Monthly Archives: November 2019

Couturier, Laughton help Flyers rout Red Wings 6-1

Sean Couturier got things started for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Couturier and Scott Laughton each had a goal and an assist as Philadelphia beat the Detroit Red Wings 6-1 on Friday for its third straight victory.

Kevin Hayes, Oskar Lindblom, Shayne Gostisbehere and James van Riemsdyk also scored, and Jakub Voracek had three assists for Philadelphia. The Flyers haven’t lost in regulation during the regular season to Detroit since Jan. 25, 1997, going 16-0-1 over that stretch.

Robby Fabbri scored for the slumping Red Wings. They have lost eight in a row and are an NHL-worst 7-18-3.

Detroit was within a goal and had outplayed the Flyers for much of the contest before Couturier scored his eighth with 11.9 seconds left in the second to make it 3-1.

“That third goal obviously hurt them,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said.

After a pass from Niskanen, Couturier got in all alone on Calvin Pickard and followed up Pickard’s initial save.

“I don’t think we played that great, and it could’ve went one way or the other,” Couturier said.

Hayes and Lindblom scored 30 seconds apart early in the third period, making it 5-1. Hayes’ goal was of highlight-reel variety, receiving a pass from Laughton through his legs before finishing with a backhander from close range 27 seconds into the third.

“For a team that’s had trouble like us, it becomes a big hill,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “We have to keep the game more in reach.”

Pickard was called up from Grand Rapids of the AHL after Jimmy Howard injured his midsection in Wednesday’s 6-0 home loss to Toronto. Regular backup Jonathan Bernier was in uniform but has been battling flu-like symptoms. Pickard made 28 saves.

Carter Hart stopped 32 shots for the Flyers. Hart was especially strong in the first period, when he stopped 12 of 13 Detroit shots.

“We got some big saves that enabled us to find our legs,” Vigneault said. “The expectations are that it’s going to be easy, but it’s never easy. You have to earn your wins. It took us awhile to get going, but in the second half (of the game) we earned it.”

Gostisbhere, two seasons removed from a 65-point season, was a healthy scratch the last three games and entered Friday with just six points in 22 games. But he notched his second of the season on the power play with 57.1 seconds left in the first period on a backhander from the left of the crease.

Fabbri tied it at 1 with 11:51 left in the first on a slap shot from the top of the left circle, ending a long drought for Detroit. The Red Wings hadn’t scored in 164 minutes, 37 seconds prior to Fabbri’s fourth goal in eight games since joining the club in a Nov. 8 trade with St. Louis.

2 former Tottenville H.S. pals create sports jersey pillows

School was never Adam Alson’s “thing.”

In fact, he got his GED after attending Tottenville High School. But at 17, when the internet was still “new,” he came up with an idea for digital marketing.

“Back then I was teaching myself how to create websites,” he said. “I was 17 when I came up with the idea for Staten Island Now. It was pre-Google. … I went to my dad and he thought it was a good idea.”

In 1997, Alson created SINow.com, an online business directory.

He and his father, a salesman, went door-to-door asking businesses if they wanted to be listed on his new website.

“The first place we walked into was a pool supply store in the middle of the winter. … My dad went through the pitch, and I showed on a laptop what the website had to offer. …They would get a basic landing page, a coupon page and photo gallery. And we made the first sale,” said Alson.

A year later, Alson had more than 100 Staten Island businesses as paying customers.

“I knew I had been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug,” he said, noting that this led to him working for the New Jersey Nets, which was his start in sports marketing.

RECONNECTING WITH A HIGH SCHOOL PAL

Seven years ago, Alson launched Double Down Digital, an online marketing company.

A few years later, Andrea Serie, his pal from Paulo Intermediate School (I.S. 75) and Tottenville High School, saw a Facebook post that he was looking for people to work for him at Double Down Digital. Serie — who majored in journalism in college and became a marketing director in the corporate world — was looking for freelance work after becoming a stay-at-home-mom.

“We work well together, but we are also friends. Just because we grew up together doesn’t mean we’d be a good business mix, but we are. We have different strengths, and I think they complement each other,” said Serie.

BIG LEAGUE PILLOWS

After visiting a friend’s pillow factory in 2017, Alson wanted to create sports-themed personalized pillows. He and Serie teamed up with Andrew Mason, Matthew McQueeny and Thomas Gennaro to launch Big League Pillows, an e-commerce business that sells customizable sports jersey pillows, in April 2018.

“I wanted to create an interface where people could create their own jersey pillow on a website,” said Alson. “First you pick your sport — soccer, baseball, football, hockey or basketball — and from there you chose the style, color, name on the back and number. … And within a week you get a custom- designed pillow.”

And while kids might seem to be the target audience for the pillows, sports fans of all ages have been the company’s clientele, Alson said.

“Our customer base goes from 6 months to 60 years old. People buy these pillows for their parents and grandparents. I have a friend who bought one for his father in his 70s, who used to be on a semi-pro soccer team,” he said.

And the pillows are specially packaged.

“Each pillow arrives in its very own locker box with a draft letter to add to the excitement. Big League Pillows are an inspirational gift to motivate children to dream big and swing for the fences,” said Serie.

The company has received celebrity endorsements from Terrell Owens, Brent Burns, Golden Tate, Shaquem Griffin, among other professional sports players.

GIVING BACK

Big League Pillows partnered with Team Impact — a national nonprofit that connects children facing serious and chronic illnesses with local college athletic teams — at their Game Day Gala on May 1 by donating personalized jersey pillows for 20 children honored during the evening.

“Professional athletes have visited hospitals and left signed Big League Pillows with children to serve as a source of comfort and inspiration during their recovery,” said Serie. “Little leagues and Pop Warner teams throughout the country have reached out to have Big League Pillows created as an end of the year gift.”

Yes, the Saints are wearing their mega-popular color rush uniforms vs. Falcons on Thanksgiving

Saints fans have something else to be grateful for this Thanksgiving: Their favorite team is wearing their best-looking uniforms against their most-hated rival.

New Orleans announced Wednesday that it will wear its color rush uniforms against the Atlanta Falcons for their Thanksgiving night showdown on NBC.

It’s the third and final time the team will be allowed to sport this type of uniform this season. The NFL permits teams to wear these jerseys only three times each season. They were last worn against the Dallas Cowboys in a 12-10 win on Sept. 29. The other instance came in a win at Seattle.

The team debuted the jerseys, which have since been deemed the best in the NFL by multiple sources, in 2016 during a Week 14 loss to the Carolina Panthers. They wore them again in Week 11 of 2017, a loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

The Saints have worn the jerseys five times since. They’ve won every time.

The most dominant of those victories came less than a year ago, with the Saints wearing them at home after coach Sean Payton reportedly lost a bet while golfing with Eagles coach Doug Pederson. The stakes were the right to wear the home jersey at the Superdome — which meant Philadelphia came to New Orleans and wore their green jerseys.

If there is any real power in the white-on-white look, it didn’t wear off over the offseason or leave the field with Drew Brees. The Saints wore them for the first time in 2019 against the Seahawks, and the result was a resounding, wire-to-wire victory. It was New Orleans’ first road victory against Seattle in nearly 12 years.

The recent uptick in the use of alternate jerseys is due, in part, to the NFL relaxing its rules in 2018 to allow teams to wear them more frequently.

For the Saints, it means a greater opportunity to show off a jersey that’s been deemed the best in the NFL on multiple occasions.

An unofficial Fox Sports poll to determine the NFL’s best jersey landed the Saints at the top in February.

In August, ESPN’s Matt Bowen ranked the top-10 NFL jerseys, again putting the Saints at the top.

“I love the all-whites with the gold numbers. This is the cleanest look going right now in the NFL,” he wrote.

Steelers May Not Let Myles Garrett Jerseys Into Heinz Field Sunday

The Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph altercation continues to impact the football world in a plethora of ways. The most recent development? Fans may not be allowed to support Garrett and the Browns at Heinz Field this weekend.

Andrew Fillipponi of 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh joined Ross Tucker and Carrington Harrison on Home & Home to discuss the upcoming Steelers and Browns matchup and the lingering effect of Garrett’s violent outburst.

“It’s going to be like the Roman Colosseum,” Fillipponi said, responding to Ross’s question about the likely environment of Pittsburgh’s home stadium. “I had a Heinz Field employee tell me… that he doesn’t think he’s going to let Myles Garrett jerseys into the stadium, [and] that there’s already been a conversation among some of the security staff and people at the gates at the stadium who are on watch for anything that they think is going to create a disturbance inside the stadium.

“… Believe it or not, I guess a jersey with a guy’s last name on it is enough to get you either booted or prohibited from the stadium.”

A Myles Garrett jersey may not be the only problematic piece of attire or even the most problematic. Browns fans have made t-shirts rallying around Garrett and pointing the blame toward Rudolph and the Steelers, boasting quotes such as “Pittsburgh Started It” and “Free Garrett.” If a Browns fan decides to be so staunch in his/her support for Garrett so as to wear one of these shirts, Heinz Field could become a chaotic scene come Sunday.

Canes auctioning custom jerseys worn and signed by Backstreet Boys

If you “want it that way” — with “that” being a Carolina Hurricanes jersey worn by a member of the Backstreet Boys when they performed last month at PNC Arena, you certainly can have it that way.

But that’s provided you are the successful bidder for the gear during a public auction by the Carolina Hurricanes Foundation that began Monday and runs through Wednesday, Oct. 23.

The proceeds from the auction will be used to support the group’s mission, which works to meet the needs of underserved children in our community while also stoking interest in youth hockey.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the lowest bid was for $150 for the jersey worn by Howie Dorough.

The highest bid so far has been for $225 for the sweater worn by Brian Littrell.

According to the foundaiton, each celebrity jersey has an autograph of the Backstreet Boy who wore it and it will come with a certificate of authenticity and a tax receipt so the lucky winner can prove to Uncle Sam that the purchase was indeed a charitable one.

So, as the Backstreet Boys say, “Quit playing games” with their hearts and bid.

Custom hockey jerseys honoring fallen officer to be auctioned off at ‘First Responders Night’

An upcoming hockey game will feature special jerseys to honor the home team – as well as a hometown hero.

Michael Langsdorf will be remembered at First Responders Night at the Affton Ice Rink Saturday night, September 28.

Langsdorf, 40, was shot and killed June 23 while responding to a call for a bad check at a Wellston business. He leaves behind his parents, his fiancée, and two children.

Police officers, firefighters, and other first responders will play in an exhibition game at 5 p.m. Saturday at the rink. Afterward, the St. Louis Jr. Blues will take on Peoria at 7 p.m.

The Junior Blues will wear the Langsdorf jerseys, which feature his face, DSN number, end of watch, and patches from his work as a North County Cooperative Officer.

St. Louis Junior Blues head coach Chris Flaugher says the tribute is fitting for his friend and former colleague. The two worked together at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

“Mike grew up playing hockey. I grew up playing hockey,” Flaugher said. “As we both became policemen and got to know each other through the job, the first topic was basically, we talked hockey whenever we saw each other.”

Tickets for the game are $10. Children 6 and under are free.

Proceeds raised will send Langsdorf’s family to National Police Week in Washington DC, where Langsdorf will be honored at the National Law Enforcement Memorial.

“We want to be able to help get his family out there to see his name on that wall,” Flaugher said.

Flaugher is hopeful that both hockey fans and families will come together for the special event.

“[We have] a great hockey community, they do a lot for each other. You throw in the police community, and the police family, you got two of the best families that go out and help each other.”

Adidas Surprises Texas’ No. 1 High School Football Team With Custom Cleats

In Texas, football is king, and Houston’s North Shore High School Mustangs wear the crown.

As reigning state champions, the Mustangs have a lot to show and prove—from their performance on the field to the way they look walking down the tunnel. Under the tutelage of head coach Jon Kay and his staff, North Shore’s varsity players are more than just teammates, they are brothers. The Mustangs’ success both on and off the field hasn’t just earned them nationwide recognition, it led to a relationship with long-time sponsor Adidas, who’s provided the team with grassroots support through its Friday Night Stripes [FNS] program. FNS is Adidas’ innovative and inspirational way of championing high school sports by highlighting and livestreaming games from six of the best football teams in the country, and Coach Kay is proud to know his squad is included.

“I think they take a great deal of pride in not only winning and being competitive, but also doing it the right way and making sure that it’s a great representation of this community,” says Coach Kay.

Forty-eight hours before one of the biggest games of the season—a matchup against Beaumont’s Westbrook Bruins, a top 20 state team—the Mustangs walked into the locker room expecting another grueling workout. Before beginning the excruciating six-hour day, Coach Kay authoritatively blew his whistle and told the team to listen up because practice was going to be a little different today. Recognizing the team’s hard work and dedication, Adidas flew in celebrity sneaker and cleat designer Troy “Kickasso” Cole to meet the players.

Kickasso doesn’t just personalize footwear for some of the biggest athletes in the world, he makes sure to stay involved in the community and loves giving back whenever he can. When Adidas tapped the Kickasso Kustoms CEO to help surprise the nationally-ranked football team with tailor-made cleats, he jumped at the opportunity.

“My motto is look, good, play good. Adidas is definitely the creators brand. They really allow creators like myself to use their skills and accentuate their products,” says Kickasso. “Adidas coming to me for this project means a lot because I really like helping kids. To have a big brand see that and be aware of it, and then ask me to help with the [Mustangs]…it means a lot.”

Using the Adizero—the lightest cleat in football—as his canvas, Kickasso spent the next several weeks hand-painting 76 pairs for the Mustangs’ big game. Speaking to the team’s mascot, and red, black, and white colorway, Kickasso channeled his gritty, graffiti-style vibe to create a one-of-a-kind Mustang surrounded by red and black paint splatter, a black upper lining, and red paint to accentuate the brand with the three stripes.

When Kickasso and Adidas arrived at North Shore’s fieldhouse, players didn’t know what to think. Senior linebacker Corey Flagg said the team was expecting new jerseys, but opening a box of custom cleats changed the game. After watching a room full of high school players erupt with joy, senior running back Zach Evans said the Mustangs’ tailor-made Adizeros will make everyone stop and look, especially their opponents.

“Most teams come out there with their Jersey numbers and stuff…[now they’ll be] trying to look at us instead of worrying about they self,” Evans confidenty says.

As their high school’s trendsetters, players say it won’t take long before the rest of North Shore High School is trying to stunt a fresh pair of custom-made shoes, too. “Everything we wear, everybody wears,” Flagg jokingly says. “Everybody gonna see the mustang and try to put their logo on [shoes].”

When it comes to the performance and durability, senior cornerback Upton Stout says, “They’re comfortable cleats. They allow me to cut up, break, and do everything I need.” Flagg agrees, and added, “They’re great cleats. They don’t take too long to break in; they protect my ankles; and I like ’em real light.”

While the team’s appearance and conduct on the field are key in reaching their goal, which includes taking home every indubitable win possible, Stout says how he feels stepping onto the field is just as important in reaching success. For him, Adidas’ Adizeros makes him feel invincible.

“When I put on my Adidas cleats, I feel fast,” says Stout with a smile on his face. “I feel like every time I lace them up can’t nobody stop me—like I’m unstoppable.”

After watching his team test out their new cleats, Coach Kay reminded the Mustangs’ is was time to handle business on the field, and finish preparing for another big season game. North Shore’s A squad hit the field, then the weightroom, then the field again. But the team doesn’t mind, because at the end of the day, they know they’re working for something not everyone can have.

“We sacrifice a lot to be a part of this Mustangs program,” says senior cornerback Marcus Cockrell. “It’s not for everybody.”

Stout adds, “It’s an awesome privilege to be a member [of the Mustangs]…knowing you’re doing something everybody can’t do.”

For Coach Kay, it all comes down to one motto: relax, focus, and ball.

“I want them to, to relax. I want them to focus on and then trust their training and then just go play,” he says. “When we’ve prepared and we’ve had a great week of practice…I believe that they’re gonna relax and they’re gonna focus on their assignment and they’re just going to go out and do what they do.”

After another week of hard work in the books, the Mustangs’ traveled 90 minutes east to face off against the “well-prepared” Bruins. With the FNS lights beaming across the stadium and hundreds of people watching in the stands, Adidas livestreamed the three-hour-plus matchup to millions as the Mustangs were determined to show the country why they’re the No. 1 in Texas. By the end of the night, North Shore held their state title, adding another win to their record with a final score of 54-25.

Until the next game, it’s like Coach Kay says, relax, focus, and get ready to play some football.

Fan’s impressive jersey collection ends with an unexpected reunion for Matthew Slater

Matthew Slater’s 2014 Pro Bowl jersey is unlike any other he’s worn throughout his football career. The gray jersey with neon green details is nowhere near the blue, red and silver color scheme he has known throughout his time in the NFL.

When that Pro Bowl was over, the one smack-dab in the middle of his seven-years-straight run, that jersey was auctioned off to benefit the NFL Foundation. Matthew never thought he’d see it again.

On Oct 30, that No. 18 Pro Bowl jersey made it back to the Patriots locker room — thanks to a Matthew Slater fan with an impressive jersey collection.

Wes Hogan didn’t intend on becoming a Patriots fan. Even after moving to Boston in 2004 from Atlanta and receiving a Corey Dillon jersey for his birthday, he wasn’t sold. It took years, but eventually Wes caved after seeing how the team handled itself in adversity, and when he dove in, he dove in deep.

That No. 28 Corey Dillon jersey became the cornerstone of a numerical collection, and 15 years after getting his first Patriots jersey, Wes completed his goal of collecting Patriots jerseys No. 1 through No. 99.

“Aside from collecting jerseys and other memorabilia, I love numbers,” Wes said. “I just over time realized I had so many Patriots jerseys, I’m going to try and do it.”

Sure, there are the classic jerseys that could be in any Patriots fan’s closet at any given time — think Tom Brady, Ty Law, Tedy Bruschi, Kevin Faulk. To get 99 jerseys, though, Wes dug deep into the Patriots history books.

He has a Dont’a Hightower No. 45 from when he wore the number in preseason his rookie year. He has both No. 23 and No. 25 for both of Patrick Chung’s stints with the team. The most difficult, he said, was tracking down a No. 9. Eventually, he got the jersey of Scott Sisson, a kicker who was with the Patriots for the 1993 season.

Going into this season, the last jersey he needed was No. 58, and with the return of Jamie Collins, Wes got the final piece to the puzzle.

After posting the collection on Instagram, Wes was invited to the Patriots game against the Browns on Oct. 27, where he recounted how exactly he pulled it off.

“A couple of them were custom-made, but no counterfeits,” Wes said. “I tried to avoid full price for as many as I could. It’s a lot of eBay. It took a really long time, and now I’m here so that’s pretty cool. It paid off, I suppose.”

Now that the collection is complete, Wes said he’s been giving away jerseys to fellow Patriots fans who might have unique favorite players or who Wes doesn’t “sense greed from” as a way of paying it forward.

Of course, the collection included No. 18 for Matthew Slater, Wes’s favorite player. When it came to picking a No. 18, Wes certainly had options. He owns both a blue and a white Slater Patriots jersey, his UCLA jersey and the 2014 Pro Bowl jersey, which he wore to the game Sunday afternoon.

It didn’t last long under the layers of a poncho and a raincoat, though.

 

On the Gillette Stadium sideline, Wes handed over the jersey, adamant that it belonged in the hands of Matthew himself.

“I know if I made it to the Pro Bowl, it would be fun to have one my seven jerseys,” Wes said. “[The Patriots] really saw something in him. I love how selfless he is as a player. He’s never cared about getting personal recognition. It’s also very unique that a guy, in his role, is really the emotional leader of the team. He breaks them down after every win. Anybody that Tom Brady defers to for leadership, I think that says a lot about him.”

 

A few days later, that gray and green jersey would be back in Matthew’s possession, a tangible piece of his legacy he never thought he’d see again. “Wow. How about this? How about this,” Matthew said, holding up the jersey and examining it.

“I’m always surprised when I see anyone with my jersey on,” he said. “It’s a little bit surreal, so I certainly appreciate Wes doing this, especially with this jersey. It really means a lot to me. I’m really thankful for anyone who is willing to support, not only me, but this team and our efforts. It just makes you feel like you’re doing something right.”

As for the jersey itself, it will have a special place in the Slater household. As it turns out, Wes isn’t the only one here who is into collecting sports memorabilia. Matthew has a room dedicated to it, too. Important jerseys hang in his basement, including those of his father, Jackie Slater, and his new teammate and fellow Pro Bowl special teamer, Justin Bethel.

So if someone understands what it would mean to give up a significant piece of a sports collection, it just might be Matthew.

“I think it says a lot about his character,” Matthew said. “He could have easily held onto this, but the fact that he wanted me to have it says a lot about who he is, without me even being able to meet him. I’m really appreciative of it. It means a lot. This is a special jersey.”

From custom jersey designs to Matisse Thybulle’s photos, ‘76ers Crossover’ art exhibit is one of a kind

For the last several years, members of the Philadelphia 76ers marketing team have more or less had one job — get butts in the seats at the Wells Fargo Center for 41 nights per year.

Now, however, with the team being one of the biggest draws in the NBA and every seat sold out throughout the remainder of the season, they can shift their collective focus elsewhere. It doesn’t mean their jobs are no longer necessary, it just means they’re about to become a lot more interesting. And fun.

In the downtime that’s been created due to soaring ticket sales, the 76ers came up with an idea that will not only benefit fans and the team, but also the Philadelphia and Camden communities as a whole. And, it just may open some eyes as well.

On Saturday, the team will launch the inaugural event of their 76ers Crossover platform, which “celebrates the intersection of 76ers basketball with all of the cultural lifestyle elements that make Philadelphia spectacular – from the arts, to music and fashion, to cuisine,” when it opens the doors to its “76ers Crossover: Art Exhibition,” presented by Reebok.

The event, which will be held at the Fitler Club (24 South 24th Street) and is free to the public, will run from Saturday though Tuesday and will feature more than 200 pieces of Sixers inspired art from over 100 artists spread across 11 different countries, including 40 from Philadelphia. And if fans see something they like, all the art work will be auctioned off following the exhibition, with all proceeds going to the Sixers Youth Foundation.

It’s something that’s been in the works for quite some time. And this weekend, it finally comes to life.

“The 76ers Crossover is a platform we’ve been working on for a long time. We are super excited to see it finally come to life with the art exhibition,” Sixers Chief Marketing Officer Katie O’Reilly said. “But really, what it is, it’s a way for us to celebrate where basketball intersects with the other cultural and lifestyle elements that makes Philadelphia spectacular and that our fans enjoy. I think the wonderful thing about the NBA and what we do at the Sixers is that we’re a league of global superstars.

“These guys are known around the world — they are celebrities — first and foremost for what they do on the court, but for many other reasons as well. And we really want to capitalize on that and celebrate 76ers basketball in a way that our fans will really enjoy. And we really want to bring it to life, whether that’s the arts, like for this first one, or fashion and music, food, you name it.

“These are all things that make Philadelphia spectacular, that our fans enjoy, and — oh, by the way — they’re things that our players enjoy as well. So we’re really excited to have it all come together.”

A professional sports organization creating an art exhibit doesn’t seem like a natural fit. But when it comes to this team, in this city, it makes a lot more sense than one might think. And the art exhibit is just the beginning, as future 76ers Crossover events will focus on other cultural aspects of Philly, from food to music to fashion.

According to O’Reilly, however, the art exhibition was really the genesis of this idea, and the rest kind of grew from there. They also aren’t the only professional sports team to do something like this, but they’re likely the first to do it this big.

“We did not invent this wheel, but we didn’t want to reinvent it either. We actually saw a few different sports franchises doing some art-related stuff. And it was fine, but it wasn’t to the level that we thought it should be,” said Sixers Vice President of Business Development Desron Dorset. “We looked at the art, and were in a very good spot that we were sold out of season tickets, so we had the opportunity, finally, since we’ve been there, to think outside the box and not think about driving everything back to ticket sales, which is [what we focused on] our first four years here.”

The question from there became how do they do something like this, but keep it true to Philadelphia and make it something to which the local fanbase could connect.

“Once we had this opportunity, we looked at the art and we looked at the city of Philadelphia, and it was a seamless integration into what Philadelphia was,” Dorset continued. “Then we actually asked ourselves — we have a nice group that really comes from different backgrounds, so we get a lot of opinions. I’m not from Philly, but I’m hoping to be adopted. I’ve been told it takes 20 years, so hopefully I’m still around. It’s a long time, but I do believe it, because the one thing [about this city] is authenticity.

“Philadelphia is all about being authentic. And the art scene in Philadelphia — just think, the Art Museum is one of the most iconic locations in the city, you’ve got the Barnes Foundation — we understand that art is authentic to Philadelphia. We started thinking like, ‘How do you make a big splash while still be authentic to the art community?’ Then we talked about, ‘What is Philadelphia about, and what are the 76ers about?’ And that’s when we saw the art integration, the music, the food, the fashion. And that’s how the brainchild of 76ers Crossover was born.

“But because the art was the first child, we decided to focus on that, and that’s why it’s rolling out first, but the other components are not far behind.”

And keeping it “authentic” to Philadelphia did not mean limiting the artists they included. Instead of keeping it entirely local, which they certainly could’ve done given the number of artists living in and around the city, they decided to open it up to not just the rest of the nation, but to the rest of the world as well.

There’s good reason for that. Beyond the diverse demographics of the city, just look at the demographic makeup of the Sixers: players hail from Australia to Cameroon to Turkey, and everywhere in between.

“I honestly think if we wanted this to be purely Philadelphia artists, we could probably get a thousand — that’s how strong the community is,” Dorset said. “But the NBA is a global brand, a global sport. We have, I think I counted last, seven members of the 17-man roster were born outside of the United States. So, to be authentic to the team as well, it was important for us to have a global presence within the show itself.”

That being said, there was one category that was limited exclusively to local artists. And it might wind up being the star of the show.

The Sixers decided to break out blank versions of their City Edition jerseys from 2017-18 (the cream-colored parchment-colored ones) and asked 20 local artists to use them as their canvas.

“We actually partnered with Peopledelphia, which is a popular social media outlet ran by Brendan Lowry, and I actually had this idea that I had seen somewhere else,” Dorset said. “It was taking blank jerseys — and the NBA now has the City Edition program that are one-year uniforms authentic to your city — and we had a handful of uniforms left over from our 2017-18 campaign that provided for a nice canvas. We could’ve shipped them all over the world and received them back, but I wanted that to be local to Philadelphia. So we have 20 Philadelphia artists creating art on these City Edition jerseys, and it was important for us to keep that piece, specifically, local to Philadelphia.”

Is there any chance the Sixers get some inspiration for future jerseys from something one of these artists have produced? Given that the inspiration for using the “Join Or Die” severed snake logo came from watching an episode of HBO’s “John Adams,” it was worth asking.

“That’s a great question,” O’Reilly said. “It hasn’t crossed my mind but I think that would be awesome. I certainly hope so.”

“I think we take inspiration from everywhere. We’re not a team that’s stuck in our ways,” Dorset added. “And these jerseys are awesome. We actually have all the final versions, and they are awesome. It’s really a nice expression of Philly’s local artists.”

Additionally, 76ers Crossover will also feature an exhibit called Mark’d Sneaker Design, where artists will be creating designs on blank Reebok shoes for fans, as well as sculptures from Fisher Sculpture, the same firm that designed and created all the statues on Legends Walk outside the team facility in Camden.

To help them find some of the international artists, the team turned to Vince Chang, founder of Conscious Basketball, a site that curates basketball artists worldwide. With so much basketball art coming out of Asia, and China specifically, it was important for the team to have someone who could speak directly to these artists in their native language.

But for some of the artists, the Sixers didn’t even have to look outside their own building.

Sixers rookie Matisse Thybulle is an extremely talented photographer, and for the first time ever, some of his photographs will be displayed at an art exhibition. Given his abilities, it’s likely this isn’t the last time.

Clearly, the kid has talent.

“I actually think this could open some eyes to maybe in the offseason — because we want him to focus on being the best basketball player he can be — or even on the road when we have an off day, it’s always amazing being in a different city and capturing some shots in a place you’re not native to, but I think he will eventually either produce a photobook of some sort or have his own gallery showing at some point,” Dorset said. “It might be a year from now, it might be five years from now, it might be 10 years from now, but he’s that talented that I think that’s what he should do.”

More than just showing off a player’s hidden talent, it also serves as a reminder that professional athletes are more than simply what they do on the court. They’re people, just like you, with hobbies and interests outside of what they do for a living.

“This is such a fun opportunity for us to humanize these guys and talk about them and showcase them in ways that’s not necessarily on the basketball court, which is so much of what Desron and I do day in and day out,” O’Reilly added. “We are eating, breathing and sleeping just thinking about ways to make our fans, both in Philadelphia and around the world, love this team as much as we do. And so this has been a really fun way to bring this to life and let our fans connect with the players in a little bit more of a normal day-to-day way than besides being superstars on the basketball court.”

That, however, isn’t the only way in which this event will help humanize the Sixers players. There will also be a photo exhibit from Alex Subers, who captured some of the players in their natural habitats.

“Alex Subers, our staff photographer, he actually came to us with the idea — it’s always great when someone comes to us with an idea so we can think a little less — but he came to us with the idea of taking our concept of 76ers Crossover and applying it to a handful of players,” Dorset said. “So he actually shot a handful of players in non-basketball settings, doing things they like to do. So, one player is big into video games and he has a very cool photo concept of him in his natural habitat playing video games. Another player is, believe it or not, an underground DJ, and you have a cool shot of him doing some DJ’ing. And another player is into yoga, and Alex went to the yoga studio and did a photo shoot. So that’s some of the stuff that really speaks to what the 76ers Crossover hopes to embody.”

[NOTE: Although Dorset didn’t want to disclose the names, a quick Google search suggests that Josh Richardson is the unnamed underground DJ. Sorry if I buried the lede here.]

Perhaps most importantly, however, will be what happens after the exhibition: the auction, which will be available to everyone on the 76ers team app and will go live once the show opens this weekend. It will also be left open through Thanksgiving, allowing fans plenty of time to browse all the art and perhaps bid on something, maybe for a Christmas gift for someone. Either way, all proceeds go to the Sixers Youth Foundation.

“It’s always important for us. Supporting and giving back to the community is one of our most important values in the organization, so it’s always something we’re thinking about and thinking about ways we can tie it back to what we’re doing,” O’Reilly said. “So, to be able to do something that’s incredible for our brand and speaks volumes about our players and the talents of our fans and the fanbase, and it’s all for a good cause, that’s really special. It really rounds it out and makes it really special.”