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Chicago Sun Times' Top 10 Black Sports Heroes in Chicago
I wonder if the "Corked Bat Problem" hurt Sammy Sosa's chance of making the Top 10 list?
Chicago's top 10 black sports heroes
Chicago Sun Times - February 19, 2006
February is Black History Month, so what better time for the Sunday Drive to take a spin down memory lane with Lacy J. Banks as he recalls the 10 top black sports celebrities who've made Chicago their home.
This is not a sophisticated poll, so there may be differences of opinion as to who should make the top 10, who should be first, second and third and who should make honorable mention.
But regardless of order and selection, Tim Black, a retired history professor in the Chicago college system, says, "There's no question that black athletes have brought much honor to Chicago and enriched its sports history.''
Here's Banks' list of athletes who've lived in Chicago for at least a couple of years.
1: MUHAMMAD ALI
Though born in Louisville, the three-time world heavyweight champion lived in Chicago, where he met and married his first two wives, from 1964 to 1969 and from 1974 to 1978.
The Greatest deserves top billing because he transcended sports and still might be the most recognizable athlete in the world. A human rights advocate, Ali refused induction into the army in 1967 during the Vietnam War because of his beliefs. He was stripped of his title and barred from the ring in his prime for 3-1/2 years. He supported his family through speaking engagements and lived in Chicago most of that time.
"He lived on the South Side, first in a house in the 8500 block of South Jeffrey,'' said Herbert Muhammad, his former manager.
"When he returned in the '70s, he bought a house in the 4900 block of Woodlawn for $65,000, rehabbed it and later sold it for about $500,000. Ali really loved Chicago. He especially loved running around that outdoor track in Washington Park.''
Howard Bingham, Ali's personal photographer and best friend for more than 40 years, said Ali lived and trained in Chicago for his first two bouts with Sonny Liston and seven other fights, including his 1967 victory over Ernie Terrell, another top heavyweight contender who lived most of his life in Chicago.
2: MICHAEL JORDAN
Acclaimed by many as the greatest basketball player ever, Jordan has lived in the Chicago area since the Bulls drafted him in 1984. He says Chicago always will be his home. He played his first 13 NBA seasons for the Bulls and led them to six NBA championships while winning a slew of individual honors, including 10 scoring titles, five regular-season MVPs and six Finals MVPs.
3: JOE LOUIS
Black remembers "The Brown Bomber'' moving to Chicago from Detroit in 1935. "He came here to marry his first wife, Marva Trotter,'' Black said, "and he lived here for at least 10 years while his boxing career took off. He lived in the Michigan Boulevard apartments, and I remember attending his first two fights.'' Louis was the world heavyweight champion for 11-1/2 years and had 25 title defenses.
4: JESSE OWENS
In his track and field heyday, Owens was the "world's fastest human.'' His greatest accomplishment was winning four gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics in front of Adolf Hitler to shatter the Nazi myth of Aryan supremacy. Owens moved to Chicago in 1949, worked in public relations and lived in the city for the rest of his life before dying in his vacation home in Phoenix.
5: WALTER PAYTON
A native of Mississippi, the Hall of Fame running back was the darling of Chicago during his 12-year career with the Bears. "Sweetness'' was admired for his friendly personality and genuine kindness. He was involved with numerous charitable causes off the field.
6: WILLYE WHITE
For 46 years, this five-time Olympian and two-time silver medalist called Chicago home. She spent 37 of those years doing a lot of professional and volunteer work in the inner-city community helping poor children. The "Queen of Chicago Sports'' competed on 39 U.S. national teams in some 150 different countries.
7: ERNIE BANKS
During his 19-year career, "Mr. Cub'' never led the team to the World Series. But the Hall of Fame shortstop, two-time MVP and 11-time All-Star hit 512 home runs and became a local sports icon.
8: JACK JOHNSON
In 1908, he became the first black world heavyweight champion. He lived dangerously, beating white men in the ring and dating and marrying white women outside the ring. "He moved here in 1910 and lived here at least 20 years,'' Black said. "They had his funeral at Pilgrim Baptist Church at 33rd and Indiana and buried him in Graceland Cemetery.''
9: RALPH METCALFE
He won a gold medal and a silver medal in the 1936 Olympics. Metcalfe finished second to Owens in the 100-yard dash, and Hitler refused to shake their hands as he had done with other medal winners. He lived most of his life in Chicago and rose to political prominence representing Illinois in Congress.
10: ISIAH THOMAS
This native Chicago Hall of Fame guard was one of basketball's most talented little guys. He has been involved in every level of the game. Thomas won two titles with the Pistons and has been a coach, owner and general manager in the NBA and was the commissioner of the Continental Basketball Association.
Dorothy Gaters, Barbara Jones Slater, Ken Williams, Gale Sayers, Sonny Liston, Ernie Terrell, Dusty Baker, Billy Williams, Donovan McNabb, Larry Doby, Sammy Sosa and Minnie Minoso.
I think Bryant Gumbel was saying "If we as blacks get the chance to compete, we will do well. Here's an example that just happened today.
TORINO (AP) -- Shani Davis knew what he was doing. Davis became the first black to win an individual gold medal in Winter Olympic history Saturday, capturing the men's 1000m speed skating race. Joey Cheek made it a 1-2 American finish, adding a silver to his victory in the 500m.
Erben Wennemars of the Netherlands captured the bronze.
Chad Hedrick, skating the weakest of his individual events, put up an early time that stood until Davis bested it in the 19th of 21 pairs with a clocking of 1 minute, 8.89 seconds.
Four other skaters passed Hedrick as well, leaving the Texan in sixth place - still an impressive showing considering he was skating the 1000m for only the seventh time in his career.
Davis came under scrutiny for skipping the team pursuit - especially when the Hedrick-led squad was knocked out in the quarterfinals, doomed by a slow skater who might not have been on the ice if Davis was available.
But Davis, world record holder in the 1000m, wanted to focus on his signature event. It certainly paid off.
After crossing the line and spotting his time, the first guy to break 1:09 on the slow Torino ice, Davis thrust his right fist in the air. As he coasted along the back straightaway, he raised both arms toward the roof of the Olympic oval, then put his hands on his head in obvious relief.
There were still two more pairs to go - four skaters, all capable of knocking him out.
Cheek went in the next group and came the closest, fading a bit at the end for a time of 1:09.16. Five days earlier, he dominated the shortest race on the schedule and donated his $25,000 bonus to a charity run by speed skating icon Johann Olav Koss.
This time, he'll hand over a $15,000 check to Koss. Dutch stars Wennemars and Jan Bos went in the final pair, but neither caught the Americans. Wennemars grabbed the bronze in 1:09.32, with Bos another tenth of a second behind, but only good enough for fifth.
Davis and Hedrick were the most intriguing figures on the ice.
Davis has dominated the 1000m on the World Cup circuit and skated the fastest time ever last November in Salt Lake. Hedrick is dominant at the longer distances, but decided to skate the 1000m at Torino in hopes of challenging Eric Heiden's record of five gold medals at one Winter Olympics.
Hedrick passed the first test with a dominating win in the 5000m, but his hopes of picking up a medal in team pursuit were essentially dashed when Davis decided not to skate. The U.S. was upset by the Italians in the quarterfinals, even though Hedrick was clearly the strongest skater on the ice.
NBC ImageAmerican Shani Davis won his first Olympic medal with a victory in the men's 1000m on Day 8.
Asked after the 1000m if he was happy for Davis, Hedrick replied pointedly:
"I'm happy for Joey."
Davis showed no immediate emotion after the last two skaters failed to beat his time. He was cooling down in the warmup lane, skating slowly with his arms behind his back.
Finally, he smiled and waved to the crowd. As he came to the other end of the rink, Davis found Wennemars waiting. The two rivals gave each other a big hug in front of the orange-clad, predominantly Dutch crowd, prompting the biggest cheer of the night.
Davis then donned a Chicago White Sox cap - a tribute to his hometown, specifically the South Side. He grew up there always wanting to skate, shrugging off friends who wondered why a black kid growing up in the city of Michael Jordan and Da Bears would want to don a tight-fitting suit and compete with a bunch of white dudes.
That wouldn't be last time he bucked the norm.
Davis and his mother, Cherie, have engaged in a long-running feud with U.S. Speedskating - even refusing to allow his biography to be displayed on the group's web site. Davis seemed to be doing his own thing in Torino, avoiding the media and the rest of the team.
"I think I've seen him a couple of times on the other side of the rink in the last week, week and a half," American teammate Casey FitzRandolph said.
Before the 1000m, there was even talk Davis would skip the mandatory news conference for medalists - even if he won. His agents scurried into action, hoping to cut off a public relations nightmare.
Davis said he's got a businesslike relationship with Hedrick - nothing more, nothing less.
"I haven't really witnessed any drama," Davis said. "We stay at the same duplex. He's on the top floor. I'm on the first floor. I mind my business and he minds his business."
Vonetta Flowers became the first African-American to win Winter Olympics gold at the Salt Lake Games four years ago. She was a pusher on the two-woman bobsled team, someone who helps get the machine going and hops along for the ride.
Davis won this gold entirely on his own.
"It showed that all the hard work and all the sacrifice paid off," he said. "Kids in general, if you put your mind to it and you believe it, you can achieve it.
"You cannot give up - even if the road is a tough road."
Bryant Gumbel's Right About Blacks and The Winter Olympics - It's Not A Racist Comment
On this week's edition of HBO's Real Sports, a respected sports television news magazine, it's host Bryant Gumbel was recorded making this comment:"Finally, tonight, the Winter Games. Count me among those who don't care about them and won't watch them. In fact, I figure that when Thomas Paine said that "these are the times that try men's souls," he must've been talking about the start of another Winter Olympics.
"Because they're so trying, maybe over the next three weeks we should all try too. Like, try not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world's greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the winter games look like a GOP convention.
"Try not to point out that something's not really a sport if a pseudo-athlete waits in what's called a kiss-and-cry area, while some panel of subjective judges decides who won. And try to blot out all logic when announcers and sportswriters pretend to care about the luge, the skeleton, the biathlon and all those other events they don't understand and totally ignore for all but three weeks every four years. Face it -- these Olympics are little more than a marketing plan to fill space and sell time during the dreary days of February. So if only to hasten the arrival of the day they're done, when we can move on to March Madness -- for God's sake, let the games begin."
This speech by Gumbel has set off a firestorm of criticism from a number of writers, all white so far. Indeed, the fact that a group of writers who happen to be white are complaining only works to make Gumbel's point. But before I continue on that, let's coldly look at what he's saying.
First, I watched the Winter Olympics, and I like doing so. I've never thought of the partcipants as the "World's Best Athletes" but as the best in their athletic field of choice -- the idea of the "World's Best Athlete" to me is someone like Strongwoman Shannon Hartnett, who lifts very heavy objects or my new friend Shana Bagley, who was coaxed into the same field by Hartnett and can lift a 350-pound tire...And is just about 5-4 and well under 200 pounds. Women who can do that are the World's Best Athletes to me. (Oh, they're both white, by the way.)
But then, they are also in the Summer Olympics in weight lifting -- so Gumbel's right because they're not in the Winter Olympics regardless of race.
On the matter of race, there's a nasty misuse of the term "racist." To be racist is to put someone down because of their race. What Gumbel was stating was that because Blacks are not in large numbers in the Winter Olympics, thus making the event less than diverse, it's impossible to claim that the participants are amoung the World's Best Athletes because the entire field of people who could do that sport well regardless of color is not represented.
Let's face it folks, he's right. That's being race concious, not racist. He's not saying whites can't be great athletes, just that you can't say you've got all of the best if they're mostly one color.
It's sad that what he said has been twisted by the unintelligent writers out there. They should be asking how the Winter Olympics could be diversified. To ask this question is to take on the very foundation of economic and social discrimination that still exists, yet must be destroyed.
I guess that task is too much for some people.
The business of the NBA's covered in our new blog! Just click on the title of this post to see it.
If you click on the title of this post, you can read a classic interview with UC Berkeley Sports Sociologist Dr. Harry Edwards. In this 2001 talk, Edwards predicted many of the problems blacks in sports face today. He also correctly saw that social diversity would become a major concern for some and objective for the world.
Yahoo! And FIFA Launch Official 2006 FIFA World Cup Site
From IEG Sponsorship:
SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- With soccer fans around the globe anxiously awaiting the Final Draw on Friday, December 9 in Leipzig, Germany, Yahoo! and FIFA have teamed up to deliver the Web's most dynamic football experience at FIFAworldcup.com.
The newly re-launched official Web site of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany offers an unparalleled one-stop shop for fans of the world's biggest sporting event, and will include real-time coverage of both the Final Draw and the 64 matches of the Tournament; exclusive vintage video highlights; and a wealth of information about Germany and the specific host cities. In addition, FIFAworldcup.com has added three new language versions this week -- Portuguese, Italian and Korean -- and is now available in a total of seven languages.
On December 9, fans around the world will be able to follow the draw and comment on the results through a live and interactive chat application, which is sponsored by Emirates Airlines. Not only will fans find out where and against whom their favorite team will play next summer, but they will also be able to read reactions, quotes and analysis from experts in any one of FIFAworldcup.com's seven language versions. For coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the site will be available in Portuguese, Italian, Korean, English, French, German and Spanish.
There's also a study floating around that reports black coaches in the NFL are statistically more likely to win. To read Lewis' full column, click on the post title link
While acknowledging the jobs Mike Tice, Mike Holmgren and Jon Gruden have done coaching their respective teams, a convincing case can be made that the three leading candidates for NFL Coach of the Year are (in order) Tony Dungy, Lovie Smith and Marvin Lewis.
Dungy's Colts are four wins shy of becoming the first team to go through the regular season unbeaten in more than three decades and the first since the league went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. If Indy makes history, I'd have to think Dungy would be a lock for Coach of the Year.
In just his second year in Chicago, Smith's Bears are tied for the NFC's second-best record behind a defense that is second to none and a quarterback who is in his first season. In any other year, Smith would be the guy.
Lewis has coached the Bengals to their first winning season in 15 years and has them on track to win the AFC North. In just two-plus seasons, he's succeeded in changing the losing culture in Cincinnati, a transformation evident in Chad Johnson's recent comments regarding the Bengals' chances in the AFC title game at Indianapolis (good, according to Johnson). For turning that franchise around, and so quickly, Lewis might be the coach of the decade.
All so deserving, and … oh, by the way, have I mentioned that Dungy, Smith and Lewis all are African-American?
No, I hadn't. Because you know what? The fact that arguably the three best head coaches in 2005 are minorities is, while historically significant, purely coincidental. Just as (news flash!) race with regard to performance is totally inconsequential.
At this point, frankly, anyone who isn't completely color-blind is blind, deaf and dumb.
Look at what Romeo Crennel is doing with the Browns, what Dennis Green will (eventually, let's hope) do in Arizona. His team has struggled this year, but Herman Edwards remains the only coach in Jets history to take them to the playoffs three out of four years. Is their complexion the reason why these coaches have the magic touch? Absolutely not. They're good coaches. Not qualified or capable minority coaches. Just good coaches. Period. Dungy likely will make history this year by becoming the first black head coach to guide a team to the Super Bowl. Huge. But Dungy doesn't need to reach the Super Bowl to validate himself or his African-American peers as quality coaches.
By now, even with the bottom-line numbers still skewed (six out of 32) you'd like to think that the concept of a "black coach" is going the way of that of a "black quarterback." The latter is something we don't even notice anymore, it's so common. As one executive who likely will be interviewing head-coaching candidates this offseason said, "When you're in the position I'm in, you don't look at black or white. You look at, 'Can the guy coach?'"
NFL TICKET SALES (THROUGH Nov. 28)
TOTAL TICKET SALES
New York Giants
AVERAGE PER GAME
New York Giants
Kansas City Chiefs
I actually believed UCLA would give USC a better game, and win. But UCLA made a basic error in not developing a defensive game plan to take away one aspect of the USC offense -- and where the UCLA defense is weakest -- the running game. Meanwhile, tickets are already going for about $500 each.
Rose Bowl's Hype Balloon Could Burst on Game Day
Chris Dufresne - LA Times
People are saying USC versus Texas is like a heavyweight fight and it feels that way if only because they announced the contestants Sunday for an event that won't take place until next month.
College football, see, is the only sport that makes you wait for a playoff and the payoff.
Four weeks until the Jan. 4 Rose Bowl is way too much time between games for everyone except Texas Coach Mack Brown, who may ask the bowl championship series high court for more time to prepare his defense for V. Young vs. USC.
"I'm not sure there is enough time," Brown joked Sunday of the prospect of facing the Trojans' almost point-a-minute brigade.
Brown's primary concern is that the "619" tailback Reggie Bush has stenciled on his eye-glare patches might be his total yardage output Jan. 4.
Not trying to be a wet sock here, but nothing short of your wedding deserves a four-week buildup.
The temptation is going to be to hype USC-Texas into something more than what it really is: a really good Wednesday night game two days after the Rose Parade.
ABC analyst John Saunders started the hyperventilation Sunday when he asked USC Coach Pete Carroll if he could ever remember a game that was more anticipated.
"Last year was pretty close," he deadpanned.
Oh yeah, last season.
Remember that one?
USC versus Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl was hailed as one of the greatest games in college football history, a battle of 12-0 schools with storied traditions.
It was 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart versus 2003 winner Jason White.
It was Pete Carroll versus Bob Stoops.
It was over before Ashlee Simpson butchered the halftime show, with USC romping to a 55-19 win as Oklahoma fans receded from the stadium like a red sea at low tide.
So is this here we go again, with sort of the same setup: Big 12 champion to face USC in the biggest thing since sliced Bevo?
For some reason, I don't think Texas will suffer the same outcome as Oklahoma. They're too fast.
31-year-old Theo Epstein's departure from the Boston Red Sox seems to point to a new set of managerial problems for baseball general managers, as this article reveals. It seems the best GM is someone with the energy of a 20-year old and the manament experience of a 45-year old. I think more GM's will be hired from sport management programs in the future.