I didn’t care at all about Hip-Hop.
The Sixers had never given me reasons to care. In a self-proclaimed “blue-collar” city, Hip-Hop represented none of that. He wasn’t as silly or entertaining as the Phanatic and had no real “roots” in town. His trampoline dunks were nice, but no one cared about seeing that happen for the thousandth time. No one cared at all.
Anyway, the main point of this move is, again, to build up goodwill, part of a larger effort to gain more fans. It’s not the first move, and hopefully not the last. Announcing slashed ticket prices at the opening press conference was a nice start. They also announced the opening of a new website for fans to give their suggestions (which led to Hip-Hop’s departure). They also recently purchased a bunch of Dr. J’s memorabilia, which will certainly be of interest to Philly fans. I’ve said before that Philly fans will show up for winners. That’s undeniably true. But for the team to be seen fondly, the team will be to become a better story than they were even last season. These recent acts of goodwill indicate that Harris, Aron, and the rest understand this.
If there’s one thing that Philly loves, it’s a great story. All of the “Rocky” movies come to mind*, for instance. Philly people like good stories, especially ones where they can side with the underdog. The 1993 Phillies also come to mind – I was only three when they lost in the World Series, but I know more about them than about most things. People here like to talk about them as if they were brothers, the “guys that you would want to have a beer with” as people that saw the team would say. The story of the 1993 Phillies may be told more than the story of the more recent championship team in 2008, even though that ’93 team was essentially a mix of drunk and roided up baseball players who never actually won a world title or did anything relevant outside that season#.
*I cannot stand the Rocky music, for what it’s worth.
#Either that team was very lucky, or the roid well dried up. I vote for the latter.
To be perfectly honest, most people in this city could list more members of the 2000-01 roster than the 2010-11 roster. It’s sad, but true. That team had one heck of a narrative – Allen Iverson as the little engine that could, a whole bunch of spare parts doing what they can to contribute, a savior from Africa via mid-season trade with a funny accent holding the fort down, a dynamic loudmouth president talking up the team, and a coach clashing with and getting everything out of his players. From the way fans speak of Iverson and company, you would think they had a championship dynasty. Instead, they had that one Finals appearance and achieved nothing else more than reaching the Eastern Conference Semifinals in Iverson’s run here.
With lowering ticket prices and listening to fans (and firing Hip-Hop) and improving the game night experience and taking care of Sixers legend Dr. J, the Sixers ownership group has already made a whole bunch of moves that fans seem to like. They are telling a good story about themselves and what they stand for before their team, which more likely than not will not change much from last year, even takes the floor for training camp.
The new ownership group has promised to listen to fans’ concerns. So far, they have delivered everything they have promised, except for basketball of course. But the story of an ownership group who cares about the fans, who turned the team around, who brought back Sixers basketball, will be huge. That story may be just as important in bringing in fans as, you know, actually turning the team around.