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November 01, 2020

Sixers exec hints black jerseys from 2001 run could be making a comeback

Nothing in sports sells quite like nostalgia. The Sixers have witnessed that firsthand bringing back pieces of their past, from the hokey "Here Come The Sixers" anthem to the return of a more classic-style uniform after years of, well, bad and boring jerseys.

For years, millennial-aged fans have begged for the return of the jerseys they wore during Allen Iverson's legendary 2001 Finals run. And judging from the Twitter feed of a prominent Sixers executive, they're about to get their wish.

In the fall of 2017, Ben Simmons posted a now-deleted question/poll about bringing back the black road jerseys for the modern era. Fans overwhelmingly voted in favor of the jerseys, and Sixers President Chris Heck made him a promise that has yet to be cashed in on:

About that — on Sunday afternoon, with most of Philadelphia waiting for the Sunday night tilt between the Eagles and Cowboys, Heck resurrected the offer, telling Simmons now was the time for him to get a crack at a new jersey design.

After a reply from Simmons poking fun at Heck, the team president added to the speculation, making special note of his new profile picture on Twitter:

Between Heck's tweets and the suspicious delete from Simmons, there's not a lot of reading between the lines to do here. Everything seems to point to a return of the jerseys many fans my age have begged to have back for years, perhaps in a modified form if not in like-for-like fashion. We can certainly leave the shiny mesh material in the past, for starters, but all-black jerseys are a fan favorite in pretty much all sports.

These have never been a favorite of mine despite coming of age during that notorious run, but there has also never been a better time to pay tribute to that 2001 run with a jersey re-issue. This upcoming season marks the 20th anniversary of that MVP season and Finals run for Iverson, a year that to this day is the high mark of basketball for many local fans. We revisited the series in the early days of quarantine, and while the Lakers did roll to a quick 4-1 series win, Iverson and the gang kept it closer than many (including myself) remembered it, putting on a performance that made the city proud.

Unfortunately, it's unlikely we'll see the atmosphere of that season re-created for a lot of reasons. Even if the Sixers had the singular talent and cast of role players to go on a storybook run to the Finals, the lack of fans in arenas will leave the city far more disconnected from the team than they were back then. You couldn't go anywhere from April onward without seeing Sixers flags on people's cars, and the Philadelphia crowd was outrageous throughout the playoffs, helping Iverson to lift the team as high as they could reach.

If nothing else, a return of the black jerseys will bring a lot of us back to a simpler, happier time in Philadelphia, even if most people who put these on will look more like Matt Geiger than Iverson when they wear them. And if they keep the star players happy with some nice threads, maybe the season will turn out better than the last one. Look good, feel good, play good, and all that.

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