The Sixers unveiled their new “city edition” jerseys this week, and like most of the others that have been revealed ahead of next season, they are dreary and look like shit. You don’t just have to take it from me, a man whose favorite team once sported the ugliest jerseys in NBA history. The actual experts agree.
Paul Lukas at Uni Watch wrote that the jersey had “bad design, fairly inscrutable inspiration, and no discernible connection to the rest of the team’s visual program.” The design was inspired by Boathouse Row, which is a row of houses in Philadelphia or some shit.
The team’s press release revealed that Ben Simmons helped design the jersey, and that he wanted a cool black jersey similar to the one that Allen Iverson wore during the team’s Finals run two decades ago. Lukas correctly noted that these kits are not “on brand,” which prompted Sixers president Chris Heck to reach out to Uni Watch and try to set the record straight. Instead, he managed to look like an out-of-touch asshole!
After exchanging pleasantries, Lukas astutely brought up the fact that highlighting Boathouse Row comes off as hoity-toity, which is in stark contrast to the perception of Philadelphia as a “blue collar” city. It also has nothing to do with the old Iverson-era jerseys that Simmons liked and asked for. Heck responded like this:
The whole blue collar thing is meant to be positive — I hear it all the time too. We actually don’t use the term “Philly,” because we think it’s lazy and undersells the city, and sometimes I think “blue collar” does the same thing. We refer to it as “New Philadelphia.” Blue collar’s important for the city, but it’s not the only component. New Philadelphia is about the arts, it’s about culture, it’s about education, it’s about diversity. We like that narrative more than the blue collar hockey thing. Which isn’t a slight on it, but we think we’re more than blue collar.Uni Watch
Is this a quote about a basketball team’s new jersey design, or is it about a stack of gentrifi-condos that just went up?
Heck really tips his hand when he draws a distinction between “arts, culture, education” and working class people, the implication being that nobody could possibly believe that a blue collar city also possesses arts, culture, and education without being told so. Heck’s comments are obviously not as bad as former Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson sending an email about “the black crowd scar[ing] away the whites,” but they exist in the same universe. Levenson pining for a whiter crowd and Heck trying to make “New Philadelphia” happen are good reminders that the people who run sports teams do not necessarily see their franchises as reflections of the cities the play in, but as corporate entities tasked with imposing their own boardroom-approved vision of a city.