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.