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August 21, 2019

The Q&A ... with Sixers forward (and cult hero) Mike Scott

From why Philly fans have fallen in love — and why he loves them back — to his love of hockey sweaters, and everything in between...

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20_Mike_Scott_76ersvsCeltics_KateFrese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Sixers forward Mike Scott.

It all started with a random tweet. 

Sitting at my laptop on a random July day, looking at random tweets scroll across my timeline, a random thought entered my head. And, because it felt like one of those random — and usually rare — times I had a good idea, I decided to share it. 

See, Sixers forward Mike Scott has a bit of a different NBA game day ritual, one that involves him wearing a hockey sweater into the arena every night. Over the years, the hockey sweater has become Scott's signature look, and he wears them more than just during his pregame walk from the parking lot to the locker room. 

After all, Scott has over 150 hockey jerseys, including more than 30 that he's never worn before. And soon, he's going to have to find room for a whole bunch more.

Scott apparently liked my idea of him supporting local high school hockey clubs, and he shared my tweet with his followers. That's when the replies started rolling in. Dozens, then hundreds of fans flooded Scott's mentions asking what size he wanted (XXL) and where they should send them (a PO Box in Chesapeake, Virginia). Fans whose schools don't have hockey teams were asking if he'd be willing to wear other jerseys. Soon, the schools themselves were reaching out wondering how they could get their colors on the Sixers forward. 

It just goes to show you the power of the #MikeScottHive. 

In just a short amount of time since his arrival as an afterthought in the Tobias Harris trade, Scott has won this city over. They've embraced him in a way few athletes in this city ever are, especially after just a half a season in Philly. Part of that love can be credited to the way in which Scott plays — he's scrappy, tough, unafraid. In other words, he "ain't no bitch."

Just like the city in which he now finds himself playing.

"I think they see that I'm a regular person, I just play basketball," Scott said during a breakfast with the media on Tuesday. "I just keep it honest, be real, stay genuine. Stuff that like, I don't really try, I just do it. I can't really explain it. Just be yourself. I think people can relate to that.

"Some athletes, they're really stuck up, bougie, and I don't like none of that. So I just try to be myself. I wasn't raised like that. I was always raised to be respectful, be humble, and also be grateful. And not to be a bitch. [laughs] 

"That grittiness, I feel like Philly fans can relate to. I have that chip on my shoulder that I feel like everybody who lives in this area has, so I feel like I can kind of relate to it a little bit."

But in this town, personality isn't enough. You also have to prove your worth on the court. And, according to Scott, there was a singular moment that took him from having fans to having a full-on hive.

"Probably after the shot in Brooklyn," Scott said, referring to his three-pointer with 15 seconds remaining in Game 4 of the Sixers' first-round series against the Nets. "It kind of just went crazy from there. It went crazy, you know what I'm saying? People getting tattoos — it's a really cool thing. It kind of just went to a different level. I think it's pretty cool. I've never had nothing like that or seen anything like that. It was dope."

MORE: How Sixers forward Mike Scott found a home in Philly

Scott said he's never experienced anything like this during his basketball career, professional or collegiate. And during this offseason, one in which Scott signed a two-year deal to return to the Sixers, the Hive has reached new levels. In large part due to Scott's social media presence and his ability to engage with fans both online and off. 

From racing (and beating) a fan who called out his speed to crashing a Center City wedding, Scott has been doing it all. Just yesterday, after being run through the gauntlet by the Philly media, Scott spent the day interacting with fans, from handing out ice cream in a Mr. Softee truck to meeting up with fans from Twitter to try the new Popeye's chicken sandwich to attending a local rec league game at a park where he donated $15,000 for to help fund the league.

He's received so many requests — like laying down a verse in a studio or attending a bar mitzvah or just surprising someone's husband at work — that he obviously can't get to them all. 

"[It's helped me] interact with more people," Scott said about his whirlwind summer. "I can't make it to everyone, but sometimes, if I'm free and I want to take it in. Like the wedding — I was at a rap battle and I didn't want to go back to the hotel, so I just looked on Twitter and somebody had tweeted me about the wedding, and that's when I said, 'Sh*t, I'm going.'"

But the fact that he is making such an effort to interact with as many fans as possible has only caused the Hive to grow. 

It will continue to grow into the season, once Scott returns to the court. Helping that will be those high school hockey jerseys Scott plans on wearing this year. Because this isn't just about fans giving to Scott, it's also about Scott giving back to the fans. After wearing the high school jerseys, Scott said he's willing to sign them and return them to the schools if they're interested in auctioning them off to raise more money for their programs. 

Mike-Scott-Jersey-1_082019Matt Mullin/PhillyVoice

Sixers forward Mike Scott rocking a Holy Ghost Prep Firebirds jersey, one of many high school jerseys he'll be wearing as he enters The Center on game days this season.

On Tuesday, following breakfast, Scott received the first of his local high school jerseys from my alma mater, Holy Ghost Prep, and the Sixers forward was kind enough to sit down with PhillyVoice for a wide-ranging Q&A on everything from his favorite hockey sweaters to his favorite music and everything in between.

When did you start wearing hockey sweaters?

MIKE SCOTT: "Probably like four years ago, my third or fourth year in Atlanta. I just started doing it because, you know, I just always thought hockey jerseys were one of the best sports jerseys — the color scheme, how big they fit, the logos. So I just started buying one, two, then people started noticing and I started going crazy. Now I have probably over 150 of them, 30 of them haven't even been worn yet. So, yeah, it's a pretty big thing."

What was the first one you got?

"The first one I got — ah, man, ya'll are going to be so pissed, wow. They're going to kill me, but I can't lie. It was the Boston Bruins. I put 'Scott' on the back, but yeah, it was a Bruins one. I mean, I didn't know I was going to be in Philly, because this is like four years prior, but yeah that was the first one."

What's your favorite all time that you own or that you've seen and you really want to get?

"Of course the Flyers. [laugh] I'm joking, but seriously, the black Flyers jersey I really like, the black and orange one. That's tough. 

"I think Colorado [Avalanche] has a burgundy one, like a throwback burgundy and green one. Blackhawks, gotta go with Chicago. I like the L.A. Kings, plain black, grey and white. Those stick out the most."

The headband has kind of become part of your logo and your whole look. Where did that come from?

"I've always gone back and forth with the regular headband, but then one game Jimmy [Butler] was like, 'We all should wear the ties.' I think we played Brooklyn, and Jo [Joel Embiid] had one, Jimmy had one, I had one, and we went like 6-for-6 from three. Everybody was cash. It was just cash — everybody was on — and it was just like, you know what, we're going to wear these from now on. Jimmy was doing it and he kind of got away from it, but I just stuck with it and it just became something."

Why do you think Philly fans have been so receptive of you?

"They just see that I'm genuine. I keep it real. I'm myself. I don't try to be nobody else. I think people get caught up in trying to do too much. I just be myself. I know who I am. I don't try to do too much or be anybody that I'm not. And I think people feel comfortable that I'm one of them. I just play basketball."

I think part of it is that you've kind of embraced the city as well. What have you enjoyed the most about being here?

"Crashing weddings. [laughs] Going to rap battles. Today I'm going to Popeye's [with some fans]. When you see that people embrace you, you want to embrace them back. You want to show people that, you know, I got love for you too, a lot. If I don't say it every day, if I don't show ya'll, you'll know."

Are you going to any Eagles games this year?

"Yeah, I definitely want to. You know, I was born in D.C. and raised in Virginia, so I've been a Redskins fan my whole life. I know Week 1 they're here. I kind of have to go to a wedding on Monday, the 9th [of September], but I want to go to that game. I know it's a one o'clock game and it's Week 1, so I need to make that. And I kind of promised someone I would take them if they bought me some McDonald's, so I've got to make that happen."

So, what's on Mike Scott's Netflix queue?

"As far as shows, I really haven't gotten into that many shows. The one I always go back to is 'Coach Snoop.' [laughs] I mean, that's pretty old, but it's still up there and I enjoy it. I usually just go the the movies."

What are some of your favorite movies?

"'He Got Game,' 'Scarface,' 'Paid in Full,' 'Belly,' 'Bad Boys' 1 and 2, 'Napoleon Dynamite,' 'Life.'

That opening scene from Belly is...

"Come on now."

I know you like the rap battles, but what are you listening to these days?

"Young Thug just dropped a new album, so I'm listening to that. I listen to a guy named Johnny Cinco out of Atlanta. He's an underground artist. Of course, you know, my favorite artist is Future. He's just a savage and I feel like he raps the stuff that people think but are too afraid to say it.

"But right now, I'm definitely listening to Thug. And that new Rick Ross, of course."

What's your drink of choice?

"Drink of choice? Hmmm... [laughs] It would have to be Hennessy. Jack [Daniels], of course. Jack, no ice.

"You know, the Jack thing blew up when I jumped into the crowd and took a sip from that lady's drink. That kind of blew up. That was pretty cool. I probably won't do that again. That was an NBA bucket list thing — diving in the crowd and eating some popcorn, diving in the crowd, taking a drink. You did it and now it's over.

"But I'd probably say those two."

What's your favorite food?

"Wings. Lemon-pepper wings. I'll say [any] chicken wings. I'm a big chicken wing guy. Sometimes I've got to stay away from it because I can go too crazy."

We were talking about the Hive earlier and you said the first time you became aware was after that shot in Brooklyn. What was your reaction to that?

"It was crazy. I couldn't believe it. I was like, 'Man, this is really happening.' A lot of people starting to get behind me, get tattoos of me or my name. It's a real thing. People are really doing this.

"If they're going to go hard for me like that, I'm always going to show love and embrace them back. You know, getting a tattoo on your body, I know you can remove it but that's, that's kind of real. That's nothing to play with."

Since you're a man of the people, I've solicited some questions from the #MikeScottHive. First up, from Mark (@Behavioristt): When did you first realize that you weren't no bitch?

"Well it all started July 16, 1988. [laughs] No, I'm joking.

"You know, just growing up in Chesapeake, Virginia. Where I'm from, you can't be no bitch. You just can't. You've got to be tough. And if not, they're going to make you tough. It's a small city, nothing really going on there, but it's just the way I was raised. My dad was a Marine for 25 years. And you can't be no bitch with a Marine as your father. You know what I'm saying? The stuff he told me, I'm like, nah. Just being around my dad, being around Virginia, just molded me into having that chip on my shoulder."

From John (@TheOrangeFiend): How much do the Redskins lose by in Week 1?

"Oh, man. You know what, it's going to be tough. I'm a Redskins fan, but I'm also a real Redskins fan so I know that Philly, Week 1, on the road — I don't know if we're going to start the rook [Dwayne Haskins] or Case [Keenum] or what. I don't know what's going to happen, but it's going to be tough. We'll see..."

From Vin (@VinFosh): Will Ben Simmons be All-NBA this year?

"I think he can. He can. I feel like the more we win, the more those chances of him or Joel [Embiid] winning it becomes higher. I feel like they also go off if your team is winning, if you're performing. And if we continue to win and both of them perform at the level I know they can, then yeah."

From Zo (@Tweets_by_Zo): What's the best Hive tattoo you've seen?

"I love when they put the bee with the headband, the headband around the O in Scott. They all have their own little dope thing to them, but it's me. It's about me, so that's probably the main thing that's dope about it."

Mike-Scott-Jersey-2_082019Matt Mullin/PhillyVoice

Mike Scott ain't no bitch.

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