Why Are the 76ers Called the 76ers?

76ers-called-76ers Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers, known as the Sixers to their fans, owe their name to 1776, the year that the Declaration of Independence was signed in their hometown. In 1963, the professional basketball team held a contest to choose its name.

According to the National Basketball Association, the 76ers franchise started as the Syracuse Nationals in 1949. In 1963, Philadelphians Ike Richman and Irv Kosloff purchased the team, changing its name later in the year after holding a contest. Team owners chose the winning name from 500 entries. The winner, Walt Stahlberg, of New Jersey, was not the only person to submit the name, but judges preferred his short essay explaining his choice. To reward Stahlberg for his winning suggestion, team owners sent him and his wife on an all-expense-paid trip to California to watch the team play San Francisco.

Following a transition to new ownership in 2011, the 76ers issued a call to fans to help create a mascot to replace Hip Hop, the jackrabbit, according to the New Jersey Star Ledger. While new owners narrowed down the list to three potential characters from the many ideas submitted, it did not make a final choice. Owners announced they would unveil a new mascot in the 2014-2015 season.