Joel Embiid may have called Jared Dudley “a nobody” after this past weekend’s Sixers win against the Nets, but he’s certainly somebody to Philly fans. He’s the latest embodiment of all the city’s frustrations. My student loan debt? Jared Dudley’s fault. My 2004 Ford Explorer not starting once per month? Also his fault.
Dudley, who looks more like the Pillsbury Dough Boy than an NBA combo forward, played his role perfectly on Saturday: he instigated a fight and got one of the Sixers star players in Jimmy Butler ejected from the game alongside him. He knows what he’s doing. He knew what he was doing when he called Ben Simmons “average” last week. He’s stirring the pot. Dudley did his job. Now it’s time for Sixers fans to do theirs.
Boo the you-know-what out of him. No mercy.
During the Sixers’ embarrassing performance in Game 1 last Saturday, boos rained down throughout the Wells Fargo Center. Following that 9-point loss, Simmons was quick to say, “If you go on that side, stay on that side,” in response to Sixers fans’ boo birds. There are two certainties in life when athletes are addressing the city’s fans. One: don’t do that. And two: if you play like crap, you’re going to hear about it. The Sixers slugged their way through the last month of the season of and no-showed a home playoff game. It was well-deserved. Simmons going berserk early in Game 2 on his way to a triple-double performance only further justified the booing as the kick in the pants the team needed.
The national sports media circuit predictably came out flaming against the Philly faithful after Game 1, creating a referendum on the merits of fans booing their own teams’ players. At the risk of coming off as your cliched, annoying uncle, I will say that if you’re not from the Philly area, you don’t have the slightest idea of what you’re talking about in situations like this. Let us cope with our sports disappointments on our own. No matter how Philadelphians act, there will always be critics policing our sports fandom. You’re not my therapist. You can’t tell me what to do.
Which brings us back to The Round Mound of Zero Rebounds. Everyone already thinks Philly fans are the worst people in the universe.Go full heel. Play the villain. People in this city love wearing a “Philadelphia vs. Everybody” shirt or hoodie. Don’t just lean into the role. Cannonball into it! When Dudley steps off that bus from Brooklyn, he should have the same fear in his eyes as Jaime Lannister did when he saw Bran Stark from across the Winterfell courtyard. He shouldn’t even get off the bus!
Go crazy. Break out J.D. Drew-level boos when he gets announced in the Nets’ starting lineup. “AVEEEE-RAGEEEE” chants every single time he touches the ball. The Sixers should display a video of Elmer Fudd in Space Jam on the jumbotron whenever he checks in. Have the arena shaking like Patrick Robinson just took a Case Keenum interception back to the house if Simmons yams a dunk right on his shiny, bald head. It’s a close-out game. Go out with a bang before worrying about making Canada jokes during the entire second round against the Raptors.
If the city of Philadelphia had an unparalleled period of peace for the next five decades, in which a boo never left a fan’s lips at a sporting event, it would not matter in the eyes of the world. We’ll always be terrible. We’ll always be mean. We’ll always be snowballs and Santa Claus and D batteries and puking on little girls and eating literal horse feces.
There’s a song by the band Titus Andronicus where frontman Patrick Stickles screams, “You will always be a loser!” 30 times in a row before triumphantly proclaiming, “And that’s okay!” at the track’s conclusion.
We’ll always be be the worst. And that’s okay.