Thursday, May 23, 2024

Knicks fans ‘disappointing’ Embiid as they take over 76ers arena

HomeSports NewsKnicks fans 'disappointing' Embiid as they take over 76ers arena

PHILADELPHIA – The unmistakable chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” reverberated through the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday, raining approval not upon home-standing superstar Joel Embiid, but rather the perceived enemy – New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson.

Such was the bizarre, upside-down scene in South Philly, where hordes of rabid Knickerbockers faithful flooded the 76ers’ arena in astounding numbers. Their deafening cheers and boos transformed what should have been a celebratory home playoff environment into essentially a road game for the stunned Sixers.

“It’s disappointing, really disappointing to see so many Knicks fans here,” a visibly irritated Embiid groused after his team’s crushing 97-92 Game 4 loss, which pushed them to the brink of elimination down 3-1. “I’ve never seen this in my 10 years…a sports town like Philly, it just shouldn’t happen like that. It’s not OK.”

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But happen it did, in truly jaw-dropping fashion – an incomprehensible scene for any NBA observer. With the Knicks’ vibrant orange and blue causing the home red to blend into a bizarre, split kaleidoscope of color, the invading New Yorkers made their allegiance resoundingly clear.

Throaty boos cascaded down whenever Embiid touched the ball. Raucous chants of “Let’s Go Knicks!” sporadically drowned out even the home public address announcer. The pièce de résistance? Those thunderous “M-V-P” salutes raining down for the scorching Brunson after he obliterated the Sixers for 47 points on their own floor.

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While the heated Knicks-76ers rivalry helped cultivate the frenzied atmosphere, simple geography and logistics were the true catalysts. Philadelphia sits just a short, 90-minute Amtrak ride away from New York City – eminently convenient for fans to stream into the Wells Fargo Center for Sunday’s 1pm start, then return home by dinner.

“It’s awesome seeing and hearing our fans here,” said Brunson, the Villanova product accustomed to Philly’s notoriously intense crowds. “They’re relentless, passionate people.”

Of course, no one should be surprised at this X-factor visitor’s turnout. Knicks fans have become legendary road warriors, their unmistakable chants audible in every NBA city. Orlando is affectionately dubbed “New York South” due to the perennial Knicks invasions of the Amway Center. The same happens in the nation’s capital, where D.C. crowds are essentially split home games.

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But taking over an opposing team’s arena in the thick of a heated conference semifinal series? Leaving a superstar like Embiid utterly demoralized on his own court? For the ever-rambunctious Knicks faithful, it was simply business as usual – an inevitable byproduct of their rabid nationwide reach and New York’s proximity to Philly.

As this series now shifts back to a guaranteed Knicks-friendly environment at Madison Square Garden, the questions become: Just how far can these fans’ impact extend? And could an even larger-scale, burnt orange-tinted visitor’s turnout potentially loom in the near future?

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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