February 18, 2010

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia for John Grant Jr.

by Craig Rybczynski | Rochester Knighthawks

John Grant Jr. looks to continue his historical success in one of his favorite cities Saturday when Rochester visits Philadelphia in NLL action.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

If you see John Grant Jr. walking around Rochester, you might notice his choice of headgear has a common theme. From his Philadelphia 76ers winter hat to his Flyers and Phillies baseball hats, it is obvious what city is home to his favorite sports teams.

Grant returns to that city Saturday, when the Knighthawks play the Wings at 7 p.m.

Grant is a devote Philadelphia Flyers, Phillies, Eagles and 76ers fan. Who could blame him? He spent many weekends in Philadelphia watching his dad, John Grant Sr., play for the Wings. His dad was like a rock star in 1974-75 when he was with Philadelphia.

“Getting drafted and playing with the Philadelphia Wings in ‘74 & ‘75…what a ride! There were many experiences in those two years…appearing on the Mike Douglas TV Show & having a mock game with Gladys Knight and the Pips…meeting many of the top sports personalities of the era i.e.: Julius Irving, Jim Brown, the 1974-5 Philadelphia Flyers to name a few (meeting Elvis Presley was definitely a highlight),” Grant Sr. told Lacrosse – Inside the Game in a 2007 interview.
 
John Grant Sr. brought his newborn son with him to Philly and he was an instant hit. The Philadelphia Wings even put his baby picture in the center of their program with the bold prediction that he would become a lacrosse star in the future.” They were absolutely right.

“I always grew up wanting to play pro lacrosse, and being a Wing was my first choice. I have fond memories of the stories my dad would tell about the glory years in 74-75. I also was able to go to three home games during his comeback tour in '87,” said Grant Jr. “My dad hated flying so we loaded the van with 5-6 of my buddies and headed down to Philly for the weekend. We were able to tour the arenas, meet the fFyers, and on one occasion Michael Jordan. Those were some of the best times of my youth for sure.”

Grant still holds a special place in his heart for the city and his offensive numbers prove that. In 19 regular season games against the Wings, he has 71 goals and 64 assists for 135 points. In his one postseason game, he recorded four points (3g, 1a) against the Wings in 2001.

“I definitely get extra fired up when we play the Wings, especially in their barn,” he said. “The infamous Philly fans are relentless, and are always in my kitchen.  I have relished the few times we have quieted that place.”

His finest two-game series was against the Wings in 2005, as Grant scored 11 goals and added 12 assists in one week. He began with 12 points (2g, 10a) on Feb. 12 in a home win and followed that up with an 11-point effort (9g, 2a) on Feb. 18 in Philadelphia.

“The back-to-back weekend was a lucky weekend where our squad was playing well. I only remember that the ninth goal was a game-winning behind-the-back,” said Grant.

When he went off to college, he also chose a school just 44 miles away from the heart of downtown Philadelphia. He was an instant star at the University of Delaware, which is located southwest of Philly in Newark. Grant played two seasons for the Blue Hens and was named the USILA National Collegiate Player of the Year in 1999. He was also named the Brine/College Lacrosse USA Division I Player of the Year and awarded the USILA Turnball Award as National Attackman of the Year. Additionally, Grant was Delaware’s first USILA First Team All-American and earned America East Player of the Year honors.

The proximity to Philadelphia made frequent trips possible, especially late-night cheesesteak runs. That begs the question, “Who has the best cheese steaks in town?”

“Playing in Delaware was great because of its proximity to Broad Street. I made quick friends with season ticket holders for sure,” said Grant. "The Sunday cheesesteak runs were a blast. To settle the debate, it was always Pat's. I would like to try a place I saw on ‘Man v. Food’, called Tony Luc's."

Did we mention that Grant is from Peterborough, Ontario? You might think he was born in the states with all the sporting gear and love of the Philadelphia cuisine. Yet, Grant continues to succeed in Rochester and recently passed former Wing and Knighthawk Paul Gait for third on the National Lacrosse League’s all-time goal-scoring list. He notched his 411th career goal on February 13th against the Boston Blazers.

“I really don't focus on records or scoring history,” said Grant. “I just want to help my team win.” 

Grant will take aim at his next milestone, which is 900 career points. He stands 47 away from the milestone. He has nine games left to reach that plateau and two of those are against Philadelphia. That could be good news for 35-year-old John Grant Jr.

“Our goal is championship or bust,” said the K-Hawks all-time leading scorer. “We must become a more consistent team, and a better road team. Hopefully, it starts this weekend in the city of brotherly love. Our first road win in Philly will definitely make those late night cheesesteaks taste much better.”


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