Ben Simmons was wrapping his first month as an active NBA player when he asked Philadelphia 76ers equipment manager Scott Rego who picked out the team's jerseys -- and why the Sixers never wore black anymore. Simmons grew up in Australia with a poster of Allen Iverson wearing the black, red and gold uniforms the Sixers used for the better part of a decade -- including their run to the Finals in 2001. Simmons wanted to wear them too.
Rego told Simmons to take it up with Chris Heck, the team's president. Heck has lived in Philadelphia for more than 30 years. He loved almost everything about the Iverson era.
"The one thing that always drove me nuts were those silly black uniforms with red and gold," Heck said. "How could we become the Pittsburgh Pirates?"
When Heck landed a job with the Sixers in 2013, he vowed never to bring back the black uniforms. He encountered opposition among younger team employees. Heck fought it off as long as he could, including in the design of the gray "Rocky"-themed alternates the Sixers used last season, but he knew he would have to relent.
Simmons would not drop it.
"I took it upon myself to bring back the black jersey," Simmons told ESPN over email.