It has been just over a month since SCOTT O’NEIL was named CEO of the 76ers, and while he is still getting his feet wet with a new organization, O’Neil is no stranger to Philadelphia. A graduate of Villanova and a former Eagles exec, O’Neil has strong roots in the City of Brotherly Love, making the transition a much smoother one. But he will be working from the road this weekend, as he is off to New Jersey for an annual O'Neil family tradition.
WHO SAYS YOU CAN’T GO HOME? It’s good to be back in Philadelphia. It’s good to see old friends and reconnect with people, whether it’s PETER LUUKKO or JOHN PAGE over at Comcast-Spectacor or DON SMOLENSKI at the Eagles. I’ve got all the friends from the Sixers who I’ve known for several years. It’s just fun to be in and around friends and feel like I’m home. We bought a house here very quickly, which was good. I don’t have my family settled in quite yet, so they’ll come down (from Connecticut) in a couple weeks.
SWINGING FOR THE FENCES: This weekend, Friday and Saturday, is the baseball tournament I put on with my brothers every year, called “O’Bats.” There are four O’Neil brothers. My brother MATT is at the Dallas Cowboys, My brother SEAN has done some training with MLS and sports teams and my brother MIKE is in healthcare technology. So we rent out a minor league park -- this year we’re doing it at the Lakewood Blue Claws (FirstEnergy Park) in Lakewood, New Jersey at the Jersey Shore -- and about 50 guys go. We have a draft, we have uniforms and we play a baseball tournament. All the teams are named after where we went to college. So there’s Holy Cross, Boston College, Notre Dame and Villanova.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: The tournament is at a different city or different stadium every year pretty much. We’ve been up to Burlington, Vermont, we’ve been out to Penn State, we’ve been up in the Hudson Valley and now Lakewood. So we try to move it around. It’s an escape from the world and a great way to reconnect with people you don’t get to spend a lot of time with. It’s people from high school, college and work all kind of mixed together. When you win you become the commissioner. So that’s me, I won last year. And that means that most of the work and planning falls on you. Although people chip in and help for sure.
AND THE WINNER IS…: The awards ceremony is a ton of fun and it’s one of my most favorite things to look forward to. So what we do is, after the championship game there’s a barbecue in the left field bleachers and we have a chef out there cooking on the grill. Then the awards ceremony lasts probably an hour or so. There are guys that, if you’ve been there five years -- we’ve been doing this for seven years -- so if you’ve been there five years you get in the Hall of Fame and you give your little Hall of Fame acceptance speech. It’s really funny actually. Then there are awards that are somewhat ridiculous and there are awards that are serious, and then the guys that are on the winning team get medals and we usually wear them out when we go out that night.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU: Sunday is even better because my middle daughter, KIRA, turns 10. So I’ll be getting up at the crack of dawn and heading up to Connecticut to make sure I’m there before she wakes up. Kira’s a pretty amazing kid. She’ll have a full day of activities planned. She makes up games -- everything from board games to basketball to lacrosse and we usually have a dance party. It’s a house full of women -- my wife and two other daughters, ALEXA, who’s 13 and ELIZA who’s 6. Then we’ll cook a fun dinner, sing “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” and have an incredible cake. Birthdays are huge celebrations in our house so that will be a ball. The theme this year is “YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE.”
ORDINARY DAY: On a typical weekend, usually Saturday is early-morning basketball and Sunday is going to Church. That’s kind of my standard routine. I love to actually read a physical paper on Sunday, which I know is taboo for most. But there’s something relaxing about picking up a paper on Sunday. And then Saturday, I drill my ladies in basketball out back and Sundays we have a routine where I spend 30 minutes with each of my daughters, kind of one-on-one. So we’ll do different things. We’ll go for a drive, we’ll go for a walk, or we’ll go for a bike ride. Just try to get some one-on-one connect time.