Will renewing rivalry with Celtics help Sixers get noticed in Philadelphia?
Philadelphia has many passionate sports fans, and lately the 76ers make the list after the Eagles, the Phillies and the Flyers. But with the Sixers winning last night to advance to the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs, they're starting a new chapter in their storied rivalry with the Celtics that once featured Larry Bird and Dr. J -- Julius Irving.
Kevin Owens watched the game at home in Cherry Hill. And he said he tried to keep it down - his wife is pregnant.
"I was standing up for most of the fourth quarter and just pacing back and forth," said Owens. "I was trying to get into a position that I would break the least amount of things and cause the least amount of noise. But when he made the second free throw there was definitely a yell."
Owens said after recent loses by other sports teams, Philadelphia needed the Sixers to win.
"When you look at the Flyers it's just so depressing when they lose," said Owens. "The Sixers it's like you're gambling with house money. I mean you're not expecting anything."
But to get real attention, they need to do more, said Michael Levin, the co-editor of the Sixers blog LibertyBallers.com.
"They need to have a superstar and actually contend for a title for more than one year, to make people care," said Levin.
Longtime fan Brian Ward said the victory almost makes up for years of Sixers heartbreak.
"I remember watching them on TV during the championship year and I think the first game I ever went to was during Charles Barkley's rookie year and the end of Dr. J's career and I was just completely hooked," said Ward.
So how does he feel about the Sixers' next foe: the Celtics?
"I think in all of sports the Celtics are the team that I hate the most," said Ward. "It's a rivalry that's kind of been dormant. Hopefully this is going to be where the mantle for the Atlantic Division is passed from Boston back to Philadelphia."
Ward said he'll consider changing the name of his blog: "Depressed Fan" -- when the Sixers win a title.