Sixers give Grow a special place in their locker room

RON CORTES /STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Kevin Grow high-fives Thaddeus Young during pregame warmups and jumps into the middle of the circle as the Sixers join him in a chant before the game.
RON CORTES /STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Kevin Grow high-fives Thaddeus Young during pregame warmups and jumps into the middle of the circle as the Sixers join him in a chant before the game.
Posted: February 20, 2014

THE TALK of tomorrow's trade deadline will dominate anything surrounding the 76ers for the next couple of days, and that's understandable, since the team is actively seeking to make a move or moves, with players Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner the centerpieces.

But for a time last night, trades, stats, wins and losses took a backseat to Kevin Grow. The Bensalem senior, who has Down syndrome, has become somewhat of a national star. The manager for his high school varsity for four seasons, Grow played in two games recently, including a 14-point effort in which he drained four three-pointers.

On Monday, Grow, 18, signed a 2-day contract with the Sixers ("A brilliant idea by someone," coach Brett Brown said), and he practiced with the team that day. Last night before the Sixers faced the Cleveland Cavaliers, Grow had his own locker, a couple of stalls down from Evan Turner, complete with a No. 33 jersey, sneakers, warmups - the whole getup.

Turner, ever the locker-room jokester, made a comment that last season's No. 33 never wore it (that would be Andrew Bynum). Grow, with TV cameras and players watching, gave a thumbs-up to his parents, Earl and Dorothy, saying, "I feel surprised."

Grow then made his way around the locker room, greeting his new teammates, who took turns making their way over.

"We have to make sure he has to get taped and everything before the game and get him in here and watch some film and stuff," Spencer Hawes said. "It's good fun to have him around. For as much bad that comes out of social media, it's good to see stories like that go viral."

Grow was introduced by public address announcer Matt Cord as the sixth man before the game, stood in line with the players during the national anthem and was honored during the second quarter along with his other teammates, the ones from Bensalem.

Grow had an ever-present grin for the whole evening, and so did the Sixers when they were with him.

Both Young and Hawes have been in this situation before: As the trade deadline approaches, their lockers become more and more crowded with reporters looking for comment on potential trades. This year is no different, as both, along with Evan Turner, are names that have continually come up in reports.

"It's the nature of getting down to the trade deadline, and until you hear something definite, you just kind of have to take it in stride," Hawes said. "The situation with being an expiring deal, and that is kind of the perfect storm for that kind of chatter."

Both Hawes and Turner can become unrestricted free agents after this season, while Young will make $9.1 million next season and has a player option for $9.7 million the season after.

Unlike Young and Turner, who have spent their whole careers in Philly, Hawes has been dealt before, from Sacramento to here 4 years ago.

"It [trade] worked out very well, but I was also in a softball game in the middle of June," he said. "I had a little more time to get ready for it. I should play it out and see where it goes. One way or another, part of being a professional is being ready and seeing where the road takes you."

After a nasty dunk through the lane in traffic in the second quarter, Philly native Dion Waiters pulled up gimpy, vainly trying to get down the floor. He finally fell in a heap and each member of the Cavaliers ran out to the floor. After limping to the locker room, Waiters, who scored 13 points in less than 15 minutes, was diagnosed with a hyperextended left knee and didn't return.

On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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