By Connor Thomas
That, in Philadelphia, has become the question. Well, actually, it’s been a hot topic pretty much since William Penn founded this great city. And now, nearly 340 years later, we have the latest chapter in the long saga of Philadelphia fans and the boo. The lead actors in this scene are Tobias Harris and Danny Green, who have recently been dealing with the backlash of fans surrounding some comments over the past couple months. Monday night, in a game against the Houston Rockets, Tobias Harris responded to boos from the Sixers home crowd by seemingly waving them on to boo him more. Later in the same game, he made a turnaround jumper that received applause from the fans, to which he seemed to respond by saying “Don’t f***ing clap”. That, of course, received the full anger of the fan base over the next couple days on social media and across sports talk in Philly, and predictably so. Any time you interact with the home fans in a negative way in Philadelphia, you can expect that type of reaction from this city. Last night, in a postgame press conference after the Sixers’ 116-106 win over the Orlando Magic, Harris addressed those moments during Monday night’s game, basically saying that he understands with praise that you need to be able to take criticism and that he doesn’t want anyone to get it twisted, he loves the fans in Philadelphia. Well, that should be that. Just like Joel Embiid’s back and forth with Philly fans in February of 2020, there was some fire between the two sides, some quotes from the player leads to a mending of the relationship, and everything goes back to normal.
Well, not quite this time. Enter Danny Green. Prior to Harris getting a chance to explain his frustrations and feelings, Green once again felt the need to make a statement defending his teammate against the fan base’s boos. If you remember, Green weighed in on the Ben Simmons situation in the past, basically chastising the fan base for how they treated Simmons during the time he actually playing in Philly. Well, it’s apparent that Danny Green’s thoughts on the fan relationship with players have not changed since those comments. Here is what Green said this time around, in reaction to the current rocky relationship between Harris and Philly fans:
From @975Middays – If you missed the most recent Danny Green comments on Philly fans and Tobias Harris, here you go: pic.twitter.com/d3WJJuSR95
— Connor Thomas (@ConnorThomas975) January 5, 2022
So, Green believes the booing that Harris has been hearing is disrespectful and is not understanding of the efforts that he puts in to the game of basketball? It’s a very interesting take on booing, from a man who seems to be full of opinions on the subject. Despite Harris’ comments clarifying his love for the fan base and his understanding of the dynamic, Green’s statement on the situation has once again sparked the boo debate in Philadelphia. Should Philadelphia fans be more supportive than we are and avoid booing players who we know are trying? Or is the booing appropriate in this circumstance considering it’s dealing with play on the court? Spoiler: there’s no easy answer.
Here’s what I think is the simplest explanation of how the fan-athlete relationship in Philly should work: These athletes are making millions upon millions of dollars to have their dream job and play a sport for a living. Meanwhile, the fans are PAYING money to go to the Wells Fargo Center, or the Linc, or CBP, to watch these athletes play. The price of admission is also the price to boo or cheer. The payment for dealing with that reaction is the millions of dollars these athletes get deposited into their bank accounts. Fans have always, and will always, have a right to boo. To call it disrespectful, like Danny Green did, is completely misunderstanding the nature of the boo. The fans have one means of immediate feedback, and that’s to boo. Unless Danny Green, and all other athletes in Philadelphia, would prefer to have office hours where fans can visit them individually and discuss what they would like to see happen, the boos and cheers are the best option. If you go to your local Wawa, and get handed the wrong order from the hoagie station, is it disrespectful to say “Excuse me, you got my sandwich wrong. Can I please have what I ordered?”? Absolutely not. That is the customer’s right. Well, in sports, the fans are the customers. If you miss a basket, strike out, allow a touchdown, or put the other team on the power play, the fans have a right to react negatively to a bad product. And trust me, when the product is good, Philly fans will cheer louder than any other fan base on the planet. So, to Danny Green and any other athlete who is worried about the fan base’s reactions to them during games, just focus on your craft. The boos are not an indictment of you as a person. They are not disrespect. They are the sound of frustration from thousands of people who are just as desperate for your success as they are annoyed by your failure. If you give them that success, they’ll be the first ones cheering you when things go right. It’s really that simple, and we’ll all be better off once players like Danny Green realize that.