Just Our Luck
What kind of luck does it take to go 25 years without one of your four major sport franchises winning a championship? The Philadelphia kind.
Not since 1983 when the 76ers led by Mo Cheeks and Dr J brought home the hardware has The City of Brotherly Love seen one of its four major sports teams win a championship.
Sure, we have had a lot of great teams since then and I have seen my share of great Philly highlights, uplifting moments, last minute comebacks, and inspirational victories over rival opponents but nothing that brings the atmosphere and satisfaction that a championship title does.
As a fan, I have witnessed the misadventures of the ’93 Phillies, a team with leaders like ‘The Krucker’ ‘Dutch’ Dalton, and ‘Nails’.
I have grown up with the Charles Barkely (“I am not a role model”) led 76ers, the Legion of Doom Flyers, the Buddy Ball Eagles (“He only catches touchdown passes”) with Scramblin’ Randall and that dominating defense known as Gang Green.
I have experienced Ray Rhodes and somehow grew to love the “For who, For what?” alligator-armed Ricky Waters.
I have seen Allen Iverson and Larry Brown lead a bunch of role players to victory in the first game of the NBA Finals against the previously undefeated LA Lakers.
I have seen Donovan McNabb lead an offense whose best receiver was Todd Pinkston to the NFC Championship three years in a row then overcome that hump in the fourth year.
I have even seen Smarty Jones finish one place out of being the first Triple Crown Winner in 26 years.
As long as I have been a fan of Philly sports, I have witnessed some of this city’s greatest championship runs end in heartbreak over injuries, bad calls, and bad pitches (ie, Mitch Williams).
One championship run was even ended at the hands of a team that cheated its way to three Superbowls in four years only to be penalized a draft pick and $500,000, barely enough to cover the League’s minimum player salary.
Now, I do not know about you, but I would pay that much for one SuperBowl, let alone three.
Is there any reason I should have expected this year to be different?
Although no one at the beginning of the year thought much of the Flyers, they turned us all into believers, didn’t they?
After all, we have seen so many of our talented teams lose to lesser teams that were just hot at the right time (Phillies vs Rockies just last season) and it happens even more frequently in hockey.
Edmonton, Anaheim, Calgary, Tampa Bay, Carolina, New Jersey, etc. All these recent championship contenders were hot at the right time.
Couldn’t this be our year?....please?
As Philly fans, do we not deserve a championship more than anyone else?
Of course not!!!
The night before the Eastern Conference Finals Series started, Kimmo Timonen, the Philadelphia Flyers best defensemen, was diagnosed with a blood clot in his ankle and was told he would miss the entire series.
Yes, you heard me right. A blood clot!!! Our best defensemen!!!
Are you kidding me?
Then, as if that was not enough, in the opening minutes of game two, Braydon Coburn, our second best defender, was hit in the eye with a puck and has yet to see the ice.
No, literally, he cannot see the ice because he has fifty stitches in his eye.
Meanwhile, where I live in California, the casual fan who knows nothing about the injuries to our star players is hassling me about how the Flyers were never really that good and could not beat the Penguins and now that there is almost no hope left, I just want to choke somebody.
Amidst all of this heartbreak and bad luck, why do I still feel like there is a chance?
Why do I feel like there is still hope?
- The Flyers just won game four, decisively, and roughed up the Penguins in the process.
- Kimmo Timonen is all of a sudden and quite miraculously confident about playing in game five.
- Braydon Coburn says there is still a chance he could return to the lineup.
- And weirdest of all, apparently once every 33 years in hockey, a team comes back from a 0-3 deficit in the playoffs to take the series and this just happens to be the 33rd year.
- But most importantly, I am a die-hard Philly fan. Hope is all I have.
My heroes are Ben Franklin and Rocky. I grew up on soft pretzels and cheese steaks.
I have never given up on my team and I certainly do not plan to now.
I have been to Philly games in a lot of different venues away from Philadelphia and I am surprised every time by how many of our fans there are.
Why? Where are they coming from?
We have not won anything in twenty five years so they could not be bandwagon fans. What else could it be?
Then, I figured it out…It is the attitude.
The attitude of a Philly fan is always the same and it is that attitude that makes me feel like I am right at home even though I could be 3,000 miles away in a hostile environment.
It is the never say die attitude that makes us special. It is the same attitude that says we may not be better than you, but we can still beat you.
It is the attitude that says I did not come this far to go down without a fight.
It is the attitude that says I will boo everyone from Santa Claus to Beyonce if I must to prove my point. I will throw snowballs at Jimmy Johnson and batteries at JD Drew.
This attitude says I survived Veteran Stadium for who knows how many years and now I have one of the chairs in my living room.
Maybe we are lucky in a sense. Maybe if we had won somewhere in between all those seasons, we would not be blessed with this attitude I have come to know and love so much.
After all, they say once you experience the complete euphoria of a certain state of being, you end up chasing it forever and even if you do catch it, it never really feels the same.
Then again, something tells me no matter how many championships we win, you can never take this Philly attitude away from us. It has already become too ingrained in our being to ever go away.
So, I say this…Flyers, let’s make a deal.
You bring us this championship and we’ll keep bringing you this attitude.
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