Months back, Jake Pavorsky and I had the chance to see the Sixers new practice facility while it was still under construction. The franchise promised the building would be a perfect union of form and function, providing the team with the best home base in basketball.
Today, we got to see what the complete vision looks like.
As we get our first look inside new training complex gym, Brett Brown with Dario Saric, Brandon Paul. Sergio Rodriguez on far court. pic.twitter.com/XxbIP6PTlV— Brian Seltzer (@brianseltzer) September 23, 2016
As it turns out, it’s a hell of a lot nicer to see hardwood down and basketball players on the court. It’s hard to overstate how big of a jump this real estate represents for the franchise. At PCOM, the Sixers were crammed into a small gym and forced to share the overarching facility with the college. It wasn’t fitting for a pro franchise, and the dual courts alone represent a massive upgrade. There are a number of hoops, totaling 10, stationed around the exterior of the two parallel courts as well. When the media entered the facility, Nearly every player in the gym was working with a coach individually at one hoop. Intimate development work of that magnitude will certainly benefit a roster of burgeoning young talent.
The talent upgrade is obvious as well:
The 2014 Draft class sticks together. pic.twitter.com/J0w330ruul— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) September 23, 2016
Dario Saric drains threes in Camden, NJ. pic.twitter.com/1SogkVz8fP— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) September 23, 2016
Bryan Colangelo and Brett Brown have talked at length about how excited they are about the talent level in their gym, and Saric figures to be a big part of that this season. If he can hit an above-average rate from deep, the Sixers have a bonafide stud on their hands. Saric drained NBA-range threes with ease this afternoon, but certainly needed time to gather himself to reach the rim. He will need to quicken his mechanics—and eliminate a sort of windup—but the fact he’s connecting from that distance with such regularity is definitely promising.
Video proof TJ McConnell can dunk. pic.twitter.com/6RMqMRlVCZ— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) September 23, 2016
Only one of these dunks is likely to be duplicated in-game. McConnell also thew down a vicious one-handed jam, to the delight of his teammates, that Liberty Ballers unfortunately could not document on video.
The players have to be thrilled about the opening. Amenities on hand in Camden will far outstrip what they previously had access to at PCOM, and will push the franchise into a new era.
The man who will fuel the players, Jae Hee Cho, from the kitchens of Parc and Serpico. pic.twitter.com/1vq1qpaBeB— Brian Seltzer (@brianseltzer) September 23, 2016
The Sixers new chef came from Parc ... so they'll be eating good food this season. pic.twitter.com/rX0MPxVNJJ— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoCSN) September 23, 2016
Someone high up in the Sixers must possess a deep love for Parc; the team took Brandon Ingram there for a meal during the pre-draft process, and it appears they want to have that level of cuisine available for players and staff at all times. You can’t really go wrong with Stephen Starr restaurants (though I’m an el Vez guy myself). Brett Brown joked they will not be serving Shirley Temples at the bar.
For those who have never been in the locker rooms at The Center (or PCOM for that matter), the locker room represents another upgrade in space. That matters for human beings that are as large as the players on the Sixers. Since the team wants this to be ground zero, comfort is critical. During the media tour into the locker room, Liberty Ballers learned that Joel Embiid wears a size 17.
Players lounge on second floor, attached to kitchen. pic.twitter.com/JilRj6XXZG— Brian Seltzer (@brianseltzer) September 23, 2016
Players lounge overlooks the courts. pic.twitter.com/TSR3o0Vcof— Jessica Camerato (@JCameratoCSN) September 23, 2016
If it’s going to be a base of operations, the players have to have some down time. Hopefully Ben Simmons and Sergio Rodriguez are as adept at trick shots in pool as they are trick passes on the court.
The builders had a difficult time with the hydro area and had to downsize from initial expectations, but this will be a crown jewel for the Sixers training staff. As we noted in our story in June, the pool area and its Hydrowork treadmill tech drew inspiration from the Australia Institute of Sport, no doubt a reflection of Dr. David Martin’s influence on the facility. Jessie Wright, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, said Friday the hydro technology is on par with the equipment in most facilities around the league, but that the Sixers’ space is by far the largest. Harris and Colangelo specifically championed the hydro area as an exciting feature of the complex.
Philadelphia’s new facility wouldn’t be complete without some reverence for the past:
This is an exciting day for the organization from the top down, a fact they made clear to reporters.
Brett Brown: "It's a wonderful day." Thinks complex will have an "if you build it, they will come" effect. pic.twitter.com/EDeUxZZgqe— Brian Seltzer (@brianseltzer) September 23, 2016
Josh Harris hopes training complex will have ability to "attract stars," believes Sixers can be instrument of change in Camden community. pic.twitter.com/Dyi2V6Krg7— Brian Seltzer (@brianseltzer) September 23, 2016
Proof will be in the pudding on that front. As with the rebuilding process undertaken by the previous regime, a sound plan and process provides a base for success. Steps still must be taken to reach the final destination — and this is no guarantee for success — but it’s another step in the right direction to modernize the franchise.
Unfortunately, there’s a turd in the punch bowl:
Brett Brown has lost the beard— Bob Cooney (@BobCooney76) September 23, 2016
If the Eagles lose on Sunday, you’ll know who to blame.