By Tyler Leli @jetleli on August 10, 2014
The world of Chicago sports has seen its fair share of sporting ups and downs over the year, from the Chicago Blacksox scandal to a glorious run of play for the Chicago Blackhawks in recent years, and everywhere in between. But through all the highs and lows, these 15 athletes have rose above the rest and become the biggest sporting heroes in Chicago history.
Dick Butkus is arguably the best linebacker in NFL history, and he left a distinct mark on Chicago sports history, as he made eight Pro Bowls, was a member of the 1960's and 1970's All-Decade Team, and spawned generations of Chicago born children who wanted to play linebacker for the Bears.
Scottie Pippen may have played the role of Robin behind Michael Jordan, but he fit this role wonderfully, winning six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls, and showing that it isn't always bad to be the second most important person in town.
Bobby Hull was known as the "Golden Jet" for his blonde hair, lightning fast speed and spectacular slapshot, and he became a hero with the Chicago Blackhawks by bringing the Stanley Cup to town in 1961 and becoming the first person in NHL history to score more than 50 goals in 50 games in 1966.
Gale Sayers may be best known for his portrayal in the film Brian's Song, but he was also a hero on the field for the Chicago Bears, as he won two rushing titles, made four Pro Bowls and entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.
Some people know Greg Maddux best for his days as an Atlanta Brave, but "The Professor" won one Cy Young, five Gold Gloves and 133 games with the Chicago Cubs, and refused to wear a hat into the Hall of Fame because of his loyalty to both organizations.
"The Big Hurt" is an iconic figure in Chicago White Sox history, as he won two AL MVP Awards and hit 448 home runs with the organization, which led to the club building a life size statue in his honor in 2011.
Ryne Sandberg was a lone bright spot for consistently bad Chicago Cubs teams in the 1980s and 1990s, as he made 10 All-Star Games, won nine Gold Glove Awards, and retired with the most home runs for any second baseman in MLB history.
Jonathan Toews may still be in the midst of his career, but there is no doubting that the 26 year old is a living legend, as he has already brought two Stanley Cup championships to the Chicago Blackhawks, and in the process has become one of the most well respected players in the NHL.
Phil Jackson may not have ever suited up on the court for the Chicago Bulls, but his work in bringing six NBA Titles as the team's head coach made him a revered figure in town.
Mike Ditka made his mark on the Chicago Bears as both a player and coach, making five Pro Bowls and entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a player, and winning one Super Bowl as the team's coach, becoming a face of Chicago sports in the process.
"Shoeless" Joe Jackson may be a villain to some people, but he holds the Chicago White Sox career triples record, brought the 1917 World Series into town, and generally has seen public opinion turn into his role regarding the Chicago "Black Sox" scandal.
Stan Mikita started the trend of curved sticks in the NHL, which helped him score 541 goals, win the Hart Memorial Trophy twice, and establish himself as the face of the Chicago Blackhawks for the next half century.
Walter Payton is arguably the best player in NFL history, as he made everything look easy on the field, making nine Pro Bowls, rushing for 16,726 yards, 110 rushing touchdowns, and entering the NFL Hall of Fame as a member of the Chicago Bears in 1993.
Ernie Banks is still known as "Mr. Cub," which is a tribute to the extensive mark he left on the Chicago Cubs organization -- and the city as a whole -- because of his ability to to hit for average, power, to field with grace, and generally to play the game with great intensity.
Michael Jordan is undoubtedly the biggest sporting hero in Chicago history, as he won six NBA Titles, five NBA MVP Awards, 10 scoring titles, and became known as the greatest player in NBA history during his 13 season run with the Chicago Bulls.
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