Monday’s announcement that the Philadelphia 76ers had acquired Team Dignitas and Team Apex was the latest instance of an NBA team showing interest in esports, but it is the first time an organization has purchased a team.
But for those not initiated in the basketball world, who, exactly, are the Philadelphia 76ers? Allow me to introduce you:
The 76ers are one of the most historic franchises in basketball. The franchise began as the Syracuse Nationals and were part of the NBA’s first season in 1946-47. It moved to Philadelphia in 1963 — a decade before video games started to rise and 40 years before Michael O’Dell formed Team Dignitas.
The franchise has been home to some of the NBA’s all-time great players: Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Irving, Moses Malone, Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson all played significant parts of their career with the Sixers.
As for championships? The Sixers have won three: 1955 (before moving to Philadelphia), 1967 and 1983. Yeah, it’s been a while.
But I know what you care about even more than championships: Memes. And the Sixers don’t disappoint. Iverson’s rant about practice became one of the most iconic press conference moments in league history. Iverson stepping over Los Angeles Lakers guard Tyronn Lue has also enjoyed a renaissance on the Internet. There’s also this from the moment he was drafted in 2014. (You could throw “trust the process” in there, too, but that’s not exclusive to the Sixers. Speaking of…)
Recent years have not been kind to the Sixers or their fans. There’s no other way to put it: They have been the worst NBA team in the league for three years running. A systematic takedown of the team for a long-term rebuilding vision meant, more or less, that the Sixers weren’t really trying to win for three seasons. The goal was getting high draft picks to use on promising young players. Who knows how it will all work out, but the general manager who had the plan is gone and at least one of those young draft picks isn’t happy. If relegation existed in the NBA, the Sixers surely would have been relegated by now. (Dignitas was, of course, which makes this transaction oddly fitting).
There’s still a lot to like, though. Joel Embiid is an exciting young player if he can finally shake off the injuries that cost him his first two NBA seasons. The team’s logos are pretty cool. Their mascot has perhaps the most fitting name of any in the NBA. Sometimes, you gotta get by on the little things.
There’s the rundown for the newest traditional sports organization to enter this sacred industry. They can now be flamed properly.