The Philadelphia 76ers had a press conference to welcome their two newest team members to town yesterday. Now that’s not so unusual.
In attendance were team CEO Adam Aron and owner Josh Harris along with Sixers head coach Doug Collins, still jet-lagged from his stint as color analyst for the Olympics basketball competition. That’s not so unusual either. And of course the Philadelphia Media were in attendance in full force. Again no big deal.
The Press Conference was not held at the Sixers home arena, the Wells Fargo Center, however. It took place at Philadelphia’s Constitution Center, a beautiful museum in the heart of the city usually reserved for Presidential speeches and gala fundraisers. Now that is unusual.
Also in attendance, in addition to the usual suspects, were over fifteen hundred 76ers fans, invited by Sixers management to attend this open press conference to give Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardon a real Philadelphia welcome. And that’s downright unheard of, in any town, for any sport.
And welcome they did. The thousand plus fans, proudly sporting their Sixers jerseys, t-shirts and hats, were anything but silent spectators. They cheered, they chanted, “Beat LA” and “Andrew, Andrew” among others and they raucously showed Bynum and Richardson what the City of Brotherly Love had to offer. And in a museum built to honor the city’s rich history, this one-of-a-kind press conference made some history of its own. When asked about the possibility of signing a long term contract with the Sixers, Bynum replied:
” To be honest, my first experience here has been so great, I’m really leaning toward making this my home.”
That statement by their new superstar center brought even louder cheers from the already frenzied fans in attendance. Excitement about 76ers basketball has been hard to come by since the days of Allen Iverson even during the basketball season. To have a crowd of this size at a press conference on a Wednesday afternoon in August might itself be considered historic.
For Bynum, coming to play for the Sixers is like coming home. He grew up in Plainsboro, NJ which is just outside of Princeton. But he couldn’t have predicted a homecoming like the one he received yesterday. He spent the afternoon smiling, greeting fans, signing autographs and marveling at the large turnout and loud ovations from the Philadelphia faithful.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Bynum said of the reception.
And If he thinks, that was loud, just wait until he hits a game-winner against the Celtics. Now that crowd response will be truly historic.
Susan Cohen-Dickler is a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan. She writes a sports blog, Girls Best Phriend. She, along with Sixers fans everywhere, has been waiting for “the answer” ever since the first AI left town.
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