Moves that changed Philadelphia sports history
I was flipping through the TV channels May 3 and found a documentary about the Spectrum. Julius Erving was being interviewed, followed by the famous clip of his playoff windmill slam over Michael Cooper. That got me thinking about how the Sixers acquired him. So here is a list of four transactions or hirings that changed Philly’s sports franchises:
- Dr. J. The 26-year-old ABA superstar wanted his contract renegotiated by the New York Nets, so the team made him available. The Sixers aggressively pursued Erving, and they acquired him in October 1976 for $3 million. The New York Knicks apparently turned down the chance to add Dr. J first. The future Hall of Famer became a key piece of multiple contending squads, including the 1982-83 NBA champions. I feel fortunate to have been able to watch Dr. J’s wizardry on the court for so many seasons.
- Steve Carlton. In 1972, the Phillies traded popular pitcher Rick Wise to the Cardinals for lefthander Steve Carlton, who was holding out. Lefty was coming off a 20-9 season but Wise had pitched well too, including a no-hitter where he swatted two home runs. After the deal, Carlton won 252 more games, four Cy Youngs and established himself as one of the best left-handers in baseball history. In 1972, while the Phils were terrible, Lefty went 27-10 with a 1.97 ERA, one of the most amazing seasons ever.
- Bernie Parent. An original Philadelphia Flyer taken in the expansion draft from the Bruins, Parent was later traded to the Maple Leafs. He then signed with a club in the World Hockey Association. When Parent wanted to return to the NHL after a salary dispute, the Leafs traded his rights to the Flyers. Parent then led the Broad Street Bullies to consecutive Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975. Upon retirement, he was elected to the Hall of Fame and made a list of top 100 players in NHL history.
- Doug Pederson. I was thinking about putting Nick Foles here. But I decided to go with Pederson because his hiring by the Philadelphia Eagles was greeted with very little enthusiasm by the fan base. NFL pundits weren’t exactly giving the Birds a high grade, either. But we all know how it turned out: three straight playoff appearances and the franchise’s first Super Bowl title in 2018. At the time he was named head coach, no one would have believed you if you would’ve said, “Doug Pederson will win the NFL championship in his second season.” Yet that’s exactly what happened. And I’m forever grateful that I got to see the Eagles bring finally home the Lombardi Trophy.