. But the crooked numbers (anything above 2) are what lead to the big momentum swings. In the last 6 non Skenes started SEC games, LSU has given up 9 of these crooked number innings. 

LSU baseball fans that have been watching since the 80s know that stretches like this happen in baseball. The reality, though, is that LSU has had these problems all year. It is not just a bad stretch. The offense just did an amazing job winning 13-12 or 11-10 for a significant portion of the SEC season. 

Once again, referencing football, if your team loses the turnover ratio and cannot control the line of scrimmage, then you will be a .500 team at best. This exact scenario is what we saw from the Saints when Drew Brees was throwing for over 5,000 yards every year, but the Saints were still 7-9. 

In baseball, if you walk the opponent, and give up crooked number innings you will struggle as LSU is currently. In LSU’s 12 losses this year, the opponent has scored an average of 11.5 runs a game! 

Because baseball is a wacky game, tournaments are double elimination, and consistent teams do better in these tournaments. 

The SEC tournament is like the 400m in track or 200m in swim. Both races are considered sprints, but you have to have incredible endurance to run those races like a sprint. In the SEC baseball tournament you need pitching endurance. Successful teams need to have 3 starters and someone has to come out of nowhere to pitch 5-6 innings in a fourth game IF you avoid the loser’s bracket.

I will also be very nervous in the regional. The Tigers need to win the regional in three games. To do that, LSU will have to “pitch off” and win the opener with offense. Skenes will need to win the marble game (game 2) and then the offense will have to come through again in game 3. I like LSU to win a regional, but getting the last 6 outs in a close game 2 where Skenes comes out after the 7th inning is what scares me the most.

A Super Regional is the best format for this team. Winning 2 out of 3 is what this team is built to do because the three game series is what makes Skenes the most valuable. There is no chance of a fourth game.

The Super Regional is still scary, though. At this point, one would have to assume that every opponent will throw their best pitcher in game 2. While I believe Ty Floyd can pitch a quality 6 innings, who can LSU rely on to get the last 9 outs? LSU is 9-8 in SEC games that Skenes has not started.

If LSU does make it to Omaha, the CWS is a two week grind where you need two quality starting pitchers and a bullpen. In reality, teams with great bullpens, or a pitcher with a rubber arm that can be dominant in almost every game, do very well in Omaha. 

In my last article I made the following statement and finished with this question. LSU needs relievers to get the last 9-12 outs of his (Floyd) starts. Furthermore, will LSU find a third starter before June?  

A month ago when I wrote that, there seemed to be a couple candidates trending in that direction. Now, not so much. LSU does not have one pitcher outside of Skenes and Floyd that has shown the ability to turn in consecutive quality outings. The Tigers are one week away from hopefully, 5 weeks of postseason play.

As discouraging as this sounds right now, all LSU needs is 3 pitchers with quality arms to step up and be consistent. LSU has at least three pitchers with the arm talent. Who is going to put it together for this stretch run and avoid this season being a huge disappointment? Wes and Jay Johnson are going to work extremely hard to find the answer to that question, and Tiger fans can only hope an answer exists.