Sixers fans keeping the faith

Posted: March 28, 2014

HEADS NODDING, eyes rolling and groans of yet another loss - this has become the norm for 76ers fans patiently awaiting the team's first win since Jan. 29 in Boston.

Despite the team approaching the NBA record of 27 consecutive losses, fans have still come out in bunches to the Wells Fargo Center to catch a peek of the project general manager Sam Hinkie took over last offseason.

"I am going to be excited to say I was there when the team was rebuilt," Sixers fan Patrick Stewart said Friday at the last home game of the season. "The true fans are coming to the games now. I think it would be hard to appreciate the team when they're up if you didn't watch them when they were down."

Not only is the team down this year, but so is the attendance. The Sixers rank 29th in home attendance with an average of 13,651 (67.2 percent full), down from 17th when they averaged 16,717 in 2012-13. Only the Milwaukee Bucks, who actually have a worse record, average a lower attendance, with 13,253.

To put the 76ers' home attendance in perspective, the Chicago Bulls rank at the top of the list at 21,677 (103.6 percent full).

"I'm a Philly fan, win or lose," Sixers fan Jim Kline said. "I'm just really hoping that the team can build and start winning some games next year.

"The games are still a good time even if they're losing. It's still professional basketball, it's still the Sixers and I like coming out to these games because they are a lot more fun to watch in person than on TV."

While it may be hard to believe these days, the Sixers once averaged 19,651 (fifth in NBA) during the team's last run to the NBA Finals in 2000-01. Philadelphia moved up to third in the NBA in home attendance the next year, with 20,560.

Without an Allen Iverson-type superstar on the roster this season, Sixers fans have typically come out to watch Rookie of the Year favorite Michael Carter-Williams. Along with center Nerlens Noel, who has been sidelined this season while recovering from a torn ACL, fans see a promising future ahead for the rebuilding Sixers.

"I really do think this team is going to be a force to be reckoned with in a few years, especially with Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel coming back next year," said Krystal Manuel, who recently purchased season tickets for next season. "I absolutely love the team this year and all the guys on it, but I am looking forward to see what they can do in the future and get better."

With a young core centered around Carter-Williams and Noel, Philadelphia fans would also love to add either Kansas freshman guard Andrew Wiggins or Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker. If the balls were to fall in favor of the Sixers during the upcoming lottery, fans agree they would come out to see more games once they begin to see improvement in the 15-55 Sixers.

"I will definitely go to more games if they start getting better soon," Kline said. "For now, it's a little tough to watch at times but if they start getting better, I don't see why I wouldn't be at more games."

"It's good that this team is young and has a lot of potential with a couple of key guys, but ultimately they are going to have to add someone that can change a game for more fans to come out to the games," Sixers fan David Beck said. "When you see a team like the Knicks that has Carmelo Anthony, it's not always one player that helps a team win but a few players, and the Sixers are going to have to add more than one star to be successful in the future."

As one of the lone veterans left on the roster after trading Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes near the trade deadline, forward Thaddeus Young believes the low attendance has not affected the team. He is grateful for the dedicated fans that do show up despite the team's poor play this season.

"The fans are great and they've been great the past couple of weeks," Young said. "They've been coming to the games and still chanting for us. My hat goes out to each and every fan who comes out to the games and the fans who are still supporting us. I thank them for sticking with us, and we are going to try to turn things around for those fans."

Despite just 15 wins this season and not seeing a Sixers win at the Wells Fargo Center since Jan. 15 against the Charlotte Bobcats, Philadelphia fans are sticking to their high expectations for the team in the near future. Their most promising player is, as well.

"I think you are going to starting seeing and hearing a lot more intensity in the future," Carter-Williams said after the one-point loss to the Knicks last Friday. "It's good to see glimpses of it right now.

"[The fans] were really supportive [last Friday], have been really supportive all season. It's hard to cheer for a team that's losing a lot, but they still come each and every night and show their support and passion every night whether it's good or bad. That's what this game is all about."

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