If the latest 76ers press conference to introduce their newest players – Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson – is any indication, the Sixers, who have been hitting homers all summer, may have smacked a grand slam today in the atrium of the National Constitution Center.
If you weren’t one of the at least 2,000 fans who showed up with signs, painted faces in some cases and lungs ready to serenade the new Sixers, you should be advised that it was so good and positive that the Sixers – the team currying all the good favor in this city this summer – probably would have been justified charging admission to the free event.
At least 15 minutes before Bynum, Richardson, majority owner Joshua Harris, CEO Adam Aron and president Rod Thorn ascended the podium in the sprawling, gorgeous atrium, the crowd was working itself into a frenzy. Sixers coach Doug Collins, fresh off his stint as a basketball analyst, sat in the front row, smiling from ear to ear.
The mob roared chants of “An-drew Bynum!!” “Beat LA!!’ “Joshua Harris!!” and “Adam Aron!!” and, of course “Let’s go Sixers!!” before, during and after the presser.
And everyone said the right things, especially Bynum.
Appearing relaxed in sweat pants and a white Sixers tee shirt emblazoned with the franchise name in red and blue across his chest, Bynum told the cheering throng that he was blown away by the crowd (which was evident in his face as he and Richardson made their way to the dais).
When asked about his future in Philadelphia, Bynum, who can become an unrestricted free agent next summer indicated that he was so excited and moved by the reception that he couldn’t imagine not re-signing with the Sixers.
“To be honest, man, my first experience here has been so great I’m really leaning toward making this my home,” Bynum said, prompting the fans to explode in cheers that made much of what he said after that inaudible. “I’m really leaning to making this my home.”
To which Harris, grinning from ear to ear, responded: “Where do I sign.”
Bynum allayed fears that anything was wrong with his knee and that the non-surgical procedure on his knee in Germany had been already scheduled for Sept. 9.
When it was over, Bynum couldn’t help but return the love, signing autographs (Richardson, too) until he had to do more of his press duties.
This is probably the most excited the team’s fan base has been in years. I was asked how this compared to when the Sixers signed Allen Iverson. My response was that Iverson joined a team that was wretched, one that had no expectations.
Bynum is an all-star center with a pair of championship rings whose best playing days should be in front of him. Sixers fans get that and know that this is far different.