PHILADELPHIA -- The NBA All-Star break gives professional basketball players and coaches an opportunity to do many different things. Some players jet to tropical locations to rest their legs for the remaining stretch of the season. Other players participate in All-Star weekend, which took place in New Orleans this year.
The only Philadelphia 76er in New Orleans was rookie Michael Carter-Williams. The guard was selected to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, in which he dumped in 17 points and dished nine assists. He valued the entire experience, but some things stood out more than others.
"Going to the legends brunch," he said. "I gave a speech during brunch, so that was probably my favorite part."
Carter-Williams said that the people he met was what made the experience so special. He had a chance to rub elbows with basketball royalty, and said the experience makes him want to work harder to get back there as an All-Star selection.
"I can't pick one that really stood out, but they are all great people," Carter-Williams said. "I met a lot of the legends from Bill Russell to Magic (Johnson) to Moses Malone. It was great to see those guys. Dikembe Mutombo is a great guy. They are just awesome guys to see."
While Carter-Williams was representing the Sixers in New Orleans, coach Brett Brown was spending some quality time with his family. That does not mean that he took the few days off from coaching, thanks to his son.
"I had a fantastic four or five days at home, and really did what I wanted with the family," Brown said. "We had three games with my son, Sam, and a few practices. Had swimming with my daughter, Laura. Hung out with my other daughter, Julia. Spent some time with my wife. It was a great four or five days."
The time away from the daily grind allowed Brown to refocus going into the last 28 games of the season.
"I was glad to go home and just recharge," Brown said. "Go home and watch the games, for sure, but just get ready to come back and end strong this final third of the year."
The Sixers enter the final stretch of the season with a record of 15-39 and looking to end an eight-game losing streak. They take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.
"The break was great," Carter-Williams said. "Guys get their legs rested and come back healthy."
"When you see them like this, you realize just how unrested they were when I left them," Brown said. "When we had lost some games as we did, and you combine just being down, it trickles into your mind as well as your body. The accumulation of both made for some painful basketball. But we're back. The guys are fantastic and we are ready to finish the season with our head held high, some dignity, and playing good basketball."
Despite having the second-worst record in the NBA (Milwaukee is 9-43), the Sixers seem to have a good outlook on the remaining schedule. They know where they are as a team, and where they need to be when the season ends April 16 in Miami.
"I think they're great," Brown said. "They had a heck of a practice today. They have surprised me in that regard throughout the course of the year. They bring, most times, 'A' effort to our practices. Most times they handle it just like pros should handle it. Their spirits are good, despite our record."
"We just want to go out there and play hard and play together," Carter-Williams said. "Of course we want to get some wins but we just want to get better each and every day and try to get a win."
The Sixers start the remainder of their season with five straight games at home, with four of those teams having records below .500. If there is a time for the young team to string together a few wins, it seems to be now.
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