Hump Day Report: Sixers, Al Freeman, Jr.
Rants and raves about burning topics that have caught my attention midweek, be it greedy corporate shenanigans, frustration or joy in regards to the Philly sports teams, a movie, show or DVD that has fired up my imagination, an intriguing personality, or what’s happening in the region. — Lori Hoffman, Associate Editor, Atlantic City Weekly.
Despite my passion for the Phillies and Eagles as expressed in this column from time to time, anyone who knows me well will tell you that my favorite sport is basketball. The loss of the Atlantic 10 Mens Basketball Tournament to Brooklyn, after four years at Boardwalk Hall, leaves a hole in my schedule in March. I loved seeing college hoops.
However, it looks like it is going to be a lot more fun watching the Philadelphia 76ers this year with the trade that brought them one of the best centers in the game, Andrew Bynum, in exchange, essentially, for Andre Iguodala, as part of the major four team trade with Denver, Los Angeles and Orlando.
Not only do we have an offense that features a beast down low, moving Iguodala frees up playing time for Evan Turner at small forward, and the addition of Jason Richardson, gives us a better starting shooting guard than Jodie Meeks, who BTW, signed with the Lakers.
The Sixers were called soft last year. Not anymore with Bynum, Kwame Brown as his backup, and Spencer Hayward using his offensive skills at power forward, and not being expected to bang with bruising centers. Thanks to other moves, the Sixers also have 6’9” Dorell Wright who can play shooting guard and small forward, and Thad Young will likely get playing time at small forward rather than power forward.
Bynum managed to score 19.1 points per game as the third option behind Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. He will be a superstar in Philly with the offense based on his center play. I’m expecting 22 points/14 rebounds a game, as well as excellent shooting from our outside shooters, who will have tons of room with teams packing in the paint to try and stop Bynum.
I’m also expecting a big year from starting point guard Jrue Holiday, more production from Turner, more offense from Hawes and continued production from Lavoy Allen, who surprised a lot of people with his shooting touch last year.
I can’t wait for Oct. 31 when the Sixers open the season against Denver and Iguodala.
Al Freeman, Jr., who passed away this week at the age of 78, was never a star. Few African American actors were stars in his era beyond Sidney Poitier. However, he was an actor I always appreciated (I loved his rich, smooth voice), and since he did so much TV in the ’60s and ’70, I grew up with Freeman as a familiar face, on shows like The Defender, Judd For the Defense, and later on Roots: The Next Generation (as Malcolm X), Law and Order and Homicide: Life on the Streets.
I never watched the soaps, except during my college years when I got hooked on One Life To Live. Freeman won an Emmy for lead actor on a soap opera for that show in 1979, becoming the first African American to be so honored.
When I saw Al Freeman, Jr. in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, I smiled with delight, since it had been a long time since I had seen him. By that time in his career (1992), he was teaching at Howard University and had pretty much retired from acting. He was still teaching at the time of his death.
He was a star on the Broadway stage, making his Broadway debut in 1960’s The Long Dream, with Cicely Tyson, Roscoe Lee Browne and Alvin Ailey in 1962’s Tiger Tiger Burning Bright, and Blues for Mister Charlie, and The Slave, both in 1964.
I’m sure it is his students who are missing him the most. He was a quiet, steady trailblazer for African American actors.