Prior to Philadelphia 76ers home games, the ringing of the bell has taken on a life of its own. Various celebrities and athletes have been handed the ceremonial privileges, but how did we get here?
“That whole day was surreal,” said Game Presentation Coordinator, Dan Sieck. “The coolest moment with the bell was most definitely when Meek [Mill] was released from prison and came to ring the bell. Obviously with Meek being a local legend, the Eagles winning the Super Bowl – with his Dreams and Nightmares as their anthem, and the Sixers looking to clinch their first playoffs series in years, it was just a perfect storm.”
Who is Dan Sieck, you may ask. A Bellmawr, New Jersey native, Sieck applied for an internship with the 76ers in the Live Events department, hired by current In-Arena Host, Christian Crosby. Since then, that job transformed into a paid position with what is now called the Game Presentation Department.
“A few seasons back, when the bell was introduced, it would always be some sort of military personnel who would ring it,” said Sieck. “I was picked as the teacher for the bell, mainly because I had one of the few headsets in our department that communicates with the control room. They cue me and I cue the bell ringer. I had no idea they were planning on using celebrities and icons to ring the bell until they told me Ryan Howard was ringing the bell at the home opener of the 2016-17 season.”
This leads us to how you may recognize Sieck. In the following video, he is the man to the left, dressed in white, crouched behind Joel Embiid. Here, he is delivering Embiid instructions prior to him ringing the bell, which was just before tip-off of Philadelphia’s April 14 Game One matchup with the Miami Heat this past postseason:
“A lot of people think the noise the bell makes when it is hit is a recording and it actually doesn’t make a sound,” Sieck told Sixers Front Office. “That’s not true, and I think that’s pretty funny since I have to instruct each bell ringer to hit the bell as hard as they can. I also show them the best spot to hit the bell, to maximize the sound.”
As seen in the previous video, Embiid’s first strike was a bit ginger. Sieck told Sixers Front Office [with a laugh] that the first swing caught him a little off guard.
“A good amount of the bell ringers are nervous to ring it,” Sieck explained. “I practice behind the scenes with the bell ringers. Some of them want to practice over and over again to ensure they get it right, which I think is awesome.”
If you remember, Embiid’s bell ringing was a last-minute decision, as far as we know, by the organization.
“The playoffs were different,” Sieck said. “They wanted to keep it [Embiid being the guest] a secret until the very last second, so there was no practicing with the bell ringer for the playoff games. They didn’t even tell me who it was. I found out it was Masked Embiid literally as I rolled the bell out.”
Kevin Hart seemed to take the Game Presentation Department’s advice, as seen in the below video, where he put every ounce of his 5-foot, 4-inch body into these rings, prior to handing the hammer instrument back to Sieck. Hart is a two-time bell ringer and the second time opening the game festivities, he acknowledged Sieck as “Dan the Man with the Plan.”
Out of all the ceremonies that Sieck conducted, his favorite may have been with Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback.
“The ovation for him was incredible,” he said. ” And personally, he was someone I had been waiting and waiting on to be able to meet. We look a lot alike too, and there’s actually a funny picture of him at his prom where we both have identical suits and the same exact haircut.” Here it is – Wentz is on the left, Sieck on the right:
The bell ringing isn’t Siecks only responsibility though, as funny as that would have been.
“Besides organizing pre-game ceremonies, the Game Presentation Department organizes, coordinates, and executes everything that happens on the court or in the stands during the games,” Sieck explained. “From the contests (like the half-court shot), to the T-shirt tosses, the halftime show, to the Dunk Squad and dancer performances, we do it all.”
During 76ers games, there are two timeouts during every quarter. Within each timeout, there is always some sort of promotion or contest that Sieck and his crew are responsible for. The department is responsible for making sure everything that is supposed to happen during that aforementioned timeout happens. The Game Presentation Department is also responsible for making sure everyone involved in the promotions, contests, or performances knows what they are supposed do and when they need to do it.
“I have learned a ton since taking on this job,” Sieck told me. “I get to interact with so many different people in so many different positions of the industry and get an idea of all their responsibilities and duties. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes, and so many collective moving parts that I couldn’t even begin to name them all. I learn something new from everybody during every game.”
Next time you’re watching a 76ers game, be sure to keep your eye out for a Carson Wentz lookalike, crouched behind the bell with a headset on.
Now you know who Dan Sieck is. He, like Wentz, is the quarterback of the Sixers’ opening festivities.