Sixers embody the idea of brotherly love

Philadelphia is known as the city of brotherly love, a city that prides itself on grit, and a city that loves an underdog.

The label of underdog is not restricted to the Eagles, who embraced the term en route to a Super Bowl victory. The Sixers are right there with them and the hungry-dog attitude is infectious to the point that even Dario Saric attributes the Sixers’ recent success to it.

“In the city there’s an unbelievable energy,” Saric said. “You can feel that the atmosphere is different.”

Enter T.J. McConnell. The undrafted guard was the first person head coach Brett Brown called to invite to the 2015 summer league.

Fast forward to Monday night, when McConnell became the first Sixer ever to record a triple-double coming off the bench. On the sideline, all-star Joel Embiid, and rookie of the year front-runner Ben Simmons were literally jumping out of their seats along with the rest of the team, unable to contain their excitement over the rebound that sealed the stat line.

It’s an image that perfectly encapsulates the identity of this Sixers team — togetherness.

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After McConnell rang the ceremonial bell that awaits the player of the game, and his teammates doused him with water and chocolate milk, “together” was the common theme in the postgame locker room.

Whether it’s the holdovers from the tanking-process seasons, or the newer additions and top-tier talents, the Sixers share in their failures and celebrate their victories together.

McConnell is not the best player on the Sixers’ roster, but the fans at the Wells Fargo Center made him feel as if he was when he chased down that 10th rebound.

It wasn’t always like that. If Philly is the city of brotherly love, then the fans, just like a real sibling, have no problem letting the Sixers know when they aren’t playing the way they should, and McConnell remembers what that felt like. But he knows that the criticism comes from a place of support.

“I think some of us have come a long way with the city and the fans from my rookie year winning 10 games and a lot of us, deservingly so, getting booed. When you win 10 games, you should get booed,” McConnell said after the 108-92 victory over the Knicks. “Just chipping away last year and what we’re doing this year. The city has been supportive through everything and we all love them for it.”

And the fans love the Sixers, especially when they are gritty and showing brotherly love on the court.

Early in the game against New York, McConnell led a fastbreak trailed only by his teammates, and could have easily had two more points in the bank, but instead dished off to Justin Anderson for a dunk. The fans erupted.

In a sequence that turned the tide of the game, McConnell’s unrelenting defense drew an offensive foul, but not before McConnell was knocked hard to the floor. The fans erupted.

Robert Covington slammed a posterizing dunk, McConnell encouraged the crowd to get louder. Embiid’s celebration of the moment led to a technical foul. The fans erupted.

After recording his triple-double, the din of the crowd overwhelmed McConnell and he blew a kiss to the fans, who erupted a final time.

From Joel Embiid to T.J. McConnell, from the Eagles to the Sixers, expectations be damned. Philadelphia appreciates the little things, the extra work, and as always, the underdog.