7 times Philly athletes fought back against booing home fans

7 times Philly athletes fought back against booing home fans

Philadelphia sports fans and boos: it's unfortunately a tale as old as time.

Philly fans hate when outsiders chide them for booing their own teams, but they also hate watching bad (or lazy, or disinterested) teams. This time, the boos rained on a listless Sixers team, and in return Joel Embiid, the face of the franchise, shushed fans and told them to shut the f*** up. Cool!

Embiid's saga is just the latest in the city's long, contentious relationship with booing its own guys. Often, players either ignore the boos or dip into the "I love the boos, they drive me to be great" well until things get better. But every once in a while, Philly fans receive some pushback.

Here's a look back at some of the more notable instances of Philly athletes rebuffing the city's boos.

Jimmy Rollins, 2008

Fresh off a World Series title isn't normally when players and fans duke it out, but Rollins got into it with fans in the media after he called Phils supporters "front-runners" largely unprompted.

Perhaps feeling the pressure to repeat, Rollins' numbers dipped a bit from his exceptional MVP season in 2007, but he was still playing in front of packed crowds at Citizens Bank Park. 

It was an odd comment that largely fell by the wayside when the Phils went on yet another deep postseason run, falling to the Yankees in the World Series, and Rollins is beloved to this day by Philly fans. Had that season shaken out differently, perhaps something else would be true.

Ricky Watters, 1995

Before "You want Philly Philly?", a different four-word phrase connected Eagles fans, but in a very different way. Ricky Watters, at the time making his Eagles debut, drew boos for coming up short on a pass to avoid a walloping hit. After the game, he explained the decision with "For who? For what?", a pair of rhetorical questions that followed him for the rest of his time in Philly.

Watters had a great three seasons in Philly, making two Pro Bowls and racking up 31 rushing touchdowns, but his legacy in green and white is forever tainted by basically saying he wasn't going to take a big hit on a catch just to make Eagles fans happy. 

Frankly, it's hard to blame either side.

Sean Rodriguez, 2019

A short-lived member of the Phillies, Sean Rodriguez had quite an up-and-down summer of 2019. Four months after making his debut with the Phils, Rodriguez went to bat for teammate Rhys Hoskins and the team at large after a round of boos rained down at Citizens Bank Park.

Rodriguez, displeased with the treatment, implied that Phillies fans looked bad when they booed, calling them "entitled", which is ... obviously not going to go over well anywhere, especially in hard-scrabble Philadelphia.

Rodriguez received more boos the next day, and eventually apologized for his word choice. The rest of his tenure with the Phils was largely unremarkable, which means he'll be remembered for the "entitled" jab. Rough.

Ben Simmons, 2019

Another recent example, and perhaps more fodder for the off-base portion of basketball fans who believe younger players are (to borrow a word from Sean Rodriguez) entitled or soft: Embiid's teammate, Ben Simmons, got into it with booing fans early in the Sixers' 2019 playoff run.

After a Game 1 home loss to the Nets in the first round, during which the Sixers were booed for a bafflingly poor effort, Simmons said he hopes fans who booed "stay on that side" when the team comes back around. It was a fair take from Simmons, though he sort of forgot the support he and the team received all year long leading up to the postseason. 

In Game 2, Simmons cajoled the crowd with a "I can't hear you"-style motion, and it became clear he was leaning into the boos. The Sixers eventually turned things around, topping the Nets 4-1 in the series, before losing to the Raptors in seven, and things have been smooth between Simmons and the fans since.

Jonathan Papelbon, 2014

Jonathan Papelbon. A more divisive name may not exist.

The fiery closer, who signed a sizable contract with the Phillies in 2012 and reached an All-Star Game in his first year, wasn't necessarily having a bad 2014 season, but it wasn't up to par with his 2012 year, and Phillies fans were restless in September, so they booed Papelbon after he blew a save. It happens.

Papelbon's response, however, was far more unique: as he approached the dugout, he grabbed his crotch, a gesture that certainly seemed directed at Phillies fans' boos. 

He later apologized and said he didn't mean to offend fans, but the damage was done. The Phillies traded Papelbon a year later, and his name is uttered only in disgusted tones.

Jason Avant, 2011

Though he was mainly a fan favorite known for making clutch catches on third downs, Jason Avant sparred with Eagles fans who booed the Birds during an uninspired 1-4 start to the 2011 season.

Avant said the Eagles started treating home games like away games that year because of the treatment they received from the home fans. As the team started to turn things around a bit in late October, Avant said he didn't want fans jumping back on the bandwagon. (They were 3-4 at the time, so it was bold.)

The Birds finished 8-8 that year, never really making a true turnaround. Avant is remembered as a serviceable, if forgettable, wide receiver. No harm, no foul.

Mike Schmidt, 1985

We end the list with the weirdest memory. Mike Schmidt, one of the best Phillies of all time, stoked flames during a down year when he told the Montreal Gazette that Phillies fans were "beyond help," and that his career would've been longer if he'd played "somewhere where they were just grateful to have me around."

That's rough!

Unsurprisingly, Schmidt knew he might alienate his home fans, and apologized, but he couldn't take the words back. So he decided to show up for his next home game in sunglasses and a long wig, for protection. Instead, he received a standing ovation, because Philly fans are nothing if not interested in some humor.

Schmidt is remembered as a legend, who once wore a wig at The Vet.

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Which Sixers player should represent the team in reported NBA2K players-only tournament?

Which Sixers player should represent the team in reported NBA2K players-only tournament?

Updated: 11:06 p.m. 

NBA fans are desperate for entertainment. 

With the season on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, the league is still aiming to provide some sort of distraction. According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, the NBA is planning to have a players-only NBA2K tournament, and hopes to launch the event on Friday. Haynes reports the tournament will include 16 players and last 10 days. 

This report leads us to consider who might represent the Sixers if they have a player participating. 

Let’s rank the 15 players on the roster based on what we know about them as people, athletes and gamers. (This ranking is highly unscientific.) 

15. Al Horford — The oldest on the roster and a family man. Video games don’t seem like Horford’s cup of tea.

14. Kyle O’Quinn — He prefers yoga

13. Zhaire Smith — Smith doesn’t often have a lot of downtime. “When I have an off day or something and I’m not doing anything, I’ll watch the Sixers. I try my best to watch them, but usually I’m busy,” he said in January.

12. Tobias Harris — You might remember what Mike Scott said about Harris in October: “He reads books.” That’s not to say reading and 2K are mutually exclusive, but Harris doesn't appear a likely candidate to be a great gamer. 

11. Furkan Korkmaz — Korkmaz spent a large chunk of this summer playing for Turkey in the FIBA World Cup and working on his game and conditioning. He can’t have taken much time sharpening whatever 2K abilities he has. 

10. Raul Neto — Neto’s a fashionable, polished guy. He could very well be an excellent gamer, but he doesn’t fit the stereotype.

9. Norvel Pelle — He found out that he was going to be converted to an NBA deal while watching a movie in his bed. Make of that what you will. 

8. Josh Richardson — As of two years ago, Richardson said he was “trash” at 2K. He at least plays and would probably have an idea of what he was doing. 

7. Matisse Thybulle — We saw Thybulle lose to the Suns’ Mikal Bridges on Friday night. Defense was, ironically, his Achilles heel. 

6. Glenn Robinson III — It’s a big stretch, but Robinson was on a young Warriors team for the first half of the season and might have some relatively recent reps against solid, young competition.

5. Alec Burks — Ditto with Burks. 

4. Shake Milton — This is mostly gut feel (not that the other rankings are much different). Whatever the competition, Milton's poise can’t hurt. 

3. Joel Embiid — Embiid was apparently good enough to crush Markelle Fultz. We’re not sure exactly how good that is, but it’s something. 

2. Mike Scott — Back in 2011, he claimed to sport a 21-3 online record in 2K. Though he said last year that he quit on the game because “they made me so trash up there,” he can’t have entirely lost those skills. 

1. Ben Simmons — Simmons is the Sixers’ most accomplished gamer by far and says he “can play any game.” He’s the clear pick unless there’s someone out there with a hidden talent. 

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Remembering the emotional night when Sixers retired Charles Barkley's jersey

Remembering the emotional night when Sixers retired Charles Barkley's jersey

Nineteen years ago today, the Sixers rose Charles Barkley’s No. 34 up to the rafters.

Barkley, who’d retired the year before after a stint with the Rockets, was touched by the honor. (You can check out footage from that night in the video above.)

“This is one of the greatest nights of my life and I’m honored to share it with you guys,” he said.

In eight seasons as a Sixer, Barkley made six All-Star games and averaged 23.3 points and 11.6 rebounds. He made the NBA Finals with the Suns and was named MVP in 1993, the season after he was traded from the Sixers. 

The team unveiled a statue of Barkley on Legends Walk in September at their practice facility in Camden, New Jersey. Never hesitant to speak his mind, he doubled down on calling the Sixers the “stupidest organization in the history of sports” for having Joel Embiid play through a back injury last January and said not taking Brad Daugherty No. 1 in the 1986 NBA Draft was “the biggest mistake the Sixers ever made."

Barkley still looks back fondly on his time as a Sixer while acknowledging things often weren’t smooth or painless.

“This is not an easy city,” he said in September, “but it’s an amazing city to play in because if you bust your hump, they’re giving to give you nothing but love. Now, if you don’t bust your hump, you’re going to think, ‘Charles Barkley, you suck.’ You’re going to think that’s your middle name.”

As a footnote, the Sixers beat the Warriors on the night of Barkley’s jersey retirement for their 50th win of the season. Allen Iverson had 35 points and nine assists, while Tyrone Hill scored 21.

“You see someone as tough as Charles Barkley try to hold in his tears, that’s a moment that I’ll never forget,” Iverson told reporters. “It just looked great. It looked like something that I’d definitely want to be a part of.”

Iverson’s No. 3 would be retired nearly 14 years later. 

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