ATLANTIC CITY — The Philadelphia 76ers in October will renew a bond with local basketball fans that dates back to the early days of the franchise.
The 76ers will play a preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, Oct. 13 at Boardwalk Hall. The contest, dubbed the “Boardwalk Classic,” will tip off at 7 p.m. and most tickets will cost $49.
The 76ers have a connection to Atlantic County. They held several training camps in Margate in the 1960s, including before the 1966-67 season when they finished 68-13 and won the NBA championship.
“There will be probably a lot people who make it to the game who may never get to see us play in person,” 76ers president Rod Thorn said Tuesday during a news conference at Boardwalk Hall to promote the event.
The 76ers haven’t played a preseason game at Boardwalk Hall since Oct. 8, 1983, when Moses Malone scored 19 points and Julius Erving added 18 as Philadelphia beat the then-New Jersey Nets 117-113.
Thorn said Atlantic City is the ideal place for the 76ers to play a preseason game because of its proximity to Philadelphia and because Boardwalk Hall has hosted basketball games before, including the Atlantic 10 Conference men’s college tournament.
“From our perspective, the less traveling you do during the preseason is a plus,” Thorn said, “because you do so much during the season. I think it’s a plus to have your product seen as much in your area as you can. All of the things that we’re looking for come together here.”
The 76ers are one of the NBA’s most intriguing teams for the upcoming season. Philadelphia lost to the Boston Celtics in seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season.
Philadelphia pulled off one of the biggest moves of the off-season when it acquired center Andrew Bynum from the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team trade earlier this month. Bynum, 24, averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds last season.
“Defensively, he can defend the paint,” 76ers forward Evan Turner said Tuesday. “Offensively, he’s a force down low. He’ll be able to score a lot and attract a lot of attention. Other guys will be open. It’s going to be good. I think people are excited about Sixers basketball.”
Bynum grew up in Middlesex County and played for St. Joseph Metuchen before being drafted straight from high school by the Lakers in 2005. The game at Boardwalk Hall will be the 76ers’ first game in the Philadelphia area, so it could be the first time hometown fans get a chance to see Bynum in a 76ers uniform.
Caesars Atlantic City is one of the game’s sponsors and Don Marrandino, Eastern Division President for Caesars Entertainment, said the organization was in discussion with the 76ers about having a preseason game in Atlantic City before the Bynum trade.
“Now we look like geniuses,” Marrandino said. “We want to forge a great relationship with the 76ers. This is another great positive story about Atlantic City.”
Atlantic City officials also were thrilled that Brooklyn is the 76ers opponent.
“This is a wonderful rivalry centered in our core market places,” said Elizabeth Cartmell of Atlantic City Alliance. “Both those places our markets that have enjoyed coming to Atlantic City as the place to get away from their own city. We like to call (Atlantic City) the city created to get away from the city.”
Cartmell floated the idea during the news conference of Atlantic City becoming the home of an NBA summer league. But for now the Oct. 13 game renews the city’s relationship with the NBA and 76ers.
Tickets prices range from $10 to $150 and can be bought at www.ticketmaster.com. Lara Price, 76ers senior vice president of business operations, said the team hopes to make this an annual event.
“We want this to be a great experience for everyone,” Price said. “We want the local fans to come. We’d like to bring people from Brooklyn and Philadelphia. We want this to be something for everyone.”
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