Founded in 1946 as the Syracuse Nationals, the team now known as the Philadelphia 76ers (or “Sixers” for short) is one of the oldest 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 Cameroonian center, Joel Embiid, and the Australian-born point guard, Ben Simmons, the Sixers are now one of the most exciting teams in the NBA and among the most popular across the globe.
Basketball fans 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 nearly 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 who “rings the bell” (a smaller replica of the Liberty Bell) at center court during pregame – often times local celebrities like Kevin Hart or athletes such as Carson Wentz or Sixers legend Allen Iverson have the honor.
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 “Clap Your Hands” anthem in 2014 and it has become an addictively viral sensation ever since. The lyrics are timeless: “Clap your hands everybody, for Philadelphia 76ers. Stomp your feet everybody, for Philadelphia 76ers. Here they come, Philadelphia. On the run, stand up and cheer #1 Philadelphia. Here they come, team of the year!” And the chorus repeats, on and on and on. 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!
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, located at 11th Street Landing; Chickie’s & Pete’s, their irresistible trademark Crab Fries are seasoned with Old Bay and served with gooey American cheese drizzle, located at Section 222A; and PJ Whelihan’s, their hot tasty buffalo wings can be found on the main concourse. There is also a new vegetarian-friendly section located in Section 209.
Want a truly immersive Sixers experience? Schedule a tour of the Wells Fargo Center in advance on non-gamedays. Fans can opt for either a public tour (they run 60 to 90 minutes and include a commemorative photo and frame) or a group tour (available for groups of 25 or more) and learn about the storied history of the arena and the Sixers’ day-to-day operations. 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, uttering the word “practice” 22 times.
Philadelphia native Wilt Chamberlain is arguably the greatest basketball player to ever lace up high tops — and leaping up in the air to recreate his iconic throw-down slam dunk is a rite of passage. Chamberlain, an Overbrook native, played in his hometown for seven seasons (three with the Philadelphia Warriors, four with the Philadelphia 76ers) before he demanded a trade to the West Coast. However, Chamberlain’s legacy stayed behind in the form of a bronze memorial rising 18-feet from the ground and weighing nearly three tons. It was unveiled in June 2004 at the Southeast corner of the Wells Fargo Center and fans can often be seen touching it on their way into the arena. Many even quote the phrase at the base of the statue: “The worth of man is measured by the size of his heart.”
Julius “Dr. J” Erving has a better claim at being the face of the Sixers’ franchise than Wilt Chamberlain. Erving spent 11 seasons with the team and guided them to the 1983 NBA title. More importantly, he was the first player — remember, this is pre-Michael Jordan — to regularly soar through the air and land acrobatic dunks, like his famed “Rock the Baby” cradle dunk. 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. TIP: There is another Sixers mural featuring numerous players and a colorful, prismatic design, located in South Philadelphia at the intersection of Broad and Federal Streets.
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. For a full list of sports bars, click here.
Cover photo courtesy of the Philadelphia 76ers.