Looking over at the plushy on the desk next to me, it just feels like we need to unpack something.  Something very serious and vital to our lives as Philadelphians. What in the world is going on with the Sixers’ mascots?

We’ve gathered here today to remember, and probably cringe at, the weird combo of Sixers mascots we’ve seen over the years. Alright, to be fair, only three Sixers mascots (with some variations) have graced the team. But honestly they just…all super unique in a classically Philly way.

Our beloved 76ers are among eight teams, out of the 23 they started with, to make it through the first decade of the NBA. They clearly have a rich history.

Mascots are a beloved tradition in sports. In the breaks between the action of an intense game, its fun to unwind by watching a guy in a costume do backflips. Many NBA mascots even show off some impressive dunking skills.

The point of a mascot is to be zany, comical, and dynamic. The thing is, sometimes teams just make…really quirky decisions when it comes to choosing the character to represent them. It’s hard for the Sixers. They aren’t named after an animal, so there goes that easy option. They aren’t even named after a type of person, like the Kings, or Cavaliers, for example.

The 76ers are named after a year. 1776. The year the Declaration of Independence was issued. Philly had a huge part in that whole, American Revolution thing. So, logically, the mascot would be like, a founding father or something. But, yeah. Mascots modelled after humans?  Just take Pat Patriot of the New England Patriots in mind. Nightmare fuel.

The Sixers have given three characters a shot in representing them, each of them showing off their own eccentricity.

Here is the history of the 3 Sixers mascots we’ve come to know:

  • Big Shot

    The first shot at a lasting mascot: Big Shot. A big blue fluffy creature with red hair and comically large sunglasses. Designed a la Gritty, or the Phanatic, as we know today. Basically, Big Shot had huge hips. Some think Big Shot became Gritty after his retirement in 1996. Allegedly he was living in tunnels under the former Spectrum and was trapped when it got torn down in 2010. He was freed by renovations.

    Hey Philly…what? Literally who thought of that? Kind of living for it, though.

    Any who, Big Shot became the mascot in 1982 and was retired in 1996. He was actually pretty popular, and back in the 2010s when the Sixers were searching for a new muse, Big Shot came back into the conversation. He is not back, though. Oh well. Long Live Big Shot, or should I say… Gritty…? I guess…?

  • Hip Hop

    Oh hey, nightmare fuel! Like actually, what was this? Okay, let’s relax, actually. Hip Hop is loved by many, and a lot of people were actually sad to see him go. The only thing is, what does a jacked bunny have to do with the 76ers?

    That dude could JUMP, man. His name came with the popularity of hip-hop music at the time of his inception in 1998, and because, well, he was a bunny. He had a pretty good run with the team. He marked the shift toward more athletic mascots who could do crazy tricks. His dunks were seriously impressive. You can actually find Hip Hop highlights on YouTube. Classic early-2000s Sixers.

    Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending upon how you feel about him, his time came to an end in 2011. With new ownership of the team came the retirement of the scary bunny. After that, the team simply went without a mascot for years, until our current buddy came onto the scene.

  • Franklin The Dog

    Welcome to the party, Franklin the Dog. As stated before, the team went without a mascot for a few years. A new mascot was unveiled in 2015. There was actually a fan vote where the fans chose between cartoon Ben Franklin, a moose, and Franklin B. Dogg.

    The “B” didn’t stick, and neither did his original brown fur. Instead, creators chose some bright blue fur for the new guy. He was designed by Raymond Entertainment Group and special effects company Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. We were in good hands with them, because the result was a visually…good-looking mascot.

    His name is a nod to the name of the team, calling him Franklin after the founding father Benjamin. Why is he a dog? Because kids think that’s cute, I guess. Dogs have pretty much nothing to do with the city or the team, besides the fact that they’re cute and people like dogs. So, whatever. He’s pretty likable and it seems like he’ll last for a while. We’ll see, though. Big Shot might come back for his revenge…

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