This morning I happened to catch John Clark's interview with Danny Green. If you did not catch some of their soundbytes, you can watch it below:
About the crowd and it's affect on Ben, Green said:
"For sure. It has an effect on everybody, and I think that's something that needs to change in the city. I love our fans, but when things aren't going well, they can turn on you. That's the one thing I would disagree with or dislike. Some guys use it as motivation, some guys have a chip on their shoulder, but I think that needs to change. They need to be riding with us, regardless of how things are going. We're the No. 1 team in the East, still playing well, and in some games they'll boo us - that's part of the culture here, part of their way of showing they love us - but with a guy like Ben, and other guys, I think they need to stick behind them and stick by them as long as they can, until the horn blows. And even then, he's here. He's given so much to the organization and the city, on and off the court, that he deserves that respect and that support."
There's a lot to digest here, but I wanted to pen a short letter to Danny Green about his comments.
I've been here. Been a die-hard for a while. While we're not strangers to hearing criticism about how Philly conducts itself as a fanbase, we're a passionate one- a loving one, too. I also know too well that Philly being at the center of "toxic fandom" narratives is a lazy stereotype the media consumes.
I want to address "When things aren't going well, they can turn on you."
I watched Sixers basketball long throughout the Hinkie years and I'm pretty sure every fan's expectation at the time was "things aren't going very well". Did we turn on the Sixers? No. We knew who they were. The expectations weren't there. The team wasn't good. We knew they were rebuilding. During that time, people weren't booing. They were excited and ecstatic just to see a Sixers win.
This year's team is not that team.
Sixers brought in Doc Rivers and Daryl Morey. They brought in Seth Curry, Dwight Howard, and you. Joel Embiid would've arguably won MVP, if not for some missed time. Ben Simmons had a DPOY case. The Sixers were the best team in the conference and the best winning percentage at home. Guess what? With that comes more expectations. Until the Nets made headlines of a big three, the Sixers were the team to make it to the finals. Up until the playoffs, I'd say "things were going very well."
But, this inevitable collapse set the fanbase back. It reminded us of the last 4 years of a team on the rise that doesn't have enough to win the championship yet, consistently getting bounced from postseason contention because of blown leads, scheme/rotation, and complacency. However, that doesn't mesh with this year's expectations.
So, it seems pretty natural that fans would be frustrated with shortcomings that dominated this team's mentality the last 4 years. The Hawks series was a haunting of past struggles that, again, seemed to plague the Sixers: Joel Embiid's turnovers, not having a player who can create shots off the dribble, Ben Simmons' free throws and lack of shooting, the disappearance of Tobias Harris, the lack of bench depth and bench rotations.
Is Ben Simmons an easy target? Sure. But, if he's attempting to lobby for All-Star nominations, he needs to be a two-way player. Even DPOY, Rudy Gobert averaged 14.3 points a game. Experts and analysts always discuss a D-league player becoming a solid contributor in the NBA if they just "develop a shot". You know, being a "3-and-D" type player. It can be frustrating for fans watching a player with some Lebron James-type potential not develop since being here. It's also more demoralizing when his counter-part puts together his best season yet, to no avail. Fans care about winning in Philly and they want players to care about that, too.
Just because Philly booed you does not mean we have turned on you. We pay and devote our time watching Sixers basketball, whether they win 10 games or get the 1st seed in the playoffs. Fans just expect better. We expected better of this team this year, and certainly of Ben Simmons. We love our sports here. We have a yearning to win, a yearning to align ourselves with icons who battle through adversity to win, a yearning for players who give it their all.
The truth is, the fanbase is riding with you, through the highs and lows. Pressure can break pipes, but it can also make diamonds. But, if you think the fanbase is going to be complacent when they expect better from you, you're mistaken.