Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of a rare event in the life of Philadelphia sports fans. On May 31, 1983, the 76ers finished off a four-game sweep of the Lakers to win the NBA championship. A Philadelphia team hasn't won a title since. No city with teams in all four major sports leagues (yes, for now we're still counting the NHL) has had as long a dry spell.
Since that 76ers title, a total of 100 champions should have been crowned, 25 in each league. The actual total will only be 98 once the NBA and NHL finish their playoffs, since the baseball strike in 1994 wiped out that year's World Series and the NHL lockout of 2004-05 led to an entire season being lost. Ninety-eight, and not one from Philadelphia.
So here's a roll call (after the jump) of the number of championships won by every town, large and small, in the USA and Canada, that has seen a team win in the last 25 years, and thus have absolutely nothing to complain about at this moment. (I lumped in the New Jersey Devils with the New York teams. Let's face it, they don't really have a city of their own.)
12: New York/New Jersey (Yankees 4, Giants 3, Devils 3, Rangers, Mets)
8: Los Angeles (Lakers 6, Raiders, Dodgers), Chicago (Bulls 6, Bears, White Sox)
7: Boston (Patriots 3, Celtics 2, Red Sox 2), Detroit (Pistons 3, Red Wings 3, Tigers)
5: Edmonton (Oilers)
4: San Francisco (49ers), San Antonio (Spurs), Dallas (Cowboys 3, Stars), Denver (Broncos 2, Avalanche 2)
3: Miami (Marlins 2, Heat), Pittsburgh (Penguins 2, Steelers)
2: Baltimore (Ravens, Orioles), Washington (Redskins 2), Houston (Rockets 2), Montreal (Canadiens 2), Toronto (Blue Jays 2), St. Louis (Rams, Cardinals), Tampa Bay (Buccaneers, Lightning), Anaheim (Angels, Ducks), Minneapolis (Twins 2)
1: Calgary (Flames), Raleigh (Hurricanes), Green Bay (Packers), Indianapolis (Colts), Kansas City (Royals), Atlanta (Braves), Cincinnati (Reds), Phoenix (Diamondbacks), Oakland (Athletics)
And the rich will get richer in the next few weeks -- LA and Boston have teams going for the NBA title, Pittsburgh is alive in the NHL and Detroit has a chance to win both.
Meanwhile, a whole generation of Philadelphians has grown up having never celebrated a championship, or being too young to remember one. Sure, there were minor teams that have won -- the Phantoms, the Wings, the Kixx -- but they don't count. At least I've had a few victory parades to cherish. I guess there are advantages to getting older.
Still, we'll keep sticking with our teams until that long-overdue championship finally arrives. The Phillies are just a half-game out of first right now. Is this their year? Who knows. But as the old story goes, with such a huge pile of manure there's just got to be a pony around here somewhere... -- Joe Guckin