Sixers owners buy 2,000 tickets for home playoff game, aiming for fewer Knicks fans in arena

The Philadelphia 76ers tried to keep New York Knicks fans out of Wells Fargo Center for Game 6 of their NBA playoff series
Actor Bradley Cooper watches warmsups ahead of Game 6 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series between the Philadelphia 76ers and the New York Knicks, Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

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Actor Bradley Cooper watches warmsups ahead of Game 6 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series between the Philadelphia 76ers and the New York Knicks, Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bradley Cooper rocked a Dr. J jacket from his courtside seat at Game 6. The A-list actor had a few more 76ers fans join him Thursday night for Philadelphia's playoff game against New York — about 2,000 more courtesy of ticket giveaways from Sixers ownership.

The Sixers' strategy heading into Game 6 of their Eastern Conference first-round series was to keep Knicks fans out of Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night.

Team owners Josh Harris, David Blitzer and David Adelman and former minority owner Michael Rubin joined forces Wednesday to buy more than 2,000 tickets they handed out to people who serve the Philadelphia community.

Wells Fargo Center seemed more like Madison Square Garden South during the Knicks' 97-92 win in Game 4 on Sunday, prompting Sixers star Joel Embiid to express frustration about the home-court disadvantage.

On Tuesday, the Sixers won 112-106 in overtime in New York to cut their deficit to 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

After the 2,000-plus Game 6 tickets were bought in bulk, Rubin announced on social media they would be given to first responders, health care professionals and other Philadelphia-based organizations.

Ali Benner, a registered nurse at Penn Medicine, jumped on a mass email sent to hospital employees offering first-come, first-serve tickets. She got a free pair of seats in section 120 (behind one of the baskets) and attended the game with her boyfriend. Tickets in that section were being offered for about $1,000 for a pair on various secondary markets shortly before tipoff.

“I think I was just quick and lucky,” Benner said, wearing an Allen Iverson T-shirt.

Benner said she was probably going to watch Game 6 at a bar had she not received free tickets.

She said the New York takeover in Game 4 was “kind of sad” but credited Rubin and the Sixers for donating Game 6 tickets to Philadelphia-based organizations.

“I think it's pretty great,” she said. “Next week is Nurses' Appreciation week, so I think it's a really good way to kick it off and show some thanks to the healthcare workers.”

Dawn Staley, coach of the NCAA champion South Carolina women's basketball team and a Philadelphia native, also asked fans to not sell their tickets to Knicks fans.

“We need everybody’s support, man,” Sixers coach Nick Nurse said.

Game 4 last Sunday in Philadelphia had a decidedly Knicks sound down the stretch.

“The Philadelphia fanbase is, I said this before, they’re very relentless and very passionate. I mean, I’m an Eagles fan, I would know,” said Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, who won two national championships playing collegiately for Villanova. “But seeing the Knicks here and hearing the Knicks here, it was pretty cool and it’s awesome.”

Not for Embiid, who had to hear Brunson get louder chants of “MVP! MVP!” than the guy who actually won the award last season.

“I love our fans but it was unfortunate. I’m not calling them out, but it is disappointing,” Embiid said, adding that he’s aware that Knicks fans often make the short train trip for the road games.

“But never seen it (like Sunday) and I’ve been here for 10 years. Yeah, kind of (ticks) me off, especially because Philly is considered a sports town, so ... I don’t think that should happen. It’s not OK.”

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Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid, left, looks to shoot against New York Knicks' Isaiah Hartenstein, right, during the first half of Game 6 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

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Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid (21) reacts after a turnover during the second half of Game 5 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the New York Knicks, Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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