Chicago sports has always been filled with great figures

15 Of The Most Iconic Figures In Chicago Sports History

Chicago sports fans have been blessed with great teams in the past and present. These are the players and coaches who helped build great teams in Chicago professional sports.

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Chicago has always been one of the premier sports cities in America. In all four major North American sports they have fielded some of the best teams of all time in their respective sports. The Bulls, Blackhawks, Bears, Cubs, and White Sox have all had periods of supremacy in 4 competitive leagues. Players and coaches have come and gone, but the truly great ones live in the hearts of fans forever. From the gridiron to the hardwood, these are Chicago's greatest sports icons.

1. Walter Payton, Bears 

Walter Payton was more than just a great running back, he was, and still is, one the most celebrated players in the NFL history. Sweetness is the epitome of great Bears' running backs. His never die easy attitude made him one of the most legendary players ever. He broke Jim Brown's rushing record in 1984, won an MVP award, and won a Super Bowl in 1985. Payton's status as an all time great will never be challenged. Attend a Bears game in 2018 and you will still see number 34 jerseys in the stands.

2. Michael Jordan, Bulls

Michael Jordan put the Chicago Bulls on the map as soon as he entered the league in 1984. It was apparent early on that he would cause headaches for the rest of the league for many years to come. Jordan didn't just win 6 NBA championships and 5 MVPs. He made the game of basketball a global sport. That was never more apparent than during the 1992 Olympic games when Jordan was a part of the legendary Dream Team. Everywhere the team went, everyone wanted to get a glimpse of the best player in the world.

3. Stan Mikita, Blackhawks 

The late Stan Mikita spent his entire 22-year career in the windy city. He still leads the Blackhawks in games played, points, and assists. He was a gentleman off the ice and his impact was felt by everyone. He helped Chicago hoist the Stanley Cup in 1961.

4. Frank Thomas, White Sox 

Frank Thomas was a force to be reckoned with. "The Big Hurt" was the face of the White Sox as their first baseman and designated hitter for 16 years. Thomas was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014. He chose to have his White Sox hat in his hall of fame plaque.

5. Ernie Banks, Cubs 

Ernie Banks defined what it meant to be a Chicago Cub. The man they called "Mr. Cub" was one of the best shortstop's baseball has ever seen. He was the first player to win back-to-back NL MVP awards in 1958-59. Despite never appearing in the postseason, Banks is one of the most legendary Chicago athletes ever.

6. Dick Butkus, Bears

Dick Butkus was the original Monster of the Midway. His demeanor on the field struck fear in the hearts of his opponents. Butkus played in a time before roughing the passer was a serious concern for quarterbacks, and he took full advantage of that. He spent his entire 9-year career with the Bears. During his playing days, he set the bar high for any and all middle linebackers who come to Chicago, Illinois.

7. Scottie Pippen, Bulls 

Scottie Pippen was Jordan's right-hand man during their dynasty in the 90s. He was one of the defining players of his generation and was an iconic Bulls player. For all of Michael Jordan's greatness there would be no dynasty without number 33 by his side.

8. Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks 

Jonathan Toews came to the right town at the right time when he was drafted 3rd overall by Chicago in 2006. In his second season Toews was named team captain, the second youngest in NHL history at the time. In 2010, Toews and the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1961. Toews also won the Con Smythe Trophy in 2010 as playoff MVP. He would go on to lead the Blackhawks to two more Stanley Cups in 2013 and 2015. Toews' leadership has kept the Hawks moving forward as he's left his mark in NHL history.

9. "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, White Sox 

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson was a superstar outfielder in the early 1900s. He will be forever linked to the "Black Sox Scandal", when players of the 1919 White Sox fixed the World Series. Jackson was banned from professional baseball in his prime.

10.  George Halas, Bears 

There probably wouldn't be a National Football League if it weren't for George Halas. Halas started his career as an end with the Decatur Staleys. He would move them to Chicago and the Staleys would become the Bears. Halas was a player, coach, and owner for the Bears from 1920 to 1983. He won 6 NFL championships and was the winningest head coach in history when he retired. "Papa Bear" was a co-founder of the NFL way back in 1920. In 1963 Halas and 16 other inductees was a charter member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Bears wouldn't be where they are today if it wasn't for Halas. No coach or owner had more respect from his players than George Halas.

11.  Patrick Kane, Blackhawks 

Patrick Kane was and is one of the cornerstones of the Chicago Blackhawks modern NHL dynasty. He helped lead the Hawks to 3 Stanley Cups from 2010-2015. In 2013 He won the Con Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Kane was the first American player in the NHL to win both the Hart Memorial Trophy as MVP, and the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion. His fast and electric play on the ice has made him one of the most entertaining players of his generation. Kane helped bring the Hawks to glory in the 2010s.

12.  Gale Sayers, Bears 

Gale Sayers was a once in a lifetime athlete. The "Kansas Comet" burst onto the NFL scene like no other rookie had before or since. His God-given talent made him one of the greatest running backs the game has ever seen. He only played pro football for 7 seasons, as knee injuries cut his career short. Bears fans are left to wonder what could have been. But during his time in cleats, Gale Sayers was the perfect Chicago running back.

13.  Joel Quenneville, Blackhawks 

Joel Quenneville was the head man in Chicago from 2008 to 2018. In that span he won 3 Stanley Cups and became the second winningest coach in NHL history. He led the Blackhawks to 9 straight playoff appearances. His personality and leadership were critical in Chicago's success in the rink. He may have been fired recently, but the memories he helped create in Chicago won't be forgotten by true Blackhawks fans.

14.  Ryne Sandberg, Cubs 

Ryne Sandberg spent nearly his entire career in a Cubs uniform. Sandberg was one of the best second baseman of all time. His stats speak for themselves. When he retired, he had hit more home runs than any second basemen in history.

15.  Mike Ditka, Bears 

Mike Ditka was a typical Chicago Bear. He was a tough player and he revolutionized the tight end position. He became the head coach of the Bears in 1982 and three years later he led the Bears to their first Super Bowl title. His toughness defined him both in the field and on the sidelines. He is one of the most iconic figures in Chicago sports as a player and coach.

Chicago is the 3rd largest city in America. Their professional sports franchises have brought championships and many great memories to the residents of the great city. Some teams will have their ups and downs in the future. But Chicago's past proves that good times are ahead. Each major sports league has historic franchises in Chicago and the memories these icons created will last a lifetime.

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11 Things Fastpitch Softball Players Know To Be True

You'll never remember your Facebook password, but you'll remember softball cheers for the rest of your life.
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There comes a time in every little girl's life when she must come to terms with the fact that she will never play Major League Baseball. So, she turns to softball. From tee-ball to coach-pitch to travel ball, to playing on your school team, softball has played a crucial role in your life. It taught you the value of teamwork, the importance of sunscreen, and introduced you to your best friends. For former and current fastpitch players alike, these truths are universal.

1. The rays of a thousand suns couldn't even out your tan lines.

Tan arms and a V-neck tan line is the unofficial uniform of the softball player. Years after you stop playing softball, at 2 p.m. on the second Monday of every month when the sun is shining through your bathroom window at a 90-degree angle, you'll swear you can still see the slightest hint of a racerback tan line between your shoulders. Good luck finding a flattering sundress!

2. Pitchers are a different breed of human.

It's a tale as old as time: You saw that the pitchers got to skip all of the intense drills at practice so they can go off to the side with the catcher to chat and have a catch for an hour and you said, "I gotta get in on that." So, your dad paid for your pitching lessons, you mimicked Jennie Finch as best as you could, and three years later, you're contemplating changing your name just to forget about that time you spent as a pitcher. Successful pitchers must have no other interests, future career goals, or a family who loves them because pitching just destroys everything you believe in. If you do survive being a pitcher, congratulations, because you are now fully equipped with nerves of steel that will allow you to conquer the worst that life has to throw at you.

3. An 8 a.m. game on Sunday means you had a really bad Saturday.

Where is the most tranquil and somber place that people often go to on Sunday mornings to reflect on their wrongdoings? No, not church. It's the softball field. When you have to be at the field before the sun, you start thinking irrationally, like "Maybe if I used the Demarini instead of the Stealth in the third inning of the second game yesterday we would've only lost by six runs instead of seven which would have put us in the winner's bracket!" Have fun running a lap for every error you made the day before.

4. If the other team is wearing shorts, you know you're going to win.

There's just so much leg! Shorts and softball go together like ketchup and strawberry jelly, as in, that's what your knees are going to look like if you even attempt to slide wearing a pair of shorts. Don't even get me started on the tan line from mid thigh to mid shin. You know the one. This is the big leagues, ladies, put on some pants.

5. If you aren't dirty after a game, you didn't play hard enough.

If you don't come home from a tournament, look in the mirror, and go, "Wow I got a good tan today!" only to take a shower and find out that it was all just dirt, then you probably missed that slide sign from the third base coach when you were rounding second.

6. Cheers are a necessary evil.

Cheering in softball is like having a dead-end job that you hate; it's unfulfilling, robs you of your dignity, and tires you out, but you have to do it anyway. You'll never remember your Facebook password, your parents' anniversary, or that you left your laundry in the washer, but you'll remember softball cheers for the rest of your life. Unless, of course, you fall into the water and bump your little head like that damn froggy.

7. Pre-wrap is a hot commodity in the dugout.

"I'll trade you a bag of Ranch sunflower seeds for your light blue pre wrap."

"No way, I had to get my mom to drive me to three different Sports Authority's last night just to find this color!"

8. You may get along with other teams between games, but they are not your friends on the field.

It's perfectly normal to meet another player in line for the bathroom at a tournament, compliment her on her cheetah print hair ribbon, and then trash talk her on the field half an hour later. You can make it up to her by giving her a high five and a poignant smile in the handshake line after the game.

9. If you get hit by a pitch and there aren't lace marks in your skin, it's really just a waste of time.

You love being able to showcase your bruises at school on Monday when all of your non-softball friends ask, "Does it hurt to get hit with a fastball?" and you can coolly and calmly answer, "Nah." Bruises up your street cred, and lace marks are just bonus points. So, when you don't have any stitching embedded in your skin, you wish you could just have the chance to bat. Take your base.

10. When the bat meets the ball juuuuuust right, it is the most powerful feeling in the world.

Your dad was right when he told you to keep your head down when you swing. You always thought that the "sweet spot" of the bat was just a myth until you hit your first home run. The rush of adrenaline will make you feel so powerful that you'll try to see if you can pick up a car in the parking lot with your bare hands after the game, but you still can't.

11. You will always consider your team to be your best friends.

After spending every weekend together, you and your team create a bond so close that it borders on uncomfortable. You may take out your frustrations on each other from time to time like when someone steps on the freshly chalked line before the game, or when you all fight over the ball with the best, most prominent laces for your warm up toss. But at the end of the day, your team will always be the biggest bunch of weirdos you know, and that is irreplaceable.

Cover Image Credit: Art Mad

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Why We Should All Feel Bad For Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant put his career on the line during the NBA finals due to his love for basketball and the team. The decisions was very brave and courageous, but he was wronged in his return by the team.

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Kevin Durant has had a hurt calf muscle for a few weeks. He was cleared to play Monday night ahead of game 5 when the Warriors were facing elimination on Monday night. The odd part of this was he was finally cleared to play by the team doctors when the Warriors were on the verge of losing the championship. The doctors said there is no way he could reinjure his calf, but instead he blew out his Achilles. I have been a critical person of Kevin for his basketball decisions, but this one gave me a huge amount of respect for him and I salute and appreciate his passion for the game.

The problem that I have with this is I find it wrong that he was cleared despite wanting to play. I respect Kevin for wanting to play and not let the fans or his teammates down and I understand his choice. He also felt better, but that does not mean he was ready to go play in an NBA Finals game without much practice or physical activity. The move in which he made that hurt his leg was a normal basketball move that he obviously was not ready for, so many people are thinking he hurt his Achilles instead of his calf in the first place which is much more serious.

The team doctors and management allowed him to play and it will have some impact on his career because he will miss a year and the Achilles injuries are proven to be the worst type of injury for a basketball player. The player loses athleticism, their vertical jump decreases, their ability to play as many minutes per game. Many players have suffered Achilles injuries in many sports and their game no matter what sport was never the same.

Kobe Bryant was a player who suffered an Achilles injury and he never played the same near the end of his career. He was never the same player. Dominique Wilkins was another player who suffered the injury in the 90s was able to come back and still have a few good years left. Kevin is 30 years old and will be entering his 13th season when he returns in one year and will most likely miss the entire 2020-2021 basketball season. He is a free agent this summer and is due to be paid nearly 200 million and there are many teams who love his game. He will still get paid a max contract despite his injury but it is possible he will never play as well as he did.

Kawhi Leonard was a player for the San Antonio Spurs last year when he came down with an injury. He was cleared to play in the middle of the season and he did, but he felt he was not playing to his potential. He then went to a personal doctor with no connection to the team and got a second opinion on his injury and they did not clear him to play. Kawhi was advised to keep resting and rehabbing his thigh injury and the Spurs kept insisting he play. This situation just goes to show you how the team does what is in the best interest of them instead of the player and that is wrong. I hope more athletes see this situation and try to avoid playing injured so they can get paid as they truly deserve because they work hard to be who they are.

Kevin Durant is a true competitor and has great love, heart, and passion for the game and I respect him playing through his injury. It is truly a shame what happened to top him because the basketball world needs him because he is one of the best players in the league and always competing for titles. The basketball world wishes him the best and we are all hoping he defies the odds and comes back as the all-time great player that he once was because he deserves it for putting it all on the line.

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