Dre hugs for Thad - Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Some fans rained down "boo's" on Andre Iguodala during last night's opener in Philadelphia. While that's what will be remembered by most national pundits, the real reception from the majority in attendance was very different.
The majority of Sixers talk before opening night against the Denver Nuggets revolved around what sort of reception Andre Iguodala would be welcomed with for his first game "back" (never really left) in Philadelphia as a member of the opposing team. While I think it's silly and irrational to actually debate (and it'd only happen with Philadelphia because of national media) how a player is greeted (or not), there seems to be, at least in my mind, a misperception on where the fans stood with Dre last night at the Wells Fargo Center.
I, along with Dave and possibly Roy (going on what Mike wrote earlier), were in attendance for the Sixers 2012-2013 opener. I came in fully prepared for the majority of the crowd to layeth the smack down, if you will, on Iguodala once he was introduced during the starting line-ups and even possibly for the video tribute early in the first quarter. To my suprise, it seemed like a 55/45 (scale heavier towards cheering side) split in regards to feelings towards Andre during player introuctions. A little more than half the crowd would embrace Andre for what he was, the others bitter about him having opinions and feelings that they didn't like or not being the player they wanted or expected him to be.
The game tipped-off and once Iguodala touched the ball, what is portrayed in the national mindset to be a massive "boooooo" rained down from the stands. I'm sure those in attendance were quicker to judge the onslaught than Katherine Heigl to accept a role in a new, terrible romantic comedy (probably involving not being able to find a good man). My question for those clamoring that all Philadelphia fans are horrible beacuse of what they heard is, what else was there to hear?
From the get-go during introductions, there were already some boos but from being in attendance (and up high, I might add, for research purposes), it was clear to me that the cheers were more prevelant than any scorn against Dre. But during the game, those 55% who applauded during intros weren't going to yell and scream their admiration to a player on a different team. They loved Dre (or at least appreciated him) but they are fans of the Phiadelphia 76ers, naturally rooting for the blue shirts once the game began. So when Dre got the ball during the Nuggets' offensive possessions, those same fans who cheered earlier were silent, hoping that Dre and his team wouldn't score; exactly what those same "boo'ing" fans would do if it were, let's say, Anthony Carter.
Since that same majority who outshined the maligned Dre haters were silent during in-game action, it was the few, albeit, loud misinformed individuals who were heard on the television broadcasts and throughout the stadium. This is what the nation heard when watching the game, this is what the national media will choose to cover, and this is what the miseducated Andre Iguodala skeptics will hang their very unstylish hat on. But it is not the true story of how he was received.
You want to really know how the majority of the Wells Fargo Center reacted to Andre's return? Look no further than the video tribute that played on the scoreboard during a first quarter timeout. We see the end of Game 6 against Chicago in the playoffs. We see Dre get fouled. We see him hit both free throws, leap up on the scorer's table, and embrace the fans' jubiliation of eliminating the Bulls. We see the text "Thank you for your 8 great seasons) flash where the video just appeared.
Now look down from the scoreboard. That is where you'll see about 15,000 Sixer fans (about 85% of attendance) giving Andre Iguodala the standing ovation he's deserved since day one.
Don't let the other 15% paint the rest of the Sixer fans who did what was right in a bad way. Andre was terrific. And during that brief but impactful moment, Philadelphia 76ers fans let him know just that.