The city of broad shoulders prides itself on legendary architecture, gorgeous beaches, decadent food, and our professional sports teams and athletes.
The major teams in town, The Cubs, Sox, Bulls, Bears, and Blackhawks have great players on their clubs, but who is the best of the best?
Evaluating the resumes of the current crop of Second City athletes was difficult and an arduous task, but that is a great thing because that means the pickings weren’t slim, and the city is flush with talented athletes in every sport.
I have comprised four athletes that represent the best the city has to offer who will represent the Mount Rushmore of Chicago.
Brian Urlacher– the Bears linebacker came to Chicago in the 2000 draft out of New Mexico and quickly became a fan favorite making plays en route to winning the Rookie of the Year award. He holds the record for career tackles made by a Bear, making eight trips to the Pro Bowl and winning the AP Defensive player of the year award in 2005.
The Bears have played the best football the team has seen since the glory days of 1985 with him in the middle of the defensive huddle. His #54 jersey is seen everywhere in the city and Urlacher became a lock to represent the city after taking the Bears to the Super Bowl during the 2006 season. The Bears are known for their defense and their middle linebackers and Urlacher is destined to join Bill George, Dick Butkus, and Mike Singletary in Canton, Ohio, and the NFL Hall of Fame when his playing career is over.
Paul Konerko– Another veteran to the Chicago sports landscape, Konerko has cemented himself as the best Chicago baseball player in the 21st century. A bit of a late bloomer who did not experience the love affair that Urlacher had right away. However, Konerko’s been like a fine wine and aged gracefully as he is currently playing his best baseball at 36 and emerging as a potential Hall of Fame candidate if he continues his career renaissance.
The five-time All-Star has flirted with hitting .400 the first two months of the season as he has led the White Sox into first place in the American League Central. With more than 400 homeruns as a member of the club and a World Series on his resume the decision to add Konerko to the Mount Rushmore of Chicago is a no-brainer.
Derrick Rose– Unlike the first two stars who had to come to Chicago from college or other organizations, respectively, Rose has been a Chicagoan since birth, winning two state titles at Simeon Academy before his one year at the University of Memphis ended in the championship game vs. Kansas.
Like Urlacher, Rose took home the Rookie of the Year honors after directing the Bulls back into the playoffs. A lightning quick ascension to the top of the game’s elite has set the optimism sky high for Bulls fans since he donned the Bulls jersey. An All-Star in just his second season was surpassed when he became the league’s youngest winner of the MVP award in his third season, becoming only the second Bull to win the award.
Rose suffered a torn ACL in his knee during the first round of the NBA playoffs this season, which left the city in a state of sorrow and despair for weeks. The work ethic and dedication Rose has shown on the court has me convinced that he will regain the explosion and speed that has made him one of the game’s elite players. The future is still bright for Rose and the Bulls and after signing an extension in the off-season, he will be in his hometown for years to come.
Jonathan Toews– Another young superstar like Rose fills the fourth and final spot on Chicago’s Mount Rushmore. Toews and Rose represent the next generation of Chicago athletes as Urlacher and Konerko are on the back end of their illustrious careers whereas Rose and Toews are just getting started. The third overall pick in the NHL draft in 2006 was the runner-up to his teammate, Patrick Kane in rookie of the year honors and won a gold medal at the 2010 Olympics.
However, the single event that qualified Toews for inclusion on this exclusive list is that Toews has done something that Urlacher and Rose are still chasing, that is winning a title in their respective sport. Toews captained the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup in 2010 winning the Conn Smythe as the MVP of the postseason in the process. The 24- year old Center for the Blackhawks signed a long-term extension after winning the Cup and like Rose will have roots in Chicago for the foreseeable future.
Did your favorite make the cut?