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Friday, June 27, 2014

The Philadelphia 76ers Want You to Buy the Seat You'll Never Sit In

Ah, we yearn for the glory days, of Doc and the Boston Strangler, Moses and Bobby Jones and even Lovetron and World.  The 76ers won, they packed the joint, the place was electric.  More so, believe it or not, then when AI tried to will a team chock full of lesser talents and a strategy rife with clearouts to a title.  At one point, fans really knew that Moses and Doc would win.  With AI, there was profound hope, but hope was all it was, because it was not realistic to think that they could beat the Lakers with Shaq and Kobe (then again, had they not run out of gas in Game 2 of the 2000 finals and held on to win, they would have been up two zip on LA with three games to follow in Philadelphia.)

The title to this post reflects a clever ad campaign the team came up with during Doc's tenure.  A deep narrator's voice said that line and then the video clips were of highlights that would stand up today.  And, in nearly all of them, fans were standing and cheering.  It was a clever use of suggestion and the fans' inference, and it seemed to have worked.  Fans purchased those tickets, and they did stand a lot.

Fast forward until today, where the 76ers will still try to sell you tickets.  Buy even a few on-line or from the box office, and an earnest person from the ticket office will call you to entice you to purchase a season ticket (which, by the way, is hardly worth what you could get for it on StubHub, where discerning fans wait until late to purchase your face value ticket for a steep discount because losing teams do not draw).  The ticket sellers are earnest young people, and this year they've been hung out to dry.  Last season, fans knew that they had to be patient for the return of Nerlens Noel and the 2014 draft.  Going into the draft, fans were hoping that the team would get some guys (read:  Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, a shooting guard or a power forward) that could come in and help. 

And they didn't get it.  Which means that the front office gave the ticket office absolutely zilch to work with.  Noel?  Perhaps.  But two second-round picks with first-round talent according to Jay Bilas?  No Randle, no Smart, no McDermott.  Just (perhaps) some hope for the (not so close) future.  Which means that the ticket office is going to try to sell people seats that they don't want to sit in.   And they'll want you to keep purchasing that ticket for years. 

Until Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel have more experience.  Until Joel Embiid is healthy.  Until Dario Saric comes to the U.S. to play.  Until the other foreign players do likewise, and until the 76ers reap the harvest that could be the 2015 NBA draft and whoever their lottery pick might be.  And that could be a long time. 

Of course, they do hope that you'll sit in your seat and have the occasion to leave your feet to cheer the hometown team.  But that supposes that you, the hypothetical good fan, buys into what Josh Harris and Sam Hinkie are selling and will continue to do so.  And why would you do that if you could pick off tickets for a few games on StubHub, on a special four-game package, or get them from friends.

It's not that the Philadelphia 76ers want you to buy the seat that you'll never sit in.  It's that they're a bit more desperate than that -- they're hoping that you'll want to come into the building and sit at all. 

"Winless for Wiggins" was one thing.  "Patience for More Players" is quite another.  The fans waited one year; now it looks like they might have to wait two or three more.  Meanwhile, the team will finish 20-62, a panoply of guys who should be playing in the D-League will cycle through the roster, Brett Brown will talk about intensity until he is hoarse, but it all will not matter that much.  What fans had hoped would be a palliative and a bridge to a better future turned into a bridge with a much longer span (and perhaps a crack in one of the bridge supports). 

The Philadelphia 76ers want you to buy a seat.  Any seat.  Any seat at all.

They should remember that their D-League team is in Delaware, just down I-95 -- and that's where the D-League worthy players should go, playing for D-League ticket prices.  They shouldn't be peddling a somewhat stepped-up version of the same product about 40 miles north for NBA prices. 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I just got a call on my phone (with an AZ area code) from the 76ers front office. I went to watch the Suns beat them last season (again, I'm originally from AZ), but the number seemed legit and odd they would robo-call an area code so far away. Now it makes sense, though a little desperate. Thanks again!

4:08 PM  

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