Thursday, December 31, 2009
In the Divisional Round though against the Minnesota Vikings, the Birds beat them with ease 27-14. Now, it was on to the big game. Would the Eagles get over the big hump, or would they be the Buffalo Bills of the NFC? That was the big question. Here is the answer.
The 27-10 win over Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons sent the Eagles to Super Bowl XXXIV against the two-time Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.
Owens made a quick recovery and returned to play. Albeit still injured, he played masterfully, a legendary performance. This is how the game transpired.
The crushing 24-21 loss to New England was hard to take, but in the end, a lot of promise for future success was in store for this team. With Owens on our side, what could go wrong? A matter of time would tell.
FLYERS: Lockout...No Hockey
The title speaks for itself. But hey, the Phantoms won the Calder Cup! That's something to be positive about.
76ERS: C-Webb the Answer for "The Answer?" No.
With Jim O'Brien as the head coach, the 76ers did improve off of their dreadful 2004 season. They drafted Andre Iguodala with their first round lottery pick and traded for All-Star Chris Webber at the trade deadline. The Sixers were supposed to be one of the teams to beat basically in the Eastern Conference. That was not the case though.
The Sixers finished 43-39 and seventh in the East standings and although Allen Iverson won the All-Star Game MVP for the second time in his career, that didn't mean the magic of 2001 would equate in 2005.
Webber was not as good as people suspected. He was getting old and battling injury. Basically, he wasn't the player he used to be.
The Sixers fell to the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Detroit Pistons in the first round 4-1. Jim O'Brien was fired at the end of the season and former Sixers guard and team legend Maurice Cheeks was brought in. Would this help their fortunes?
PHILLIES: One Stinking Game Away...ONE STINKING GAME!
The now Charlie Manuel led Phillies once again had high expectations of going to the postseason, whether it be by the division or Wild Card. With Jim Thome going down with a long term injury, that prompted the bringing up again of Ryan Howard. Well, "The Big Man" shined, hitting .288 with 22 homeruns and 63 RBIs in only 88 games. His numbers led to him winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award.
Also, Bobby Abreu had himself a pretty nice season, as he won the Home Run Derby, setting a contest record with 41 total home runs.
Not only that, but the team was better than the year before, going 88-74. However, they finished two games behind the Braves in the division and only one behind the eventual NL Champion Houston Astros in the Wild Card. On the last day of the regular season, the Phillies did their part to force and one game playoff at Citizens Bank Park by beating the Washington Nationals, however, the Astros won their game to clinch the Wild Card not too long after. It was a heartbreaking way to end the season.
After the campaign, general manager Ed Wade was fired due to eight years of no postseason play. Pat Gillick was brought in and with Howard's sensational play, the Phils dealt Thome and Gavin Floyd to the Chicago White Sox for a deal that included hard-nosed center fielder Aaron Rowand.
EAGLES: "Next Question..."
Prior to the 2005 season, T.O. started brewing up big controversy as he was so appropriately known for. Making comments that were negative towards QB Donovan McNabb and demanding a new contract from the Eagles, Owens held out of training camp for a good amount of time, then was dismissed early for poor behavior.
This led to an infamous press conference at his house with his agent Drew Rosenhaus and a public workout in his front lawn that attracted tons of media.
Owens eventually returned to the team, despite the fact him and McNabb did not get along, and the Eagles started off the season on a good note with a 4-2 record. However, Owens continued to cause problems and after Week 8 with the team at 4-3, he was indefinitely let go. In seven games, Owens had six touchdown receptions and 763 receiving yards.
Key players such as McNabb and Brian Westbrook were eventually lost for the season and the Birds finished a disappointing 6-10, missing the postseason for only the second time in Andy Reid and McNabb's time in Philly.
This showed in the playoffs. In the Divisional Round against the Packers, the Eagles had to struggle, claw and fight off an early two touchdown deficit. With the season in the balance late in the fourth quarter down 17-14, the Birds offense faced a 4th and 26. If they failed to convert, the season was over. Here's what happened.
Clearly one of the greatest plays in Eagles history, this led to a David Akers field goal that tied the game and forced it into overtime. After a Brian Dawkins interception in the extra session, Akers once again kicked another clutch field goal in the swirling winds of the Linc to win the game 20-17. Onto ANOTHER NFC Championshiop Game and ANOTHER NFC Championship DEFEAT.
The next week against the Carolina Panthers, Donovan McNabb injured himself in the contest and the Eagles receivers were non-existent against the Panthers secondary. The team only scored three points and lost 14-3. This left fans angry. This left them frustrated. And this led to the trading for Terrell Owens. What would follow happened on the other end of 2004.
FLYERS: Su-Primeau Almost Takes the Orange and Black to Lord Stanley's Grail
In Ken Hitchcok's seond season at the helm, the Flyers encountered one of their more successful campaigns of the decade. With Robert Esche as the full-time starter now, the team finished 40-21-15-6, good for first in the Atlantic Divisiona and third in the Eastern Conference.
Winning the Atlantic was key because the New Jersey Devils, who fell to second on the last day of the season, were the sixth seed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Obviously, they faced off in the first round.
What transpired in the 2004 playoffs was one of the greatest postseason performances by any Flyer. That is the play of captain Keith Primeau.
In the opening round against Jersey, the Flyers won in five games.
Finally, the Orange and Black had those stinking Devils number.
In the semi-final round, they squared off against the Toronto Maple Leafs. This is where Primeau really came out of the wood works.
With the series in favor of the Flyers 3-2, Game 6 in Toronto was legendary. The contest went to overtime and in the extra session, it looked like the Maple Leafs were going to tie the series. Darcy Tucker put an absolutely nasty hit on Sami Kapanen, leaving him confused and lost. The Leafs had a clear advantage.
But Primeau was able to lead him back to the bench. Not to soon after, Jeremy Roenick got the puck on a two on one break away with Tony Amonte. This is what happened.
After this thrilling win, the Flyers squared off against the top seeded Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Orange and Black dropped the first two games in Tampa Bay, but then tied the series with Games 3 and 4 in Philly. Primeau continued to be a magician on the ice.
The Flyers lost Game 5 in Tampa Bay. Game 6 back in Philly could be considered the game of the decade for the Flyers.
Even after this goal by Primeau, the Flyers found themselves behind late in the third period 4-3 with the season on the brink. Who came to the rescue though? I need not to say his name.
In the extra session, the Flyers had all of the momentum and as the first overtime nearly concluded, this happened.
Sadly, Game 7 was not as joyous. The Flyers fell behind 2-0, scored in the second period to make it 2-1, but the Lightning were just too good. The Orange and Black's season unfortunately came to a halting end and Tampa Bay won the whole show.
However, even in defeat, Primeau's play in the playoffs was majestic. In 18 games, he score nine goals and had seven assists for 16 points. He was sensational.
This would mark the last season for John LeClair in a Flyer's uniform and the last full season for Keith Primeau in a Flyers jersey. He would get a concussion that ended his career two years later. As we will learn in the next post, there was no hockey in 2005 due to the lockout.
76ERS: A Down Year
To replace Larry Brown, general manager Billy King hired assistant coach Randy Ayers as the new head honcho. This would not last very long as poor play by the 76ers led to his firing mid-season and promoting assistant coach Bob Ford as interim coach. However, Ford and Allen Iverson did not see eye to eye. Although there was no "practice" press conference, the team did finish 33-49 and did not make the playoffs.
Eric Snow was dealt in the off-season and Philadelphia native Jim O'Brien hired as the new head coach.
PHILLIES: A New Home
In March of 2004, one of the most beloved venues in the city's history was imploaded. Veterans Stadium, sadly, was no more.
The Phillies moved into beautiful Citizens Bank Park across the street. It changed the entire persona of the franchise. More than 20,000 people showed up each night for a ball game because going to a game became socially acceptable.
The 2004 campaign also sported Jim Thome's 400th home run and the debut of Ryan Howard. Not to mention, Billy Wagner was acquired in a trade prior to the season.
Even with all of these new happenings and being in first place at the All-Star break, the team still could not get over that postseason hump, finishing second in the division at 86-76 and six games behind the wild card winning Houston Astros.
Larry Bowa was fired with two games left in the season. Bench coach Gary Varsho took over as interim manager. In the off-season, the Phillies hired hitting guru Charlie Manuel.
EAGLES: One Team, One City, One Dream...One Big Play Away
The San Francisco 49ers were looking to deal their star wide out Terrell Owens to another team because he was becoming a major problem. They actually made a deal with the Baltimore Ravens, but T.O. flat out made it clear he did not want to go there. After a few trials and tribulations, the Eagles were able to acquire the star and pull off the deal.
The addition of Owens at wide receiver and Jevon Kearse at defensive end put the Eagles as one of the front-runners once again for a Super Bowl championship.
In the first home pre-season game of the season, the first chance for the Philly fans to see Owens in Eagle green and white, this is what happened on the Birds first play from scrimmage.
Without any doubt, it was going to be a great year.
T.O. lived up to all of the hype.
The Birds started off the season 7-0 with Owens receiving nine touchdowns and Donovan McNabb playing the best football of his career. No. 5 threw 31 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions, good for almost 4,000 yards. Owens finished with 77 receptions and 14 touchdowns. One more touchdown, Andy Reid would have been in tights due to a bet him and Owens made at the beginning of the season.
But, in Week 15 against the Cowboys, Owens suffered a high ankle sprain, forcing him to miss all of the NFC Playoffs. The team finished 13-3, once again with home field advantage and an ENORMOUS MONKEY on their back.
The team went into the playoffs with the slogan "One Team, One City, One Dream." What was going to happen?
The win would set up a NFC Championship Game match between the Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team who the Birds eliminated the previous two seasons and beat them easily in the 2002 regular season campaign.
Yet, this game was a much different story. No matter the result, it was the final Eagles game ever played at Veterans Stadium. It was supposed to be a fantastic day, a day where the Eagles would go to the Super Bowl for the first time in 22 years. Tampa Bay didn’t stand a chance, or at least we thought that way.
To tell you the truth, after the first drive, how could we not think that way?
Unfortunately though, that would be the highlight of the day for Eagles fans. After that, everything went down hill. A lack of a running game and an inability to stop the Buccaneers from making big plays, the Eagles lost the game 27-10.
The Vet was silent.
FLYERS: Improving, But Have a Ways to Go
The heartbreaking end for the 2002 Eagles was not washed away by Flyers success. With Ken Hitchcock now at the helm for the Orange and Black, they finished 45-20-13-4, one point behind the Devils for the Atlantic Division.
That put them at the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and a much tougher road to the Stanley Cup Finals.
This was a season where Jeremy Roenick led the team in goals and points, while Mark Recchi was the assists leader. Sami Kapanen and Tony Amonte were acquired at the trade deadline and Romy Cechmanek set a club record in net with a 1.83 GAA.
Yet, despite their talented team once again, the Flyers fell short for Lord Stanley’s Grail. In the quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Flyers won a gut wrenching seven game series 4-3, with three of the games going in to overtime (all three were in Toronto).
In the semi-finals however, inconsistent play by Cechmanek and the team led to them falling to the top seeded Ottawa Senators 4-2.
76ERS: Solid, But Not Good Enough
Following a disappointing 2002 campaign, the 2002-03 Philadelphia 76ers were looking to rebound. In a matter of speaking, they did. Basically led by the same core group of guys–Allen Iverson complimented by Eric Snow, Derrick Coleman and Aaron McKie, the Sixers finished 48-34, good for fourth in the Eastern Conference.
The only difference in this year's roster was Dikembe Mutombo was shipped to New Jersey for Todd MacCullough and Keith Van Horn, and Tyrone Hill returned to the squad during the season. Also, forward Kenney Thomas made himself an important force on the team and Greg Buckner as a defensive stopper.
One of the highlights of 2003 before the postseason was the 76ers played the Washington Wizards in Michael Jordan's final NBA game. It was an electric night in the then First Union Center as all of us Philly fans showed our class by sending Jordan off in style.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Sixers squared off against the New Orleans Hornets and beat them 4-2.
In the second round, the team battled the top-seeded Detroit Pistons. After dropping the first two games on the road, the Sixers won Games 3 and 4 in Philly. In Game 5, it came down to a last second game winning layup by Detroit's Chucky Atkins and then the Pistons pulled out Game 6 to win the series 4-2.
After the season, head coach Larry Brown stepped down from his position. Then, in a stunning move, he signed a deal with the Pistons. It sparked a lot of angry fans in the city even though Brown was instrumental in making them as good as they were in his five years as coach. The Sixers have not been as good since.
PHILLIES-Changing the Outlook in More Ways Than One
The 2003 season was one that changed the face franchise as before the campaign began, the Phils made a big move by signing first base slugger Jim Thome. They also brought in David Bell to play third base and traded Johnny Estrada to the Braves for Kevin Millwood. Maybe this was the year the Phils would break through and actually make the playoffs.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. They finished with a record of 86-76, good for third in the NL East. Also, they fell just short of winning the Wild Card, losing out to the eventual World Champion Florida Marlins.
The highlights of this season included Jim Thome hitting 47 home runs and Kevin Millwood getting a no hitter.
However, nothing compared to something with significance as big as 33 years–the final season at Veterans Stadium. On September 28, 2003, the last sporting event took place on that sacred ground and within those infamous walls of the Vet.
The Phils ended up losing the game to the Braves, but the result of the contest was unimportant. This day was more about remembering 33 years at Veterans Stadium...remembering all of the triumphs and heartbreaks. Here is some footage from that memorable and sad day, the last day inside of Philadelphia Veterans Stadium.
It all concluded with Tug McGraw reliving that magical pitch against Willie Wilson to win the 1980 World Series. Sadly, it was the final time we ever saw the Tugger on the ball field as he lost his courageous battle with brain cancer prior to the 2004 season. It was also the last time we saw Paul "The Pope" Owens in public. He unfortunately passed away due to chronic respiratory problems also before the 2004 season.
EAGLES: The Linc-New Building, But Same Story
The 2003 Eagles campaign started off with the opening of a new home facility, Lincoln Financial Field. On Monday Night Football to start the season, the Eagles faced off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team that broke their hearts to close to the Vet. Well, they did the same thing to open up The Linc. The Bucs won 17-0.
After starting the season off 2-3, the Eagles won nine in a row and finished the season 12-4, once again good for home field advantage in the playoffs. What set off that motion of events happened in the sixth game of the season. The Eagles were playing the Giants at the Meadowlands. Down 10-7 late in the fourth quarter, a punt return by Brian Westbrook literally saved the team from going into a 2-4 hole. Without question, this was one of the plays of the decade for our beloved Philadelphia Eagles.
What would proceed in the playoffs happened in the new year.
Even in the loss, there was major promise for the next season and expectations of doing even better.
FLYERS: Welcome J.R.
The story of the 2001-02 Flyers season is one of “that same old story.” This was another talented team, finishing with a record of 42-27-10-3, good for first in the Atlantic Division and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. However, although this team was one with big promise, they were upset in the first round by the Ottawa Senators in five games. This led to the firing of head coach Bill Barber at the end of the season and the hiring of Ken Hitchcock.
However, even in a disappointing ending, this season would have significance towards what would transpire in the proceeding campaigns.
Eric Desjardin gave up his captaincy duties to Keith Primeau and the team welcomed in a new superstar and face of the franchise–Jeremy Roenick.
J.R. would be that fiery forward who would replace the likes of Eric Lindros as the main stay superstar on the team. In 2002, he led the team in assists and points. For the next three seasons, J.R. would supply his fair share of commercials, most notably with Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal, and sound bytes that would entertain the Philly fans.
76ERS: Post Ecstasy and Kobe Sucks
It’s safe to say the 2001-02 76ers did not live up to the jubilation and excitement of the previous season. In the off-season due to cap room problems, the team had to deal a lot of its core from the year before. George Lynch was traded to Charlotte for the return of a much mature Derrick Coleman. Also, players such as Tyrone Hill, Jumaine Jones, Todd MacCullough were not on the squad anymore.
Another key newcomer was outside threat Matt Harpring, who was brought in to be the “second scorer” to compliment Allen Iverson.
Unfortunately though, nagging injuries that carried over from the previous season and not the same quality of play from the year before, the Sixers finished 43-49, sixth in the Eastern Conference and fourth in the Atlantic Division.
The team would play the upstart Boston Celtics in the first round and lose in five games 3-2. After dropping the first two games in Boston, the Sixers won the next two in Philly with exciting Games 3 and 4.
But decisive Game 5 was a disaster. Boston took a big lead early with the Sixers catching up at the end of the first quarter. However, not too shortly after, the Celtics broke it open again and cruised the whole way through.
Not only that, but the eerie end led to an infamous press conference from Iverson. Reports were looming that he missed another practice, something that he was highly scrutinized for. How did Iverson respond?
PHILLIES: HK Gets the Call to the Hall
After a promising 2001 season, it was safe to say 2002 did not live up to expectations. The Phillies, with basically the same core group of players, finished 80-81, which was good for third in the NL East.
Pat Burrell had his best statistical season with 37 home runs and 116 rbi’s an Scott Rolen was dealt at the trade deadline to the St. Louis Cardinals for Placido Polanco, Mike Timlin and Bud Smith. Rolen wanted out and it was clear he wasn’t going to sign with the Phillies at the end of the season. So, General Manager Ed Wade made sure to get something in return for him. Another thing to take note of that happened in 2002 was Cole Hamels was drafted with the 17th overall pick in the June amateur draft.
The Phillies honored HK with a special ceremony in August at Veterans Stadium and gave out a most special give away–a Harry and Whitey dual bobble head figurine.
EAGLES: Heartbreaking Way to End the Vet
With the way the Birds closed out the 2001-02 season, the 2002 campaign had extremely high promise. A Super Bowl was expected out of the Philly faithful.
The Eagles started out the season with a disappointing loss to the Titans on the road. It was a game where they gave up a big lead in the second half. However, they responded with six straight wins and by the mid-point of the season, the team was 6-2.
In the 10th game of the season against the Arizona Cardinals at home, Donovan McNabb injured himself early in the game to what eventually would be diagnosed as a broken bone in his ankle. Amazingly, No. 5 stayed in the game and threw four touchdowns.
Koy Detmer started the next week in San Francisco on Monday Night Football, a game that NOBODY thought the Birds would win. Detmer came out firing and led the Eagles to a victory. However, he injured himself in that game with a separated shoulder.
Third string QB A.J. Feeley started the remaining games in the regular season. Everyone expected the Eagles to falter at this point. But, they didn’t. Feeley came in and only lost one game for the rest of the schedule. The Birds finished 12-4 and took home field advantage for the entire NFC playoffs.
What happened next would go down as one of the greatest disappointments in Eagles history.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
FLYERS: Unable To Rebound After Heartbreaking 2000
Roger Neilson was not asked to come back and retain his head coaching duties after his treatment was finished, leaving Craig Ramsay still at the helm. However, he was replaced mid-season by former Flyer great Bill Barber, who was previously coaching the minor league team Philadelphia Phantoms. This was a season where Eric Lindros sat out waiting for a trade and where Brian Boucher, who was stellar the year before, lost his starting job to Roman Cechmanek after sub-par play.
The Flyers finished with a record of 45-25-11-3, good for 100 points, 2nd in the Atlantic Division and 4th in the Eastern Conference. However, the Orange and Black were upset in the opening round by the Buffalo Sabres 4-2. Keith Primeau led the team in goals with 34 and Mark Recchi led in assists with 50 and points with 77.
76ERS: Scrappy Bunch that Never, Ever Quit
The 2000-01 76ers seasons is without question the most memorable one of the decade for this particular franchise. After much speculation in the previous off-season as to whether or not Allen Iverson would say a 76er, all of the rumors and one extremely near-trade sparked a message into "The Answer's" head that he has to get along with his coach, Larry Brown, and do whatever it takes to win.
The team, in the 2000 part of the season, started out an incredible 10-0 and made the fans believe this team could be for real. Like the previous years' squads, Iverson was complimented by steady role players. Guys by the likes of Eric Snow, Aaron McKie, Theo Ratliff, George Lynch, Tyrone Hill, Jumaine Jones and others anchored this team with Iverson's dominance for the first half of the season.
At the All-Star break, they had the best record in the Eastern Conference, thus allowing Brown to coach the East All-Stars, which by the way had Iverson on the team starting.
Iverson sparkled in a game the East was not favored to win. With the game being in Washington, D.C., near Iverson's home town of Hampton, the East fought off a deficit (down 95-74 with nine minutes to play) and won 111-110. Iverson received the MVP honors for scoring 15 of his 25 points in that stretch and when he was handed the award, he fittingly said:
"Where's my coach? Where's my coach? Coach Brown? Is he around?"
He wanted to personally thank Brown for the job he did in turning his career and attitude in the right direction.
This game would also be a precursor of things to come. Theo Ratliff, who was selected to be an All-Star, couldn't play due to a broken wrist and was slated to be sidelined for a while. Dikembe Mutombo, who was on the Atlanta Hawks when he played in that year's All-Star game, was dealt to the 76ers for Ratliff not too long after the game happened so the team could compete with the powerhouses of the West.
The Sixers finished with an incredible record of 56-26, good for the No. 1 seed in the East along with first place in the Atlantic Division. Not to mention, Iverson was eventually named the league's MVP for 2001, with Mutombo getting the Defensive Player of the Year Award, Brown Coach of the Year Award and McKie the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Iverson finished the season leading the league in scoring by averaging 31.1 points per game and steals with 2.5 steals per game. He also averaged 42 minutes a night.
In the playoffs, the Sixers would once again face the Indiana Pacers, this time in the first round and favorites. In Game 1 at home, they took a big league purely off of emotion, but lost it and the Pacers on a Reggie Miller last second three-pointer took Game 1 79-78. This left the Sixers angry and realing. It forced Brown to make adjustments and that is exactly what they did.
Game 2, with Miller scoring an astonishing 33 points in the first half alone, the 76ers fought and clawed their way to a 116-98 win. Iverson led the way.
"This is one of my most rememberable...did I say that right," Iverson asked the media. "How do you say it? Memorable. Whatever man. Y'all know what I'm talking about. I'm going to remember this game (laugh from the media)."
The Sixers won Games 3 and 4 in Indiana to slay the dragon that knocked them out the previous two seasons. In a sense, people might of thought the toughest challenge was met. That however, was clearly not the case.
In the second round, the Sixers faced the Toronto Raptors, led by superstar Vince Carter. This would be an epic series of two perennial All-Stars dueling against each other-Iverson vs. Carter. The Raptors took Game 1 in Philly 96-93, but the Sixers rebounded in Game 2 behind 54 points from Iverson in a 97-92 win.
With the series tied at one and headed to Toronto, the Raptors annhilated the Sixers in Game 3, winning 102-78. Carter had 50 in the contest. In Game 4 with Sixers against the ropes and potentially facing a 3-1 series deficit, Iverson hit a key three-pointer with 2:21 left in the game to give the Sixers the lead for good. They won 84-79.
Prior to Game 5, Iverson got word that he won the MVP award. I'll let the video below describe the excitement Game 5 brought to the Philly faithful.
The 52-point performance by Iverson without question added to his already tremendous young career. But the Sixers still had one more game to win to get over that hump of advancing to the Conference Finals. In Game 6 back north, Carter went off by hitting a slew of three-pointers for 39-points to win 101-89. This set up the historic Game 7 back in the then First Union Center.
Constant double-teaming on Iverson and an injured back forced Iverson to play a different game-a passing game. To go along with his 21 points (not even the team high-McKie with 22) he dished out a phenomenal 16 assists. The Sixers had the lead 88-87 with seconds remaining and Carter took a desperation fade-away shot from the left corner. It rimmed off the basket and the Sixers came out victorious.
In the Conference Finals, the Sixers, believe it or not, had to endure another seven-game series. Against the No. 2 seed Milwaukee Bucks with their big three of Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell, the Sixers won Game 1 93-85, but lost Game 2 92-78. At this point, Iverson's left hip joint that he injured in the Toronto series was really bothering him. He was forced to sit out Game 3 in Milwaukee and NO ONE gave the Sixers a chance. The Sixers battled without A.I., but ended up losing Game 3 80-74. This type of resiliency, albeit in a losing result, fueled Iverson to come back even more and the Sixers won 89-83 with him scoring 11 of the team's final 13 points.
Game 5 was the key contest in the series. The Bucks took a big lead early and it looked like they were going to cruise along for the win. But the Sixers, even with all of their injuries, battled back. Iverson had his ailments. Snow found out before the game his sprained ankle was more severe than orginally though and there were several other knicks and crannies the Sixers players were dealing with.
The score was 87-86 with less than a minute to go and Snow had the ball. Iverson was having an off shooting night and Snow was doing well up to that point, with 16 from the floor on 6-8 shooting. Guarded by Cassell, Snow made a move and took a 20-foot jump shot that went in to put the Sixers up 89-86.
Moments later, the Bucks put the score at 89-88 and then McKie was fouled and sent to the line. Usually, he was solid, but he missed both free throws giving the Bucks one final chance. With less than 10 seconds to go, Robinson got the ball and fired up a good look from the short corner. However, he missed it and the Sixers won! That was key because now the series was 3-2 going to Milwaukee. In that Game 6, the Sixers got behind early and battled back once again. However, this time their efforts werent' enough, losing 110-100.
A key moment came early in the game when former Sixer Scott Williams fouled Iverson hard, elbowing him in the shoulder when he was driving. This would lead to Williams, who had a good Game 6, being suspened for Game 7.
June 3, 2001 was a magical night in South Philadelphia. The video below explains the whole story.
The Sixers won 108-91 and advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1983.
The NBA Finals was a match of storied franchises-76ers vs. Lakers-David vs. Goliath. The Lakers up to that point in the playoffs were 7-0 and had not lost a game. No one expected the Sixers to even compete. Well in Game 1, they did just that.
After getting down early, the Sixers fought back and commanded the tempo for the most of the game.
But the Lakers, led by Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant forced the game into overtime where the Lakers once again pounced on the 76ers early. It looked like L.A. was going to come out victorious after the Sixers played so well. But the 2001 76ers was a team that never quit, ever. Iverson, along with his scrappy cast of role players, led the comeback.
Unfortunately, the Sixers would lose the next four games, as the injuries piled up and started to tire the 76ers, and the Lakers were just too good.
At the end of Game 5, every fan in the First Union Center chanted "Let's Go Sixers! Let's Go Sixers! Let's Go Sixers!" thanking the team for a most incredible run.
PHILLIES: Stepping in the Right Direction
After another season in the dumps with Terry Francona as manager, the Phillies hired Larry Bowa in the off-season prior to the 2001 campaign to hopefully put the team in the right direction. Bowa brought a new attitude to the team, one of a fiery, no nonsense skipper.
Not only was there a new manager, but there was also a new shortstop. Jimmy Rollins made the team in spring training and he quickly sparked a lot of poeples' eyes with his ability and talent. Rollins was an All-Star in his rookie season.
Along with Rollins, the team had Scott Rolen at third, Mike Lieberthal and Johnny Estrada behind the plate, Bobby Abreu in right field, Doug Glanville in center and Pat Burrell in left. Not to mention, Robert Person was proving to be a solid guy in the rotation, having a very good season. The Phils got off to a great start and led the way in the NL East for a good chunk of the season. But, the Atlanta Braves crawled back and the Phillies inexperience showed down the stretch. The team finished second in the NL East with an 86-76 record, much improved from the year before. Thus, Bowa received Manager of the Year honors.
This year also had many other occurrences in the it. At the start, Jim Bunning's No. 14 was retired, along with the jersey's of Chuck Klein and Grover Cleveland Alexander. This also marked the final season in Andy Musser's fabulous broadcasting career, which began back in the '70s.
And of course, the tragic happenings of the attacks on September 11, 2001, postponed the baseball season for about a week. The Phillies were in the first game being played after the tragic attacks and it was held at Veterans Stadium, in front of a very emotional crowd.
EAGLES: Almost There
Following a very promising 2000 season that saw the team make the playoffs, the Eagles were roaring back and ready to do even better. Behind the play of quarterback Donovan McNabb, the Eagles finished 11-5 again, this time however for first in the NFC East.
This season also ended the Giants nine-game winning streak against the Eagles. On Monday Night Football early in the year, the Birds won a defensive struggle at the Meadowlands, the Eagles came back in the 4th quarter to win 10-9. Later in the season in the second to last game, the Eagles once again played the Giants, this time at the Vet. Like the previous meeting, the Eagles had to come from behind in the 4th quarter and did so to take a 24-21 lead with only a tackle on a kickoff needed to win the game. Well, Dixon returned David Akers kick deep into Eagles territory and was brought down by Damon Moore inside the five-yard line to prevent the Giants from winning. That clinched the division.
What happened in the playoffs occurred on the flip side of the calender.
Friday, December 25, 2009
The 1999-2000 Flyers season was filled of moments we like to remember and others...not so much. Head coach Roger Neilson had to take a leave of absence in February due to detected bone cancer. Replacing him was interim coach Craig Ramsey. Not to mention, within a month of Ramsay under the helm, captain Eric Lindros suffered his second concussion of the season, forcing him to miss an extended period of time. In March, the front office decided to give the "C" to defenseman Eric Desjardins because of Lindros's extended absence. This was a squad not only anchored by the play of these two guys, but also John LeClair, Mark Recchi and rookie Simon Gagne.
Not to mention, in January, long time fan favorite Rod Brind'Amour was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for Keith Primeau.
This campaign was dedicated to the lives of two very close people to the organization. In 1999, the Flyers lost their beloved long-time broadcaster Gene Hart to cancer and talented young player Dmitri Tertyshny to a freak boating accident. By the time the playoffs came around with a record of 45-25-11-3, the Flyers collected 105 points to win the Atlantic Division and acquire the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
In the first round of the playoffs behind the incredible goal tending of young Brian Boucher, they demolished the Buffalo Sabres easily 4-1. In the semi-finals, the Flyers faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins and found themselves down 0-2 after the first two games. However, the Orange and Black managed to win the next four, with Game 4 being the most memorable. This game went an unheard amount of five overtimes. In the end, it was Primeau who netted the winning goal.
The conference finals that season is the series that left and continues to leave a lot of Flyers fans cringing and thinking "what if..." After dropping Game 1 to the hated New Jersey Devils, the Flyers would go on to win the next three and cement themselves one game away from going to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in four years. In Game 5 at the then First Union Center, the Devils won 4-1. Then, in Game 6 with the return of Lindros after a long time on the injured list and missing the entire postseason up to that point, the Flyers lost 2-1. Lindros scored the lone goal for the Orange and Black. Game 7 is the contest that leaves a bitter taste in Flyers fans' mouths. Early in the game, Devils defenseman and captain Scott Stevens put a vicious hit on Lindros, knocking him out cold and out of the game.
That was the final time Lindros ever stepped on the ice in a Flyers uniform.
With the game tied 1-1 late in the 3rd period, New Jersey's Patrick Elias scored the game winning goal, which was the second for him in the contest. The Devils won the series and went on to eventually win the Stanley Cup.
76ERS: Pacers Run Over The Sixers Again
After a very exciting 1999 season that saw the 76ers make the playoffs for the first time in almost a decade, the 1999-2000 season was filled with just as much excitement. In a season dedicated to the memory of the late Wilt Chamberlain, Allen Iverson made his first All-Star game and the team improved under the head coaching of Larry Brown, finishing with a record of 49-33, good for the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference.
The 76ers were gradually becoming one of the cities favorite teams. To compliment Iverson were role players such as Eric Snow, George Lynch, Aaron McKie, Theo Ratliff, and Toni Kukoc, who the Sixers traded for during the season.
In the quarterfinals, the 76ers easily handled Derrick Coleman and the Charlottle Hornets in four games, 3-1. However, in the semi-finals, they met the Indiana Pacers again, the top team in the Eastern Conference. After finding themselves down to the Pacers 3-0 for the second year in a row, a Matt Geiger/Reggie Miller in-game brawl led to a Sixers Game 4 win and a Miller suspension for Game 5 back in the Indiana. The Sixers excitingly won that contest to force Game 6 back in Philly, but sadly fell to the Pacers in that one, losing the series 4-2.
Constant bickering between player and coach, Iverson and Brown, led to major off-season speculation of whether or not "The Answer" would be a 76er for much longer.
PHILLIES: In The Cellar, But Building Towards A Promising Future
The 2000 Phillies season was a tale of "the same old story" since that magical 1993 Pennant winning year. The Phils finished with a dismal record of 65-97, good for last in the NL East. They were led by third baseman Scott Rolen, first baseman Rico Brogna, catcher Mike Lieberthal and pitcher Curt Schilling. Yet, at the trade deadline, the team dealt Schilling, per his request, to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee and Vicente Padilla. Other notable occurrences that happened in this season was Pat Burrell and Jimmy Rollins made their major league debuts, on May 24 and September 17 respectively. Oh yeah, and a guy by the name is Chase Utley was drafted with the 15th overall pick in June's amateur draft.
As you can see, Burrell is not wearing his usual No. 5. When he came into the bigs, he sported the No. 33. Anyway, since the Phils finished with another losing season way behind in the standings, the Phils felt it was necessary to excuse Terry Francona (yes...the guy who won two World Series with the Red Sox) and hire fan-favorite Larry Bowa as the new manager.
EAGLES: The Resurrection of The Birds
The 1999 season finished with a losing record, but much promise with the play of rookie quarterback Donovan McNabb and first year head coach Andy Reid. The 2000 campaign was about getting over that hump and making the postseason. The Eagles did just that. In McNabb's first season as full-time starting QB, it started off with a memorable onsides kick to open the first game in Dallas and finished with an impressive 11-5 record and a trip to the postseason for the first time since 1996. Not to mention, McNabb compiled the most rushing yards this season in any of the other ones he played in with 629 yards. He also had six rushing touchdowns.
The defense started becoming a name stay throughout the league under defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, with players like Hugh Douglas, who recorded a career high 15 sacks in 2000, Brian Dawkins, Troy Vincent and Jeremiah Trotter.
On the last day of the year, the Eagles won their Wild Card playoff game as they demolished the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21-3 at Veterans Stadium to advance to the Divisional Round, which happened on the other end of the calender.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Players have come and gone. One venue is no more (Veterans Stadium), while two others have risen on Pattison Avenue (Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field). The Philadelphia fandom experienced frustrating cases of déjà vu (three consecutive NFC Championship Game losses by the Eagles) and exhilarating highs (one significant moment comes to mind). We watched as a legend pack his bags, only to return three years later in an attempt to reinvigorate a franchise on the fast track to nowhere. We witnessed the tenuous marriage between a disgruntled wide receiver and his oft-maligned quarterback disintegrate into a national mess. We held out hope that the underachieving Orange and Black would get over the hump and we cried in triumph when the boys of summer finally ended the championship drought on a cool October night.
From the mastery of Allen Iverson (remember Tyron Lue and 60 points?) to the recent excellence of Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson in the final days of 2009, the decade in Philadelphia sports was certainly never dull. For all the grumbling, fans will never forget 4th and 26, Keith Primeau’s multiple postseason heroics, or Jimmy Rollin’s magical swing to win Game 4 of the 2009 NLCS. Of course, there were plenty of villains and heartache. The Flyers collapsed after holding a 3-1 series lead over the hated New Jersey Devils in the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals. The 76ers ran into the Lakers dynasty of Shaq and Kobe, falling 4-1 in the 2001 NBA Finals. The Eagles were thwarted by the likes of Ricky Manning Jr., Tom Brady, and Kurt Warner (twice). The Phillies became the first professional sports team to reach 10,000 losses and continually fell short of the playoffs.
- 76ers (with five games remaining in 2009)- Regular season record: 416-399 (.510), 1 division title, 7 playoff appearances (including the one after the 1999-2000 season), 1 NBA Finals appearance, 0 championships. Best description for the decade: An opening flash of success, followed by early playoff exits and poor roster moves.
- Eagles (with two games remaining in 2009)- 103-55-1 (.651), 5 division titles, 8 playoff appearances, 1 Super Bowl appearance, 0 championships. Best description for the decade: Although the story can be rewritten in the weeks to come, the Eagles of the Reid-McNabb era have fallen painfully short of their ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl. Very good? Yes. Great. No, not yet at least.
- Flyers (with four games remaining in 2009)- 360-253-55-65 (94 points per year), 3 division titles, 8 playoff appearances, 0 Stanley Cup appearances. Best description for the decade: Always in the thick of the chase for the Cup, but never an elite team when it counted.
- Phillies- 850-769 (.525), 3 division titles, 3 playoff appearances, 2 pennants, 1 World Series title. Best description for the decade: Who would have guessed that the Phillies would end the title drought? They built a strong foundation around homegrown talent, including Pat Burrell, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley, and grew into one of the greatest teams in the city's history. With the help of some key acquisitions, they became the best National League squad in more than a decade.
The Eagles 27-13 win over the 49ers this past Sunday not only put them into the playoffs for the eighth time in the last 11 years, but also solidified that the Eagles would be no where without No. 10, DeSean Jackson.
His six receptions for 140 yards are due in large part to the fact that no one can cover him, along with he has unbelievable talent and speed. Where would the Eagles be this year without their No. 1 wide receiver? I think it is pretty obvious.
The Eagles have 3609 passing yards this season, with 1087 of those going into the hands of Jackson. They have 24 passing touchdowns between Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick, with eight of those being Jackson's receiving scores.
It's safe to say this has been the most explosive and talented Eagles offense in the McNabb/Andy Reid regime. They have more weapons than any previous year, including 2004 with Terrell Owens. To go with Jackson, LeSean McCoy is an impressive rookie that plays like a veteran. Jeremy Maclin has been fairly solid in his rookie season. Brent Celek is the tight end that we never got out of L.J. Smith. Leonard Weaver has been nothing but a breath of fresh air, minus his ridiculous debate with a 49ers defender late in the first half two days ago.
Even with all of that ability, Jackson accounts for a third of the Eagles offense in terms of the receiving part of it. Factor in that Reid didn't start having a balanced attack with the passing and running until the past few weeks.
The big issue with Jackson is his contract. Although he has not come out and complained about it, with an agent like Drew Rosenhaus and with what he is currently being paid, it's only a matter of time before something hits the fan.
As of last year, Jackson is signed to a four-year, $3.058 million contract. Now, for a rookie, which he was last year, that was appropriate. But, he is not a rookie anymore and it is crucial that the Eagles extend the contract this incredible football player as soon as possible. In 2009, Jackson is only being paid $385,000. The majority of the team is receiving a larger pay check than him this season.
Regardless of what happens with his contract though, it's for certain that when the playoffs come around, Jackson will continue to light up the highlight reals. Maybe we'll even see another chest bump with Reid. Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a fun ride with No. 10 in the game.
Monday, December 21, 2009
UPDATE: I see the Phillie Phanatic is spelled wrong. I spelled it "Phanactic." Can't go back and change it now without deleting the poll as a whole. Sorry for the typo.
Friday, December 18, 2009
The Celtic's 11-game win streak is over.
Coming off the bench, Brand led the team with 23 points on 7-12 from the floor and eight rebounds.
Marreese Speights was phenomenal as well, collecting a double-double with 17 points and 10 boards.
The Sixers had a 96-95 lead within the final minute and the referees made a horrific foul call on Speights, putting Kevin Garnett at the line. The Celtics forward made both to put Boston up 97-96.
On the ensuing position, the Sixers set up a play for Speights to shoot a mid-range jumper, which he missed, and then Brand tipped it in.
With 11 seconds to go, the Celtics put the ball in Paul Pierce's hands against Andre Iguodala. Pierce missed his shot attempt but Ray Allen got the o-board with time to go. A shot thrown up by him at the buzzer was no good-Sixers win.
It's the Sixers first win against a team with a record over .500 this season and is a bright point after a heartbreaking loss to Cleveland the other night.
Allen Iverson did not play in this game. At the very, very, very "old" age of 34, he has arthritis. He is questionable for tomorrow night's home game against the Clippers.
Update: Just heard this on CSN's Sports Nite-Amy Fadool reported that if team doctors clear Iverson after examination, he will be listed as probable to play tomorrow night.
Now, I understand why Ruben Amaro Jr. did this deal–Halladay was "his guy." Amaro wanted Halladay since July and when this opportunity came up again to possibly acquire him, you knew he was going to jump all over that, especially when Toronto was going to throw in some money to pay Doc right now.
On the other deal, with getting rid of Drabek and Taylor, it makes sense to re-booster the farm system by getting these prospects from Seattle. Yet we all know the real reason for getting rid of Lee was because the Phillies didn't want to pay him now, or "big market" money when his contract is up at the end of the season.
Therefore, it was a load of bologna when Amaro explained the Lee deal as a "baseball move" because even though there was an importance to re-fueling the minor league teams for the future, the main goal when it comes to this current day is WINNING NOW.
If they would've kept Lee for at least one year, which they could've, it would've made this rotation DOMINANT and practically a lock to definitely go back to the World Series, if not win the whole thing.
I love that we have Halladay because he is definitely the best pitcher in the game. But isn't it incredible that at the same time we brought this great pitcher in, a lot of fans, including myself, are frustrated the Lee is no longer a Phillie. The guy went 4-0 with an ERA below two in the post-season. He was sensational. It is so weird that he just got here at the end of July, and now in the middle of December he's gone.
Thanks to Lee for the amazing run in the postseason last year.
On that same note-"Doc" Halladay, welcome to Philadelphia. Not that you can't do it, but you have big shoes to fill.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The bench has been improved greatly in my opinion. Ruben has cut the dead weight which held this team down in late game pinch hit situations. For the most of the 2009, Matt Stairs and Eric Bruntlett were unreliable. Their averages proved this fact. The first signing came in the form of Juan Castro. He is a utility infielder who assumes the role previously held by Eric Bruntlett. Although his career average is below .250, he is going to be an upgrade defensively and will be used as a late game defensive substitution. He will be an upgrade in my opinion over Eric Bruntlett. The second signing brought the phillies a solid backup catcher, Brian Schneider. He is a very good defensive catcher and is an upgrade over the Chris Coste/Paul Bako connection of 2009. The third and most recent signing was that of Ross Gload. He led the majors in pinch hits last season. How else could you find a better bench player. He also brings some pop from the left side of the plate. He fills the role of Matt Stairs, but with a better average. This will mark the third straight season in which the phillies have the leading pinch hitter from the previous season on their opening day roster the following year. In 2008, it was So Taguchi. In 2009, it was Greg Dobbs. In 2010, it will be Ross Gload. Lets hope Gload works out better than Taguchi did.
So to sum up the Phillies projected opening day bench players their will most likely be 5 players. From the right side, it will be Ben Francisco, Juan Castro, and Brian Schneider. From the left side, it will be Greg Dobbs and Ross Gload. This group may be one of the most balanced in the league. The only thing that they lack is a switch hitter, but I believe that they will be just fine with this current group.
Monday, December 14, 2009
This obviously splits up the lefties and righties in the Phillies rotation by having an even balance between the two. I think it can be a move with positive effects because of that reason.
One Lasting Note: Thanks to Cliff Lee for a tremendous three months in Philly, especially the playoffs and World Series.
UPDATE: Not quite yet. I told Michael Stubel to not jump the gun like Asante Samuel and now I will tell myself that. Nothing is official, but it looks imminent.
However, the important question to take note of is how good is the Philadelphia Eagles team...really.
This big play offense and all of these weapons are great and as Eagles fans, we've been crying for these pieces for years. YEARS! But, when we were crying for them, the team's defense was sensational.
I'm not looking at the numbers. I don't even care what the numbers are because they're unimportant to me. What I'm looking at is the makeup of this defense, the way they play, and how stupid they can be sometimes.
The Linebackers-They can't cover a soul. Jeremiah Trotter is a tremendous run stopper and that's where he shines. Not to mention, he is a phenomenal leader and is key to this team's sucess. But in the passing game...big problems. Will Witherspoon and Chris Gocong are average linebackers. They are really missing the talents of a Stewart Bradley.
The Secondary-Big play offense...big play secondary. Sheldon Brown is OK in pass coverage, but he gets beat a lot on double moves. Asante Samuel, as a buddy of mine texted me last night, can't cover a turtle. All he gets are interceptions. Quinten Mikkel, while he's been solid since becoming a starter a couple of years ago, played AWFUL last night. He got way too many penalties and he couldn't tackle anyone.
That seems to be a recurring problem with everyone on the defense-tackling. No one of the Eagles D is tackling anybody and if this continues, it will bite them in the big games.
The Eagles have a chance to make a run this year, especially with their talented offense. But if they can't play any defense, teams like New Orleans and Minnesota in road playoff games for the Eagles will be able to control the tempo and clock down the stretches of the fourth quarter.
Defense wins games, defense wins championships. Will the Eagles?