Perhaps more than any other professional athlete playing right now, Mike Scott was made for Philadelphia.
True, the NBA power forward is not from here. On his prolific social media accounts, the Virginia native displays plenty of pride in his UVA alma mater. And he’s only been on a Philly team for less than half a year. But even before he signed a two-year, $9.8 million contract to stay with the Sixers after arriving late last season, Scott was winning hearts and minds.
Philadelphia fans go hard? Mike Scott goes harder. Legendary example: when he stopped after crashing into the courtside seating to snag a mid-game sip from a drink in the stands.
That attitude — a kind of “this is funny so I’m doing it, decorum be damned” — has earned him a devoted following of Philadelphians. The Mike Scott Hive lives both online and IRL; a recent hive tailgate at Citizens Bank Park brought out dozens of people.
Today is a banner day in Hiveville, with Scott out and about and breaking new ground. On the agenda:
- Footrace with a local podcast host
- Signing jerseys at the Mitchell & Ness flagship store in Center City
- Eating his first cheesesteak (location unknown)
The footrace happens first. It’s slated to go down at 12 noon at the South Philly Supersite at 10th and Bigler, and will see Scott try to outrun Justin DiVirgilio. Who? Aside from cohosting the “The Outlet Pass” podcast, DiVirgilio works in security for the Phillies.
When someone used the ballpark tarp as a giant slip-n-slide last week, and was then led off the field in handcuffs, Scott boasted he could do it better and outrun any guard.
DiVirgilio challenged that claim on Twitter — and it could have all ended there. But Scott is that real, so the duo are facing off on the track. This training video gives a pretty good idea of who’s going to win.
Then there’s the planned Mitchell & Ness appearance at 6 p.m., which offers the first 50 people who show up at the 12th and Chestnut storefront a discount on sportswear and an autograph from Scott. Good chance there’ll be lots of selfies.
It’s after the clothing stop that things get even more epic: Scott is planning to eat his first-ever cheesesteak.
The fact that he’d never had one came to light last week, also on Twitter, when a fan asked him to name a favorite. Scott admitted he’d not yet tried the city’s signature sandwich — garnering plenty of suggestions for where to go.
Though he’s said tonight’s the night he’ll break his cheesesteak virginity, there have so far been no clues about where it’ll happen.
Also unclear: whether he’ll be joined by former Eagles defensive end Chris Long — who’s another Philly athlete that lacks any cheesesteak experience.
Wherever the entourage ends up, you’ll be sure to hear about it on social media for days, months and even years to come. That desire to engage and treat fans like real people is part of why Scott has become a populist star.
“He embraced the city and his teammates whole-heartedly from day one, and it’s paid off major dividends,” said Alonzo Jones, a key member of the Mike Scott Hive who goes by “Zo” on Twitter.
“He’s a guy you want on your team because he’s loyal, plays hard, and does not take any sh*t,” Jones said. “Lastly, to quote [Scott], he ain’t no bitch.”