The wave of green and white jerseys rocked by Boston transplants and casual Philly haters crashed hard upon the Wells Fargo Center exit doors Friday night with two minutes remaining in an already decided game between the C’s and Sixers. The Sixers started the game just a half game up on the C’s in the Atlantic Division. Meaning this game would decide who would seize control of their own destiny in the NBA playoff race with a month to play in the season. Needless to say, this was a BIG game. I’ve been present at many of the Sixers home games this year and I’d be hard pressed to remember a crowd as jacked up as this one prior to tip. But, what started as a frenzied crowd quickly morphed in to a downtrodden group of fans as KG, the Celtics and even worse, the Celtics “fans” took control of the Well in the first half. The tide of green and white in the stands would eventually recede due to the 76ers victory, but the mental damage to the fragile psyche of Philly fans in the stands had already been done in front of a national television audience on ESPN. Fresh off a game against the Knicks in which the same thing happened, the fan embarrassment filled the atmosphere in the arena. This Philly fan has had enough. It’s time for us to stand up against the rising of the tide. It’s time for Philly fans to STAND UP!
It could be that the consistent portrayal of Philadelphia fans by the national media as heartless hooligans has finally beaten us down. It’s mind boggling and mentally draining to see us viewed in this light rather than lovable losers as Boston fans were tagged before their run of rings in the past 10 years. It’s tough to keep fighting a battle against those who just don’t know or want to know the true nature of Philadelphia or its fans. Or maybe were just stuck in Philly sports purgatory. Even 4 for 4 lifers tire of watching teams we know are good but that just don’t have enough to win a title or even realistically compete for one. When you’ve watched a flick so much that you can quote it line for line, you tend to start repeating those lines with less emphasis. It could even be that Philly has a new breed of fans. The notion of a “blue collar” Philadelphia holds true only in our antiquated image of Philly as a city. “White collar” workers are actually more representative of Philly now, which tends to signify a less intense, more relaxed fan that doesn’t view their sports teams as an extension of themselves. Whatever it is that has led to this fan malaise, I don’t care. Represent Philly.
It’s just a game. It’s just sports. You don’t know any of these players personally, do you? You think those players care about you? I’ve heard all of this and more before. So why should we care?
We should care because we are Philly. Us as fans are a representation of us as a city. We will never be New York. We will never be Boston. We’re the city others love to pick on because were easy targets. We’re Big enough to pay attention to, not big enough to actually respect. NY and Boston fans know this, as evidenced by their insistent yapping throughout both recent games against the Sixers. We’re the middle child in a family where all the children go to Harvard. And I for one am tired of waiting for my turn to talk at the dinner table.
We should care because we finally have winners in our town. It’s easy to forget that prior to the mid 2000′s, the Phillies were a laughing stock and that pre McNabb and Reid, the Birds were right there with them. It’s easy to forget that just a few years back, the Flyers were the worst team in the NHL and that the post real A.I. Sixers were at the bottom of the league in attendance. These 4 for 4 moments don’t happen often. Don’t sleep through the ride on your way to the destination. It’s often the obstacles that happen on the road to the goal that make you remember why you started the journey in the first place. We all want championships, but were not there yet.
We should care because were better than them. If there’s one thing Philly fans are not, it’s frauds. New York “fans” chanted MVP for Kobe in MSG as recently as a month ago. Boston “fans” in Philly stands sport KG and other Big 3 jerseys because they can’t rock their Iverson jerseys anymore. It’s easy to tell if you’re a Boston or New York native. You have a pretty distinct accent. If you don’t have that, you live in Philly and hopped on the first bandwagon you saw. Your fresh Larry Bird throwback looks nice on you kid, but, uh, dude your 18. Larry Legend retired before you were even conceived. Philly doesn’t front. You’re either with us or against us and it’s time for us to remind these fraudulent violators that when “you come into our house, you should get your behind kicked!” We shouldn’t need to wait until our teams are winning to shut down the competition in the stands in our own building.
I could go on, but a conversation with a Sixers fan in the stands last night sums things up nicely. Louise is in her sixties. She’s a season ticket holder and an old school Philadelphian. After the exodus of C’s fans leaving the Well occurred last night she couldn’t just couldn’t hold it in any longer. “We won and I’m happy, but that was embarrassing. Those Boston fans ruined my night.”
Step up your fan game Philly. Louise ain’t playing around anymore.
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