Inside the Sixers locker room: Refs, refs and more refs


By now you’ve seen and heard the war of words that took place between Philadelphia coach Tony Dileo and Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy following the Magic’s 91-78 victory on Tuesday night. But I haven’t read much about what the Sixers players had to say about the whole debacle. I got into the Sixers locker room a little later than usual following Game 5, partially because I had to stay and listen to Stan Van Gundy’s complete press conference.

By the time I made it in, most of the players had left, leaving just Samuel Dalembert, Theo Ratliff and Andre Miller. Of course the first person everyone wanted to talk to was Dalembert. He kept his comments short and sweet – well, more like short and bitter.

“If it was me I’d be out of the game,” Dalembert said of Howard’s elbow. “I have no comments on that.”

And that was all he had to say about that. Dalembert grabbed his bag and walked out of the locker room, leaving in his wake a group of disappointed reporters that included myself. As far as I can tell, Miller and Ratliff are among the best talkers on the team, so I was interested to hear their thoughts on the whole Dwight Howard elbow/three-second violation argument. Neither disappointed.

Ratliff didn’t talk about Howard’s elbow to Dalembert, but had plenty to say about Dwight’s time in the lane. “He is definitely in there,” Ratliff said of Howard. “They call three seconds on us, but I don’t think they have called on him in the whole series. That is where he plays at all the time. It is definitely something they need to address. They make the calls. We don’t.”

Ratliff also talked about the foul situation in Game 5. He finished the game with four fouls, while Dalembert and Thad Young had five a piece. “He has been a force down there all season,” Ratliff said about Howard. “If they are not going to let us bang him, then everyone is going to be in foul trouble. I don’t know what he weighs but he is a big strong guy and he is creating a lot of contact. We just have to live with it and keep playing hard and get him out of the paint as much as possible.”

Andre Miller provided the most comprehensive interview, touching on pretty much every major subject. He said the offensive rebounding is what really hurt Sixers, because the Magic just had too many offensive possessions.

But it didn’t take long for Miller to get asked about his coach’s comments. “That’s been like that the whole series,” Miller said of Howard staying too long in the key. “But you know, the rules are different for certain guys. You can’t really worry about that.” He later added: “You can’t really get caught up in whether he was camping out. I thought he was and I yell it out every now and then to the referees but that’s Dwight Howard so, you’re not going to get that call.”

Then came questions about the elbow to Dalembert. “I didn’t even see what happened. I don’t know if they got tangled up. Elbows get thrown throughout the game. That’s something that happens. I don’t expect the league to do anything.” Just as I was about to leave the locker room and start writing, a Sixers PR rep chimed in on Van Gundy’s post game comments. “We have no reaction to what Stan said.”

Even though there was no official reaction from the team, the look on his face said it all. If a member of the PR staff is mad, imagine how the players, coaches and fans of Philadelphia are going to react in Game 6.