A lot has happened in sports in Philly this year. It’s almost too much for one list. Heck, we could do a list of the most memorable moments for just the Sixers in 2017 and it would be 20 items deep. We could do one on the most memorable Eagles injuries and we’d crack double figures.
And so, with apologies to the back-to-back World Champion Philadelphia Soul, we’ve done our best to chronicle the 2017 calendar year with the most notable and memorable sports moments in the city.
It’s also important to remember those we lost in Philly sports this year, which we won’t do in a list format because how can we possibly compare the loss of someone like Darren Daulton or the untimely passing of Roy Halladay to anything else that happened this year?
There’s also a brief list of “also-receiving votes” stories that just missed the cut, before the list of the 17 moments we won’t soon forget. (Note: if I did forget any, hit me up on Twitter and tell me your best or worst Philly sports memories.)
Memorable, but not the most memorable moments:
Here’s a list of things that happened that didn’t make our official list. They include:
- Nolan Patrick got drafted No. 2 by the Flyers
- Dallas got the 2018 NFL Draft over Philly
- The Philadelphia Union hired a Chief Tattoo Officer
- Brian Carroll retired
- The Eagles celebrated…a lot
- Joel Embiid got snubbed for the All-Star game
- Joel Embiid and Dario Saric got snubbed for NBA Rookie of the Year
- Villanova earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament
- Villanova was upset early in the NCAA Tournament
- Allen Iverson’s Philly debacle as part of The Big 3 tour
Now for what did make the list.
The 17 most memorable moments of 2017
Note: This is more than 17. I’m sorry. I tried.
17. Phillies’ offseason additions of Gabe Kapler and Carlos Santana
This is my all-time favorite Philly sports media moment: pic.twitter.com/n9CEhKrPzA
— Kyle Scott (@CrossingBroad) November 2, 2017
While the December signing of Carlos Santana is a clear indication the Phillies expect to be contenders in the next few years, the first sign of the rebuilding process taking a turn was when general manager Matt Klentak removed Pete Mackanin as manager and replaced him with analytic-minded coconut oil enthusiast Gabe Kapler.
16. Eagles and Sixers win on the same day (and again on Christmas)
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 25, 2017
How good was Monday, October 23, 2017? Carson Wentz threw four touchdowns and the Eagles beat Washington 34-24 to go to 6-1 on the season, the best record in the NFL. Ben Simmons had his first career triple double and Joel Embiid had 30 points as the Sixers got their first win of the young NBA season, topping the Pistons in Detroit, 97-86. It was the first time since 2013 both teams won on the same day.
Then, on Christmas, the Sixers beat the Knicks and the Eagles clinched home field advantage in the playoffs, marking the first time an NFL and NBA team from the same city won on Christmas in the same year.
15. Wayne Simmonds named NHL All-Star MVP
Flyers assistant captain Wayne Simmonds went back to where his NHL career started in Los Angeles and won All-Star MVP, netting three goals, including the game winner in the league’s wonky but fun 3-on-3 All-Star format.
14. Eagles make huge changes at wide receiver
The Eagles signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith on the first day of free agency, then when the whole world was speculating they would trade (or cut) Nelson Agholor, it was Jordan Matthews — Carson Wentz’s best friend on the team and security blanket on the field — who was traded to the Bills for Ronald Darby in August.
13. Phillies cancel Pete Rose weekend in wake of scandal
In late July, Pete Rose was accused of statutory rape of a teenager. Rose had admitted to what he called an affair, which reportedly took place in the 1970s when he was with the Reds. But it became a huge story in Philadelphia because the Phillies were set to honor Rose with a spot on their Wall of Fame, dedicating alumni weekend to him. One day after the report became public, the Phillies announced Rose would not participate in alumni weekend and opted not to distribute his commemorative bobble heads.
12. Raise the Cat
The Raise the Cat phenomenon started in 2016, as Ben Simmons posted photos of himself with his adorable cats and Sixers fans began raising their cats whenever the team won. In February, the NBA wanted to capitalize on this cat phenomenon and made t-shirts with the fan-favorite expression. Only, shirts already existed, and the NBA stole the design. The guy who invented the cat phenomenon, and the shirts, wanted the NBA to stop, or to ensure proceeds from the $30 t-shirt went to help local animal shelters. It was a whole thing.
11. Jay Ajayi traded to the Eagles for almost nothing
The NFL trade deadline this year was bonkers, and the Eagles certainly helped,trading a fourth-round pick for Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi. This was the moment it looked like the Eagles were serious Super Bowl contenders, and they knew it.
10. Nerlens Noel traded at the deadline
Last season was, in a word, weird for the Sixers, and so it stands to reason on the day everyone in Philly thought Jahlil Okafor was getting traded, Bryan Colangelo instead dealt Nerlens Noel to Dallas for some stuff.
December 7, 2017: The date the Sixers finally traded Jahlil Okafor. The former No. 3 pick’s tenure in Philly was a disaster, and rather than debate who was at fault — Sam Hinkie, the owners, Brett Brown or Okafor — let’s just say that everyone involved was happy when this deal got done.
8. Rhys Hoskins made the summer almost bearable
Rhys Hoskins played in just 50 games in 2017 for the Phillies. He had 212 plate appearances and 170 at bats. He hit 18 home runs! He had 18 home runs in his first 34 games! And considering he didn’t hit a homer until knocking home two in his fifth game this season, Hoskins hit 18 home runs in a span of 30 games.
In a down Phillies season, the hot streak by Rhys Lighting was a beacon of light.
7. Eagles win emotional home opener
The Eagles home opener started with players on both sides of Lincoln Financial Field locked arm in arm. It ended with the Eagles in a joyous embrace after rookie kicker Jake Elliott hit a 61-yard field goal as time expired to give Philadelphia the 27-24 win over New York. And in the middle Darren Sproles was lost for the season. In a week the NFL will never forget, the Eagles had a few moments that left an indelible mark on 2017.
6. Ben Simmons & Joel Embiid both ruled out for the year within a week
Ben Simmons never played in the 2016-17 season, but he was supposed to. In fact, it wasn’t until February 24th that the team announced the No. 1 pick would officially be out for the year. Five days later the Sixers announced Joel Embiid would be shut down for the rest of the season as well. It was hard to trust the process after that.
5. Sixers trade up for No. 1 to draft Markelle Fultz
Speaking of injured rookies…2017 was memorable for No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, even though he has barely played.
This is really three moments in one. First, the Sixers had 30 different options at the NBA Draft Lottery, including a shot at the No. 1 pick and the Lakers pick if it fell outside the top 3. It didn’t, but the Sixers cashed in their swap with Sacramento to still land the No. 3 pick. Then, the Sixers opted to trade that pick and a future No. 1 to the Celtics to get the top pick this year. They drafted Fultz, who looked awesome in Summer League before a lingering shoulder injury shut him down for most of 2017. It’s really anyone’s guess if and when he’ll return.
4. Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long embrace during the national anthem
Malcolm Jenkins raised his first during the national anthem of the Eagles preseason game on August 17. His teammate, Chris Long, embraced him. People were upset, and that was the point.
That moment wasn’t specifically about Colin Kaepernick, but the question of if the Eagles would sign Kaepernick did come up three weeks later, and what Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said in that press conference should be something everyone remembers for a long time.
3. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons play together for the first time
Embiid and Simmons combine for the nice steal and score.
Great start to the second here. pic.twitter.com/xoYWavBKaZ
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) October 18, 2017
Remember the day we saw a glimpse of the future. October 18, 2017: The day Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons played together for the first time. Nine days earlier, Embiid signed a 5-year, $148-million extension, but still people hadn’t seen the two cornerstone players of The Process play on the same court in a real game until that day.
As the two showcased their talents together, the lore of what may come grew, with no game more indicative than Embiid’s 46-point, 15-rebound, 7-assist, 7-block game against the Lakers. Simmons added 18 points, 10 assists, 9 rebounds and five steals that night and it was maybe the best single basketball game in a decade, Villanova’s title notwithstanding.
2. Carson Wentz out for the year with a torn ACL
This was the worst moment of the year. Maybe of any year.
1. The 2017 NFL Draft
Let’s not end this list on a bad note. While the Wentz injury was the most notable on-field occurrence this calendar year in Philadelphia, given he was in line to win the MVP and the Eagles were favorites to get to the Super Bowl, the top football moment in 2017 happened in April.
And perhaps the best moment of the best event in Philly in 2017? Temple’s Haason Reddick getting to walk out in front of the Philly crowd after he was drafted 13th overall by former Temple coach Bruce Arians.
It will be hard to top that moment next year, or any year.