The Southwest Philly Floater and 5 Other Sports Moves That Should Be Named After Philly Neighborhoods
It’s Cousin Bern’s world, we’re all just living in it.
A quick recap: La Salle, by far the smallest of the city’s Division I colleges, went 22-9 this year and qualified for the team’s first NCAA tournament since 1992. The Explorers played in the First Four play-in round, shooting 63 percent to beat Boise State. As a 13 seed in the Round of 64, they jumped to an 18-point halftime lead against 4-seed Kansas State; despite falling behind in the second half, Jerrell Wright’s seven free throws down the stretch were enough for a 2-point win.
La Salle led most of the way against Mississippi in the next round, but were tied with one possession left. This led to Tyrone Garland’s heroics. Taking a handoff with just a few seconds left, the 6-1 junior drove right at Mississippi’s best shot blocker, 6-9 Reginald Buckner, deep in the lane. He faded away at the rim, letting go a high-arching layup and rolled around the net and dropped in, giving the Explorers another exciting win.
And, then, post-game. Interviewed by Craig Sager, Garland shouted out everyone in Southwest Philadelphia. “That’s the Southwest Philly floater, man,” he said of the shot. “Shout out to my cousin Bern, shout out to my mom… all y’all, man. We out here, Southwest!”
This was so, so good. What Philadelphia native doesn’t want to make it on the big stage and then shout out his buddies back at home? Garland got his chance and did what every Philadelphian who’s ever picked up a sport has dreamed of. The Cousin Bern thing could not be any more true. My friend and colleague Dave Zeitlin, who’s been on the Tyrone Garland beat since December, talked with Bernard Tyler and got the origin of the play: “Just get it over the big man and leave it in God’s hands. Being a guard, playing in Southwest Philly, I always told him he would need that in his game. Just having fun with him, I said, ‘That’s the Southwest Philly Floater.'”
As a basketball-obsessed youth who was unfortunately about 5-feet tall until sophomore year of high school, I became mildly proficient with driving the lane on bigger guys, only to fade away at the last second and fling up a high-arching layup. (I called it the running one-hander, which isn’t as good of a name as Southwest Philly Floater, but that makes sense; Garland is thousands of times the player I was.) Every little guy is taught this play or learns it himself on the court.
The Southwest Philly Floater is a pretty great name, but it got me thinking: Haven’t there been other great sporting plays in Philadelphia history that could have been named after sections of the city? I went back and re-named some great Philadelphia-related moments in sports.
The Over, Over, Overbrook
This could refer to pretty much anything in Wilt Chamberlain’s outsized career — his 50.4 points per game in the 1961-62 season, his 55 rebounds in a game, his self-proclaimed tens of thousands of women bedded — but the most famous of them all seems a good choice: His 100-point game in 1962. The feat isn’t really comparable to the modern NBA, but no matter: 100 points in a professional basketball game is the record in sports, never to be duplicated.
The Original West Philly Floater
One of the most famous events in history—well, for trackheads like myself—is Bob Beamon’s record-breaking 29’2.5″ long jump at the 1968 Olympics. He broke the long jump world record by two feet. Beamonesque, they called it. Well, West Philadelphia native Mike Powell actually broke that record in 1991 with a jump of 29’4.5″. Watch the video above. He seems to hang in the air forever.
The Ageless North Philly Punch
Forty-eight-year-old Bernard Hopkins famously keeps himself in such good condition he has the physique of a man 20 years younger, but he outdid himself earlier this month. He outpointed Tavoris Cloud at the Barclays Center to become the oldest man to win a world boxing championship, beating the previous record of 46 years old held by… well, Bernard Hopkins. Check out Hopkins’ BoxRec page. Dude started fighting in 1988. Who was even alive then?
The Delaware County Destruction
Invincible exaggerated things a bit—Papale didn’t quite go from playing sandlot ball to the NFL—but Papale’s real life story of a 30-year rookie special teamer in the NFL was pretty incredible. It is true that he got Dick Vermeil, probably the most-loved coach in Eagles history, his first win. He rushed down the sideline as a gunner on a punt, forced a fumble and recovered it. The Eagles would score on the ensuing possession. Papale rew up in Glenolden, but we’ll count it.
The West Philly Spin
This is the story of a guy chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool, and all shooting some b-ball outside of the school, when a couple of guys, they were up to no good, started making trouble in his neighborhood.