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How Knicks Fans Took Over Philadelphia’s N.B.A. Arena

SportHow Knicks Fans Took Over Philadelphia’s N.B.A. Arena

PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid is disappointed, and not just because his Philadelphia 76ers are only one game away from elimination.

Following a 97-92 defeat to the New York Knicks on Sunday that widened Philadelphia’s deficit in its first-round series to 3-1, Embiid said that he found the turnout at his home arena “disappointing.”

Knicks fans filled up large portions of the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday, serenading the team with cheers and its point guard, Jalen Brunson, with MVP chants.

“I love our fans,” Embiid said after the game. “(I) think it’s unfortunate and I’m not calling them out, but it is disappointing. Obviously you got a lot of Knicks fans and they’re down the road and I’ve never seen it, and I’ve been here for 10 years. Yeah, it kind of pisses me off, especially because Philly is considered a sports town. They’ve always shown up and I don’t think that should happen. Yeah. It’s not OK.”

New Yorkers didn’t show up only because the Knicks own one of the NBA’s largest fan bases. It was also about the location.

The Amtrak ride from New York’s Penn Station to Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station is only 90 minutes. With a 1 p.m., weekend tipoff, Knicks fans could take the train down to Philly and return home before dinner time. Of course, Knicks fans are known for traveling well.

The team routinely takes over crowds in other, less intense markets. Orlando is often referred to in jest as New York South, because of all the Knicks fans who invade Kia Center whenever the orange and blue play there. Knicks fans swarm Capital One Arena crowd in Washington, D.C., twice a year, too, as do those in attendance just across the bridge at Barclays Center.

This is not the first time they have streamed into the Wells Fargo Center, either. In January, Knicks fans spilled into the 76ers’ arena during a 36-point romping of Philly. By the end, when many of the Philadelphia fans had cleared out, Brunson was receiving MVP chants in a road arena, one that houses an otherwise passionate fan base — and the reigning MVP, Embiid.

Philly sports fans have their own reputation, too.

They live or die with their major sports teams, including the 76ers. Brunson, who went for 47 points in the Game 4 victory, is more familiar with it than your average NBA player. He may have never played for the Sixers, but he starred in college at Villanova University, which is just outside Philadelphia and plays its games in the same arena as the Sixers.

There’s one more reason, too.

“This Philadelphia fan base, I’ve said this before, they’re very relentless, very passionate,” Brunson said. “I mean, I’m an Eagles fan, I would know, but seeing the Knicks, hearing the Knicks here is pretty cool. It’s awesome.”

(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)


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