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Series-by-Series






Coach Brown's sentimental side; Lynch finds a Cos'
Off-Court Report
By Henry Abbott

NBA Inside Stuff magazine will go behind the scenes to cover the postseason atmosphere at arenas around the league during NBA Playoffs 2001. Here is a look at the scene in Philadelphia as the Sixers evened up their Eastern Conference semifinal series 1-1 with Toronto.

Charles Oakley brings a lot of life to the Raptors. Consider this: An hour before tipoff of Game 2 in the Sixers-Raptors series Wednesday night at the First Union Center, the visiting locker room was as quiet as a church. Antonio Davis lay on the floor watching game tape, Alvin Williams spoke to a reporter in a near-whisper, and other players sat quietly at their lockers. Then out of the blue Oakley barks: "Let's get ready to rumble!" No one even really seems to notice -- as if he does that all the time.

Oakley
Oakley
Meanwhile, in the Sixers locker room, things are loud. There's a lot of music, and a lot of people. But if you look at the players, they're pretty much all sitting quietly at their lockers just like the Raptors. Except for one. MVP-candidate Allen Iverson is up, and he's dancing. Singing along with a CD as he shakes all over the place to the rhythm. Maybe some other players should try a little pregame dancing -- Iverson went out and scored 54.

Just down the hall, coach Larry Brown is in his office. It's very sparse -- there's hardly a decoration in the place, except a TV which is tuned to ESPN, and one small poster of a basketball player way down at the bottom of his otherwise-empty bulletin board. Don't recognize who it is? "It's Nazr Mohammed," explains Brown.

The former Sixer -- who really heated up after being traded to the Hawks as part of the deal that brought Dikembe Mutombo to the Sixers -- even signed the photo. "Since he's done so well," says the proud coach, "I keep moving it higher and higher." When told that the picture isn't all that high, Brown responds with a laugh. "Well it started pretty low," he says. "He didn't play any!"

Just B. Cos'
Lynch
Lynch
Put yourself in George Lynch's shoes. It's five minutes before tipoff of Game 2 of the Sixers-Raptors series, and you have the assignment of guarding Vince Carter. You have hardly spoken to anyone for hours. There is nothing that could make your focus waver ... except maybe, hey, isn't that George's cute little son Jalen courtside?

George, a dedicated player and parent, can't bring himself to look away. His wife Julie is making her way along the baseline to meet ... hey, isn't that Bill Cosby in the bright yellow sweater? It's too much for George. He can't keep his focus on shooting around. He nudges teammate Rodney Buford, and points at Jalen, who is getting his picture taken with Cosby. George grins a mile wide, laughs, and then gives in, running across the floor to join in the picture himself.

Sixth Man Socked
McKie
McKie
MacCulloch
MacCulloch
After the game, Aaron McKie is surrounded by reporters -- mostly because he was presented the NBA's Sixth Man Award before the game. The trophy, in fact, is on the floor near his feet as dozens of reporters crowd around.

Meanwhile, at the next locker, reserve center Todd MacCulloch dresses quietly. MacCulloch hardly played in Game 2, and reporters don't seem interested in what he has to say. When the crowd clears around McKie's locker, the small statuette on the trophy has been covered with a large, black NBA tube sock. McKie takes a stern look at the trophy, and then looks straight at MacCulloch, who is already smiling, knowing he has been caught.

"Can he live, man?" asks McKie, pulling off the sock, and restoring the honor to the award he worked so hard to earn. "He can breathe through that," counters Big Mac. McKie starts to toss the sock, and Big Mac quickly protests. "Hey, put that back in my locker. That's a fresh sock!"

Junk Yard Family
Williams
Williams
Road teams have a little tradition in the NBA. About half an hour after the final horn sounds, the dapper, showered players trickle out to the edge of the playing floor and mingle with lingering friends and family members in what is usually, by then, a largely empty arena. Often it's impossible to recognize the various people the players meet. But Toronto's Junk Yard Dog, Jerome Williams, made it very easy for curious onlookers to know whom the two people were he was talking to after his team's loss. One of them was wearing a Raptors Jersey that said "Junk Yard Mom" on the back. The other? "Junk Yard Dad."

 
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