Philadelphia is a town that loves to talk about the legendary teams from years past that helped turn our city into the sports-crazed town it is today. The Broad Street Bullies are almost mythical deities at this point. The '93 Phils were the most lovable bunch of dirtballs I've ever cheered for. Buddy Ryan's Eagles are revered like no other team that won so little when it truly mattered. The Allen Iverson-led Eastern Conference Championship team brought an entire city together more so than any in my lifetime.
The new Sixers ownership wasn't kidding with their new tagline -- at least the "Proud" portion of it -- as they showcased their historical greatness in a way never seen at the Wells Fargo Center.
The organization made a big deal about revamping their entire pregame production, including player intros. The Sixers' players that got the loudest ovations for their home opener on Friday night were youngsters Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner. Well, that's if you don't count the legends in the building. Julius Erving, Moses Malone, and later Andrew Toney were treated to tremendous applause from the near-sellout crowd of 19,408 at the Wells Fargo Center.
After Bernie Parent, Eric Lindros, Bobby Clarke, and a gaggle of other Flyers legends got tremendous standing O's at the Winter Classic Alumni Game just a few days ago, us Philly sports fans are getting spoiled a bit in terms of getting to cheer our heroes long after their playing days have ended.
The Doc didn't just take in the 96-73 Sixers victory over the lowly Detroit Pistons, he also shared his thoughts on the current iteration of the 76ers, touting them as a team that can really benefit from flying under the radar. Erving said that the fact that they don't have to deal with the hype of teams like the Heat or Lakers, that it can really afford them the luxury of focusing solely on their game.
"Forget about the hype," Julius said. "Just win."
The Doctor also talked about the shortened season and how the condensed schedule will benefit teams with a lot of youth like the Sixers.
"Aside from Elton, they're a bunch of babies out there," Erving said, in a positive way. "They can play back-to-back-to-backs" and not be as exhausted as older teams.
Where did the Doc think this Sixers team could finish this season? Try third in the East.
It wasn't simply about a night for the old legends to come in and see what the kids today play like while the fans are wowed by their being in the building, however. The presence of greatness was not lost on the current Sixers' squad.
"To see some of my old teammates back, it was great to see them be here tonight," Doug Collins said. "For our guys to have a chance to be around greatness, for our fans to recognize those guys. I was so happy Andrew Toney was here. Trying to get him back in the mix. It was a proud night for our franchise. I know the game wasn't pretty. They're not all going to be pretty, but at the end of the day we were able to find a way to win."
Elton Brand, the elder statesman of the team, realizes this isn't the type of thing that happens frequently, "It's a special feeling when you see Dr. J at the game, Moses Malone, Andrew Toney. It was a great feeling to see those guys come back. They haven't been around much at all, at least while I've been here."
Evan Turner, who finished the night with 8 points and 8 boards off the bench, summed the night up pretty nicely.
"It was cool for them to take the time to come to the game. We want to give them a reason to come back," Turner said.