“To be honest, my first experience here’s been so great, I’m really looking forward to making this my home.” — new Sixers center Andrew Bynum
That line says it all. From those words spoken by new Sixers center Andrew Bynum during his raucous introduction to the Philadelphia media and fans at his Wednesday press conference, you can sense the new culture that is taking over the Sixers offices, locker room and the stands at the Wells Fargo Center.
Sixers CEO Adam Aron’s idea to open up the Bynum and Jason Richardson presser to the public could have gone horribly wrong. Instead, it was a stroke of genius that demonstrates further how he and team owner Josh Harris have given the team back to the city while also creating a positive vibe that will again make the Sixers one of the prime destinations in the NBA.
Overstatement? Think again.
Quite frankly, Aron is running the franchise with his own twist of the Pat Croce way. Croce believed that Philly could be a place people wanted to be. When he lured vagabond Larry Brown to Philly he said he would “create a lifestyle that Brown wouldn’t want to leave.”
Even with the issues between Brown and Allen Iverson, the Hall of Fame coach stayed in South Philly for six years — the longest he has ever stayed at any of the 10 professional franchises for which he has coached.
Photo courtesy of the700level.com
Aron is doing the same and the Bynum presser illustrates that. Bynum is a free agent at the end of the year and could be that elite, franchise player the team has sought since shipping Iverson to Denver.
The Sixers brain trust know they have a year to sell Bynum on Philly, so why not do it from the jump? Let the fans voice their enthusiasm for the Bynum deal to the player himself.
This is what you got.
The crowd made Bynum feel wanted and at home immediately. The playoff game level rowdiness the crowd demonstrated is something Bynum will carry with him the rest of the offseason. If you don’t think that connection means anything, you’re crazy.
Bynum wants to create his own identity and own an NBA town. He now sees this one is his for the taking. Money won’t be an issue next offseason as the Sixers can pay Bynum more than anyone else (five years, $100 million). If he had reservations about the Sixers franchise and their commitment to creating that championship culture, they were erased at the National Constitution Center on Wednesday.
Aron is creating the culture that Croce aimed for when he was team President. Giving Bynum that connection to the fans and the city right from the start — setting that positive, energetic tone for the stud center from day one — was a stroke of genius.
Is it opening night yet? The Sixers are ready, Bynum is ready and the fans are ready.