Back in early July, the rawness of emotion was still so visceral. The Sixers had been eliminated from the playoffs in a fashion I still can’t quite fathom. With a pair of monster twenty-plus point leads in games four and five, they lost both. Then a winnable game seven at home. The best home team over the last few regular seasons lost three home games in one series. At the crib! It was the type of collective meltdown that left many seeing spots. The Sixers were better than the Atlanta Hawks. All they had to do was execute. Just maintain a massive lead. They failed miserably. It makes sense that we were upset. But a couple of times now since the team was eliminated, the theme of Sixer fans being harsh and not supportive enough has come up. Liberty Ballers is curious where you stand.
Here was what Danny Green told John Clark, NBCS back in July:
“CLARK: Philly is a different place, I’m from here and Philly is rough. And I got a sense when [Ben Simmons] was at the free throw line, in the series that the arena had his back for a while, and then you got this groan or an uncomfotable feeling. Do you think the crowd, and Philly, can have an effect on somebody like Ben in those moments?
“GREEN: For sure. It has an effect on everybody, and I think that’s something that needs to change in the city. I love our fans, but when things aren’t going well, they can turn on you. That’s one thing that I would disagree with or dislike. Some guys use it as motivation, some guys have a chip on their shoulder, but I think that needs to change, somewhat. They need to be riding with us, regardless of how things are going.
“We’re the No. 1 team in the East, still playing well, and in some games they’ll boo us - that’s part of the culture here, part of their way of showing they love us - but with a guy like Ben, and other guys, I think they need to stick behind them and stick by them as long as they can, until the horn blows. And even then, he’s here. He’s given so much to the organization and the city, on and off the court, that he deserves that respect and that support...so I hope that worm turns for him and the city of Philly to where they don’t have that mantra as fans as being cold, rough, and one of the worst in the league...I hope that changes for him and I hope that changes for the city.”
Simmons went 4-14 from the free throw line in that game 5 home loss, they once led by 26. That’s probably what Clark is referring to when he says it sounded like the fans lost some patience. After game seven, some “Trade Ben Simmons” chants broke out.
Green is not a player who shies away from controversy. He also had some “armchair-psychologist” analysis on the Ben Simmons situation:
“You can tell Ben’s the type of kid if he’s not encouraged, if he’s not pushed or forced to do it, he’s not the type to take that risk,” Green said on Inside The Green Room. “Obviously, he’s a high IQ guy. You can tell he gets a lot of assists and pushes the pace and gets paid to do what he does, because he’s so good at it. Mind you, he doesn’t step outside of the box because he knows well enough like—I’m good at this, so I don’t need to step outside. I’m encouraged to do this, so I’m afraid to do this, type of thing.”
The recent story of the fans being tough on players hasn’t quite dissipated completely. Hanging over the off-season floats the looming specter of boos and more “trade Ben Simmons” chants the team might endure if he were to suit up for the team this coming season.
Joel Embiid weighed in on the subject himself. He tweeted earlier this month:
I haven’t forgotten but 2 years ago, I got booed, people in Philly wanted me to be traded. I even shushed them. Only the real ones didn’t but I just put the work in that offseason to be better cuz I knew I wasn’t playing up to my potential. Philly fans, y’all also gotta be better— Joel “Troel” Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) September 1, 2021
Embiid also retweeted this absolute gem:
Philadelphia sports radio rips Joel Embiid:— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) February 11, 2020
“Get this bum out of this city. I don’t care for him anymore. He’s worthless. He’s fat...I don’t want him on my team”
( @SportsRadioWIP )
And he even ran a version of Danny Green’s somewhat condescending “don’t be too hard on Ben, he can’t handle it like those of us who use your boos as motivation” playbook:
For clarity, I love the criticism, I love when I’m told I can’t do something. It makes me work harder to prove everyone wrong but not everyone is built like that.— Joel “Troel” Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) September 1, 2021
So there exists an issue. Philly fans have long held a bad rap. Flip on a national broadcast to this day and there’s still a chance you’ll hear some other team’s broadcast bring up snowballs, Santa, Michael Irvin, the fact that The Vet had a “jail” inside of it for rowdy fans, and that type of annoying thing. Way too much of that has been blown out of proportion over the years. Many of the fans in the stadiums and arenas today are too young to remember Michael Irvin or Santa Claus. Irvin’s prime was in the early 90’s and Santa’s was in the late 70’s anyway.
But what Green says about changing the “mantra” Is interesting to me. Is it possible that the reputation, the narrative that Philly fans are less supportive than other fan bases, has merit? If so, is that a reputation (whether fair or otherwise) which superstars on other teams may not be super eager to experience? When perception becomes reality, might the rep of the “tough fanbase” diminish Philadelphia’s standings as a destination market? As in “you’re already up against South Beach, but you also have that whole booing thing?”
“Philly fans, y’all also gotta be better”— Anna Horford (@AnnaHorford) September 1, 2021
Both Joel Embiid and Al Horford “shushed” their own home fans during the 2019-2020 season. That team was painful to watch, and those boos were misdirected. They should have been aimed towards the “collaborative” front office that squandered assets and cap space, not the players.
Is it possible that a player on another team might simply think they might get boo’d if they had a slump and not want to deal with that?
Are Sixers fans too harsh? Should we be more supportive? Do we need to be better? If none of that is true how did Green and Embiid come away with this perception? And if they think it, what does someone like Damia Lillard think? Are we endlessly supportive until pushed too far and then we let you know because we’re real? Does being hard on athletes push them in ways that can be helpful- after all pressure makes diamonds, and weeds out the rest?
Per Joe Pitts for Vice, here’s what Allen Iverson said back in 2015:
“It was just a great experience for me. Because of the ups and the downs I became a man in Philadelphia. Now, I don’t know, if I’d a went someplace else, to some cupcake city, and I did anything I wanted to do, and it was nothing, I don’t think I would be the man that I am now. So I’m glad…”
Where do you stand on this?
Are Danny and Joel right? Do we need to be better?
This poll is closed
Nah, the whole thing is overblown we’re endlessly supportive
The reputation is there (even if unfair) and it would ultimately be better to change that narrative
Boo, this poll stinks