The fact of the matter is that to a bunch of kids born in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, the Spectrum was the most important building in Philadelphia. Oh yes, there are no boundaries. Throw the Palestra in that mix along with Franklin Field, Connie Mack Stadium, The Vet and the old Liberty Bell pavilion from the days when a person could walk right up to the relic and slide underneath it for a view not shown in the brochures.
But as obsessed as we were with big-time sports and gritty rock shows, the Spectrum was more important than all of those other places combined.
Actually, let’s set it straight. It wasn’t the Spectrum that was important. It was, after all, just a piece of real estate where things happened. The same goes for any other building deemed significant because a bunch of people showed up and did something extraordinary. In fact, it’s never about the building…
It’s always about the people.
I never thought I believed in ghosts. I believed in nature like the wind, the sun, the moon and stars and the fact that another person can have an effect on my life. Maybe, in a sense, that is belief in ghosts. So to me, the idea that the Spectrum was the epicenter of some extraordinary moments in history is valid. The Spectrum was, after all, the place where the Flyers won their only Stanley Cups four decades ago. Actually, the place was built for the Flyers, and judging by the dignitaries at the podium for the demolition, the joint still very much is/was a hockey rink.
Apparently the only old Sixers they could find were Dr. J and World B. Free.
But for us, all we cared about was basketball. And to us, the Spectrum was the palace of hoops. They all played there… all of the greats. Wilt and Russell. Bird and Doc. Barkley and Moses. Iverson crossing over Jordan all highlighted by some of the best basketball teams and games ever played.
Moreover, the Spectrum was a place where technology came to be. Actually, a brother from Lovetron, Darryl Dawkins, smashed up his second backboard at the Spectrum, which he called, “Get-Out-of-the-Waying, Backboard-Swaying, Game-Delaying, If-You-Ain’t-Grooving-You-Best-Get-Moving Dunk.” The difference between the one at the Spectrum opposed to the one in Kansas City, famously called, “The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam,” was that in Philly, Dawkins also pulled the bolts from the rim out.
Kids from the 1970s and ‘80s remember watching Sixers’ games on TV where the phrase, “Gusto Dunk!” would suddenly appear on the screen after such a thing.
Frankly, if they wanted to get the Spectrum torn apart quickly, they should have just unleashed Chocolate Thunder on the place, though, as a citizen of Lovetron, he’s probably practicing his “interplanetary funkmanship,” as he called it.
Aside: Why can’t we find more ballplayers from Lovetron?
See, a building is only as good as the people who visit it. That’s what Tuesday’s pomp and ceremony over the wrecking ball belting into the south side of the Spectrum was about. It was a simple hat tip to all the games, concerts, and shows that went on in that little spot in South Philly and it was really no different from when any other old building is reduced to souvenir bricks to be sold for a few bucks. The commerce and economics are really what a building’s usefulness come down to anyway. The Spectrum was just a place where some really cool things happened. But then again, some really cool things happen everywhere and the games that are played and the people who get together for them are more important than any old building.
There will be something new where the Spectrum once stood relatively soon. That’s the way it works. Then again, you’ll remember the people you were with in the old place just the same way you will in the new joint.