Dec 27, 2013, 7:55 AM EDT
Earlier this week, The 700 Level named the Southwest Philly Floater as our #1 favorite Philly sports moment of the year. Now while you can argue that the Snow Bowl was more epic, or that Spencer Hawes not sucking was more mind-blowing, there was no play — or post game interview — that was any more “Philly” than the Southwest Philly Floater.
The shot itself? whatever. It wasn’t even really a floater. More of a hop-step, looping layup that pretty much every combo guard in the country has in his arsenal, regardless of where he grew up. The game? meh. A 13th-seeded mid-major knocking off a 12th-seeded bubble squad happens pretty much every March. But there was something about this moment that was just so “Philly.”
Tyrone Garland (who by the way, is only the THIRD ALL-TIME LEADING SCORER in the Public League’s history, behind only Maureece Rice and a guy named WILTON NORMAN CHAMBERLAIN) didn’t settle for an end-of-the-game pull-up jumper like Carmelo, or a step-back 3 like Steph, he drove it into the paint, because that’s what Philly guards do. Garland’s “Floater” is a high-percentage look in any gymnasium and on every blacktop, regardless of heavy winds or double rims. When the game is on the line in Philly, you don’t launch a fadeaway jumper, you take it to the rack. And then you shout out your whole goddamn neighborhood.
What’s wrong with Philly fans that this makes us SO happy? To have a stupid basketball play — and one of the roughest sections of town — as the lead story on the 11 o’clock SportsCenter? I think it’s clear that we have some sort of major inferiority complex, built up from years of living in the shadows of DC and New York. We don’t have the polish and pull of the nation’s capital, and we can’t even come close to the glitter and glam of the Big Apple. The two biggest celebs we’ve raised in the last 30 years — Will Smith and Kobe Bryant — both stuck us in their rearview mirror on the way to LA. Whether or not we choose to admit it, THIS STINGS US DEEPLY, but when a guy like Tyrone Garland — who left Philly to play ball at Virginia Tech, but then came back! — puts Southwest Philly on the map, it makes us all proud to be from America’s fattest city.
(And by the by, anyone who says Kobe isn’t “Philly,” shut up. Just shut up. The dude’s dad was as Southwest Philly as you can get, playing at the same high school (and college) as Tyrone Garland. Just because Joe Bryant chose to raise his family ZERO POINT THREE MILES west of City Line Avenue, does not mean that his son is a Main Line wimp. If there is a ballplayer whose game is any more “Philly” than Kobe Bryant’s — playing through injuries, attacking the rim, locking up on D — please show him to me. Rasheed Wallace left North Philly for the wine and cheese of Chapel Hill. Does that make him an outsider? KB is a stone cold killa AND he got a 1080 on his SATs.)
The thing is, most Philly fans who leapt out of their seats after Tyrone Garland’s buzzer beater were not from Southwest, nor were they even La Salle basketball fans. I can safely say that La Salle is BY FAR my fifth-favorite city team. Maybe even sixth depending on how Drexel’s lookin’. The only time I ever go to Southwest is to pick up a 50-pack of munchkins from the Dunkin Donuts on Island Avenue on the way to the airport. But after Tyrone Garland knocked off Mississippi, we were all from Southwest. We all had a Cousin Bern. And we all considered Craig Sager to be the world’s biggest dork.
For one night in March, it didn’t matter if you were #TempleMade or belonged to the Merion Cricket Club, Tyrone Garland was representin’ for all of us. Nowhere else in the world did coaches teach their guards to take it into big guy’s necks. Nowhere else did fellas rock pointy, bushy beards. Nowhere else did people get goosebumps by simply watching the opening credits of Trading Places. Only in the 2-1-5. Only in Illadelph.
Lionel Simmons played Gameboy like a boss.
Yeah, we might mispronounce the plural form of “you”, and our public school system is a friggin’ joke, but this is the home of the Southwest Philly Floater. The town where Ben Franklin invented a little somethin’ called E-LEC-TRICITY. The place where the fastest, most bonkers offense in the NFL put up 54 big ones against the Chicago Bears.
Next victim: the bitch-ass Dallas Cowboys.
Follow The Evster @TVMWW.
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