I tried to let it slide. Honestly, I did. A day after the Sixers’ failed proposal to reshape the Penn’s Landing waterfront with a new arena and more, The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey dropped this:
#Sixers managing partner Josh Harris ($5.1 Billion) is tied 129th. Partner Michael Rubin( $3.5B) is tied for 228th in The Forbes 400, a ranking of the 400 wealthiest Americans in 2020. Rubin's wealth rose from $2.9B in 2019, while Harris was at $4.4 B, according to Forbes.— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) September 10, 2020
Not even three weeks following the Sixers’ sad sweep out of the first round, you find out the rich really do get richer. Managing partner Josh Harris and limited partner Michael Rubin boosting their net worth shouldn’t bug me the way it did, but the disconnect for me is the esoteric world I think billionaires live in and how far that is from the lives of everyday people, specifically Sixers fans.
There’s no way these wealthy owners can relate to the blue-collar existence of an average Sixers fan. While they’re doing the Scrooge McDuck money swim through their greenbacks, most fans are stuck living and dying on Joel Embiid’s latest minutes restriction or the aptitude of Ben Simmons’ jump shot.
What I’m saying is the Sixers are a whole lot more than the anchor to your sports investment portfolio. This is a team with a passionate, involved fan base that has a deep history and tradition. In some ways, it’s the owners’ job to ingratiate themselves to the fans. Particularly when they co-sign an unorthodox approach to reach the NBA summit. Structured losing, tanking, whatever you want to call it, Sixers fans lived through it, but have yet to see the guarantee of coming out the other side.
No matter who owns the team, the loyalty of Sixers fans is unquestioned. What fanbase do you know that can make the draft lottery selection day an event so hyped and celebrated a kick-ass party ensues?
Do the owners have to appease the fanbase? No. Is it a requirement for the job? It’s not, but it should be. The fans buy the merchandise, pay for the tickets and concessions putting their hard-earned money down to support the team.
Sixers fans are unique, dynamic and battle-tested through an assortment of twists and turns worthy of a Hollywood script. What they deserve is their billionaire owners to make sure they get it right with their current restructuring, which is expected to involve everything from the front office to the last man on the bench.
Forbes lists are cool for billionaire owners, but Sixers fans are searching for the hoops Holy Grail. A champagne-soaked Sixers team hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy to complete “The Process.”
Anything short of that and Harris and Rubin’s billions won’t be nearly enough to pay back Sixers fans for flubbing a chance at a championship. Let’s hope we can all meet up at the Sixers’ parade down Broad Street someday and laugh about all that’s happened from Furkan to Fultz, Wroten to Redick.