Die-hard fan attends first NBA game

Over the past couple years, I have become a die-hard NBA fan. However, living in Omaha and not traveling a whole lot due to the pandemic meant that I hadn’t had the chance to attend an NBA game in-person until our recent Journalism field trip to Philadelphia. 

Almost all of our group agreed to go to a game on the second night we were in the city, the Nov. 11th match-up between the 76ers and the Toronto Raptors. After a minor mishap in finding our way (though he is a very good web editor, Charlie Yale is not so great at using Google Maps), we took the subway to the Wells Fargo Center and arrived about an hour before the game tipped off. 

We spent most of that hour in the arena’s two gift shops, while staff writer Callan Maher tried to find a shirt for her dad that didn’t have a player’s number on it (this, unsurprisingly, did not go well, and she ended up getting a baseball cap for him instead). 

Other notable purchases include staff writer Conor Harley getting an awesome stuffed doll of Sixers superstar center Joel Embiid and photographer Lucy Mason making the terrible decision to pay thirty dollars for a beanie that I have yet to see her wear again. 

After the gift shops, we went to our seats, which were some of the worst in the arena, a few rows in front of the back wall. This was no surprise to us, as we paid about thirteen dollars a seat and purchased tickets the day of the game. As we sat down, I was struck by how similar the arena felt to the CHI Health Center, where the Creighton Bluejays play. 

Though that space is by no means small, I expected the upgrade from a college basketball arena to an NBA arena to be more significant. I was not surprised, however, that the attendance patterns mirrored that of a Creighton game. The crowd was sparse prior to tip and into the beginning of the first quarter, but it had filled up once we were most of the way through the second half. 

I was not sure what to expect from the game, as both teams were missing important players. The Sixers were without star point guard Ben Simmons as they had been throughout the season, but they were also missing their best player in Embiid and one of their better defenders in wing Matisse Thybulle. The Raptors, for their part, were missing star power forward Pascal Siakam. 

As it turned out, this served to put the teams on somewhat equal footing, and neither team had much more than a ten point lead throughout. I, for one, was rooting for the Raptors. I am not a real fan of the team, but I much preferred rooting for them to rooting for the Sixers, whose fanbase is one of the most annoying in the league.  

Pullquote Photo

My one regret in this experience is that I did not root for the Raptors with more vigor. Though I find Sixers fans annoying, I think their annoyingness is part of the quintessential Sixers experience. ”

— Daniel Graham

I suppose you could argue, as some of the other staff members did, that it is not so bad that I did not anger the grown, somewhat drunk, men around us, but I think it would have added to our experience; who doesn’t want to be able to say they started a fight at a Sixers game? 

Nonetheless, the experience was a lot of fun. I found I didn’t watch the game with as much attention or awareness as I would have at home, but being in the arena and seeing the players in person brought to life players and a game which I had to that point only seen through a screen. 

We left early to beat the post-game rush, but I followed the score on the way back to the hotel and was happy to see that the Raptors won it. Later, I saw a clip of the best play of the game, the dagger three that Raptors guard Fred VanVleet hit to ice the game, followed by what I’ll call the Sam Cassel celebration, which earned him a nice little fine. 

I look forward to the possibility of seeing another NBA game on our next Journalism field trip to Los Angeles, where we might have a chance to see a Lakers game, one of the few teams with a fanbase more annoying than the Sixers’.