Longtime Sixers employee succumbs to cancer

Posted: November 07, 2013

THERE WERE some heavy hearts and teary eyes around the 76ers organization yesterday morning as the team gathered for practice. It had nothing to do with Monday's loss to the Golden State Warriors, which snapped a three-game winning streak. It was much more serious than that.

Last week, the likes of Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, Billy Cunningham, Doug Collins, Bobby Jones, Pat Croce, Wali Jones and others converged in a back room of the Wells Fargo Center to pay tribute to Jeff Millman, a 50-year employee of the organization whose jobs varied from ballboy to equipment manager, but whose undeniable fingerprints on the club couldn't be given a title.

The locker room was dedicated to him before the season opener against the Miami Heat, and he was introduced to the near sellout crowd in the first quarter, surrounded by the basketball royalty mentioned above. Millman was battling cancer, and all of those famous athletes whose lives he touched wanted to honor him. And, really, say goodbye.

"Mr. Jeff," as many throughout the organization lovingly called him, was diagnosed with inoperable cancer only a couple of months ago. He succumbed to that illness yesterday morning at age 67.

"It didn't matter so much if it was Julius Erving or someone working in the front office, Mr. Jeff treated everyone the same and became great friends with everybody," said Allen Lumpkin, the team's director of administration, who got his start with the Sixers because of Millman. Many called him Mr. Jeff, just out of sheer respect, said Lumpkin.

"I won a contest in the Daily News to be a ballboy for 1 year, in 1977," Lumpkin said. "Just a couple of weeks ago, Jeff told me that I had impressed him back then, and he decided to bring me back for another year, and it went from there. I went from ballboy to the ticket office to equipment manager to director of team travel services to still being here now. None of it would have been possible had it not been for Mr. Jeff.

"Since we learned of his illness, you can't imagine the amount of people that have called or visited him. Maurice Cheeks, Jrue Holiday, Rick Mahorn, Darryl Dawkins, Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand . . . Only someone like Mr. Jeff could get that. He was a regular Joe, but he never said a cross word about anybody, and he could tell jokes and stories that would make you laugh for days."

It will be those stories that will keep the memory of Jeff Millman around forever.

Services: Relatives and friends are invited to Platt Memorial Chapels Inc., 2001 Berlin Road, Cherry Hill, N.J., tomorrow for visitation from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The funeral will begin at 12:30 pm. Burial will follow at Montefiore Cemetery in Jenkintown.

On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: ph.ly/Sixerville

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