In case you have been living in a box under the Ben Franklin Bridge lately, you’re aware that there have been some significant changes happening at the Wells faro Center for the 2011-12 NBA season. In the front office there’s a new ownership group that actually likes basketball. On the court, the Sixers are well, very good. And in the seats, there are fans. Lots of them.
Among the growing number of folks headed down to the Wells Fargo Center for Sixers home games is a rowdy group of 76ers faithful who are attempting to create the greatest home court advantage in the NBA. They’re called The Revolutionaries and they’re looking for a few good men (and women) to join their ranks.
We caught up with (via email) Matthew Hengy one of the more…let’s see, how shall we say this…notorious, yeah, notorious members of The Revolutionaries. Hengy was kind enough to field a few questions from us here at Philadunkia on behalf of his Revolutionaries brethren about this new Sixers movement.
As always, Q & A after the J…
Philadunkia: Many of us already know the scoop on The Revolutionaries, but for those who do not, give us a little background on the group…How did it come together? What type of fans comprise the group? Who is the “leader”? Where are your seats? What’s the goal of the group? How did the name come about? How does one become a member? etc…
Matthew Hengy: The group was created and founded by new 76ers CEO Adam Aron. Through Twitter 76ers fan were told to apply and tell the 76ers why they deserved to be a member of The Revolutionaries. The Revolutionaries are mostly college aged kids from around the area. Temple is largely represented, as well as Penn and Villanova. We do have some adult members as well including our most notable member Big Daddy Jim Brister, who has been going to Sixers games for a very long time, and is the unquestioned leader of The Revolutionaries. Our seats are located in Section 120 right behind one of the baskets.
There are a few goals of the group, first we want to show our passion, intensity, and pride in our team, second we want to try and influence the result of the games by both energizing our players and getting in the heads of opponents. Our philosophy is if the opposing players are 99% focused on the game and 1% on us, maybe that 1% means the difference between a win and a loss. Third, we want to help bring fans back into The Wells Fargo Center for 76ers games. The 76ers are a historic and proud franchise, with players such as Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, the list goes on and on. The 76ers have the 3rd most playoff appearances all time, only behind the Lakers and Celtics.
The name came about because of what we are trying to accomplish. We are trying to start a new Revolution of 76ers basketball in Philadelphia, hence the name Revolutionaries. If someone wishes to try to become a member they should send an email to email@example.com , and tell them why they should pick you as a member, what are you going to bring to the group.
Philadunkia: Does the group model itself after the “Sons of Ben” at PPL Park or lean more towards the “Squad 6” group at the Milwaukee Bucks games?
Matthew Hengy: The Sons of Ben are everything were trying to become, we are working with Sons of Ben President Matt Ansbro towards building this group to even bigger heights. Now soccer is a little bit different then basketball, and The Sons of Ben have over 2,500 members. But The Revolutionaries are growing, in just a little over a month we have over 800 followers on twitter, and we are working on a new line of Revolutionaries t-shirts and apparel, which will be available on Barktees.com, much like the Sons of Ben have already. Together with the help of The Sons of Ben we hope to take this group to places never dreamed by Adam Aron. While we are ecstatic to forge a partnership with the Sons of Ben, we also want to form our own identity, which we are well on our way to doing. We can boast about having a fan even more popular then the Dancing Flyers guy in Big Daddy, the highlight of some fan’s experience is when Big Daddy flashes his belly and works his moves. We also have the Sixers Greenman to distract the other team during foul shots, resident super hero and crazy Sixers fan Batman, Uncle Sam, who is a frequent guest on The Tony Bruno show on 97.5 The Fanatic, and Colonial Chris Kunicio, among many others. We want our name to be known not just in Philadelphia, but throughout the NBA, so when teams come to play here they know The Revolutionaries will be there. As far as The Squad 6 in Milwaukee I think we have far surpassed them and any other fan group in the NBA as the most passionate, intense, loudest, and most notorious.
Philadunkia: What (if any) has been the reaction from the Sixers organization?
Matthew Hengy: CEO Adam Aron and I quote from his Twitter (account), wrote, “Aren’t these guys fabulous? I adore ’em. @76er_revolution: @SixersCEOAdam”
The Sixers have fully embraced us and they tell us all the time they love having us at every game. Recently Batman got the chance to ask Adam Aron personally if he had any suggestions for the group and his response was, “No, you guys have taken this thing to heights I would have never thought it would go.” In addition to the organization CEO we have also gotten a great reaction from various people inside the organization and the sports media, including Sixers legend World B. Free, Sixers anthemist Ayla Brown, Marc Zumoff and Malik Rose, movie star Terrence Howard who actually sat with us during a game, radio host Tony Bruno and Harry Mayes from The Fanatic, Angelo Cataldi and the Morning team who got Big Daddy an appearance at Wing Bowl 20, Raul Ibanez, and Sixers part owner Will Smith who acknowledged our cheers when he was at the game against the Bobcats.
But not all reaction has been positive, early in the season the word going around was that a few of the media that sit next to us were trying to have us moved, and some fans close to our section frequently complain that were standing too much or that were too loud, we’ve also already had a few run ins with the NBA as we have had a few minor incidents where our taunting has rubbed a few players including Blake Griffin, who had a stare down with Batman after being told he only jumped over the hood of a car at the dunk contest, Jamaal Magloire, Demarcus Cousins, Kris Humphries, who we had made quite a few giant faces of his famous ex wife for, but were confiscated by the League, and most notably Tyrus Thomas who had to be restrained by teammates after some minor taunting by us, this resulted in Revolutionary Uncle Sam being suspended for one week.
But not all player reaction has been negative. Most of the players seem to understand were just there to poke fun and get in their heads, Rashard Lewis had a chuckle the second time the Wizards were in town, Chris Paul of the Clippers had some fun with some of us during pregame warm ups, and of course the now famous Dwight Howard night where the Revolutionaries dressed in Superman gear in an attempt to lure the soon to be free agent here, and Dwight seemed to respond very positively.
Philadunkia: Has there been any reaction from the Sixers players ?
Matthew Hengy: Yes, and it all positive. The Sixers love us. We were told by Adam Aron that he spoke with head coach Doug Collins and coach said the players love having us there, we give them a real boost to their energy during games, including Andre Iguodala who said that the “USA!, USA!” chants started by us for his Olympic Team bid really got him going. At every halftime when the Sixers come out to warm up we go through each player from Elton Brand to Craig Brackins and we cheer for them until they give us some sort of acknowledgment, and they do every time. Jrue Holiday seems to particularly love it as every time it seems like he is saying “Hi” to a bunch of friends in the stands rather then some crazy fans. Its really cool. I think we can relate to a majority of this team because we are mostly college aged kids and a lot of these players are younger too.
Philadunkia: What would you say to other fans to convince them to come out and see the Sixers live?
Matthew Hengy: This team is exciting and fun to watch, and they are winning. Tickets are cheaper then going to a movie, you really cannot beat it. The new ownership has brought a new energy and its time to go to Sixers games again Philadelphia.
Philadunkia: What does the group think of the new mascot candidates?
Matthew Hengy: I think a majority of Revolutionaries agree with me, they are terrible. The only one I could tolerate is Ben Franklin, but a Dog and a Moose? I do not associate 76ers with a dog, and when is the last time anyone saw a moose in Philadelphia? I sure haven’t. Our opinion is they should scrap all three and just eithier make The Revolutionaries as a whole, or Big Daddy as the official mascot. There isn’t anybody or anything that can bring the passion and excitement like Big Daddy.
Philadunkia: Does the group feel the new Sixers ownership has improved the “entertainment” factor of each home game?
Matthew Hengy: Definitely they have. Count the ways, the smoke from the rafters, getting rid of Hip Hop, The Flight Squad, Ayla Brown, the halftime shows, the amazing video packages of Sixer legends, the intro video that mixes in Sixer legends with today’s players, dollar dog nights, bobbleheads, rally towels, circus men on stilts, half court shots, the Confetti cannons, and of course The Revolutionaries.
Philadunkia: Can a Sixers game become “the happening event” in Philly that it once was during the early 2000’s?
Matthew Hengy: It will be tough, in my opinion The Phillies and Citizens Bank Park will always be THE happening spot in Philadelphia, and The Sixers usually have to contend will the, usually, playoff bound Eagles, and the always competitive Flyers. Philadelphia has always loved its basketball, from the Big 5 to the Sixers to Will Smith ballin on the playground in West Philadelphia. Basketball holds a special place in the hearts of Philadelphians. But if The Sixers keep winning and are competitive and show the fans that they want to win as bad as the fans want them to, the Sixers can get back to the way it was when “The Answer” was handling the ball.
Philadunkia: In general what is the group’s thought on the Sixers as a team, the year they have had so far and how far they can go this season?
Matthew Hengy: That this team is fun to watch, they play team basketball which is rare in today’s NBA, they are young with a mix of veterans, (they’re) relateable, and most importantly they are raising expectations. Philadelphia loves an underdog, Rocky Balboa, us against New York, etc. They are surprising everyone with their heart and desire, and as far as were concerned they’ll go as far as that heart and desire can take them. Who knows maybe there will be two parades this year after all, and it might not be the team wearing Green or Orange, it might just be the year for the two teams that share the color red. Who would have thought that…