WHO WERE THE 25 best players to put on a Philly uniform during the drought era? There's plenty of room for argument here, both on who made the list and the order in which they are ranked, both the result of voting by the
sports staff. Some overachieved, others fell short of enormous expectations. Bottom line, however, is that a lot of talent passed through town even though a title didn't.
1Allen Iverson, Sixers
Drafted, first overall pick, 1996. Traded to Denver, December 2006. Still owns numerous franchise records. Participated in 62 playoff games in six postseasons, including five-game loss to the Lakers in the NBA Finals in June 2001. Averaged 28.1 points. Named league MVP in 2001; won four NBA scoring titles. His memorable career here featured some classic off-court incidents. Created passionate camps of admirers and detractors.
2Reggie White, Eagles
Joined the Birds in 1985 after the U.S. Football League folded. Signed with Green Bay in 1993. NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1987, he was elected to the Pro Bowl all eight seasons as an Eagle. Most amazing stat was 21 sacks in 12 games during strike-shortened '87 season. Despite a defense that intimidated foes, Birds only won one of five postseason games while White was here.
3Charles Barkley, Sixers
Drafted, fifth overall pick, 1983. Traded to Phoenix for three players in July 1992, and the already sinking Sixers hit bottom for a couple years. Averaged 23.3 points and 11.6 rebounds during his eight seasons; 22.4 points and 13.1 rebounds in 51 playoff games. Made six All-Star appearances. Safe to say that few athletes have been more popular during their tenure here, and time hasn't diminished that bond.
4Donovan McNabb, Eagles
Drafted, second overall pick, 1999. Has played his entire career here, and it has included four conference title games and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX. Has thrown for more than 25,000 yards and 171 TDs, and rushed for almost 3,000 yards and 24 more scores, some of them remarkable for their athletic artistry. Has played just one full season in the past six because of a series of injuries.
5Eric Lindros, Flyers
Acquired from Quebec, June 1992. Traded to the Rangers in August 2001. Hard to find a player who came to Philly with more expectations. His presence, centering the "Legion of Doom" line, helped the Flyers end a 5-year playoff drought, and they reached the Stanley Cup finals in 1997, losing in four to Detroit. He scored more than 90 points three times and more than 40 goals four times. But many fans soured on him after a series of concussions and a feud with general manager Bob Clarke.
6Curt Schilling, Phillies
Acquired from Houston, 1992. Traded to Arizona for four players in July 2000. The team's ace within a year after arriving, he led or tied the Phillies for most wins in six of his nine seasons. While here, struck out 300 or more batters twice, compiled 14 shutouts and finished with 61 complete games.
7Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
Drafted, second round, 1996. In his eighth full season with the big club, he has overcome the complaint that he can't hit at the top of the order. His MVP season in 2007 was extraordinary: .296 average, 139 runs, 30 homers, 94 RBI, 20 triples, 41 steals. In addition to his skills at the plate and in the field, he has looked more and more comfortable wearing the mantle of team leader.
8Brian Dawkins, Eagles
Drafted, second round, 1996. Has played his entire career here and become one of the city's all-time popular players. Anchored a defense that, in general, has been solid throughout the Andy Reid regime. His numbers include 33 interceptions, 18 sacks and 470 tackles, but that's only a partial measure of his value.
9Randall Cunningham, Eagles
Drafted, second round, 1985. Retired after the 1995 season, but returned to the field with Minnesota a year later. Backing up Ron Jaworski for a couple of seasons, he took over full time in 1987 and threw for more than 13,400 yards and 98 TDs during the next four seasons. Best remembered for a highlight reel of runs and scrambles.
10Chase Utley Phillies
Drafted, first round, 2000. First and foremost, no second baseman in baseball generates more offense. Can hit for power (99 homers and 356 RBI since 2005) and aggressively run the bases. Acrobatic and generally steady defensively. And he's the player most likely to end every game with a dirty uniform.
11Ron Hextall, Flyers
Drafted, sixth round, 1982. Played twice here, from 1986-87 to 1991-92, and again from 1994-95 to 1998-99. A contributing member of three teams that went to the finals (1984-85, 1986-87, 1996-97) and one other that reached the conference finals (1988-89). And it was the way he played, deft with the puck (he scored two goals) and rambunctious between the pipes.
12Brian Westbrook Eagles
Drafted, third round, 2002. A rare local kid who stayed in town and prospered. Regarded by many as the team's most valuable player, his touches have steadily increased with each passing season. Gained more than 2,000 total yards last season. Counting the playoffs, has scored 26 TDs the past 2 years.
13Ryan Howard, Phillies
Drafted, fifth round, 2001. The accomplishments speak for themselves: Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, and 119 homers and 323 RBI since 2006. Even in a slump, his is an at-bat that you just can't miss.
14John LeClair, Flyers
Acquired from Montreal, February 1995. Left in July 2005. A member of the "Legion of Doom" line, he had three seasons of 50 goals or more and two others that hit or topped 40. Ranks in the franchise's top 10 in scoring and playoff scoring.
15Mike Quick, Eagles
Drafted, first round, 1982. Played his entire career - nine seasons - here. A five-time Pro Bowler who caught 61 TD passes in 101 games, including a 99-yarder from Ron Jaworski to win a game. Enough numbers to be a prima donna, but never acted like one.
16Tim Kerr, Flyers
Signed as an under-aged junior, July 1979. Left after 1990-91 season. Played on a number of great Flyers teams that just fell short of the Cup. The third-highest goal scorer in franchise history (363), he's ranked first in goals by a right winger, hat tricks (17) and power-play goals (145).
17Mark Howe, Flyers
Acquired from Hartford, August 1982. Left after 1991-92 season. That he's a defensemen and on this list is tribute enough to his stellar play throughout the 1980s. Three times was runner-up in voting for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the league's best defenseman.
18Lenny Dykstra, Phillies
Acquired from Mets, June 1989. Injuries ended his career in 1996. No surprise that a guy nicknamed "Nails" drew Philly fans like a magnet. His best season was 1993, the season that ended two wins short of the title in Toronto: .305, 143 runs, 44 doubles, 19 homers, 66 RBI.
19Jerome Brown, Eagles
Drafted, first round, 1987. Died in a 1992 car accident. A two-time Pro Bowler who plugged out the middle of the line on those memorable Buddy Ryan (and Jeff Fisher) defenses. The numbers were good (24 1/2 sacks in five seasons) but he's better remembered for his big smile and gregarious personality.
20Jim Thome, Phillies
Signed as a free agent, December 2002. Left after 2005 season to make way for Ryan Howard. Did exactly as advertised, hitting 47 homers in 2003 and 42 more as the Phils opened Citizens Bank Park. Injuries wiped out his last season here.
21Terrell Owens, Eagles
Obtained in deal with Baltimore and San Francisco, March 2004. Released almost 2 years to the day of his signing. No one on this list compressed more into 2 tumultuous years. There were the 14 TDs in 14 games. The nine catches in the Super Bowl. And then the fallout.
22Scott Rolen, Phillies
Drafted, second round, 1993. Traded in July 2002. A power hitter who hit in the clutch and won seven straight Gold Gloves. He made this list despite alienating many fans for the way he whined his way out of town.
23Jon Runyan, Eagles
Signed as a free agent, 2000. Played here since. Like Howe, has carved out a niche at a position that's generally overlooked. Fans love his toughness and mean streak, and admire his longevity. Has raised his profile as a go-to guy for quotes and frank perspective.
24Peter Forsberg, Flyers
Signed as a free agent, August 2005. Traded to Nashville, February 2007. Most glaring case of a great player who wasn't one here. While he scored 115 points in 100 games, the output never matched the expectations.
25Troy Vincent, Eagles
Signed as a free agent, 1996. Played here through 2003. A mainstay in a high-profile defensive backfield that included Dawkins and Bobby Taylor. *
- Paul Vigna