Monday, January 23, 2012
Game 17: Wells Fargo Center
Sixers 103, Wizards 83
PHILADELPHIA — A few years back before the Phillies had won a championship and became the darlings of the city, I was chatting with a player when suddenly realized it was time to go.
“You guys have a ceremony to get ready for,” I told the player.
“Really? What’s this one for… the 10th anniversary of the 12th anniversary?”
It’s pretty funny when one remembers how the Phillies used to be. The team seemingly had a special event every other weekend to celebrate its handful of trips to the World Series as well as its lone championship. It was a running joke that the Phillies would do anything to celebrate their shitty history without actually acknowledging they were the losingest franchise in the history of North American professional sports.
And here’s Ben Chapman… the man who tried to prevent Jackie Robinson from breaking Major League Baseball’s color line!
The Phillies don’t do much of the rehashing of old times with ceremonies and parades of former players because they have to anymore. The not-so secret is that good teams and good players pack the stands and since the Phillies are winning, they don’t need to bring back Mike Schmidt or Steve Carlton as much anymore.
In Philadelphia, the Flyers are the team that re-lives its history at every chance and like the Phillies, th Flyers are still celebrating a long ago championship that most folks can’t recollect. It’s been 37 years since the Flyers last won a championship and it doesn’t appear as if the team is any closer to winning one anytime soon.
The Sixers, on the other hand, don’t go the sentimental route all that much. Oh sure, the team brought back Allen Iverson to play for a bit when it was clear there was no other way to get fans to the games, but that act got old quickly.
As far as the Sixers go, there was a celebration for the 25th anniversary of the 1983 championship team, a nice ceremony for the last game played in the Spectrum and a retired number fete for Charles Barkley. Otherwise, the Sixers haven’t dipped into that well all too much over the past decade.
Part of that has to do with unresolved grudges between players and former ownership, and another factor is that the Sixers have not been too great for long stretches of time. In fact, the Sixers’ history includes a team that many argue was the greatest ever (1966-67) as well as the team that set NBA record for futility (1972-73).
Regardless, Philadelphia has a strong basketball tradition. When the BAA began in 1947, the Philadelphia Warriors won the championship. The Warriors lost to the Baltimore Bullets in the second year of the league and in 1950, when the league changed its name to the NBA, the Syracuse Nationals (later to become the Philadelphia 76ers) made it to the championship round in their first season.
A team from Philadelphia has been to the NBA Finals nine times in the history of the league.