There are many iconic photos in Philly sports history and narrowing it down to just 30 was a very difficult task. But I did it, and here it is:
DISCLAIMER: Some photos have low resolution, I apologize.
30. Penalty Kill
I love this photo, and it pains me to put at 30. This photo is from when Flyers’ captain Mike Richards’ legendary penalty kill short-handed goal in Game 5 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Montreal Canadiens. Richard’s got a puck dumped down to him to get him on a breakaway. Jaroslav Halák came out to get the puck away from Richards, but he got by him and scored wide-open net. Such an iconic moment, and an even better picture.
29. Can of Corn
This photo is hilarious. In Game 1 of the 2009 World Series against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium, Cliff Lee received a pop-up up right to him. He didn’t move a muscle, and he made the most nonchalant catch ever. Right after, he made a a flashy snag behind his back on a grounder. Lee dominated that night, leading the Phillies to a Game 1 win.
28. Champs of ’67
Led by Wilt Chamberlin, the 76ers won the NBA championship in 1967. The Sixers had an incredible record that season of 68-13, finishing first in the league. Can I quickly say how Chamberlin averaged 45.5 minutes per game and 24.1 points, per Basketball Reference. The dude was ridiculous.
27. We Win
Tug McGraw closed out game after game for the Phillies in 1980 as they won their first World Series. He’s pictured here at the championship parade holding up the head page of the newspaper saying, “We Win”.
26. Weapon X
This picture is from the 2004 NFC Championship Game. Here, Brian Dawkins hit Alge Crumpler so hard that the 6-foot-2, 262-pound tight end didn’t take another step after the collision, despite running at full speed. Crumpler said that had never happened before. This hit defined Brian Dawkins’ Hall of Fame career.
25. The Shift
Claude Giroux began Game 6 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs like this, rocking Sidney Crosby. Right after the face-off, Giroux went over to Crosby and checked him to the ice. 42 seconds later, Giroux got one in the back of the net to get the Flyers on top first in one of the most electric shifts in NHL history.
24. Stairs Rips One Into the Night
In the eighth inning of Game 4 of the 2008 NLCS, the Phillies were down. And an unexpected hero emerged. Matt Stairs hit an absolute moonshot off of hard-throwing Dodgers’ right-hander Jonathan Broxton to give the Phillies a huge lead. This ended up being one of the most clutch home runs in Phillies history.
23. Brick Wall
In the 2021 Eastern Semi-Finals, the Union and Nashville FC went into penalty kicks to decide the match. Union goalkeeper Andre Blake was dominant all match, and he carried it over to PKs. He made two incredible saves to start and scarred Nashville, forcing them to kick the next two shots over the net to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in club history. After, the Union carried Blake off the pitch.
22. Shootout to Playoffs
In the final game of the 2010 season, the Flyers were a win away from making the playoffs. They went into a shootout with the New York Rangers, who were also a win away from making the playoffs. With Brian Boucher in net, the Flyers took care of business and made it through.
21. The Strip Sack
At the end of Super Bowl 52 with the Eagles up five, Brandon Graham got to Tom Brady, knocked the ball out, and Derek Barnett picked it up to deny Brady from bringing it down the field. This basically secured the Eagles’ win, as Jake Elliot gave the Eagles three more points with a field goal.
20. OT Winner at the Linc
In the 2019 Stadium Series at Lincoln Financial Field, the Flyers had a crazy third-period comeback to force overtime. Captain Claude Giroux got a breakaway, juked one Pittsburgh Penguin, and got the puck past Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray to complete the comeback. I feel this is the perfect Claude Giroux picture, and the perfect moment.
19. Doc’s Playoff No-No
October 6, 2010, Roy Halladay made his first playoff start against the Cincinnati Reds. You could tell Halladay was going to do something special. But no one knew just how special it was going to be. Halladay dominated, and he allowed no hits. That’s right, he threw a no-hitter in his first playoff appearance. This photo is Halladay and catcher Carlos Ruiz’s embrace after the final out.
18. The Doctor Gets a Ring
Julius Erving began his career in the ABA with the New York Nets where he carried them to two championships. When Erving converted over to the NBA, he led the Sixers to the NBA Finals in 1983 where they faced Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers. This was a rematch from when the Lakers swept the Sixers in the finals in 1980. But this time, the tables turned and the Sixers swept the Lakers. The Sixers only lost one game that postseason. This photo is of Erving with his first Finals trophy after the game in the locker room.
17. Beating Lombardi
In 1960 the Eagles faced Vince Lombardi and the mighty Green Bay Packers in the championship game (the name Super Bowl wasn’t adopted yet) at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. Lombardi had never lost a championship, until this day. In this picture, Eagles defenders move in to stop Jim Taylor to secure their 17-13 victory. It was the first time Vince Lombardi ever lost in the playoffs.
16. Sea of Green
This picture is so perfect it doesn’t need an explanation. Also if you zoom in really far, you’ll see me. Have fun trying that.
15. Barber Leap
This is a photo of Bill Barber giving the Flyers the lead in the late 1970s over the Canadiens. A Canadien seemed to fall, and after Barber scored he dove over the goaltender and the player. It’s a very iconic photo, and it earned itself a statue outside of Xfinity Live.
14. Carrying Off Vermeil
The Eagles hosted the 1980 NFC Championship Game against hated rival Dallas Cowboys. After the game commenced and the Birds took home the W by a 20-7 score, Petey Perot and Scott Fitzkee carried their head coach, Dick Vermeil, off the field.
13. Underdogs Run Faster
I don’t need to explain this one.
12. The Doctor
This is just Julius Erving being Julius Erving and doing his thing.
11. Philly Special
Nick Foles did what Tom Brady couldn’t in this game, catch the ball. This picture captures the most memorable play in Super Bowl history (yeah I just said that), the Philly special. The Eagles don’t win the Super Bowl without getting this touchdown on this fourth-down. That’s why it’s so special.
10. Snapping the Streak
It took 96 years for a picture like this to be taken. October 21, 1980, was the night this was taken. And it was the night the Phillies won their first World Series. Tug McGraw, who’s centered in the photo, threw the final pitch, and immediately through his hands up in the air and jumped. And Mike Schmidt in the back, did the same.
9. The Miracle at the New Meadowlands
The Eagles were down by 21 with seven minutes and 28 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. Somehow someway, the Eagles came all the way back. In the final seconds when the New York Giants kicked the ball off to DeSean Jackson, it was all tied up. They scored 21 points in seven minutes and 28 seconds. A short line drive kick from Matt Dodge was bobbled by Jackson, and you know the rest. An incredible 65-yard return marked the second miracle at the Meadowlands.
8. Dr. J vs. Bird
A lot of people don’t know the full story behind this iconic image. So I’m going to tell it to you. On November 9, 1984 things got very heated when the Boston Celtics hosted the Sixers at the old Boston Garden. The best player on each team sparked a legendary brawl that saw future Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Julius Erving go at it. Bird was torching Erving and the Sixers for 42 points in 30 minutes (Erving had been held to six points) when an offensive foul call on Bird led to a scuffle that saw the benches empty and the two throw down. Erving threw a right punch at Bird, and chaos ensued.
7. Buzzer Beater
In 2016 in the NCAA March Madness Championship, Villanova faced off against North Carolina in what some title the greatest March Madness game of all time. In a crazy final five minutes, Villanova in-bounded the ball with 4.7 seconds to go with the game tied at 74. Ryan Arcidiacono brought up the ball, then lateraled the ball to Kris Jenkins, who put up a long three as the time expired. He got the ball off in time and swished it. Villanova had just won NCAA Championship off one of the crazies buzzer-beaters you’ll ever see.
6. Winning it All With a Backup
When Carson Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14 of the 2017 season in Los Angeles to end his MVP-level season as the Eagles quarterback, Nick Foles filled his role. With the Eagles looking to be the front runner for winning the Super Bowl, Foles had undoubtedly lowered that high praise. The Eagles were now first-place underdogs. And Foles did the unthinkable, he led them to their first Super Bowl win in franchise history. Here’s the iconic photo of him lifting the Lombardi trophy in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
5. Winning the Cup
“The Flyers win the Stanley Cup! The Flyers win the Stanley Cup!” Those are the iconic words from Gene Hart when the Flyers won their first Stanley Cup at the Spectrum in 1974. Captain Bobby Clark and goaltender Bernie Parant carried around the cup as fans jumped over the glass and onto the ice to celebrate with them.
4. The Step Over
In Game 1 of the 2001 NBA Final at the Staples Center, the 76ers led by Allen Iverson faced the Los Angeles Lakers led by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neil. In the third quarter, Lakers head coach Phil Jackson made the decision to put Tyronn Lue on Iverson, as Bryant and Derek Fisher couldn’t slow him down. Iverson was limited to three points in the fourth quarter, shooting 20% from the field. Regulation ended with the game tied at 94. So Game 1 went to overtime. In overtime, AI stepped-up making two of his three shots and scoring seven points total, including a transition three to put the Sixers up by two with a minute and 20 seconds left. The Lakers failed to score on the next possession. With 50 seconds remaining, Iverson extended the Sixers’ lead in iconic fashion. After getting the ball in the right corner, he dribbled, crossed over Lue, and drilled a long-two-pointer. Lue fell to the ground after contesting, and the cold-blooded Iverson stepped over him in one of the most memorable single shots in NBA history. The Sixers won the game 107-101 victory, with a stat-line of 48 points, five rebounds, six assists, and five steals for The Answer.
3. “Swing And A Miss, Struck Him Out”
“Fans on their feet, rally towels being waved. [Brad] Lidge… stretches. The 0-2 pitch swing and a miss! Struck him out! The Philadelphia Phillies are the 2008, world champions of baseball! Brad Lidge does it again and stays perfect in the 2008 season, 48-for-48 in save opportunities, and let the city celebrate!” That was Phillies iconic broadcaster Harry Kalas’ call of the final out of the 2008 World Series, which is when this photo was taken.
On March 2, 1962, the Philadelphia Warriors took on the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pennsylvania. But this wasn’t just any normal night at HersheyPark Arena. It was the night Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points. Chamberlain made 36-of-63 field-goal attempts during his historic performance. Below is a photo of his stat line from that night:
He was unbelievable that night. And the photo is even more iconic
Now, for the biggie
1. The Man of Concrete
On November 20, 1960, no rain or snow fell on Yankee Stadium, and the temperature climbed to 58 degrees, a warm autumn day in New York. The field was dirt, and the footing was good. The players on the two teams — the Eagles, who were 6-1, and the New York Giants, who were 5-1-1 and had lost the NFL Championship Game each of the previous two years — could run and cut and accelerate without fear of slipping. They could reach full speed without having to hesitate. In the instant, before they reached each other, both of the players involved in the tackle — the hitter, Chuck Bednarik, and the hittee, Frank Gifford — had done that. Bednarik was 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, and Gifford was 6-foot-1 and 197 pounds, and each was moving as fast as they could. The tackle holds a timeless place in the collective memory of those who know and love football. NFL Films ranked it first on a list of the NFL’s 100 best defensive plays. It inspired author Frederick Exley, in 1968, to write his novel, A Fan’s Notes, about an alcoholic Giants fan from Watertown, N.Y., who becomes obsessed with Gifford. It is one of the rare moments in sports that has its own legend, its own attached myths, in part because it contributed to the Eagles winning the 1960 NFL championship. Even the most casual of fans recognize the photograph that Sports Illustrated’s John G. Zimmerman took seconds after Bednarik delivered the big hit, the most famous photo in NFL history, the image eternal stark: Bednarik standing erect, his right arm raised, looming over Gifford’s body. Bednarik used to love to autograph copies of the photo. Gifford used to flinch whenever he saw it. It’s the most iconic photo in NFL history, and that’s why it’s the most iconic photo in Philly sports history.
That’s it, that’s my list. Let me know what you think in the comments. This list could go in any order, and I would love to hear all of yours.
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