Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What Happens When the Unstoppable Force Meets the Immovable Object?

What happens when the unstoppable force collides with the immovable object?

It has always been a philosophical question. It is a question to which there is no real-world answer.

Until now.

While Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats probably weren’t aware of just how immovable the object really was as they entered this season, they found out on Sunday just how tough it is to represent the city of Philadelphia and reach the summit.

It is true in just about every sport we know and accept. Look at the Eagles. The 21st century has been good to the franchise (well, Terrell Owens and his crap aside). But, did we win a Super Bowl? No. We came close. And we only came close after years of finishing tantalizingly close to the big game. Remember Buddy Ryan? Yeah, those teams were good, too. But no big prize.

Baseball? For five years, we have been hoping to just make the playoffs. In four of the last five season, we were in the hunt until the end or near the end of the season. But no invitation to the playoffs.

Hockey? I don’t think I can count how many times over the past 30 years the Flyers were supposed to be the team to bring home the Stanley Cup. In that time, we made the Stanley Cup finals 7 times. But no Stanley Cup.

Basketball? Only one Finals appearance since the last Philadelphia championship. We even won the first game in that series against the Lakers. We lost in five. No NBA championship.

College basketball? Well, since Villanova won the whole thing in 1985, the city has had four teams make it to the round of 8. One was the 1988 Villanova team, which was as surprising as the success in 1985. But the others… Temple entered the 1988 tournament as a number one seed. St. Joseph’s did the same with Jameer Nelson just a couple of years ago. The Wildcats did it this year. Each time, these number one seeds were unable to make it to College Basketball Mecca- the Final Four. Each time, these teams just one victory shy of the big show.

Heck, we can even throw horse racing into the mix. Smarty Jones came within a few feet of winning the Triple Crown, only to see a lead slip away as they came down the stretch.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the immovable object. The Philadelphia Curse. Yep, I said it. Forget Boston. How many championships have they won? We have the curse. And the curse won’t move- very often. It takes some strange circumstances to make the curse yield.

There wasn’t much expected of the 1980 Phillies. Many predicted them to finish 4th in the 6-team National League East. But things just went really, really well. The Curse had to relent. Things weren’t quite as charmed for the 1983 and 1993 teams. The Sixers had the same kind of mojo in 1983. Ditto the 1985 Wildcats.

The immovable object has a firm plant on this city.

This year’s Villanova squad looked like the unstoppable force. The problems these guys had overcome in the past four years to be as good as they were this year… well… c’mon! They must have been destined to win the whole thing this year. From the phone card incident to the airplane back from Providence in which they thought they might land in the Atlantic Ocean to the devastating injuries to their two dominant big men (Jason Frazier and Curtis Sumpter), it would have been easy for this team to pack it in. Instead, they proceed to dominate a great many opponents this year. They were ranked in the top ten all season. They rightfully earned a number one seed in the tournament.

They looked like the unstoppable force. But that’s not how things work around the City of Brotherly Love. They ran into the immovable object.

And the immovable object won. Again. And we wait. Again.

My compliments to the entire Villanova program for a job well done this season. You did the city proud. You did the city as proud as any team is allowed.

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