76ers star Evan Turner takes the train

Posted by Kevin P. Keefe
on Friday, July 2, 2010

Posted by Kevin P. Keefe, publisher

Baseball players and writers like to tell nostalgic stories about the days when players rode trains to all their games, mostly from the halcyon days of the 1930s and ’40s before the airlines came into their own. These stories are fun, but they always leave the impression that big-time athletes never take the train anymore. Wrong.

Photographer Greg McDonnell and I were reminded of this on a muggy Friday morning inside the monumental concourse of Amtrak’s 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. We were touring the cavernous old Pennsylvania Railroad edifice with Station Operations Manager Dennis O’Rourke for a story we’re doing for Trains later this year.  While reveling in the station’s usual Friday-morning urgency, we spotted some commotion near the escalator coming up from Track 5. Quite a crowd had gathered, many of them wearing the jersey of Philadelphia's professional basketball team, the 76ers; while others were toting TV news cameras. Most noticeable was Hip-Hop, the Sixers mascot who’s best described as a rapper/hipster rabbit.

O’Rourke brought us up to date: Arriving that morning on an Acela train from New York would be Evan Turner (pictured below), the top draft choice of the Sixers and second overall pick in the June 24 NBA draft. A standout power forward from Ohio State, Turner led the Buckeyes to a Big Ten championship and a Sweet Sixteen finish in the NCAA tournament. He’s now prepared to bring his considerable talents to the floor of Philly’s Wachovia Center.

The crowd milled about rather quietly until the moment they heard the train rumble into the station below the floor. Minutes later, at the tail end of a long line of bemused passengers, a beaming Evan Turner came up the escalator, looking magnificent in a crisp light-gray suit and red tie. The crowd went nuts. As Turner and his entourage headed for the 29th Street entrance and his limousine, Hip-hop led some cheers and a Sixer fan began screaming, “Bring us a championship! Bring us a championship!”

Before that happens, Greg and I concluded, young Evan Turner is going to need to put a lot more pounds on his lean 6-7 frame. Greyhounds are beautiful, but NBA basketball is a bruising, muscular game. That said, how wonderful it was to see an exciting moment in a great sports town’s life take place on the marble floor of its incomparable railroad station. It bears repeating: When Evan Turner came to meet his fans, he arrived by train.

Evan Turner














With mascot Hip-Hop’s back to the camera, the Philadelphia 76ers' top draft choice Evan Turner (center) meets his fans at 30th Street Station June 25. Greg McDonnell photo

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