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It's Complete Phanaticism!

Hey, Sixers: Forget about Bens, Doggs and Mooses and just figure out a way to win

Sixers fans can choose Big Ben (left), Phil E. Moose (center), or B. Franklin Dogg (right) to be the next mascot.
Sixers fans can choose Big Ben (left), Phil E. Moose (center), or B. Franklin Dogg (right) to be the next mascot.Read more

Hare today, gone tomorrow.

So the Sixers put the skates on Hip-Hop, the wascally wabbit mascot with the bandana and the attytood and the most ferocious dunks since Darryl Dawkins. And then, so as not to traumatize the 14 kids who give a rat's behind about him, they concocted this story about how he fell in love, got married, and retired to life on a lettuce farm.

That's sweet, that's compassionate. Well, sweet and compassionate won't get your manicured hands on the NBA championship trophy. Red Auerbach proved that. Over and over and over again.

The new owners did a fistful of nice things while waiting for the players to blink. They hired Jeff Capel as an assistant coach, whose duties had to include keeping Doug Collins away from sharp objects until the games began again.

They slashed ticket prices. Josh Harris ran a personal best in the Philadelphia Marathon. They bought some of Doctor J's memorabilia at auction and will display the hardware at the Wells Fargo Center. They slashed ticket prices some more. They fired Hip-Hop.

They put two design outfits to work on creating a new mascot. For who, for what? Two outfits? What are they planning to do, accept the low bid on the job? That's not the way things are done in Philadelphia.

They're asking the fans to choose one of three concepts. Offer "none of the above" and it would win in a landslide. The ideas seem dumb, dumber and dumbest. You want a second opinion? They're ugly!

The Sixers need a mascot like they need another 7-6 stiff out of Brigham Young. Unless they want to symbolize a wing-eating, beer-drinking, skirt-chasing, kite-flying guy with high-buckle shoes and a soft stomach. But don't we have enough Ben Franklin impersonators in town already? I know, there's only one, but that's the point.

A dogg? With two g's? You just trash-canned Hip-Hop, and you're rapping with a floppy-eared dogg, with two stupid g's? Or a moose? The only moose in town is stuffed and mounted on a wall at the Union League.

The Sixers don't need a mascot. The Phillies, they need a mascot. Baseball is 3 1/2 minutes of action crammed into 3 hours. The Phanatic, furry head and shoulders over any other mascot on the continent, is still entertaining after all these years because the players change and he has fresh material for his spot-on mimickry. Plus, polishing bald heads and hugging pretty women never goes out of style.

Any Sixers mascot would play second banana to the Phanatic. Which brings us to the Phoenix Suns Gorilla. He wouldn't have lasted six games in Philly, scorned by the NAACP, the ACLU, the CIO-AFL and unaffiliated people of good will.

It turns out that 25 of the NBA teams have mascots of varying size and shape. And almost 20 percent of the crowd consists of kids, and kids like mascots almost as much as they like popcorn.

"Front page of the Daily News, the mascot search," Sixers CEO Adam Aron said, between chuckles. "First three pages of the paper. I've been told that any news is good news unless it's an obituary, so this is incredible.

"At the press conference to introduce the new owners, we announced a website where people could tell us their feelings about the team. We got 6,500 responses in a month.

"When we put the three mascot ideas on a website and asked the fans to vote, we got 16,000 replies in 24 hours.

"We need a mascot, not just for game nights. We need a mascot to send out into the community from April to November, other than the dance team and World B. Free."

Nice try, but the three designs are caricatures and cynical grownups will hate the winner. "They're comic-book spinoffs," Aron countered, "designed for kids. And besides, this is just the first round."

Holy Moses Malone. Do the Sixers plan to milk this mascot frenzy until the All-Star Game? They are going to squeeze an All-Star Game into the jammed schedule, aren't they?

The Sixers open on the road, with an itinerary that would make the Globetrotters wince. When they finally get home, SportsWeek has learned that there will be 20 scantily clad curvaceous dancing girls instead of the usual 12.

No more blaring music while the Sixers advance the ball. And during early timeouts, video of Sixers legends on the big board, Wilt Chamberlain, Doctor J, Charles Barkley, Billy Cunningham and Doug Collins. What, no A.I.?

Yo, they really want to enhance the in-game experience, borrow from Al Davis, who was never sweet, never compassionate. "Just win, baby" was Big Al's formula.