After the Sixers choked away the No. 1 seed in the East - after Doc Rivers failed to adjust and after Ben Simmons shot 34% from the free throw line in the postseason - the larger conversation somehow turned into a discussion about Philadelphia sports fans, and whether they're too mean to their players.
Both Dwight Howard and Danny Green went after Philly fans in the weeks after the Sixers' exit, defending Simmons while suggesting everyone ease up on the Sixers' young star, and on the team in general.
That... didn't sit well with everyone in the city. They weren't simply angry about the losing; it was about the manner of losing. There's a difference!
On Thursday, former Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was asked at the 2021 Mid Penn Bank Celebrity Golf Tournament if he felt Green and Howard were right in their criticisms:
Can Philly fans really turn on you? And do they need to change?
Here's Vick's unique take:
"That's real. That's a real thing. I didn't experience it until I got here, but I learned to embrace it. It made me better. Coming into the stadium, I always felt like you've got to be a crowd-pleaser. That's what they expect. They went and got the 'chip a couple years ago, now the expectations are higher. You wouldn't want it any other way."
You can watch Vick's answer in the video above - plus hear his thoughts on Jalen Hurts heading into Year 2.
Vick certainly has experienced the fan criticism game more than most athletes, much of which was of his own doing, so his perspective here feels pretty valuable. And I think he struck the right chord with his answer.
Philly fans are going to let you know when you're not cutting it, but they're also going to let you know when they're thrilled with your play. It's a two-way street, and you don't get one without the other. That's just the name of the game.
Vick leaning into the fans' passion is exactly the right approach. You don't want to be booed, and you want to be embraced? Go win. Be better. You'll be treated like royalty. Vick never even won a playoff game in Philly, but his work ethic and his performance on the field - and his commitment to bettering himself off the field - made him a fan favorite here.
That's all we ask: give us your best every time you go out there, and we'll love you. Give us something less, and we'll take notice.
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