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The five best years in Philadelphia sports history

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The five best years in Philadelphia sports history

There’s still a lot of time left for 2020 to redeem itself, but we can all agree that it’s shaping up to be the worst sports year ever. No March Madness. All of the active pro and collegiate sports leagues suspending or canceling action as the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic. All of this comes on the heels of Kobe Bryant’s death. It’s been a rough year.  

So in an effort to lighten the mood and perhaps think some good thoughts into the universe, let’s take a look at the five BEST years in Philly sports history. 

5. 2001 

This year (into 2002) saw the Eagles return to the NFC Championship game for the first time in over 20 years and give the Rams everything they could handle. It was also the season that confirmed Andy Reid was building something special.  

The Flyers put together a 100-point campaign before losing to the Sabres in the playoffs. 

Baseball saw a renaissance as the Phillies put together their first competitive season since 1995, taking the Braves to the final weekend of the season in the race to win the NL East.  

Most importantly, the Sixers united the city as they made it to the NBA Finals before losing to the dynastic Lakers in five games. Who could forget the Game 7 wins over the Raptors and Bucks? Allen Iverson walked away from that year with an MVP and our collective hearts. 

4. 1976 

This is arguably the busiest year in Philadelphia sports history. The Spectrum alone hosted the Flyers-Red Army game, the NHL All-Star game, the NBA All-Star game, and the Final Four over an 11-week stretch as the nation celebrated the bicentennial in its birthplace.  

The MLB All-Star game also made its way to The Vet in the summer. That came shortly after the Flyers made a third consecutive Stanley Cup Final appearance, losing to the Canadiens minus an injured Bernie Parent. 

The Phillies made the postseason for the first time in 26 years, winning the first of three straight division crowns.  Dick Vermeil was brought in to coach the Eagles and the Sixers acquired a forward by the name of Julius “The Doctor” Erving. Oh yeah, Bobby Clarke won his third MVP award.  

3. 2008 

This is a season that saw all four pro teams make the playoffs and three of those four reach the conference championship round in their respective sport. The Sixers lost in the first round of the playoffs after a pleasantly surprising regular season led by the Andres (Iguodala and Miller).  

The Eagles made their last deep run under Andy Reid, reaching the NFC Championship game (in Jan. 2009) after upsetting Eli Manning and the top-seeded Giants in the Divisional Round.  

The Flyers put together their own conference championship run behind the likes of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne before falling to the Pens.  

But most significantly, the Phillies gave us an October to remember and cherish forever. A quarter century of title frustration evaporated night after night. Myers walk. Victorino slam. Stairs into the night. Kid Cole growing up into an ace. Brad Lidge. Eric Hinske. Ecstasy. 

2. 1983  

The Flyers won the Patrick Division this year, besting the then three-time defending Stanley Cup champion Islanders. It was not a good season for the Eagles, finishing 5-11 under first-year coach Marion Campbell. But the Phillies and Sixers more than made up for that, both reaching their league’s championship round.  

The 1983 Phillies were known as “The Wheeze Kids,” a nod to the 1950 club while acknowledging the number of established veterans on this team. Future Hall of Famers Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton, as well as Pete Rose, were members of this club. Carlton won his 300th game in September. John Denny took home Cy Young honors. Lastly, this club exorcised the demon that was the Dodgers, beating L.A. in the NLCS en route to the pennant. 

The Phils were not the only Philly team to beat L.A. in four games in 1983. The 76ers swept the NBA Finals against the Lakers, after dropping two of the previous Finals to them, thanks in large part to their MVP in the middle. Moses Malone wasn’t quite prophetic with his ‘Fo, Fo, Fo’ declaration. But fo’, five’, fo’ was plenty good enough to finally give Dr. J that elusive title.  

1. 1980  

Four teams. Four championship appearances. It’s almost incomprehensible. 

The Sixers coasted through the Eastern Conference playoffs in 1980, eventually dispatching Rookie of the Year Larry Bird and the Celtics in five games. But in the Finals, it was another rookie, Magic Johnson, that would lead to their demise. The Lakers’ star filled in at center for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and posted a 42/15/7 performance in L.A.’s series-clinching win in Game 6. 

The Flyers were the second of the local teams to make a Final appearance in 1980. This came after the club set the record for longest unbeaten streak in North American pro sports history — 35 games without a loss from October 1979 to January 1980. Unfortunately, Leon Stickle and Bob Nystrom conspired to prevent the Flyers from lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup. The Flyers and Sixers were eliminated from their respective finals just eight days apart. 

Dick Vermeil’s tenure as Eagles head coach reached its crescendo in 1980.  The league’s best defense, coupled with a ball control offense, led to a 12-4 regular season and an NFC East crown. The Birds handled the Vikings at home in the playoffs before placing the clamps on the Cowboys in the NFC title game. It was the ultimate case of right opponent, right place, right time. The same could not be said of the Super Bowl two weeks later. 

The one Philly team to actually win a title in 1980 was the one that needed it most. Entering that year, the Phillies had gone 96 seasons, their entire existence, without a championship.  

Mike Schmidt led the way offensively. The 1980 NL MVP established himself as the best player in the game that season. But of course, it wouldn’t come easy. Schmidt needed to hit an 11th inning home run on the final Saturday of the season to clinch the NL East crown.  

Then came the most tension packed League Championship Series to that point and arguably ever. Down 2-1 in the best-of-five series, the Phillies needed two wins in Houston to claim the pennant. The Phillies had to rally late in both games, once against Nolan Ryan, winning both times in 10 innings.  

The World Series had slightly less drama but it still required a two-run rally in the ninth inning of Game 5 to give Tug McGraw a chance to close it out in front of 65,000 Phillies fans as well as several police horses and German Shepherds at The Vet in Game 6.  

Tug threw. Willie Wilson fanned. We win.  

Take this quiz and we'll tell you what shore town you are

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Take this quiz and we'll tell you what shore town you are

Ah, the official start of summer is upon us, in the form of Memorial Day Weekend. 

The fresh sun will descend upon us, the sand will be hot and the waves will be strong. Maybe your favorite ice cream shop will be open or you can go for a safe bike ride, or maybe just turn on a YouTube video of the beach if you aren't heading to the shore yet. 

While MDW certainly will look a lot different this year at our shore towns of choice, one thing we can all agree on is that each town has it's own personality. 

But which shore town matches YOUR personality? Answer some Philly-centric questions and we'll tell you. 

Enjoy a safe and socially distanced MDW, folks, whether it be at the shore town that matches your personality or not.



 

John Oliver thinks Philadelphia sports fans are 'a horde of inhuman monsters'

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USA Today Images

John Oliver thinks Philadelphia sports fans are 'a horde of inhuman monsters'

In the latest episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, John Oliver focused on the state of sports. He discussed how difficult the idea of bringing back sports during a global pandemic is and reviewed some of the risks that come along with rushing back to competition. 

Oliver also took quite the shot at Philly sports fans. 

To illustrate the devastating economic impact that the coronavirus has had on many stadium workers, Oliver showed the stories of two Philadelphia-based employees.

“I have food on the table now,” Aisha Johnson, a maintenance worker at Phillies games, said. “I’m making it right at this moment, but I don’t know what tomorrow may bring.”

Oliver then decided to insert a very strong opinion. 

“It’s worth remembering that, although Philadelphia sports fans are a horde of inhuman monsters who deserve neither sympathy nor understanding, the people paid to tend to those monsters really depend on their monster money,” he said.

In his own way, Oliver did later give a little praise to a prominent Philly sports figure. He said Flyers mascot Gritty’s isolated exploits “blew [other mascots] away without even trying.” However, Oliver also commented that Gritty’s closet evolutionary relative is a “used dog toy.” 

Oliver’s segment is worth watching if you’re interested in a unique brand of humor that casually roasts Philadelphia sports, as well as an overview of the many logistical and moral issues revolving around the question of “When should sports come back?”

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