Founded in 1946 as the Syracuse Nationals, the Philadelphia 76ers (or “Sixers” for short) is one of the oldest and most storied franchises in the NBA. The team has a hall of fame roster of former players – Wilt Chamberlin, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Charles Barkley, and Allen Iverson to name a few – as well as two NBA championships (as the Sixers) under their belt. With a current lineup of exciting players including All NBA, MVP runner up, Joel Embiid, and ten-time NBA All-Star James Harden, the Sixers are now one of the most exciting teams in the NBA and among the most popular across the globe.
Basketball lovers spending time in Philadelphia — which was ranked as one of the top 10 cities for basketball fans in the United States by WalletHub — can fill their visit with Sixers-themed experiences, murals, and more.
Undoubtedly the best basketball experience in Philadelphia is watching the Sixers play live at the 20,000 seat Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia. The NBA regular season runs from October through April (playoffs in May and June), which means there are plenty of opportunities to see the team play on their home court. The Wells Fargo Center also now boasts updated fan experiences, including new seating and club options. Tickets are available directly through the Sixers’ website or via StubHub.
TIP: Get to the game early to see the ceremonious ringing of the bell. Before every game, a local celebrity starts the night by ringing a smaller replica of the Liberty Bell at center court. Often times local legends like Kevin Hart, athletes such as Jalen Hurts, or Sixers legend Allen Iverson have the honor.
Clap Your Hands, Everybody
Basketball fight songs aren’t nearly as common as they are in football, but the Sixers have the best one in the business. The team resurrected the franchise’s 1970s Here Come the Sixers anthem in 2014 and it has become an addictively viral sensation ever since. The song is a popular post-game celebration on the stadium’s PA speakers … but only if the Sixers win. So keep your fingers crossed and your hands in clapping position!
Eat Iconic Philly Foods All in One Place
Short on time and can’t make it to Passyunk Avenue or South Street? No worries – grab something iconic and local to the area at the Wells Fargo Center. The arena conveniently houses: Lorenzo’s Pizza, their cheesy piping hot jumbo slices are the size of your head; Chickie’s & Pete’s, their irresistible trademark Crab Fries are seasoned with Old Bay and served with gooey American cheese drizzle; and Federal Donuts known for not only their sweet namesake treats, but also their chicken sandwiches. Feel like you’ve been transported to the boardwalk down at the Jersey shore with Shore Treats, a stand serving up funnel cake, cotton candy, and Dippin’ Dots. There is also Spring Garden, a vegetarian-friendly stand offering gluten-free options, including a Build Your Own poke bowl, salad, or wrap. Families can find good eats for younger fans at kid-friendly Mites Bites.
Tour the Wells Fargo Center
Want a truly immersive Sixers experience? Schedule a tour of the Wells Fargo Center in advance on non-gamedays and learn about the storied history of the arena and the Sixers’ day-to-day operations. At select times, fans can embark on an arena tour, which includes a commemorative photo and frame. Groups larger than 25 people can schedule a private tour. Better yet, schedule a behind-the-scenes tour where you can access to the press box and press conference area, including the spot where Allen Iverson delivered his infamous “Practice Rant” back in 2002.
Visit Sixers Murals
Philadelphia is known as the “Mural Capital of the World” and features over 4,000 pieces of community art, many of which depict the Sixers. 76ers: Beyond the Court, by artist Ernel Martinez is located at Broad and Federal Streets in South Philadelphia, honors Allen Iverson, Charles Barkley and other famous Philadelphia 76ers.
True fans will want to make the trek out to 1234 Ridge Avenue and see the Dr. J mural. In it, a dapper Erving stands watch over North Philadelphia in a beige business suit and yellow tie, with his head barely clearing the top of the three-story building. The mural, completed in 1990, was universally applauded and legend has it that Erving himself shed a tear upon seeing it.
For fans of the current 76ers, visit Garage in Fishtown to see forward Matisse Thybulle’s mural. The defensive specialist was honored with this mural for his 24th birthday. The season it was painted, sponsor Red Bull donated $250 for each steal Thybulle recorded to local basketball courts.
See Up and Coming Sixers
Philadelphia isn’t short of basketball talent. If you’re looking to watch some rising stars and willing to take a trip, support the Delaware Blue Coats, the Sixers’ G League team. The Blue Coats play at the new, state-of-the art Chase Field House in Wilmington, Delaware. Young and developing talent play in the G League to prepare for the NBA. Stop by for a game and you may see a future star, like former No. 2 pick Jalen Green or G League MVP and Sixers fan favorite Paul Reed.
Play Hoops in Signature Spots
If you’re an aspiring player, you may see Joel Embiid balling on the other side of the court. The beloved center has been known to play with Philadelphians on local courts such as on 10th and Lombard, and 9th and South. If you see him, keep your expectations low. He’s likely going to embarrass you.
Visit Locations from Hustle
The Netflix film Hustle, starring Adam Sandler and Juancho Hernangómez, tells the story of a 76ers scout trying to prepare a raw player for the NBA draft. While fictional, the film has cameos from many current and former Sixers including Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, and Allen Iverson. The characters spend time in some iconic Philadelphia locations where visitors can grab a bite or watch a basketball game.
Whether it’s early morning or late night, the Melrose Diner is the perfect spot for a quick bite or to catch up with an old friend. If you’re looking for a fine dining experience, Butcher and Singer is a premier statehouse with an old Hollywood vibe. Just like in the film, there’s no better place to end a night than Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar, a South Philadelphia institution where every night is a celebration.
Cheer Along at a Local Sports Bar
For those unable to score tickets to a game or are looking to cheer on the team while they’re playing away, the city has a well-rounded collection of sports bars with plenty of TVs and gameday specials at the ready. Xfinity Live! in the Stadium District (just steps from the Wells Fargo Center) features five distinct bars, each lined with dozens of screens. Field House, McGillin’s Olde Ale House, and City Tap House offer viewing options in Center City, whereas Garage’s Fishtown and Passyunk Avenue locations each serve as hubs for sports enthusiasts in their respective neighborhoods.