THE PEOPLE have spoken:
Hip Hop is no more.
Seeing as how there is no actual basketball to talk about during the NBA lockout, this qualifies as big Sixers news. After receiving hundreds of communications from fans, nearly all of them advocating the end of a symbol of a different era, the team's new ownership will announce today that the never-beloved mascot has been put out to pasture, literally.
To spare the sensibilities of the one or two children who weren't scared to death by the rabbit, the team will say that Hip Hop fell in love, married and moved away to start a family. Apparently, it either was that or announce that they were going to boil him in a pot on a really big stove in a remake of "Fatal Attraction."
A decade ago, with Allen Iverson as the face of the franchise and Pat Croce rappelling the Walt Whitman Bridge as the out-there owner, Hip Hop arrived as a replacement for another mascot, Big Shot (whose demise wasn't exactly mourned, either, if memory serves).
Big Shot was lumbering and dopey. Hip Hop was acrobatic and edgy. Then, it was the image they sought. But all of these years later, after all of the coaches and all of the losses, fans were nearly unanimous in the missives they sent to newsixersowner.com. Before the forum was closed, more than 6,500 comments were received on every conceivable Sixers topic, but hundreds focused specifically on the bunny.
The task of coming up with a replacement for Hip Hop will fall to two firms specializing in the business. One is Jim Henson's Creature Shop, which began as the workshop of the late creator of the Muppets. The other is Raymond Entertainment Group, whose founder is Dave Raymond, the original Phillie Phanatic.