Game Preview | For the City, by the City
Here’s a challenge for you:
Find us someone from New England who has embraced Philadelphia as much as Brett Brown has.
Probably not an easy task, especially these days.
But dating all the way back to his introductory press conference at The Center in August of 2013, the 76ers’ fifth-year head coach has shown a consistent willingness to acknowledge and express appreciation for the spirit of the Delaware Valley, and its people.
“Having spent so much time growing up in New England, and having spent so much time in Boston, I am acutely aware of the proud history of this city, the competitiveness of this city, and how the city respects and demands the same type of people I do as a coach,” he said the day he joined the organization.
Since then, with Brown as the leading catalyst, various nods to Philadelphia’s history and personality have steadily seeped into the Sixers’ culture, from celebratory post-game ringings of a miniature Liberty Bell...
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 27, 2018
…to signs the team brings with it on the road to hang in visiting locker rooms that read:
How often does Brown make reference to the Sixers’ doing justice to Philadelphia, and the fans here?
“Every day,” said Robert Covington, the Sixers’ longest-tenured player.
Friday, in an important Eastern Conference home match-up with the Miami Heat (8:00 PM EST; ESPN, NBC Sports Philadelphia, Sixers Radio Network / 97.5 FM The Fanatic), civic pride will be found on just about every article of clothing the Sixers wear, as the team sports its Nike City Edition uniforms for the first time.
The jerseys were teased a little more than a month ago, when one of the Sixers’ young, emerging stars helped the franchise with the initial reveal.
This one’s for the city pic.twitter.com/t4WismIk2y
— Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25) December 27, 2017
The last installment in a series of four new uniforms debuted this season, the Sixers’ City Edition features a wealth of carefully-considered and integrated details - both prominent and subtle - that ooze Philadelphia.
The finished product is the result of roughly two years’ worth of brainstorming, research, and design development spearheaded by the Sixers’ business and marketing arms.
“We’re thrilled about the uniforms,” said Katie O’Reilly, Chief Marketing Officer of the Sixers. “The City Edition is a passion project for us. Most of us have ties to the area. It was so important for us to really make this about the city, the fans, and the community.”
As for the extent that O’Reilly, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Scott O’Neil, Sixers President of Business Operations Chris Heck, the rest of their team, and Nike went to in order to incorporate Philadelphia themes into the City Edition uniforms, let’s start with the parchment paper color and font, both custom created to match the Declaration of Independence.
Then, there’s the throwback “76” logo found near the bottom left side of the City Edition shorts. The look of the numbers was inspired by the official emblem for Philadelphia’s bicentennial celebration in 1976.
Stitched into the opposite side of the shorts is the circle of 13 stars that, in recent years, has become a signature component of the Sixers’ branding efforts.
“We are so intentional with every detail and every execution,” said O’Reilly. “This was definitely a labor of love. We went through a bunch of different renditions, but we think we got it to the perfect place.”
The Sixers’ brand and marketing staff conducted exhaustive rounds of mock-ups and test designs before settling on the City Edition uniform the club will don Friday evening. The final outcome is one O’Reilly called a “total celebration of the city, and brotherly love.”
“When you see it come to life,” she said, “it’s pretty awesome.”
For the Sixers themselves, Friday’s unveil will be yet another reminder of where the team plays, and who it plays for.
“Everybody knows Philly is a famous, hard-working city, in a positive way,” said Dario Saric, the club’s blue-collar, jack-of-all-trades forward. “They expect their teams to give 100 percent every day, every game.”
“You talk about a hard-nosed city that is very passionate about their teams,” Covington said. “You want to go out and put on a show for them each time you step on the court, because they love the grit, they love the grind, they love physicality. That’s the type of city that we play for, and that’s the standard we have to play with on the court.”
As of Friday morning, the Miami Heat (29-22) held the fourth-place position in the Eastern Conference standings, with 3.5 games separating them from the eighth-place Sixers. After hovering around the .500 mark through the first two months of the season, Miami went on a tear at the turn of the calendar, ripping off seven straight victories between the end of December and start of January. Friday’s visit to The Center will mark the third stop on the Heat’s four-game road trip. Earlier this week, starting guard Goran Dragic (17.0 ppg, 4.1 rg, 4.8 apg) was announced he would be Kevin Love’s replacement in the All-Star Game.
• Video: ESPN / Watch ESPN app; NBC Sports Philadelphia / NBC Sports app
• Audio: 97.5 FM The Fanatic / Sixers Radio Network