Broad Street Baller’s only question at Game 6 was whether the fired-up faithful in full-throated fury would inspire the 76ers to heed the rant of their biggest fan, 500-pound James “Big Daddy” Brister Jr. of Upper Darby, who screamed: “PLAY SOME FRIGGIN’ DEFENSE! TAKE IT TO THE HOLE! DRAW THE FOUL!”
The Sixers played Big Daddy Defense all night long, beat the Celtics, 82-75, and forced the series to a do-or-die Game 7 in Boston on Saturday.
With 1:51 left, with the Sixers leading 78-69 but the game still in doubt, the Jumbotron focused on Big Daddy’s biggest asset and he responded with belly rolls that drove the crowd berserk. He did it twice during that timeout. It may have been decided there.
“Defense! Defense! Defense!” Matt “Batman” Hengy of Warminster screamed with the fragments of his once powerful voice. “All that long stretch when we couldn’t make a basket, we kept playing defense. That’s how we won.”
BETTER THAN 2001: Thomas Kline, the Philadelphia personal-injury lawyer who has been watching the Sixers from floor seats for years, said that win or lose this series, “As a fan, this season has been more fun than 2001, when the Sixers went to the championship, because that season was all about our megastar, Allen Iverson, but this one has been about a young team, overcoming low expectations, shrugging off adversity, and giving die-hard fans like me a reason to believe in the Sixers’ future.”
Kline was on a 76ers team flight in March, returning from a loss to San Antonio, when he saw head coach Doug Collins get up, seek out young guard Evan Turner and engage him in intense conversation for half an hour. “It’s 1:30 in the morning,” Kline said. “Everyone is drained by the loss. And in the middle of the night, in the middle of the air, the coach is still coaching. I love this coach and I love this team.”
“Hey,” he said happily. “We’re in the Elite Eight!”
BIG DADDY IN BEANTOWN?: After the game, Big Daddy Brister announced that for the first time, the 76ers owners invited all the crazy-fan Revolutionaries to Boston to show Celtics fans a little Philly-style love. “I’ve got a wrestling match on Saturday as my wrestling character, Dr. Ruthless,” Big Daddy said. “I might have to jump right in the car in my wrestling tights and go to the game as Dr. Ruthless. Wouldn’t that be something?”
His amazing laugh rumbled from deep within his belly — which is very deep indeed. Then Big Daddy walked into the Philadelphia night, a satisfied man.
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