Some lucky Philadelphia 76ers fans might get to see Thursday’s pivotal playoff game for free, thanks to efforts by some top-tier executives hoping to box out visiting fans from New York. Team owners Josh Harris, David Blitzer, David Adelman and Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin reportedly plan to give away some 2,000 tickets to first responders, health care professionals, and other Philadelphia-based organizations for Game 6 after complaints that prior games at Wells Fargo Center felt a little too heavy on Knicks’ fans.

“We absolutely CANNOT let Knicks fans take over our arena again!!!” wrote Michael Rubin on X in response to a report about the ticketing plan. He claims that he and the team owners bought the tickets, though in reality it is much more likely that the tickets being used for the scheme were already owned by the organization, and are simply not being offered through resale marketplaces at market prices, where New York fans had seemingly been more enthusiastic about buying.

Philadelphia sports media personality Howard Eskin was among those who pushed back against the “giveaway” narrative of the team owners actually making any purchase of the tickets being diverted for Thursday’s game in his own post on X.

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It is widely known that much of the inventory sold across ticket resale marketplaces is actually put there by rights-holders, sports teams, and other insiders. This allows those rights-holders to collect the higher rates that a “market price” brings vs. whatever amount is charged at the box office. But the blowback in Philadelphia became apparent as the close proximity of Knicks fans – New York is just over an hour away by Amtrak from the city of Brotherly Love – showed out in earlier home games for the first round playoff contest.

“[It’s] disappointing,” Sixers star center Joel Embiid told reporters after a loss at home in game four of the series, which put New York up 3-1 in the best-of-7 (It is now 3-to-2). “I’ve never seen it, and I’ve been here for 10 years. Yeah, it kind of pisses me off, especially because Philly is considered a sports town. They’ve always shown up, and I don’t think that should happen. Yeah, it’s not OK.”

Now, the 76ers organization is trying to spin that into a PR win via this giveaway. with snapshots of those who are receiving tickets for various reasons posted to the ballclub’s social media channels. One snippet featured a kid hitting a halfcourt shot on a playground to win tickets.

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Not all the reaction was positive, however – including some people criticising the cynical nature of the reallocations of tickets that were almost certainly sold at resale prices to New Yorkers by ownership being pulled back to give away, and others making fun of the team’s apparent struggle to get its own fan base to buy in at market rates.

As of Thursday afternoon, tickets to Game 6 at Wells Fargo Center start at around $184 for an “Assembly Room” general admission pass (which does not include a seat). Actual seats start at $236 at Ticket Club, which does not charge members service fees. Tickets in the 100-level of the stadium aren’t available for less than $400. Compared to tickets for a potential Game 7 at Madison Square Garden – which will happen on Saturday if the Sixers can win at home Thursday – aren’t available for less than $510 at Ticket Club, with prime floor seats seeing a price tag north of $5,000 as of Thursday.

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