Jay Wright during Villanova championship parade: 'This is truly a Philly team'

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USA Today Images

Jay Wright during Villanova championship parade: 'This is truly a Philly team'

Most people who packed into Dilworth Park on Thursday probably didn’t expect Jay Wright to give Penn coach Steve Donahue a shoutout. Or talk about the Palestra in the 1960s. Or pump up Phil Booth’s Philadelphia roots so much that he said they have to bring him a soft pretzel after every game.

Whether or not in response to the largely silly debate over whether Villanova is a “Philadelphia team,” the Wildcats coach made his opinion on the subject clear during the team’s national championship parade.

“We are so proud to represent the Big 5, the Big East, and most importantly, the great city of Philadelphia and Philadelphia basketball, which has the greatest tradition in the country,” Wright boomed to the crowd in front of City Hall. “Everywhere we go, when we play in the national tournament, all the Big 5 schools, we root for each other. I was afraid to say this during the tournament but Penn coach Steve Donahue helped us with the scout of Kansas. I didn’t want to say it when we were in the tournament but there’s a tight bond in the Big 5 and we all stick together.”

Now maybe that’s true for the coaches and even some players but it’s doubtful too many Temple and St. Joe’s fans were rooting for Villanova. And yes, the fact remains that Villanova University is located in the Philly suburbs.

But if you do want to wade into the debate, you can also look at the fact that Villanova recruits and develops many local kids, has fans and alums from all around the city, has a storied tradition playing Big 5 schools at the Palestra, and played all of its home games this year at the Wells Fargo Center.

“This is truly a Philly team,” Wright said, before encouraging everyone to throw streamers like they did starting in the 1960s at the Palestra after the first basket of every game.

“We thank everyone at the Wells Fargo Center, we thank the entire city of Philadelphia for coming out and making it a great home for us this year — and home of the national champions.”

Oh and you can also look at where the parade was held — a point 2016 national championship hero Kris Jenkins has been trying to (somewhat saltily) make.

https://twitter.com/Smoove2you_/status/981206522683379713 https://twitter.com/Smoove2you_/status/981904379426025472

Anyway, walking the parade route on Market Street this year, it was clear there were many people stopping out of their offices to watch and many more who hopped on the train from the suburbs to get there. (After the parade, I overheard a couple of Villanova students yelling, “Where’s Shake Shack?” and “This city is so dirty.”) The crowd seemed a little lighter than the one two years ago (perhaps because of the cold or Phillies opening day) but definitely filled up closer to City Hall. There were plenty of “E-A-G-L-E-S” and “Trust the Process” chants and a crazy amount of people hawking Villanova T-shirts (the price dropped from $10 to $5 when the rally ended).

A few other highlights for those who didn’t go or watch:

• The biggest applause may have been when team chaplain, Father Rob Hagan, was announced. Sister Jean residual effect?

• “I thought you guys would get tired of parades,” Wright said to the #CityofChampions. (Not yet.)

• Mikal Bridges kept his speech short, to which Wright quipped; “He only weighs 185 pounds, he’s freezing.”

• There were “One More Year” chants directed at Bridges. Wright mostly shot it down by saying he’s about to get his degree anyway.

• National player of the year Jalen Brunson introduced title game star Donte DiVincenzo as the “red-headed Italian” before leading a “Di-Vin-Cen-Zo” chant.

• There was a “One Shining Moment” video with only Villanova highlights, which was pretty cool.

• There didn’t seem to be too many signs out there but I did spot at least one interesting one:


Only in Philly?

LeBron James praises Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova

LeBron James praises Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova

Apparently, LeBron James loves him some Donte DiVincenzo.

The best basketball player in the world was watching last night as DiVincenzo went for 31 points off the bench and Villanova crushed Michigan, 79-62. The point total was the most by a player off the bench in the history of the National Championship Game and good enough for DiVincenzo to take home the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player award.

"He made himself a lot of money. That's the first thing I thought," James said to Cleveland.com. "Obviously, I'm not with the whole college thing so I don't care about that. He made himself a lot of money last night and not because of the way he was shooting, but he was doing it all. He was getting into the lane, and-1s. Backdoors. Lobs. Verticality with (Charles) Matthews at the peak, showing his athleticism.

"And then when the game started to kind of get (close) when Michigan cut it to 12, boom, he hits another backbreaker. Michigan kind of gets it to 10, boom, he shows up again."

But DiVincenzo wasn’t the only Wildcat to get the attention of King James. 

"When the National Player of the Year (Jalen Brunson) is on the sideline with four fouls for the majority of the second half and you're still winning? That lets you know how great of a team you are," James said. "So, Donte, obviously he was great. The kid (Mikal) Bridges, he was shooting the heck out of the ball. That one kid, No. 4, I call him 'Baby Millsap,' Paschall, I call him Baby (Paul) Millsap. Listen, he's a matchup problem.”

Bridge’s, ‘Nova’s best NBA draft prospect, was 7 of 12 (3 of 7 from three) for 19 points in the rout. He also drew praise from an NBA great last week when Kevin Durant (on Bill Simmons' podcast) called Bridges his favorite current college player.

And while the Fordham transfer Paschall was quiet offensively in the championship, he scorched Kansas in the game prior, going 10 of 11 from the field (4 of 5 from three) for 24 points.

If DiVincenzo decides to take the money "he made" last night, there's a chance he could be a fit for the Sixers as an athletic scoring wing. Maybe it'll give LeBron one more reason to come to Philly. The King and the Michael Jordan of Delaware would make for a nice combo.

Charles Barkley, riding high on 'Nova win, predicts another Philly championship

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USA Today Images/TBS

Charles Barkley, riding high on 'Nova win, predicts another Philly championship

The city of Philadelphia is riding high once again after the Villanova Wildcats cut down the nets at the Final Four in San Antonio and will bring another championsip back home.

You know who was loving every moment of the 'Nova national championship? Sir Charles.

Barkley spoke about his connection to Jay Wright and Villanova University during the pregame show on TBS and he was on a bit of a high after Donte DiVincenzo lit up Michigan.

Chuck gave the Eagles a shoutout for their championship, praised 'Nova, and made a bold prediction.

"The 76ers gonna win the championship!" a horse Barkley said during the postgame show. You can enjoy that moment below along with some other highlights from a fun night for Philly fans.

Enjoy some of our favorite moments from Twitter below.

And finally, One Shining Moment for the 2018 NCAA Tournament: