Korver makes semi-homecoming to Philadelphia


Korver makes semi-homecoming to Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIAWhen Kyle Korver first entered the NBA back in 2003 as a second-round draft pick from a small college in Nebraska, he joined a 76ers team led by superstar guard Allen Iverson. He appeared to initially struggle with the speed and athleticism of the game, but found his niche as a prolific spot-up shooter by his second season, and although he experienced four coaches in his four-plus seasons in the City of Brotherly Love, the sharpshooter was respected for his gradual all-around improvement and averaged a career-high 14.4 points per game in 2006-07, his fourth professional campaign.

Korver arrived in Philadelphia a couple years too late for the Sixers 2001 run to the NBA Finals, but he did get a taste of the playoffs in his second seasonlosing to current teammate Rip Hamiltons Pistons in 2005before getting traded to Utah early in the 2007-08 season. Another team removed from the Sixers now, Korver still reflects fondly on his tenure with his first team, though its a very different squad from the one he left, as only All-Star swingman Andre Iguodala and two youngsterscurrent reserve mainstays Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young, a second-year player out of high school and a rookie with only one college season under his belt, respectivelyremain.

Its always good to be back in Philly, Korver told CSNChicago.com before the Bulls Friday-morning shootaround at the Wells Fargo Center, an arena thats changed its name since Korvers stint in town. Your first team you play with for a few years, you assume youre going to be there forever, the rest of your career and then, the reality of the business sets infree agency, trades. But its good to be back here. Theres still a lot of good people in the Sixers organization, a lot of the same people who were here when I was here and its good to see everybody.

They were the young guys when I was here. Now, theyre the leaders and I think, obviously the team has grown. Theyve grown as playersAndres an All-Star this year, Lou Williams has grown into an unbelievable scorerthings that you saw they could be and theyre happening now. Theyre really good guys, theyre really hard workers, so Im happy for them.

Iguodala, known as a student of the gameparticularly on the defensive end, as some observers believe hes the NBAs top perimeter defenderassessed Korvers development since leaving Philadelphia in a positive light.

Hes had a lot more NBA experience. Being with him in Philly, he was a younger guy. Now, hes a little bit older, hes one of the vets, so hes seen a lot. Hes seen the different coverages teams are going to throw at him. Defensively, they say hes a liability throughout his career, so hes been able to see what teams throw at him on both ends, said Iguodala. Hes been able to adjust and thats a big part of his career. When somethings thrown at you and they say you have a weakness, how do you adjust? And I think hes been able to do a great job of adjusting to that and keeping himself a threat on the court, and not being a liability on defense.

Blackhawks preparing for EPIX all-access look leading up to Winter Classic

Blackhawks preparing for EPIX all-access look leading up to Winter Classic

The 2017 Winter Classic featuring the Blackhawks and Blues is right around the corner.

Players from both sides already squared off in a game of NHL 17 to generate some hype into the game, but nothing compares to behind-the-scenes footage of the two teams leading up to it.

Beginning Dec. 16 at 9 p.m., EPIX will air a one-hour episode each week that provides an all-access look inside the lives of the Blackhawks and Blues, on and off the ice.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The game will be on Jan. 2 at 12 p.m. on NBC, with the final episode airing Friday, Jan. 6.

Here's a two-minute preview involving the Blackhawks, who are labeled "A Good Bunch of Guys."

Steve Larmer reflects on Blackhawks days prior to 'One More Shift'

Steve Larmer reflects on Blackhawks days prior to 'One More Shift'

Steve Larmer took the pregame spin, part of the Blackhawks’ “One More Shift” series on Friday night. High above him at the United Center hang several retired Blackhawks numbers.

As of now, Larmer’s No. 28 isn’t among them, but he’s OK with that.

“I think that really is reserved for very special people,” Larmer said.

OK, but isn’t he one of those in the Blackhawks’ history?

“Thank you, but I think that Bobby Hull and Tony Esposito and Denis Savard and Keith Magnuson and Pierre Pilote are kind of in a league of their own,” he said.

Many would say the same about Larmer, who ranks fourth in Blackhawks history with 923 points, third in goals (406) and fifth in assists (517). Over his entire NHL career Larmer played in 1,006 regular-season games, recording 1,012 points. But whether or not his number is retired by the Blackhawks, coming back for events, including Friday’s, is a treat.

“It’s nerve-wracking and it’s going to be fun,” Larmer said prior to his spin on the ice. “It’s really quite an honor and a surprise to me to be able to do this and I just, it’s a great organization and they’ve always been great to me. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Larmer put together a stellar career. Many believe it deserves a retired number here – and maybe more. Blackhawks play-by-play man Pat Foley, when accepting the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in November of 2014, spoke immediately on how Larmer should be in the hall, too.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“I’ve been fortunate enough to call Blackhawks hockey for over a third of the games they’ve ever played and I’ve never seen a better two-way player come through here,” Foley said that day about Larmer. “When Steve Larmer left Chicago and went to New York, it’s no coincidence that shortly thereafter, they won the Stanley Cup.”

Larmer laughed when reminded of Foley’s speech.

“Well, Pat’s a good friend,” Larmer said with a smile. “He’s always been a good friend. For the last 35 years, since the early 1980s when he was doing radio and TV back then and we all traveled together and hung out together and it was one good group. It’s fun. I mean, Pat’s always been a big supporter and a really good friend.”

Larmer would’ve loved to have hoisted the Stanley Cup during his time with the Blackhawks. Coming as close as they did in 1992 stayed with him for a bit – and it hurt.

“That stung deeply. Because you’re starting to get older and you’re thinking, ‘oh my God, that was it, that was the chance and it’s freaking gone,’ right? It’s never going to happen again,” Larmer recalled. “I’m not one of those guys who happened along and all of a sudden you’re on a team and you win like the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s. We lost out to the team that always won, right? It was disappointing that way. But when you get to that point and you have that run, then we lost to Pittsburgh, that stuck with me for a year in a half. I couldn’t let it go. It was always in the back of my mind. You’re out there playing and you’re sitting on the bench and still thinking about that.”

So when Larmer got another chance with the New York Rangers – he was dealt there in a three-way deal involving the Rangers, Blackhawks and Hartford Whalers – it meant everything.

“The neat thing about going to New York is it gave me another chance to play with some great players and have that opportunity to win and finally get over that hump,” he said. “It was a neat city to win in and to be able to play with guys like Mark Messier and Leach and all those players was a lot of fun.”

Larmer put up fantastic numbers in his career. He got to hoist a Cup near the end of his career. His number should be in the rafters to commemorate that great career.