Mural Arts Philadelphia unveiled the 4,001st mural it has put up in the city this morning, a work by Ernel Martinez titled 76ers: Beyond the Court.
The work, at Broad and Federal streets in South Philly, is reminiscent of the Phillies mural in Center City: A mish-mash of different periods in the team’s history, with a heavy reference to the Sixers’ two championships in the city.
(Team CEO Scott O’Neil, ever the optimist, said “you might be seeing [Ben Simmons, Jahlil Okafor and Dario Šarić] on a board some time soon.” Maybe. You know it won’t be long until a Process cargo culter paints a Sam Hinkie mural.)
Martinez has painted several interesting murals around the city, and this one is pretty good. There are basketball plays diagrammed into the background, and it also shows people cleaning up the community, a reference to Sixers charity work, which is a little weird but fine. It certainly improves the Pep Boys parking lot.
But Martinez didn’t do this one all by himself: The mural was inspired by the work of 11-year-old contest winner Brendan Dougherty, a fifth grader at Waldron Mercy Academy in the Philly suburbs. He comes from a rich basketball legacy—his grandfather, a longtime publicist for Saint Joseph’s, is in the Big 5 Hall of Fame—and his proposed mural is maybe even better than Martinez’s work.
Dougherty’s piece features Iverson in his Sixers “swoosh logo” era jersey—instead of the uniforms worn when he came back to the team in 2009—and he’s doing that thing where he cupped his hand to his ear to get the fans to cheer louder. It also has a drawing of the legendary photo of Wilt Chamberlain holding “100” taken by the AP’s Paul Vathis, Darryl Dawkins dunking, and some Sixers doing Hands Across America in the one corner.
Most importantly, alongside current Sixers mascot Franklin, this kid’s mural has Big Shot! Again, Dougherty is 11. Big Shot was several Sixers mascots ago. (He left after 1996, when the team moved into a new arena and got the basketball rabbit.)
This kid knows his basketball history down to the mascots. Impressive.