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March 03, 2023

Block of Market Street in Center City gets unofficially renamed for Matisse Thybulle

Someone changed the sign with a sticker, renaming it for the former 76er now with the Trailblazers

Weeks have passed since the 76ers dealt Matisse Thybulle to the Portland Trailblazers, but Thybulle's departure from Philadelphia has led to interesting displays of affection between the NBA player and fans in the city, the first involving the Fishtown mural depicting him and now a street sign in Center City.

At some time Thursday, someone slapped a sticker the letters "tisse" printed in the same font used on city's street signs onto the Market Street road sign at the intersection of 22nd Street. The sticker covers the letters "rket" of Market, effectively turning that block into Matisse Street.

If there's any dispute about whether this could be a reference to the French artist, it's notable that this occurred at 22nd Street — and Thybulle wore No. 22 while playing for the Sixers. Thybulle, who is named after Henri Matisse, now wears No. 4 in Portland, presumably because 2 + 2 = 4.

The gesture has caught Thybulle's attention. In an Instagram story, Thybulle asked, "Is this real?" and then followed it up with another photo captioned, "It is confirmed."

After Thybulle was traded in January at the NBA trade deadline, he posted an Instagram video showing him spray painting, "Thank you, Philly" onto the mural of himself that was on the exterior wall of the bar Garage, at East Girard and Frankford avenues in Fishtown. Less than two weeks later, someone vandalized the mural, splashing white paint over a portion of Thybulle's likeness and most of his thank-you note. 

The mural had been painted on bar's wall in early 2021 as part of a promotion with Garage, the 76ers and Red Bull to raise money to fix basketball courts in the city. The artwork has since been painted over, and the Garage's management said that had been the plan, even before it paint was thrown on it..

All of this may seem like a bit much for a player who only spent 3 1/2 seasons with the Sixers, but it kind of feeds into the whole pole-climbing, it's-a-Philly-thing brand of fanaticism, love it or hate it.

Thybulle and the Trailblazers will play the Sixers at the Wells Fargo Center next Friday, March 10.