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Croce Blasts Fans Rowdiness

May 12, 2000

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Pat Croce fired back at 76ers fans who threw drinks and other debris onto the court this week during the final minutes of the team’s playoff loss to the Indiana Pacers.

``I was angry. I’m still angry,″ the team president said Thursday. ``I’d like to get these individuals before the police get them, because it puts a taint on us.

This is not what we’ve done. In four years, we’ve created a great home at the First Union Center, and it’s the fans’ home for sports.″

On Wednesday night, rowdy fans pelted the court with cups full of beer, juice and soda, including a full can of beer that landed at the heels of Philadelphia forward George Lynch.

Philadelphia police said they tried to apprehend two of the fans after the game. One got away; the other was a season-ticket holder who was thrown out of the game. The person wasn’t identified because he wasn’t arrested, police said.

Croce said the team had been contacted by many season-ticket holders who had provided information on the identities of those involved. Anyone who threw debris will have their tickets revoked, he said.

``This is not the Philly passion that helped propel us to where we are,″ Croce said. ``No. This is just some ignorant individuals who have no concern for others, and it’s not acceptable.″

Philadelphia fans have a history of being unruly, especially at Eagles games, where the city has set up a courtroom at Veterans Stadium to expedite disorderly conduct cases.

Croce said security personnel and ushers will be ``on full alert″ for Saturday’s Game 4 of the best-of-seven series with the Pacers.

Sixers coach Larry Brown said he hoped the city’s fans wouldn’t be faulted for the acts of a few.

``Unfortunately, everybody gets to see that and looks at Philly again and says the fans are crazy, don’t show a lot of sportsmanship or respect,″ Brown said. ``I don’t think it’s a large group. I love our fans.″

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