A Comprehensive Breakdown of the Sixers Mascot Choices

Kyle Scott —  December 5, 2011 — 34 Comments

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Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!
 

I’m twitching. Honest to God, I’m twitching. 

Look, let’s preface this by acknowledging the fact that any mascot, even the Phillie Phanatic, is going to look infinitely more ridiculous and childish when drawn, cartoon style, on paper (or the Internet).

I get that.

And, thus far, we like Sixers CEO Adam Aron. He was nice enough to take some time to speak with us on Broad Street Radio, a strategic move which – let’s face it – aimed to neutralize the sometimes erratic spikes of a blogger. And aimed to neutralize what I’m about to do.

To create and implement a new mascot, the Sixers have enlisted the help of both Jim Henson’s Creature Shop (Muppets…) and the Raymond Entertainment Group, which was founded by former best friend of the Phanatic, Dave Raymond. Both of those organizations come into this with much collective success. However, it was Jim Henson’s Creature Shop that was given the initial task of designing the mascot– Raymond will come in later to, um, train him or it. Which is why we’re going to set our sights squarely on the Sixers, and Henson’s Creature Shop, which has two offices, in New York and Los Angeles. 

Despite the obviously non-Philly locations (and designers), you would expect that the collective creative genius would be able to put together a few options that were somewhat up to par, if not great. And that’s why this is so disappointing– I don’t know if it was poor guidance from the team or just bad execution, but these choices are… well, bring back Hip Hop…?

Let’s delve.

 

“A new era is beginning for the Philadelphia 76ers under new ownership and we welcome Philadelphia sports fans helping us to select the new Sixers mascot. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™ has done an outstanding job in giving Philadelphia fans three heart-warming characters to embrace.”

-Sixers CEO Adam Aron

 

Thanks, Adam. First up, Big Ben.

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Ah, OK, I sort of expected this. When the Sixers announced that they were going to create a new mascot, Ben Franklin was the first person (or thing) I thought of who represents Philly in a positive, unique and actionable way (think of all the potential uses of kites, keys, spectacles, fucking bridges and… I don’t know). So this makes sense. And the design is fine… it looks like a cartoon drawing of Ben Franklin. 

That’s the problem.

What makes silly things often great is the fact that they’re just that– silly, playful, fun. This is just… Ben Franklin. 

One of the most revered figures in American history, and a man who needs no introduction as an honorable representation of this city and nation, "Big Ben" Franklin will now come back to serve Philadelphia yet once again. An avid basketball fan, Big Ben was thrilled when asked to join Philadelphia sports fans in cheering the 76ers on to greatness. As the Sixers new mascot, he will bring electricity to the Wells Fargo Center, and be a towering presence at Sixers games –both figuratively and literally, as he stands seven-feet tall.

 

How cliché. It’s like the folks in New York and LA were given two days to come up with the most obvious representation of Philly. I’m surprised option one wasn't a giant cheesesteak with a ketchup head, Cheese Whiz arms and chuck-steak labia.

Besides that, Benjy is Jerry Sandusky creepy. Just. look. at. this… fucking guy:

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Who wants to horse around with that

Still, though, I get it– it’s Ben Franklin, a mascot for the 76ers. It makes sense. Option number two doesn’t.

B. Franklin Dogg

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The All-American pet, B. Franklin Dogg is a loyal Philadelphia resident who can be seen in artist drawings from the day nestled under the table beside Ben Franklin as he deliberated on the founding of the nation. In the revolutionary fervor of the times, B. Franklin Dogg proudly wore patriotic colonial garb to show his spirit. Over the years, B. Franklin Dogg was occasionally seen playing with a basketball around the historic landmarks of Philadelphia, before finally making his way down Broad St. to the Wells Fargo Center. 

 

What? Really? Seriously, I’m asking, did Ben Franklin have a famous dog?

I’m 28. I grew up here and am a pseudo recreational history buff– I knew nothing about Ben Franklin’s Dogg. Is this a fable? A joke? A fact? Made up? Really, I don’t know.

So we check. Thanks to (@FlyersNation), (@stanforsays) and (@enkidu97) for the assist: [Franklin Institute]

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He’s hardly a storied figure… and he didn’t even belong to Ben (!!!). Why are we making things up? There are over 300 years of history to go off of here, and we had to make up a dog? WHY ARE THERE SO MANY QUESTIONS?

Also, why the extra G?! Did we just blackify him because this is basketball? Didn’t we learn our lesson with Hip Hop, the inflated six-foot-seven gangsta rabbit who threw down windmill dunks like it was not no thang? 

And surely by now you’ve noticed that this not B. Franklin Dogg, at all… it’s actually McGruff, the Crime Dog.

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Take a bite out of crime?! Gah! Take a bite out of copyright infringement!

 

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What’s next, Smokey Bear… or Bullwinkle?

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Ah! Phil E. Moose? WHAT?! There used to be an Al E. Gators by the Regal movie theater in Edgmont, and that was offensive. We’re using the same naming convention for a professional mascot? Ugh.

One of the most regal animals to roam the wild, Phil E. Moose certainly fits that bill, standing tall as he represents the Sixers (he stands over seven-feet tall in fact, with the antlers). In his youth, Phil E. Moose would often be seen dunking a basketball with ease, aided by his great height. Throughout his high school, collegiate and professional games, Phil E. Moose was a scoring star, and was excited to learn he had been "traded" to the 76ers in order to entertain fans during games at the Wells Fargo Center.

 

How rude! This is insulting. Does this look like Seattle? 

 

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Here’s a thought, instead of the Bullwinkle look-alike, how about his partner, ROCKY, who just happens to have the same name as the lead character in the most famous movie series ever filmed in Philadelphia. The Rocky thing is overplayed, but it would have been a serious upgrade here. How did you miss this? How much are the Henson folks being paid?! WHY I AM I STILL YELLING?

Reals: These are laughable. The Sixers would do better paying Charles Barkley a million bucks a year to roam the court and stands. Our choices look like the byproduct of an unexpected lockout resolution and the need for delivery by Christmas… 

As you might imagine, I’m certainly not the only one who feels this way. Check out some of my emails:

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And my Tweets:

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Screen Shot 2011-12-05 at 9.05.08 PM 

What a mess.

The three options are just drawings of clichéd Philly things (in the case of Franklin) or completely random, generic animals (a dogg and moose… what?). That’s not how you create characters. Characters mean something. Take for example… The Muppets: They were (are) successful because while completely ridiculous, they’re also relatable figures and metaphors for society as a whole. 

Same thing with Henson’s other creation, Sesame Street. In both cases, kids are fascinated by the look and goofiness of the characters, and adults are just as impressed with the message being delivered. 

Same thing with The Wizard of Oz. The movie wasn’t successful because it featured goofy characters and an admittedly attractive 16-year-old Judy Garland. It was successful because the Scarecrow lacked a brain, the Tin Man lacked a heart and the Lion was a pussy. The whole thing was an allegory for society and politics, and imparted a message on its viewers.

Same thing with the characters in Toy StoryThe Ninja TurtlesSouth Park etc. You don’t need some forced creation like a clichéd hoopin’ moose. You don’t need Ben Franklin’s non-existent dog. Or a rabbit. Or fucking Scooby Doo with a Liberty Bell on his head… Just give us something something simple, relatable. 

That’s largely why the Phanatic works. He looks like no one we’ve ever seen, yet he immediately resonates with fans when they see him. He’s supposed to be goofy. Sure, he has a hokey back story, but he represents the passionate, irritable, and sometimes out-of-line Philly fan. He’s a caricature, and that’s what mascots are supposed to be. You would think Jim Henson’s people know this better than anyone– clearly they don’t. Perhaps the Sixers should ask for their money back. Or, as reader JR put it: At this point, they might as well make the mascot Wilt Chamberlain's johnson.

Yeah, that would work, too. 

Kyle Scott

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34 responses to A Comprehensive Breakdown of the Sixers Mascot Choices

  1. Can I vote for Allen Iverson as the mascot?

  2. i’ve said it before…put a basketball jersey on the phanatic…the phanatic is philly…

  3. farmer fred, the man who lovingly grew A.I’s cornrows.

  4. This is the biggest Sixers story in at least five years.

  5. The new owners seem reasonable and from your article Kyle, they are sleep deprived and working too hard. I’m going to have to assume that none of these are going to be selected. I’m not even sure how they made it up on the official NBA website for voting they are so god awful bad.
    Seriously, run a contest, hold a public voting, pay someone some money.
    For the record, the “Rocky” idea has a lot merit as an idea / concept.
    Oy vey.

  6. Thanks for sharing the information that the Raymond Entertainment Group was founded by former best friend of the Phanatic,Dave Raymond..But it was Jim Henson’s Creature Shop that was given the initial task of designing the mascot– Raymond will come in later to, um, train him…

  7. Wicket Witch of the West December 6, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Scarecrow was missing the one missing a brain there chief.

  8. Wicket Witch of the West December 6, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Scarecrow was the one missing a brain there cheif

  9. Can someone explain the logic of giving Ben Franklin, an important American revolutionary, a nickname that relates to the British government?

  10. wwofw- touche.

  11. Glad you mentioned South Park. The Sixers should really just scrap this vote put up a new one:
    Giant Douche or Turd Sandwich.
    Either one would be better than these three.

  12. I first thought I’d just rip the Sixers with this comment, but here is an honest assessment.
    When Josh Harris and Adam Aron took over the Sixers, they talked so much about a better in-arena experience and how they’d listen to the fans.
    They got off to a good start. 1) They lowered some prices. 2) They killed, I mean relocated Hip Hop.
    But, these mascot options are simply embarrassing. Philly is a blue-collar city with some of the best mascots in sports (Phanatic, SJU Hawk). CB’s take on all three are spot on. They are terrible.
    Solution: THE PHILADELPHIA 76ERS DO NOT NEED A MASCOT! Just win more games, keep prices reasonable, and create an enjoyable experience.
    Keep it simple.
    As Sir Charles would say… these mascot options are “Turrible!”

  13. keep the dogg away from vick…he might get an itch…still dont care about the sixers…

  14. I’m happy I was able to contribute to your article with the “McGruff Crime Dogg” and “Barkley as the mascot” ideas.
    Glad you read my tweets.

  15. I never, ever thought I’d say this, but…bring Hip Hop back. Now. Seriously.

  16. For all the reasons listed in the last prargraph of the post… that is why you bring Big Shot back. If they are looking for ticket sales… a lot of people who grew up with Big Shot are old enough to have kids now, and houses, and jobs, and money… to buy tickets with… they should be tapping into that. I really thought they couldn’t screw this up… somehow they did.

  17. Maybe these guys are smarter than us, this has sparked a lot of interest in the 76ers, and all for the price of three cartoon characters being drawn…

  18. towlie for mascot

  19. I can’t believe people are even pretending to care about this.

  20. You have gotta be kidding me. First, Big Ben…awesome, except he has ALREADY BEEN Philly’s mascot for…not sure, ever? I prefer Big Ben Healy anyday (see Problem Child). Next a god damn dog. PETA is eating this shit up. I’m not even going to start on the fucking dog because we have a god damn moose in the running. A moose?!? What the fuck is this…Canada? I hate Canada. This is similiar to making a good sandwhich (getting rid of douche Hip Hop), taking a bite out of it (getting a feel for the sammy), then realizing the fucking bread has mold on it (a fucking moose as your mascot). Whoever paid money for this shit better ask for a refund. I like the new Sixers management, but damn…at least they tried.

  21. A more realistic option should be a gigantic crack rock or a huge smiling handgun, which may in-turn attract Gilbert Arenas.

  22. Another reason not to watch the NBA

  23. Comprehensive breakdown, eh, Kyle? Must be a slow news day, laddie!
    As for the choices themselves, I can sum up the whole business in four letters: U-R-G-H.

  24. How about Sally the Sparkler she could be that firework we all have be so eagerly awaiting. You could make her look like Red from Fraggle Rock an she would come out an be the SPARK that the team needs. I don’t know we should let the people of Philly come up with something then vote on it.The winner gets season tickets a lot cheaper than Jim Henson’s crew i’m sure.

  25. How about a basketball team that isn’t completely horrendous and weak? How about that? Mascot? We don’ need no steenking mascot, mang.
    Nothing says “we dominate basketball games” like an octogenarian mascot dressed up like Uncle Sam.
    *face-palm*

  26. Scrap the mascot idea entirely. Replace it with a drumline dressed like a revolutionary army’s band. They come out playing traditional snares and flutes and then break it down like Nick Cannon is looking for a scholarship. Who doesn’t love drums? And when they aren’t out on the floor for their halftime rally gig they can have a reserved section where they occasionally play motivational tunes like an NCAA band.
    Also, fuck you if you didn’t think Drumline was a sweet movie.

  27. R. Kelly’s Doo Doo Butter December 6, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    Haters want to hate
    Lovers want to love
    I don’t even want
    None of the above
    I want to piss on you

  28. Not to be more nit-picky but shouldn’t ALL their coats be blue? Red coats were the British, just sayin’

  29. He looks like no one we’ve ever seen, yet he immediately resonates with fans when they see him. He’s supposed to be goofy. Sure, he has a hokey back story, but he represents the passionate, irritable

  30. ever seen, yet he immediately resonates with fans when they see him. He’s supposed to be goofy. Sure, he has a hokey

  31. honestly, just bring back Big Shot! WHy would they toy with the dog idea with all the problems Vick had on the other side of the street, and a moose? No comment. Or like I saw in another post, just put a Sixers jersey on The Phanatic and let him work the stadium

  32. ever seen, yet he immediately resonates with fans when they see him. He’s supposed to be goofy. Sure, he has a hokey

  33. new owners seem reasonable and from your article Kyle, they are sleep deprived and working too hard. I’m going to have to assume that none of these are going to be selected. I’m not even sure how they made it up on the official NBA website for voting they are so god awful bad.
    Seriously, run a contest, hold a public voting, pay someone some money.
    For the record, the “Rocky” idea has a lot merit as an idea / concept.
    Oy vey.

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