It wasn’t lost on Downer that Bryant decided to call it quits right before playing his last NBA game in a hometown with which he has had a complex relationship. Downer’s allegiances as a diehard Philadelphia 76ers fan changed the moment Bryant joined the Lakers, but he understands how the rest of the city could never toss their support toward the purple and gold. He just wants fans to give Bryant an appropriate sendoff for a career that yielded five NBA championships, one Most Valuable Player award, two NBA Finals MVPs, 17 All-Star appearances and, of course, 81 points. “My hope would be Philadelphia takes the high road and does the right thing,” said Downer, who will be in attendance Tuesday night. “But you never know with this town. I’m hoping that there’s good energy. A lot of eyes will be on Philly, and I think they’ll come through and give the man what he deserves.”
Storyline: Kobe Bryant Retirement
The 76ers held the No. 1 pick that season, but drafted Allen Iverson while Bryant slid all the way to 13th. John Lucas, the coach who invited Bryant to those informal workouts was fired before the draft, but Downer – who has struggled to find the separation between Bryant and Michael Jordan – still believes someone within the organization should’ve been able to recognize the talent. “Kobe was 10 minutes away from any Sixers person that could’ve come and watched him. I’m not saying that drafting Iverson was a big mistake, that’s another Hall of Famer. That worked out,” Downer said. “The bottom line is, they could’ve drafted him right there, No. 1. Imagine that story. There’d be a statue right now, outside Wells Fargo [Center].”

Security guard for Jahlil Okafor

After being involved recently in a few embarrassing and potentially dangerous off-the-court incidents, Philadelphia 76ers star rookie Jahlil Okafor will now be accompanied by a security guard whenever he goes out, according to league sources. The request for security came from Okafor’s handlers, who asked the 76ers to make a security guard available to their first-round draft pick out of Duke. The Sixers did not return a phone call seeking comment, but two sources said the club will honor the request.
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