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.