Why Basketball Fans Are Raising Cats Over Their Heads To Celebrate Wins

By Travis Greenwood

This is Ben Simmons, the top pick in the 2016 NBA draft.

A photo posted by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Due to injury, the small forward hasn't taken the court this season, but his return (and professional debut) is said to be imminent.

Relative to this here website, though, Simmons is a very BIG cat dude, both literally — ESPN lists him at 6' 10", 240 lbs — and figuratively, as multiple pictures on his Insta and Twitter attest.

A photo posted by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Included amongst them is this one with a bengal kitty perched on his shoulder, which has been hearted more than 55,000 times!

A photo posted by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Simmons' affection for felines (and doggos!) has not gone unnoticed by supporters of his team, the Philadelphia 76ers.

Take Dennis Grove, for example. Earlier in the month, the Philly fanatic coined a new hashtag, #RaiseTheCat, to celebrate the team's victories.

Due to an unexpected win streak — the team has tallied 8 wins in its last 10 games — it's been trending almost daily on Sports Twitter.

In an interview with Philly.com, Grove explained the term's origin:

"'Simmons has a very rare-looking cat that climbs his shoulders and head all the time, so I was thinking about how there's no way my cat could do that,' Grove said, not realizing how difficult it would be to lift his 20-pound cat, Izzy, over his head."

It was spread at first by fans.

And kids.

Then it crossed over to writers and journos, because, let's face it, those people live on the internet 24-7-365 (looks at self in mirror, nods slowly).

It even surfaced on one of the team's telecasts, which was, dare we say it, a hair-raising moment.

Shelters also found a way to harness the chatter on social.

As did the Philadelphia Zoo, who dropped an insanely clever take on the convo.

Like any good meme, #RaiseTheCat spawned a t-shirt ...

... and got remixed with pop culture from the 80s.

And then everything came full circle: The subject and meme became one.

Questions were asked.

And congrats were exchanged.

It was glorious.

It even inspired feelings of jealousy from those on the outside looking in.

Pretty much the only thing lost in the sound and furry was any thought of how cats themselves feel about this new phenomenon...

... but like any trend, you know it's over when it's gone to the dogs. :)