Few among us can imagine what it’s like to be Michael Vick.
No, that’s a blatant lie. No one can, or at least we can’t right now.
In the span of three years he’s gone from being incarcerated to being worshiped, at least within the boundaries of football. He leads the Pro Bowl voting, and is the most popular man in Philadelphia who didn’t have a historic slugfest with Apollo Creed.
But let’s set aside all the excess baggage that comes with any mention of Vick’s name, if that’s even possible. It’s safe to say we’ve all spent enough time dissecting every word of Vick’s dog comments earlier this week.
Some of you will find this difficult to believe, but Vick is still wildly popular. So popular, that when he arrives at his courtside seats during a 76ers/Lakers game in the third quarter, he’s given the Justin Bieber treatment.
That was the scene Friday night in Philadelphia when the new hero in the City of Brotherly Love brought more superstardom to the Wells Fargo Center than the entire 76ers roster combined. He was greeted with a standing ovation from the Philly crowd and chants of “MVP! MVP!”.
Professional athletes are supposed to be superhuman and block out all distractions and crowd noise, but even the players were struck by Vick’s reception. Lakers forward Matt Barnes sure noticed.
When Vick walked in late in the third quarter, fans began standing, section by section, as he walked around the court and took his seat.
“You would have thought the president walked in or something,” said Barnes.
The Lakers’ current road trip has been filled with emotion towards quarterbacks. Tuesday’s game in Washington was a stark contrast to the outpouring of respect given to Vick. Fans in America’s capital greeted Donovan McNabb with some mixture of indifference, angst, and anguish.
Thankfully, McNabb won’t get the chance to be booed Sunday. That privilege belongs to Rex Grossman.