Top 10 Plays from the Battle for I-95

The magic was back in the Palestra last night as Team Philly and Team Melo took the court for the highly anticipated duel. The boys from the City of Brotherly Love defended their hometurf though, as guys like Tyreke Evans and Kyle Lowry stole the show from LeBron, Carmelo, and CP3.

In case you missed it, here are the top 10 plays, from Ball is Life.

Iverson “supposed” to play in Battle for I-95?

Well, so much for that rumor dying down.

The possibility of 76ers great Allen Iverson playing in Sunday's Team Melo vs. Team Philly "Battle for I-95" at the Palestra is looking more and more likely after published a report this morning. ESPN New York's Ian Begley quoted a "source with knowledge of the game rosters" that said Iverson is "supposed" to play in the game.

Rumors initially spread because Iverson is reportedly hosting an event on Saturday at a Philly night club. The addition of "The Answer" would give Team Philly some star power to counter Team Melo's LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony.

Game organizer Rahim Thompson continues to respond to questions about Iverson's participation with "no comment." But it appears we're in for some surprises once 6 p.m. on Sunday arrives. We'll keep you posted as we find out more.

Mano-A-Mano Volume VII: Special Philly-Melo edition

ManoAMano1This segment started with a simple debate over whether a Big Five foe had pro potential. Maybe we were grasping at straws, judging a prospect based on one game against Penn, or maybe we're just NBA junkies searching for the slightest opportunity to write about our beloved Association. As fate would have it, the NBA players are now coming to us. And how else would we respond but to return Mano-A-Mano to its roots for Volume VII with some heated hoops talk? Let's just hope our debate lives up to the hype of this once-in-a-lifetime exhibition...

Question 1: Who will own the night at the Palestra's Team Philly vs. Team Melo event a.k.a. "The Battle for I-95"?

Kevin Esteves: I’m going to go with “The Durantula,” but not for the reasons that immediately come to mind. Yes, KD made the summer his personal showcase by dropping 66 at Rucker and 59 against Team Melo. And, yes, he’ll be the best pure scorer on the floor. However, I don’t think that alone makes him such an easy pick. Durant won’t get nearly as many touches as he did when he was the alpha-dog on his DC Power team that played in Harlem or the Goodman team that played against LeBron, Melo, CP3, and Co. This time, he’ll be paired alongside Carmelo — who will want to show out as the de facto captain — LeBron and CP3 (he’ll be throwing lobs all night, but still). Even if this game turns out to be a track meet, I don’t anticipate KD getting enough touches to just hang 66 on Philly. That said, I still think he’ll steal the night because this kind of exhibition fits Durant’s game perfectly — a free-flowing, up-and-down style that will allow KD to operate in space and hoist up countless threes against what I anticipate will not be a world-class defensive effort. He also has the right swagger and attitude to go into any gym and dominate — he reportedly said, “I do this,” after his historic performance in NYC — because he genuinely loves to play and compete. So if Durant can get it going, knock down a few threes in a row (especially if this game is somehow close by the end) he’ll have the crowd on its feet and we’ll all be left buzzing about how easy he makes the game look.

Brian Kotloff: And if the game takes on the free-flowing style you expect, who will shine more than the world's greatest all-around talent, LeBron James? The league's best athlete -- and maybe the best athlete the sport has ever seen -- will be unleashed in a fast-paced, high-flying showcase like this. But that's not the reason I'm taking LeBron. Above all else, I think LeBron will steal the show because he has to steal the show -- it's his time. Don't think for a second that seeing Durant own the headlines with his epic summer league tour hasn't gotten King James' competitive juices flowing (I know, I know -- this thinking didn't work out so well with his Decision to play sidekick to D-Wade, but here's a second chance). That's the beauty of basketball: the stage gets bigger and the game becomes a business, but the playground mentality never leaves. Even if they're on the same team, you know KD and LBJ will try to one-up each other. And I expect LeBron to re-establish himself as the NBA's alpha dog by dominating this game with his scoring, passing, rebounding and overall athleticism. People love to hate him, but the man has the swagger to take over the gym, too. I think his charisma (and of course, talent) will help him own the Palestra on Sunday night.

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Kobe Bryant unlikely to play in Battle for I95

As soon as Hakim Warrick said he has "a few all-star surprises" up his sleeve for the Team Philly vs. Team Melo game, rumors swirled about Lakers star Kobe Bryant potentially joining his hometown team. After speaking with Kobe's marketing manager Jerry Foyer this afternoon, however, I can tell you that it's safe to count Kobe out of the September 25th event at the Palestra.

Foyer said Bryant has a European tour scheduled for that week and he will thus be out of the country until the end of September -- which explains the "other obligations" Warrick mentioned to The tour is scheduled to take him through Turkey, Greece and Italy, where Kobe will run youth basketball clinics.

According to Foyer, Bryant, a Lower Merion High School (Pa.) graduate, has not even been contacted about participating in the Battle for I95. "He actually brought it up today," Foyer said, but the two "didn't go into depth" about the possibility of playing because of the prior commitment.

It's an unfortunate scheduling conflict, because Bryant's participation would have taken the exhibition to an even higher level (if that's possible). As is, the star power is heavily weighted toward Team Melo, with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul already in the fold. Recently committed Chester native Tyreke Evans (Sacramento Kings) will at least give the Philly fans a hometown hero to root for, but Kobe playing at the Palestra would have been a sight to behold and would have certainly helped his shaky relationship with fans in this city.

If anything, though, Kobe's packed schedule shows how improbable this turn of events truly is -- the game's organizers were able to bring international superstars onto our campus. Pretty amazing.

Mano-A-Mano Volume VI: The Battle for I-95

ManoAMano1Somehow, someway, a game that seemed like a pipe-dream a month ago has evolved into THE must-see event on campus this month. Suddenly, the worlds of professional sports and Penn Athletics are colliding, and we can proudly say that our school, our Palestra will soon be the center of the basketball universe. So before someone pinches us, let's talk the upcoming Team Philly vs. Team Melo scrimmage ("The Battle for I-95") and its impact on the Penn basketball program.

Question: How will the Sept. 25th event at the Palestra help Penn's efforts to revitalize its storied basketball program?

Brian Kotloff: I know it may seem like a stretch to suggest that an NBA scrimmage could impact Penn Basketball, no matter how much excitement this announcement is creating around campus. After all, who wouldn't be thrilled to host some of the world's greatest athletes in your own backyard? And isn't student interest in the Ivy League, not the NBA, the real issue? To me, this game transcends these questions. This game has Penn sports fans — and maybe even casual observers familiar with the celebrity status of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony — legitimately buzzing about an athletic event on campus. That's a good start.

But where this event will truly make its mark on this campus is in the promotion of the Palestra. Our cathedral was integral to making this happen, and students will recognize that. Hakim Warrick said the Palestra was his first choice as a venue. "When you think of Philly," he said, "... you think of the Palestra." A major part of the problem with student interest and attendance is that current and future students do not appreciate the historical significance of their school's basketball program and its home arena. Now LeBron James — perhaps the most famous, captivating, electrifying athlete in the world right now —wants to come play here. He wouldn't even participate in the dunk contest, and now he's taking on the pressure of performing against his biggest rivals in one of the country's best basketball venues. The message that sends can be invaluable in getting students to re-discover the Palestra as THE place to be on game nights.

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It’s Official: NBA stars are coming to the Palestra (with ticket info)

We've been hearing (and maybe spreading) the rumors for weeks. Now it is fact: Hakim Warrick's Philly All-Stars will host Carmelo Anthony and his Team Melo All-Stars in what is being called the Battle of I-95. The venue? Penn's Palestra. And as of last night we heard that Carmelo would be bringing some big name guests, including the game's biggest star, LeBron James, as well as Kevin Durant and Chris Paul.

The date we've known for some time, Sept. 25, 6 p.m. Now we know that tickets will go on sale at 3 p.m. today at Ticket sales will be limited to 4 per person.

From Penn's release:

General Sale: Tickets will be available online starting at 3 p.m. at A limited number of tickets will also be available starting Saturday at 10 a.m. at select Sneaker Villa stores in the Philadelphia area.

Penn Students: Members of last year’s Line will receive an email later today with information on how they can enter a lottery to win one free ticket to the game.

Penn Men’s Basketball Season-Ticket Holders: An email will be sent out later today with information on how they can enter a lottery for two complimentary tickets.

Additionally, season ticket holders and students can purchase tickets online along with the general public starting at 3 p.m.

There were also statements from Penn Athletic Director Steve Bilsky:

"We’re pleased that The Palestra was chosen as the site for this extraordinary exhibition of some of the greatest basketball players in the world,” said Penn’s Director of Athletics, Steve Bilsky. “These NBA players will witness firsthand what Philadelphians already know, that The Palestra is the most exciting venue for basketball in the country.”

And from Warrick, a West Philly native:

“My Philadelphia All-Stars look forward to getting on the court and proving to Melo and the people of Baltimore/DC that the best ballers come out of Philly!” said Warrick.  “Melo told me he was bringing a squad that can’t be beat so I have a few ‘all star’ surprises for him when my team takes the court on September 25.”

We're also happy to report that some of the revenue from this endeavor will be donated to the West Philadelphia Community Center, one of Warrick's old stomping grounds, and several blocks of seats for the game will go to local community groups.

LeBron, Durant and CP3 Coming To Palestra [UPDATED]


UPDATE: For the full story, including an interview with the event's organizer, see the article here on

UPDATE 2: Contrary to reports we heard last night, tickets will not be on sale at 9 a.m. Stay tuned for info as we get it.


In the last report about the star-studded Team Philly-Team Baltimore game being held at the Palestra on September 25th, we found out that Carmelo Anthony would be bringing along some fellow NBA players from the Baltimore/D.C. area, including Josh Selby and Gary Neal, in addition to "more surprise guests."

Now we're hearing, according to, those surprise guests will be none other than two-time MVP LeBron James, two-time scoring champ Kevin Durant and arguably the best point guard in the world in Chris Paul — as if this game needed any more star-power.

In the original ESPN report about the game, one of the event's planners, Phoenix Suns forward Hakim Warrick said that Carmelo would likely not be bringing along the same team — which included James and Paul — he brought for the Goodman-Team Melo game. Well, I guess plans have changed since then and now 'Melo's stacked team can add Goodman's finest, Durant, to the mix.

These video highlights could very well be a preview of what's in store.

Date set for NBA star-studded expo at Palestra

pg2_a_palestra_300 espnThe news that sounded almost too good to be true is now official — well, sort of. Rahim Thompson, founder of the Philly-based "The Chosen League," has been tweeting away all kinds of info about a Team Philly-Team Baltimore exhibition at Penn's own Palestra. According to Thompson's twitter handle, @RTchosenleague, the game will be held Sunday, September 25th at 6 p.m. Tickets will go on sale beginning next Tuesday and will be sold at the Palestra box office and online (though I'm not sure what that site would be). Tix in Section 100 will be sold for $50, while those in Section 200 will be sold for $35 (also no word on whether there will be any tickets reserved for Penn students, though that is an important thing Penn AD Steve Bilsky has been trying to accomplish).

And now, drumroll...the players, according to Thompson, who, by the look of his feed, is probably one of the event's planners:

Team Baltimore: Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), Josh Selby (Memphis Grizzlies), Gary Neal (San Antonio Spurs), Eric Bledsoe (L.A. Clippers), Donte Greene (Sacramento Kings) and "more surprise guests" (fingers-crossed for Kevin Durant).

Team Philly: Hakim Warrick (Phoenix Suns), Lou Williams (Philadelphia 76ers), Kyle Lowry (Houston Rockets), John Salmons (Sacramento Kings), Jason Thompson (Sacramento Kings), Markieff Morris (Phoenix Suns), Marcus Morris (Houston Rockets), Wayne Ellington (Minnesota T'Wolves), former NBA player Ronald "Flip" Murray, and Philly streetball legend of And1 Mixtape fame, "A.O."

Whew. This should be quite a game.

AD Bilsky: talks to bring NBA scrimmage to Palestra are ‘very advanced’


At our annual sit-down meeting with Penn Director of Athletics Steve Bilsky, we discussed the possibility of the rumored Philly vs. Baltimore scrimmage happening at the Palestra. According to Bilsky, talks with the groups involved -- the Phoenix Suns' Hakim Warrick and the New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, former teammates at Syracuse, first hatched the idea -- are in the "late-seventh, early-eighth inning."

Representatives of the NBA players and of Penn Athletics held a conference call this afternoon to continue to work out the details of the event, which reportedly would take place on September 25. "There are discussions every day," Bilsky said. "They want to do it, we want to do it. … I haven’t heard of any major stumbling blocks."

Bilsky explained that an agreement hasn't been reached — and cautioned that nothing is certain yet — because of the issues involved with an outside group using a Penn facility, including insurance, liability and security. Even the ongoing lockout is an issue, as both sides need to work out contingency plans should the owners and players' union come to an agreement before the Palestra game takes place. But Bilsky reiterated that the athletic department wants to make it happen and is "making it as easy as possible to happen."

"What we tell them is, 'you guys just need to show up. We’ll handle tickets, we’ll handle security, we’ll handle operations, we’ll do all of that stuff,'" he said. "We’re not charging a rental fee, which we normally do, because we want it to happen. … To make this happen, we’re eliminating all those things that could be deal breakers."

One of Penn's chief concerns is trying to ensure that tickets are available to students should the game take place. Bilsky said Penn representatives haven't "demanded anything" but have "made it clear what we want." Since there would be so much demand for tickets in an arena as small as the Palestra (capacity is listed at just under 9,000), the most likely scenario is that tickets are made available to season-ticket holders, including students who participated in The Line. That was the case back in December of 2002, when LeBron James' St. Vincent-St. Mary High School team played Maureece Rice and Strawberry Mansion at the Palestra.

Among the players rumored to be participating in the Philly vs. Baltimore game are Philly natives Warrick, Tyreke Evans, Jameer Nelson, Richard Hamilton, Kyle Lowry and John Salmons (plus the Sixers' Lou Williams) and Baltimore/Washington D.C. natives Anthony, Kevin Durant and Ty Lawson.

Stay tuned for more on this game -- and more from our sit-down with Bilsky -- as we learn more in the coming days/weeks. Believe me, we're crossing our fingers as much as you are...

NBA superstars Carmelo and Durant to play in the Palestra?

pg2_a_palestra_300 espnWow, this is jaw-dropping news for any basketball fan in Philly. After watching NBA superstars LeBron James, Carmelo AnthonyKevin Durant, and Chris Paul put on an absolute spectacle at the Team Melo vs. Goodman exhibition this past Tuesday, Phoenix Suns forward and Philly native Hakim Warrick decided he wanted to recruit a Philly-based squad to play host against his former Syracuse teammate (Carmelo) and Melo's Baltimore crew. The site of the game? Still up in the air, but look at what Warrick said in the article:

"Either Temple, St. Joe's or the Palestra," Warrick said. "My first choice is the Palestra, because when you think of Philly, especially Big 5 Basketball and all the history, you think of the Palestra.                    From

The fact that the Palestra is his first choice speaks volumes to the type of respect Warrick has for "The Cathedral of College Basketball" even though he didn't play in the Big 5. But ignore all that for a minute.

More pressing, this could be a slam dunk (pun intended) marketing opportunity for Penn Athletics and the Palestra. According to the article, Carmelo would not be bringing along LeBron or Paul,  but he would be bringing top-flight talent from the D.C./Baltimore area including guys like Durant (two-time defending scoring champ in the NBA and apparently, the King of Summer Basketball), and Denver Nuggets' guard Ty Lawson. Not too shabby. Meanwhile, on the Philly side, you would have Warrick and potentially Tyreke Evans (Sacramento Kings, averaged 17.8 ppg last year), St. Joe's own Jameer Nelson (Orlando Magic starting PG), and Richard "Rip" Hamilton of the Detroit Pistons (the real Facemask baller could be in the Palestra — sorry, Tyler). The list goes on of other NBA talent that could suit up (former Villanova Wildcat Kyle Lowry was also named as a potential player).

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