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Editor at Large

WE CAN DREAM: Philly's best pro sports seasons

Future Hall of Fame member Mike Schmidt leaps onto a pile of teammates and coaches in celebrating the Phillies' 1980 World Series championship.
Future Hall of Fame member Mike Schmidt leaps onto a pile of teammates and coaches in celebrating the Phillies' 1980 World Series championship.

Philadelphia and much of southeastern Pennsylvania rallied behind Villanova as it surprisingly claimed the NCAA basketball championship this month.

However, Philly remains a pro sports town – even though its teams are struggling and have won only one title in 33 years. In no way did ’Nova’s title trigger anything near the amount of joy that a championship by any of the city’s big four pro teams would generate.

With that in mind, here’s a look at the 10 best seasons by Philadelphia pro sports teams since 1974, the year that the Flyers won the Stanley Cup.

It’s also a year that triggered a golden decade in Philly pro sports. From 1974-1983, the big four of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers and Flyers appeared in the title game or series 11 times, winning four league championships.

PHILLY’S BEST PRO SPORTS SEASONS SINCE 1974

1 – 1980 Phillies' World Series championship: Philly fans had suffered multiple close calls in the 1970s with the Phillies before this team finally closed the deal.

2 (tie) – 1974 Flyers' Stanley Cup championship: At the time, Flyers’ and hockey fever gripped Southeast Pennsylvania, where neighborhood street hockey teams seemed to spring up overnight.

2 (tie) – 2008 Phillies’ World Series championship: Ended the city’s much-talked-about quarter-century pro sports championship drought.

2 (tie) – 1983 Sixers’ NBA championship: Much like the Phillies of 1980, the Sixers endured several close calls before claiming the crown – sweeping the Lakers in the finals after Magic Johnson and Co. had beat them in the 1982 title series.

5 – 1975 Flyers’ Stanley Cup championship: Two in a row for the Orange and Black. Besides the players, Gene Hart and Kate Smith brought the energy.

6 – 1981 Eagles’ Super Bowl appearance: Though the Birds lost to the Raiders in the Super Bowl, Philly fans were ecstatic when they whipped the hated Cowboys in the conference championship game.

7 – 2005 Eagles’ Super Bowl appearance: After absorbing three straight conference title-game defeats, the Eagles’ appearance in this Super Bowl brought relief as well as joy to Philly, even though the Birds lost in Supe 39 to the Patriots.

8 – 1993 Phillies’ World Series appearance: This team went from last to first, giving fans a great ride all the way to the sixth game of the Series, when Toronto’s Joe Carter broke their hearts.

9 – 2009 Phillies’ World Series appearance: Series foe Yankees had a better record, but Phillies’ fans probably still are wondering why they didn’t repeat as champs.

10 – 2001 Sixers’ NBA Finals appearance: The talent and heart of Allen Iverson carried the upstart Sixers to the finals, where they lost to the Lakers.

Honorable mention: All six of the Flyers’ runner-up appearances in the Stanley Cup final, spanning 1976 to 2010; the Phillies’ 1983 World Series appearance, when they lost to the Orioles.

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