Commentary

Comebacks are common in Philadelphia

Originally Published: December 2, 2009
By Mike Lynch | ESPN Stats & Information

Allen Iverson is not the first athlete to return to Philadelphia after an extended absence. Check out some other examples:

BASKETBALL

Moses Malone
Al Messerschmidt/Getty ImagesMoses was long in the tooth when he returned for his second go-round with the Sixers.

Moses Malone: Malone played for the 76ers from 1982 to 1986. His presence brought a title to a Sixers team that previously couldn't get over the hump (losing in the NBA Finals in 1977, 1980 and 1982). However, the 76ers traded Malone to the Washington Bullets on June 16, 1986. He did return to play 55 games for the Sixers in the 1993-94 season, averaging 5.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game as he neared 40 years old. Like Iverson, Malone was an NBA MVP in his first stint with the 76ers. Both led the Sixers to the NBA Finals -- but Malone, unlike Iverson, won a title (and was the 1983 NBA Finals MVP).

Wilt Chamberlain: The Big Dipper spent his first three NBA seasons playing for the Philadelphia Warriors (1959 to 1962). The Warriors then relocated to San Francisco for the 1962-63 season, taking the hometown legend with them. However, Chamberlain was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers (formerly the Syracuse Nationals) in January 1965. Like Iverson, Chamberlain won Rookie of the Year, NBA MVP and All-Star Game MVP in his first stint in Philadelphia. He added three more NBA MVPs after returning to Philly as a 76er. In 1967, he also led the franchise to its first title since moving from Syracuse.

Jeff Ruland: Ironically, Ruland was the main prize of the 76ers' ill-fated Moses Malone trade in the summer of 1986. The 76ers dealt Malone, Terry Catledge and two first-round picks to the Bullets in exchange for Ruland and Cliff Robinson (the one from USC, not UConn). The trade was every bit as bad as it sounds. Ruland played just five games for the 76ers in the 1986-87 season and eventually retired due to foot injuries. Ruland made a brief comeback with the 76ers in the 1991-92 season and played in 13 games before getting injured once again.

Derrick Coleman: On Nov. 30, 1995, the 76ers acquired Coleman (along with Rex Walters and Sean Higgins) from the New Jersey Nets in exchange for Shawn Bradley, Greg Graham and Tim Perry. Coleman played a grand total of 127 games for the 76ers over the next three seasons, averaging about 18 points and 10 rebounds per game in his final two seasons with the team. He then cashed in and signed a $40 million deal with the Charlotte Hornets. Meanwhile, the 76ers advanced to the NBA playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade. The defending Eastern Conference champion 76ers then traded for Coleman shortly before the 2001-02 season. A franchise that had won five playoff series in its previous three seasons has won a grand total of one playoff series since.

HOCKEY

[+] EnlargeRon Hextall
John Giamundo/Getty ImagesHextall had a lot of success in his stints with the Flyers.

Ron Hextall: Hextall was a goalie with the Flyers from 1986 to 1992. As a rookie, he won the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Vezina Trophy as the Flyers fell one win shy of winning their third Stanley Cup. Hextall was then part of the Flyers' trade with the Quebec Nordiques for Eric Lindros in the summer of 1992 (the Nordiques-turned-Colorado-Avalanche would eventually win the Stanley Cup with the massive haul). After two seasons away from Philly, Hextall was shipped back to the Flyers from the New York Islanders before the 1994-95 season in exchange for Tommy Soderstrom. He went on to play five more seasons with the Flyers, and was a member of the 1997 Flyers team that advanced to the Stanley Cup finals.

Mark Recchi: Recchi was an All-Star with the Flyers in 1993 and 1994, and played with the team from February 1992 until he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in February 1995. That trade worked out well for the Flyers: John LeClair and Eric Desjardins were two of the three players they got in return. Recchi returned to the team in March 1999 and was an All-Star with the team once again in 2000. Recchi remained with the Flyers until he signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins in July 2004.

BASEBALL

Mickey Morandini: Morandini was more than just the best name for Phillies fans to say when impersonating broadcaster Harry Kalas. Morandini played for the Phillies from 1990 to 1997, making one All-Star Game. Notably, he and Mariano Duncan formed the second-base platoon on the Phillies' pennant-winning 1993 team. In the winter of 1997, Morandini was traded to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for center fielder Doug Glanville. He played two seasons for the Cubs, and then was signed as a free agent by the Montreal Expos in 2000. The Phillies purchased him from the Expos, and Morandini played 91 games for the 2000 Phillies. In August of that season, they traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays for a player to be named later that eventually was Rob Ducey.

FOOTBALL

Jeremiah Trotter: Trotter played middle linebacker for the Eagles from 1998 to 2001, and was a Pro Bowler in 2000 and 2001. Trotter was not happy with his salary situation with the Eagles, and signed with the Washington Redskins before the 2002 season. Trotter spent 2002 and 2003 playing for the Redskins, but was not the same player. The Redskins released Trotter in the summer before the 2004 season. Trotter was signed again by the Eagles in July 2004, and eventually won back his starting middle linebacker job. He made the Pro Bowl again in 2004 and 2005, and helped lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl in the 2004 season. The Eagles released Trotter before the 2007 season as his play, and health, were deteriorating. He played three games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2007 and then was out of football until the Eagles signed him once again this season.

Rocky Balboa
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesDon't forget about Rocky, and his many comebacks!

A.J. Feeley: The career backup QB endeared himself to Philly fans when he piloted the Eagles into the 2002 playoffs in place of the injured Donovan McNabb. He was subsequently traded to Miami and San Diego. He signed back with the Eagles in 2006, returning to the city where he belonged all along. Come on, his name even sounds like Philly.

BOXING

Rocky Balboa: This inspiring hero made many comebacks. He's a global conqueror. He's also conflicted. He once said, "I'm a fighter! That's how I'm made, Adrian. That's what you married. We can't change what we are." Soon afterward, he said, "If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change." Not surprisingly, this conflict mirrors Philadelphia's view of larger-than-life figures. There's no middle ground. They're either lionized or demonized. The truth, of course, lies somewhere in the middle. Even our heroes can make grievous mistakes.

Mike Lynch is a member of the ESPN Stats & Information team. Thomas Neumann also contributed to this list.

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