Why Sixers president's talk about 'blue collar' city has Philly seeing red

Shamus Clancy
·3 min read

Why Sixers' talk about 'blue collar' has Philly seeing red originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

I've grown disillusioned with the Josh Harris-run Sixers. Fans have become sick of the preseason promises that have led to playoff disappointment.

The Sixers got back in our good graces with the hires of Doc Rivers and Daryl Morey, but as soon as things began to shift positively, the organization stepped into a new controversy.

Sixers President Chris Heck spoke about the team's new Boathouse Row-themed uniforms in an interview with Uni Watch yesterday. Reaction to the new threads has been mixed, but the thing that has set this fan base on fire more than anything is Heck's comments about these jerseys and the city itself.

"We don't actually use the term 'Philly,'" Heck said, "Because we think it's lazy and undersells the city and sometimes I think 'blue collar' does the same thing. We refer to it as 'New Philadelphia.' Blue collar’s important for the city, but it’s not the only component. New Philadelphia is about the arts, it’s about culture, it’s about education, it’s about diversity.

"We like that narrative more than the blue collar hockey thing. Which isn’t a slight on it, but we think we’re more than blue collar."

Philadelphians are used to disrespect. It's the nature of being from the city. Heck’s statements came across as a sign of contempt for the city the team plays in.

"New Philadelphia" feels ripped from the gentrified real estate handbook that's become a manifesto across the city. It's overt classism and stands in defiance of everything that has made Philly great and the city's fan base so pure, so dynamic, so passionate to the point of eruption.

Case in point:

And the Flyers responded with this:

With the backlash in full effect, Heck tweeted an apology that has curiously since been deleted:

Arts and culture don't need to be a night at the Kimmel Center followed by a meal at a Stephen Starr restaurant. It can be a punk house show in West Philly and a cheesesteak from a corner pizza shop. It can be streaming Creed with your mom or dad or partner for the 15th time.

What makes this journey as fans so special is that walking into a Sixers game, you're going to pass some middle-age carpenter from Grays Ferry and his two sons in Joel Embiid jerseys. You're going to wait in line in front of a few Temple kids from the 'burbs and then sit behind a couple in their 20s out for a weekend date. You're going to see kids dancing in the aisles to Meek Mill and Uzi during warmups. You're going to hear some guy in his late 60s complain that the Sixers don't have a guard as good as Maurice Cheeks.

Philly is many things including Blue Collar.  It is what it is, and what it is, is ours.