Today, Philadelphia celebrates “215 Day”. An annual city celebration created by Paris Nicole, 215 Day commemorates the history of Philadelphia and all its iconic features.
Aside from serving up the best cheesesteak, Philadelphia is known to breed diamonds in the rough, gritty, city of brotherly love. From NBA’s most infamous trash talker Rasheed Wallace, to one of the NFL’s most humble, hard working running backs Eddie George, these athletes were able to rise above the adversity with a place where they say if you make it here, you can make it anywhere.
Philadelphian athletes have a hardiness that is unbreakable, a work ethic that is unmatched, a swag that is untouchable. Many athletes raised in Philadelphia went on to dominate in their respective sports and had respectable careers. Whether it’s basketball, baseball, hockey, or tennis, all Philadelphian athletes embody one key ingredient: toughness. Sorting through a laundry list of impactful people, we narrow down our top five Philadelphia born athletes.
5. Bernard Hopkins
“B-Hop” is recognized as one of the best pound for pound boxers to ever step foot in the ring. Hopkins boxing style was captivating. Swift, speedy, and accurately lethal, Hopkins dominated his opponents for a career record 82% win percentage. Hopkins won a total of 55 fights, earning the nickname “The Executioner” with an impressive 32 knockouts in his career.
4. Marvin Harrison
Marvin Harrison is the crème de la crème when discussing the history of wide receivers in the NFL. Drafted in 1996, Harrison played all 13 seasons of his career with the Indianapolis Colts. Teamed up with hall of fame quarterback Peyton Manning, these two went on to help each other break records that would stand for decades. Harrison logged an unprecedented 143 receptions in the 1999 season, an NFL record at the time. This record stood for over 20 years until wide receiver Michael Thomas of the New Orleans saints broke the record with 149 catches. Harrison continued his dominance with four straight 100 reception seasons, and eight straight seasons in which he scored 10 touchdowns and recorded 1,000 yards. Topping his career off with a championship in Super Bowl XLI, Harrison was inducted into the pro football Hall of Fame in 2016.
3. Joe Fraiser
One of the most iconic names in boxing history, Joe Frazier was one of the most prolific fighters to ever put on a pair of gloves. Born and raised in North Philadelphia, Fraizer was known for his heavy hands and devastating left hook which landed him the nickname “Smokin’ Joe”. Fraizer was also responsible for handing Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer of all time, his fist loss. This bout then turned to trilogy of fights between the two. Fraizer also owned and operated his own boxing gym in Philadelphia, giving back to the community by training those who had the same desire he had to be great. When hearing the name, immediately you think of Howard Cosell’s infamous exclamation “Down goes Fraiser!” in his one of only four career losses. With a grand total of 32 wins, 27 of them coming via knockout, we should remember all the boxers that Frazier put down.
2. Kobe Bryant
Although Bryant was not a true Philadelphian, he was raised in Lower Merion and was a die hard Philadelphia Eagles fan. Dominating his competition, Bryant was drafted straight out of high school in 1996 by the Charlotte Hornets and was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers where he spent his entire NBA career. Bryant had one of the most decorative careers to date: 5x NBA champion, 2x finals MVP, NBA MVP, 4x NBA All-Star MVP and 18x NBA All-Star. Kobe Bryant, to many, was the closest thing to perfection on the basketball court since Michael Jordan, there’s a video to prove it.
1. Wilt Chamberlain
Undoubtedly one of the most dominant figures in all of sports, Wilt Chamberlain was a man amongst boys. Chamberlain went to Overbrook high school in Philadelphia and was unstoppable, even as an adolescent. Chamberlain had the same impact on the NBA, averaging nearly 50 points per game, and was the only person in the history of the NBA to score 100 points. Chamberlain presence was so effective, that the NBA changed the rules due to his dominance. Standing 7’1 chamberlain was able to block shots with ease, allowing no shots to enter the basket. His defense advantage became so unfair, that the NBA decided to make a rule to inhibit his ability to block shots, the goaltending rule. There will never be another Wilt Chamberlain as long as we live.
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