I love everything about The Levis.
The 94WIP Awards aren’t just a chance for us to argue, debate, and reminisce about the last two decades of Philadelphia sports. They are also a chance to pay homage to the people that truly make WIP special: The listeners and callers.
Darren Levi Cephas was one caller, but he represented so many. Whenever “Levi from Overbrook” would pop on the call screen, I knew he’d have something good to say. Sometimes he’d be upset at me. Sometimes we’d agree. But he always had an opinion on something, and the 94WIP Awards would be no different.
Here’s how I’d fill out my ballot, including a Sixers take that I’d love to hear Levi’s opinion on.
Best Sixers player of the 2000s
My vote: Joel Embiid
Move over, AI. Embiid is now the top Sixers star of the last 20 years, and what a ride it has been to get here. The Sixers big man has preserved through injuries, personal struggles, front office discord, an ever-evolving roster and a nightmare of a 2019-2020 season that included the team allowing his favorite teammates to leave in order to sign a backup center for huge money.
I’ll admit: I got down on Embiid last year. His immaturity seemed like it wasn’t changing. He didn’t look the same physically. I was tired of watching him wear his (negative) emotions on his sleeves so often. But something has changed (likely natural evolution of a young superstar NBA player) and it’s led to a special season. Embiid is a true NBA MVP candidate (I’d give him the edge over LeBron James right now), and the most impactful two-way player the Sixers have had in two decades.
Yes, that includes Iverson. We’ll see if a Finals run commences with Embiid, or if he’ll ever have his ‘steps over Tyron Lue’ moment. But Embiid is simply a better and more dominant basketball player that contributes more to winning. I doubted Embiid could get here, but he’s arrived. Let’s enjoy it for as long as it lasts.
Best Philadelphia sports franchise of the 2000s
My vote: Eagles
The Eagles won the vote here, and it shouldn’t have even been close. Thirteen playoff trips, six NFC Championship Games, and only five seasons with losing records is outstanding.
Best trade in Philadelphia sports of the 2000s
My vote: Phillies acquire Roy Halladay
Ruben Amaro Jr. doesn’t get enough credit for taking a World Series team and doing everything possible to win more. The Halladay deal turned out to be his white whale, and worth the wait.
Best coach/manager of the 2000s
My vote: Andy Reid
Reid is the best coach this city has had in decades, and it might be decades more before a better one arrives.
Best Flyers player of the 2000s
My vote: Claude Giroux
Good to very good, but not great. Giroux sums up the last 20 years of Flyers hockey perfectly.
Draft steal of the 2000s
My vote: Jason Kelce
A borderline Hall of Fame center in the sixth round will go down as one of the best draft picks in Eagles history.
Best executive of the 2000s
My vote: Howie Roseman
Despite the current feeling in the city about Roseman, he’s clearly the most accomplished executive in this city since 2000. Pat Gillick did some nice things, but let’s not pretend the core of the Phillies (Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard) wasn’t in the organization before he arrived.
Best moment of the 2000s
My vote: Brandon Graham strip sack of Tom Brady
It was the moment I screamed “the Eagles are going to win the Super Bowl!” in my basement, trying not to wake up my then three-year-old son and infant daughter upstairs. One or both may have woken up. I don’t remember. But we’ll all remember BG knocking that ball out forever.
Best role player of the 2000s
My vote: Nick Foles
I disagree with the idea of Foles as a role player, but will vote for my guy here.
Best Philly sports team of the 2000s (single-season)
My vote: 2017 Eagles
The most special Eagles team of all time was two different teams wrapped up into one: A dominant regular season team that racked up a +162 point differential (often blowing teams out like a big-time college football program) and then a true underdog in the postseason. What a year.
Biggest Philly sports blunder of the 2000s
My vote: Alshon Jeffery drop vs. the Saints
The category is blunder, but I’ll spin this to a ‘what if’ question: If Alshon catches the ball, how much of the Eagles' future changes? Foles in a second-straight championship game? The entire franchise, including how the Carson Wentz saga plays out, would have changed.
Best Phillies player of the 2000s
My vote: Chase Utley
And it’s not even close. The best player and most important player on the 2008 Phillies. A future Hall of Famer (trust me on this one). We may never see a second baseman as good in this city ever again. My official ranking: 1. Utley 2. Jimmy Rollins 3. Cole Hamels 4. Ryan Howard.
Best Philly sport athlete of the 2000s
My vote: Brian Dawkins
A unique combination of Hall of Fame play, winning career and beloved by the entire fan base.
Best Eagles player of the 2000s
My vote: Brian Dawkins
GOAT is different from the best. Foles was my GOAT of Broad Street, but Dawkins is the best player of the last 20 years to wear an Eagles jersey.
Best Philly sports game of the 2000s
My vote: Eagles Super Bowl win vs. Patriots
Any Super Bowl win by the Eagles would have been special. But to do it in a shootout against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick made it that much sweeter.
Caller of the Year
My vote: Chuck from Mt. Airy
So many to choose from, but Chuck's rise to the top caller of the last year was cemented by his passion in the Wentz discussion. When “Chuck from Mt. Airy” is on the call board, you know the show’s energy is about to change. Levi would be proud.