Another list - this time devoted to Philadelphia sports. The list below serves as my rundown of the greatest Philadelphia pro athletes I've seen in my 27 years.
10. Wes Hopkins/Andre Waters - these guys are the reason that I love the Eagles like I do. Never afraid of contact or confrontation, they were the most intimidating safeties of their era (imho) and again, in my opinon, easily trumped the all-pro combo of Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis on the early 2000s.
9. Jameer Nelson - such an incredible talent at St. Joeseph's University. I'm not a huge SJU fan, but much found myself pulling for them because of the leadership and play that Nelson exhibited during their incredible run in 2003-2004.
8. Eric Lindros - overhyped? overpaid? loved getting concussions? perhaps. but what i do know about #88 was that during his Hart Trophy Award year, I'd never seen anyone play hockey like he did. My mother (a rabid Flyers fan) remarked one time, that if he'd been on the '87 Finals team, they would have beaten the Oilers (that had Gretzky, Messier & Kuri at the time). Lindros did something to the NHL that's still felt today - an electric player, with "off the charts skills" that is also incredibly physical....that was new to the NHL at the time...you have to remember that.
7. Jimmy Rollins - my favorite baseball player of all-time. he's got the talent and guts to be a MVP threat for the next 5 years. Amazing glove, speed, power, and leadership - there was no one happier than me when it was announced that he had won the MVP...totally deserved it.
6. Mark Macon - back in 1988 I didn't root for a particular college basketball team. i remember watching march madness for the first time with my dad that year, and with Temple University dominating with Macon - I naturally fell in love with the team. To this day, I am a HUGE Temple fan, and Macon is the cause of that. Back to Mark - he was ABSURD that year. Since I was only 7 at the time, I've looked back (thanks YouTube) at his highlights, and it's only reinforced my feelings surrounding him. For me, he's the greatest college player I've seen in the Philadelphia area during my life (both Jameer Nelson and Lionel Simmons are close behind).
5. Reggie White - most consider him the best DL of all time. he played his best years in Philadelphia....does anyone out there remember the 1989 team? just thinking about the starting lineup on defense makes me laugh! Reggie was the leader of that team (perhaps the greatest defensive team in the history of football), and on most occasions, disrupted the quarterback/running back on every down.
4. Allen Iverson - the most controversial member of the list, but certainly will go down as one of the best. in terms of pure scorers, AI is hard to top in the NBA. A friend of mine from Massachusetts said to me one time, "do you realize how lucky you are to have Iverson on your team? Every night he's bound to score at least 30 points, most of which are acrobatic shots. Fans of other teams dream about watching a player like that." Well put. He never got us a championship, but when he stepped over Tyron Lue, I was sold!
3. Julius Erving - Julius.....The Doctor.....EEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRVVVVVVVVING. Probably the 2nd best SF in NBA history (behind Larry Bird). He retired in April of 1986, so my experience with him was limited. I attended his last game at the Spectrum and saw all of the other NBA players saying things about him. The one that stood out to me was a young Michael Jordan saying, "people compare me to Dr. J, and......and, that's the biggest compliment I've ever been paid." (you can look that quote up too).
2. Michael Jack Schmidt - the greatest third basemen of all time played before me when i was under 13 years old. the perfect time for it all to sink in. when i went to Phillies games, i usually saw them lose, but at the same time i saw MJS hit deep home runs & throw across the diamond with the ease of a royal assassin.
1. Brian Dawkins - I don't even feel like writing anything in his defense here. If you don't get why he's my #1 then you'll never get it. Leadership, intimidation, & "physicality". He'll be my favorite Eagle the rest of my life.