Philly March Madness: Choosing the Greatest Philly Athlete of the Last 30 Years

Philly March Madness: Choosing the Greatest Philly Athlete of the Last 30 Years

With Selection Sunday officially behind us and the NCAA tournament awaiting, we here at The 700 Level have decided it's time to have a little March Madness of our own. Over the next three weeks, we'll be holding playoffs to conclusively decide who, among 64 prime candidates selected, is the greatest Philly athlete of modern times. One by one, we'll be holding seeded match-ups, for which we ask you to cast your vote to help decide who should advance, until just one lucky soul remains, standing in adulation with "One Shining Moment" blaring in the background.

And how did we decide on the field of 64? Well, we took a nice cross-section of the statistically-accomplished, the post-season proven, and the fan-favorite Philly-based jocks of recent years. Here were our selection qualifications:

  • Only athletes from the four major Philadelphia professional sports teams. Extending to college and individual sport-based athletes blurs the line too much between Philly vs. not Philly, and we're more comfortable dealing with the Big Four types anwyay.
  • Only athletes who played more than half their Philly career after the year 1980. Not too many of us were around for the years before that, and you gotta draw the line somewhere before you start trying to compare Cole Hamels and Brian Dawkins with Grover Cleveland Alexander and Chuck Bednarik. 
  • Only athletes who played at least four full years in the City of Brotherly Love. It hurts to exclude recent sensations like Roy Halladay and Michael Vick, as well as one-or-two-season wonders like Terrell Owens and Dikembe Mutombo, but we wanted this to be a contest for those athletes who had really put in the time to become permanently associated with Philadelphia, and figured that a full presidential term was a good minimum amount of service.

As for how you should be voting, you can use whatever criteria you like (and undoubtedly will), but we'll be casting our votes for the athletes that did the most for their respective squads during their tours of duty, that accomplished the most on a team and individual level, and that best defined what Philly Sports were essentially about for the last three-plus decades.

We hope you enjoy voting for your athletes of choice, and encourage you to have it out in the comments section below to make a case for your particular selections. Of course there will be no right answer to many of these, and one man's obvious chalk selection will be another's likely upset pick. But rather than getting too hung up on the solitary matchups, we also hope that you take this entire project as a larger tribute to the last 31 years of Philly sports, and the standard-bearers that made those years so memorable.

Enjoy, and let us know how you do in your office pool.

Click here to start voting on the matchups.

Joel Embiid not named All-Star starter, can still make it as reserve

Joel Embiid not named All-Star starter, can still make it as reserve

Joel Embiid will have to hope NBA coaches trust the process.

Embiid on Thursday was not named a starter in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game. LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jimmy Butler locked in the three Eastern Conference frontcourt spots. Kyrie Irving and DeMar DeRozan rounded out the backcourt.

James (25.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 8.1 assists) and Antetokounmpo (23.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.6 assists) were locks as starters. That left Butler, Kevin Love and Embiid as the next in contention. Butler is a two-time All-Star averaging 24.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 36.8 minutes for the 21-22 Bulls. Love is posting 20.7 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 31.6 minutes per game on the Eastern Conference-leading, 29-11 Cavaliers.

The Western Conference starting spots went to Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis. 

The voting was made up of fan votes (50 percent), player votes (25 percent) and media votes (25 percent). Embiid has a chance to be voted in by the NBA coaches, whose reserve selections will be announced on Jan. 26. 

Embiid would have been named a starter had the results been based on fan voting (50 percent). He finished third ahead of Love and Butler.

Embiid was in the running for a starting role during a breakout rookie season. He is averaging 19.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 25.4 minutes per game. Even though his playing time is capped at 28 minutes, he ranks seventh among all players in scoring per 48 minutes. He is eighth overall in free throw attempts per game (7.9) and 10th in those made (6.2).

Embiid had obstacles, though, when it came to the voting: rookie status, 28-minute restriction, limited games played (29) because of his allocated workload, and the Sixers’ record.

Even though the All-Star Game highlights individual achievements, team record is often taken into consideration. The Sixers have won seven of their last nine games (see story), but still stand well below .500 at 14-26.

When it came to the players’ vote, it is hard for a rookie who hasn’t even competed against every team in the league to make a strong enough impression for another player to influence their perception of the top talent. Embiid finished outside of the top five in the players' vote, behind James, Antetokounmpo, Butler, Paul George and Kristaps Porzingis. Meanwhile, the Sixers' big man finished fifth in the media vote.

Embiid and the Sixers were very active in pushing for the fan votes. Embiid received the social media support of celebrities including Triple H, Kevin Hart and MLB MVP Mike Trout, among others. The Sixers promoted Embiid through a Shirley Temple campaign based on his favorite drink.

Embiid picked up major steam in the last week of voting. He had trailed Love by 16,028 fan votes in the second returns on Jan. 12.

He took to Twitter to express his gratitude.

Chip Kelly still jobless after swinging and missing with Jaguars

Chip Kelly still jobless after swinging and missing with Jaguars

Chip Kelly's job search continues.

The beloved (sarcasm) former Eagles head coach reportedly interviewed for the Jaguars' offensive coordinator opening. However, on Wednesday night, Jacksonville announced it was retaining Nathaniel Hackett as its OC.

“We are excited to announce Nathaniel Hackett as our offensive coordinator and he will immediately be tasked with installing and implementing our offense this offseason,” Jaguars new head coach Doug Marrone said in a statement from the team. “I have had the pleasure of working with Nathaniel for seven consecutive seasons and know firsthand how knowledgeable and passionate he is about winning.”

So, Kelly swung and miss twice on the Jaguars, as he reportedly interviewed for Jacksonville's head coaching job, as well.

"I’m not going to close the door on any opportunity, but I have to be very smart in what I do next,” Kelly said, via CSNBayArea.com, two days after his firing as 49ers head coach. “I don’t have to take anything, but I wouldn’t rule anything out. I need to make sure that I’m in the right situation.

“I don’t know what the future holds. I’ll do my due diligence. I’m not going to coach just to coach.”

Kelly's decline is staggering, even if you saw it coming.

Look at this NFL coaching history ...

With Eagles in 2013: 10-6, wild-card playoff berth
With Eagles in 2014: 10-6, missed playoffs
With Eagles in 2015: 6-9, fired before final regular-season game
With 49ers in 2016: 2-14, fired after regular season

Who knows what's next for the Chipper?