December 06, 2011
Two weeks ago, we noted that little-loved Philadelphia 76ers mascot Hip Hop, a bunny rabbit with some real 'tude, would be replaced (although the team itself said that he was retiring to a Pennsylvania farm, which suggests he had to be put down). Most people cheered the move, because Hip Hop was terrible. The Sixers and their consultants from Jim Henson's Creature Shop could almost certainly come up with something better.
The franchise has now come up with three finalists to be voted on by fans at Sixers.com (via PBT). However, it appears as if the front office may have hired intoxicated vagrants outside a local Wawa as additional consultants. The three choices are: Big Ben, a cartoon version of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin; B. Franklin Dogg, a rockin' dog apparently related to Poochie D; and Phil E. Moose, an animal not found near the city. These ideas can't miss!
The Sixers have provided handy bios on all three potential mascots to help fans choose the one who best represents them. Let's start with Big Ben:
One of the most revered figures in American history, and a man who needs no introduction as an honorable representation of this city and nation, "Big Ben" Franklin will now come back to serve Philadelphia yet once again. An avid basketball fan, Big Ben was thrilled to be asked to join Philadelphia sports fans in cheering the 76ers on to greatness. As the Sixers new mascot, he will bring electricity to the Wells Fargo Center, and be a towering presence at Sixers games both figuratively and literally as he stands seven-feet tall.
Franklin is definitely revered, although someone must not have told the Sixers that Big Ben is a poor imitation of the real historical figure and more closely resembles a certain kind of Celtics fan. It also seems questionable to ask Philadelphia residents to connect with a mascot who shares a name with the quarterback of the Eagles' in-state rivals. Plus, will this mascot be costumed a la the Washington Nationals' Presidents Race or a normal guy in a Benjamin Franklin outfit? If it's the latter, are there any old men with stringy white hair athletic enough to make this work? Are they going to have to hire Hulk Hogan?
Now, on to B. Franklin Dogg:
The All-American pet, B. Franklin Dogg is a loyal Philadelphia resident who can be seen in artist drawings from the day nestled under the table beside Ben Franklin as he deliberated on the founding of the nation. In the revolutionary fervor of the times, B. Franklin Dogg proudly wore patriotic colonial garb to show his spirit. Over the years, B. Franklin Dogg was occasionally seen playing with a basketball around the historic landmarks of Philadelphia, before finally making his way down Broad St. to the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers appear to be going all out with the Franklin theme, to the point where they're willing to name a dog(g) after him even if they can't figure out a pun. Confusing appellation aside, BFD has many problems, including a Liberty Bell helmet that matches the doodad on his collar. Dogs want to be loved, but Philly fans are unlikely to take to a mascot who panders to them so excessively. Also, if BFD was actually the real Franklin's dog, then why aren't they a package deal? Won't the dog get all unruly without his owner around to feed him? And won't Franklin get sad if his loyal pup isn't there to greet him when he returns home? Why are the Sixers breaking apart a home?
Last but not least -- because all three are tied for least -- Phil E. Moose:
One of the most regal animals to roam the wild, Phil E. Moose certainly fits that bill, standing tall as he represents the Sixers (he stands over seven-feet tall in fact, with the antlers). In his youth, Phil E. Moose would often be seen dunking a basketball with ease, aided by his great height. Throughout his high school, collegiate and professional games, Phil E. Moose was a scoring star, and was excited to learn he had been "traded" to the 76ers in order to entertain fans during games at the Wells Fargo Center.
Based on his description, Phil seems to have a lot in common with Philly native Wilt Chamberlain. However, if the Sixers want to pay homage to a local star, they should probably do so with an animal commonly found in the area such as John Kruk or John Oates. As is, it seems as if the Sixers are trying to grab some of the large-antlered-animal market currently dominated by the Milwaukee Bucks. Should Philadelphians support such unscrupulous business practices? I think not.
With three poor choices, which one are fans to pick? I leave that up to the people who know the city best. However, if write-ins are allowed, I suggest a variation on Mickey from the "Rocky" series. The rights may cost a pretty penny, but he's the only municipal figure caustic enough for fans to embrace.