Maurice Cheeks is not scheduled to be at the Wachovia Spectrum tonight.
He will not stand with Julius Erving, Bobby Jones and Moses Malone, his teammates on the 76ers' 1982-83 NBA championship team, for the final game played at the arena where they raised a banner.
He will not watch this mid-March version of the Sixers, the ones he coached until being fired in December, play the Chicago Bulls.
Although Cheeks remains under contract with the Sixers through next season, he declined an invitation to celebrate what was once his arena.
The organization formally invited alumni of its two championship teams, from 1966-67 and 1982-83, six weeks ago. The Sixers said they did not have an exact date for Cheeks' decision.
Despite repeated attempts, he could not be reached for comment.
Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said he left Cheeks a message "a long time ago" and still hadn't heard back.
"Whenever he's ready, I'm sure he'll get back to me," DiLeo said.
When general manager Ed Stefanski fired Cheeks, he mentioned the possibility of discussing with Cheeks, when the time was right, future opportunities with the team.
"Mo took some time off, and we've talked a couple of times," Stefanski said. "Right now, he feels the timing would be best to wait a little bit, but he's considering those things."
Stefanski declined to comment on what role Cheeks might fill.
"We did invite every member of both of our championship teams to help us celebrate this special night at the Spectrum," Sixers spokesman Mike Preston said in an e-mail. "While he informed us that he will unfortunately not be able to attend this game on Friday night, we will always consider Mo to be a cherished member of the Sixers family and we continue to hold him in the highest regard, both on the court and off."
In the weeks leading to tonight's game, the Sixers ran an advertising campaign that paired a current Sixer with his throwback teammate: Samuel Dalembert with Malone, Andre Iguodala with Erving, Thaddeus Young with Charles Barkley, Andre Miller with Cheeks.
While each advertisement appeared to imply that each player would be present tonight, Barkley and Andrew Toney also are not scheduled to attend. The Sixers said the campaign was "designed to celebrate blending of past and present."
The current Sixers, the ones Cheeks coached to a 9-14 record until his Dec. 13 firing, said they had kept in touch and understood Cheeks' decision.
"I've spoken with him several times since it happened," Young said of Cheeks' firing. "We'll text back and forth, and I'll take his input, and I'll give him a little bit of mine. He's still been a coach to me."
Did Young ask Cheeks about tonight? "I did not," Young said. "I don't want to get into that. That's his decision."
"We text back and forth once or twice to check up on each other," Iguodala said. "It's kind of a situation, kind of like, it would be good to be here, but the situation that happened, maybe not a good idea. It's hard to say. So I'm pretty sure he's just relaxing and enjoying his wine right about now."
Scheduled Sixers. Members of the championship teams scheduled to attend are Malone, Erving, Jones, Earl Cureton, Wali Jones, Clemon Johnson, Marc Iavaroni and Reggie Johnson. The team said a limited number of tickets remained.
Friday, March 13, 2009