The Sixers have been missing something.
No, not a shooting specialist to help stretch the floor for the offense, or a veteran point guard to help mentor Michael Carter-Williams and others in the ways of the league, but rather something much more central to the spectacle of live games: a mascot.
Since the 2011-departure of the popular hare, Hip-Hop, the Sixers have been mascot-less. Well, no more.
On Tuesday, in front of hundreds of local children, the Sixers finally officially unveiled their new mascot, Franklin, a big blue fluffy dog, complete with a paw print for a number, at the Franklin Institute.
After a video montage showing a fluffy blue dog alongside some of the most famous scenes in Philadelphia sports history, Franklin ascended from the ceiling to the stage, eventually leading the crowd of kids in a dance party, and even showing off some of his dunking ability.
Franklin, who is advertised as 'for kids, by kids,' was joined by fellow Philadelphia mascot, the Phillie Phanatic at the unveiling event.
Despite this early excitement, Franklin won't make his official game-day debut until Friday, February 20, when the Sixers take on the Indiana Pacers. The team is running a special promotion for free children's tickets to the game that evening.
Franklin becomes the third mascot in team history, following Big Shot, and Hip-Hop.
The team revealed Franklin's official back story to media members:
When the Philadelphia 76ers decided they needed a new mascot, they knew it had to be 'FOR KIDS, BY KIDS.' And so they created a kids-only Chief Design Team to lead the way and find their new mascot.
The Chief Designers worked night and day to find a mascot that was Philadelphia through and through, who loved the game of basketball, and who could be their biggest friend and fan at every Sixers game.
As they dug through piles of books, watched movies and spoke with Philadelphians far and wide, along with more than 1,000 kids, they found a common thread…a special creature…whose ancestors had been a part of the city's history from the start.
When George Washington crossed the Delaware, a blue tail was wagging in the boat.
When our nation's forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence, a blue paw was found on the scroll.
A blue mouth dragged Ben Franklin to safety after he was struck by lightning and discovered electricity.
A furry blue flash ran alongside Rocky Balboa, and put two paws in the air when he reached the top of the Art Museum steps.
But what made this creature even more interesting to the Chief Designers was that his ancestors loved basketball just as much as the city.
There were tiny teeth marks in the paper Wilt Chamberlain held for the cameras after his historic 100-point game.
Blue paws were seen pacing behind the Sixers bench in the days of Dr. J.
Perky blue ears were in the stands when Allen Iverson made Sixers fans roar.
The designers were convinced that this creature, if they could find it today, might be the mascot they'd been looking for all this time.
They took a break from their research to play some basketball at the arena…and found tiny blue scratch marks on the court….then bits of blue fur…and then, peeking around the corner of the Sixers' locker room, the Chief Designers saw eyes looking up at them from a blue furry creature.
They'd found it! The descendant of these great blue creatures had come to live at the Center!
The Chief Designers showed the creature to the team, and everyone loved it. The Sixers decided to adopt it as their new mascot, and gave it a special jersey to wear with its new name: FRANKLIN.
And now, it's time to introduce all of you to your new Sixers mascot, whose family has been a part of Philadelphia and Sixers history for generations, who loves the game of basketball and is so excited to meet its new best friends, little Sixers fans!