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Home-Court Advantage

Friday, January 04, 2008

Courtesy: The Pennsylvania Gazette

The Hall of Fame Room at the Wachovia Center was packed with icons of Philadelphia basketball early last month. Over in a corner were playground legend Sonny Hill and former La Salle University coach Speedy Morris. John Nash, general manager for three NBA teams over the years, held court in one section of the room, while former Penn and current Temple University coach Fran Dunphy was in another.

They were all there to welcome back one of their brethren: Ed Stefanski W’76, who had just been named president and general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers.

“This is a guy who was just too good for us to pass up,” said 76ers chairman Ed Snider. “The next year is going to be very important for the future of our team, and I just believe that he is the right guy for this organization at this time.”

Having spent the past nine years moving up the front-office ladder of the New Jersey Nets, becoming that team’s GM in 2004, Stefanski was taking on a challenge in Philadelphia. The Sixers were dead last in the Atlantic Division, with the worst attendance in the league. But for Stefanski, it wasn’t a difficult decision.

“It is easy to say you come home,” said Stefanski, “but the 76ers are very close to my heart. I am a Philly guy through and through. I die with every Philadelphia team.”

The road to the Wachovia Center has been a winding one for Stefanski. The basketball bug bit him early, first at Monsignor Bonner High School in West Philadelphia, then at Penn, where he was a sub who paid attention.

“By the time I was a senior, I had the best seat in the house,” he says. “I sat right next to [Coach] Chuck Daly at the Palestra for every game. I learned a lot sitting on the bench, and, with great luck, it has led me to a perfect place.”

To read the rest of Robert Strauss' story as found in the Pennsylvania Gazette, please click here.