If you were watching the Sixers versus the Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals, you probably saw an elderly Philadelphia fan consistently raising a sign after each made basket. Get ready for more during Game 3 tonight, as 76-year old Alan Horwitz has been a superfan of the team for over four decades.
He went viral in the Sixers 94-89 victory on Monday, with some fans finding him incredibly irritating while Philly faithful appreciated the passion. Andy Nesbitt of For The Win collected various tweets reacting to his enthusiasm.
With the series tied at 1-1 as it heads to the City of Brotherly Love, here’s what you need to know about Horwitz.
1. Horwitz Has Been a Season Ticket Holder for 42 Years
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday that Horwitz has been a season ticket holder for the past 42 seasons.
According to the team, Horwitz has been a Sixers season ticket holder for roughly 42 years, but his support dates back to the 1960s, when he watched legends like Wilt Chamberlain and Hal Greer from the rafters at Convention Hall.
That means he’s watched games ever since the 1977-78 season. He’s watched Moses Malone and Julius Erving sweep the Lakers in the 1983 NBA Finals. He saw Allen Iverson carry the team to the Finals in 2001 against Los Angeles again (a 4-1 series loss). He’s even seen the lows of the 10-72 season in 2015-16.
Since his brush with fame on Monday, he’s learned how Twitter has worked and is appealing for followers so he can challenge Drake, Toronto’s most famous fan.
2. “Old Man Knees” Was Removed From His Courtside Seat at Boston Back in 2012
According to NBC Sports Philadelphia, he earned the moniker “Old Man Knees,” as he frequently kneels courtside at games. That closeness to the game action has seen him get in trouble a handful of times, particularly against Eastern Conference rival Boston.
In the playoffs in 2012, he got into repeated brush ups with various Celtics, which led to his dismissal from the court. At one point, the ball went out of bounds and landed in Horwitz’s lap, while Boston’s Avery Bradley fell in his lap. Bradley sat there too long for Horwitz’s liking, so he agitated the Celtics and the fans at TD Garden until he was removed.
“I’m trying to get him off me,” Horwitz said. “I hear laughter. I’m a 68-year-old man. I’m going to start messing with a guy who’s 6-foot-10, 280 pounds?”
But apparently the Celtics’ emotional point guard, Rajon Rondo, thought so. “As the Celtics are coming in from a timeout, Rondo walks over and bumps me with his shoulder,” Horwitz said. “I bump him back, curse him and tell him, ‘You’re acting like a punk!’?”
Security guards warned Horwitz that one more incident would get him ejected. Later in the first quarter, as Horwitz shouted, “Way to go, Iggie!” after an Igoudala basket, a Celtic brushed by him. “Grazed my shirt,” Horwitz said. Cops ejected Horwitz.
He finished the game up in Sixers CEO Adam Aron’s press box.
According to the NBA Fan Code of Conduct, Horwitz broke the following rule:
“Guests who engage in fighting, throwing objects or attempting to enter the court will be immediately ejected from the arena.”
3. He’s Bringing Cancer Survivor & Fox 40 Sports Anchor Mike Sands Courtside for Game 3
According to Horwitz’s Twitter, he is bringing Fox 40 sports anchor Mike Sands, and cancer patient, alongside him at courtside for Game 3 (8 p.m. EST, ESPN). He stated in the post that: “He is one of the most courageous and brave individuals I’ve ever met. Here is a little more background on his battle. Life is more than basketball.”
Sands suffers from Myxoid Liposarcoma, a soft-cell tissue cancer. According to WebMD, the disease develops tumors that grow large enough to push up against and disrupt various organs in the body.
Earlier this season, Sands took up Sixers center Joel Embiid on an offer for tickets. According to the Clarion Ledger, Sands has kept a positive attitude throughout the recovery process, which has seen redirection of blood vessels and several removals of tumors.
“My goal has been to get back to my normal routine as quickly as possible,” Sands said back in Oct. 2018. “If everything goes according to plan, I’ll plan to be back behind that anchor desk by the start of next month.”
Sands is back working with Fox 40, as he announced on Facebook with a video talking about his fight with cancer.
4. Horwitz is the Chairman for Campus Apartments, a Student Housing Company
According to Horwitz’s LinkedIn page, he is the chairman of Campus Apartments. He started the company to assist University of Pennsylvania students find affordable housing, per his Bloomberg business profile.
Mr. Horwitz recognized an opportunity to help the University of Pennsylvania provide affordable student housing and thus began his odyssey of turning an observation into one of Philadelphia’s top real estate success stories. Intrigued by a line outside the door of the off-campus housing office, Mr. Horwitz began purchasing properties around campus with the objective of offering quality residential housing to students, faculty and young professionals. His combination of business acumen and courage proved a successful formula, transforming the University City landscape property-by-property, block-by-block, improving aesthetics and services of buildings in and around the University.
The company front page provides the following overview:
Founded in 1958, Campus Apartments is one of the nation’s largest providers of on- and off-campus student housing. As a vertically integrated firm, we are experienced in all facets of the student housing industry.
With over $1.5 billion in assets under management, our portfolio consists of garden-style, mid-rise, and high-rise assets, as well as mixed-use and urban scattered-site housing.
5. He Helped Fund the Holocaust Memorial Plaza in Philadelphia
Horwitz, who is Jewish, helped fund the Holocaust Memorial Plaza last winter. It exists on the corner of 16th and Benjamin Franklin Parkway. He donated $2 million to the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation, so his name is on the plaza.
“If it was $2 million, it was $5 million, it was $10 million,” Horwitz said to the Jewish Exponent at the time. “I was going to make sure that this was taken care of. [Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation Chairman] David [Adelman’s] like my kid, and whatever David ever needed, I’m going to take care of it. … Me being so proud of David, putting all this time — 10 years! — into something. Are you kidding? My God, I did what any parent that loves their child so much would do. You do for your kid. In this case, I’m not only doing for my kid, I’m doing for somebody that was an adopted father to me.”
The person he is referring to as an adopted father is Sam Wasserman, the other end of the namesake for the plaza. Wasserman was a Holocaust survivor from Poland who emigrated to the United States (after a stop in Israel following World War II).
Horwitz and Wasserman became friends through their wives. Wasserman’s son David Adelman is also a business partner to Horwitz. He mentioned that Horwitz was honored to even be mentioned in the same breath as Wasserman.
“After [Alan realized] he wanted to be involved in this and knew that I was doing this to honor my grandfather, it kind of dawned on him how important my grandfather was to his life,” Adelman said. “He said it wouldn’t feel right just having his name on it. He wanted to share it with a great man.”