A 76ers banner was nearly draped over the ‘HOLLYWOOD’ sign in 2001

Tuesday July 5th, 2016

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The 76ers almost took over Hollywood in 2001, both literally and figuratively. 

Philadelphia won Game 1 of the NBA Finals that year over the Los Angeles Lakers, before losing the next four games. It’s a shame, because if the Sixers were to win a Game 5 at home to force a sixth game back in California, then-owner Pat Croce planned to climb down from a helicopter and hang a team banner over the H in the city’s famous HOLLYWOOD sign.

• SI’s Where Are They Now issue: This year’s stories, all in one place

Here’s what Croce, a subject of Sports Illustrated’s Where Are They Now series, told SI’s Mitch Goldich:

Many fans remember him climbing Philadelphia’s Walt Whitman Bridge to hang a banner before the 2001 Finals. But few know he’d planned an encore: Had his team won a second game against Shaq, Kobe and the Lakers to force Game 6 in Los Angeles, Croce says he would have rappelled from a helicopter to drape a 76ers banner over the H in the HOLLYWOOD sign. He’d already reserved the chopper.

“There was no permission!” he says. “They could have arrested me. Philly would have loved that.”

The world will never know what consequences Croce would have faced, and the motivation it may have given the team.

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