By Tyler Leli @jetleli on August 15, 2014
The Midwest U.S. is defined by the country as being made up of 12 states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. These 12 states certainly have a historic reputation of great sports teams, and these 15 athletes have become the biggest Midwest sports heroes of all time.
Miller was the face of the Indiana Pacers throughout his 18-season career, making five NBA All-Star games, averaging 18.2 PPG and establishing a reputation as an extremely clutch player along the way. The "Knick Killer" may not have ever won an NBA Title, but he still holds a special place in the hearts of Indiana and Midwest sports fans.
The late Kirby Puckett spent his entire MLB career with the Minnesota Twins, and the hard-charging center fielder was one of the best players in baseball. That the Twins won two World Series titles helped cement Puckett's status as an all-time legend, as did his inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.
Thomas grew his roots to Midwest sports by winning the 1981 NCAA national championship with the Indiana Hoosiers, and he further strengthened them by winning two NBA titles during a 13-year career with the Detroit Pistons. Thomas is not well thought of as a coach and executive, but he was a great player, and anyone who watched basketball in the 1980s remembers him fondly.
Howe was the face of Detroit sports for multiple generations, as he suited up for the Red Wings from 1946-1971, making 22 All-Star Games and winning five Stanley Cup's along the way. The man fondly known as "Mr. Hockey" was just that for generations of Midwest children, and the NHL couldn't have asked for a better role model.
Sanders spent his entire 10-year career with the Detroit Lions, making the Pro Bowl in each season, and remarkably retiring at only 30 years of age. This only fueled the legendary status that Sanders held, and continues to hold to this day.
The man known as "Mr. Cub" was a legendary player for a Chicago Cubs, racking up 14 All-Star game appearances and hitting 512 home runs in his career. Banks entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, and continues to hold a special place in the hearts of Cubs fans.
Gibson was perhaps the best pitcher in all of baseball during his 17-season MLB career as he struck fear into opposing batters with his explosive arsenal and menacing demeanor on the mound. Throughout his entire career, Gibson won nine Gold Glove Awards, two NL Cy Young Awards, two World Series MVP Awards, two World Series Titles, and 255 regular season games before entering the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.
Mikita transformed the NHL during his 22-season career with the Chicago Blackhawks as he helped introduced the curved stick. He scored 541 goals and became the face of Chicago hockey. Mikita may have only brought one Stanley Cup to Chicago, but he is a legend in the town nevertheless.
Brett personified the Midwestern population like few other athletes, as he never stopped hustling, played the game the right way, and put the team first. The Kansas City Royals star brought the World Series back to town in 1985, ended up with 3,154 career hits, and holds a special place in the hearts of Midwest sports fans and MLB baseball fans as a whole.
Aaron is considered by many as one of the best players in MLB history, and he spent 14 seasons playing in the Midwest as part of the Milwaukee Braves and Milwaukee Bucks. The former home run king would rank higher on this list if not for the fact that he became a true legend of the sport in Atlanta.
Favre is the classic gun-slinging quarterback, and he was the face of Midwest sports throughout his 16-season run with the Green Bay Packers. Favre may have made some foolish decisions with the football, but he never stopped giving 110 percent on the field, and he became the man that people associated with football in the Midwest.
"Stan the Man" was one of the best hitters in MLB history as he racked up 3,630 hits, 475 home runs, 1,951 RBIs, 24 All-Star Game appearances, three NL MVP Awards, and three World Series titles while suiting up for the St. Louis Cardinals between 1941 and 1963. Musial became a staple in the St. Louis community, and children all around the area grew up trying to play the game like him.
James may still be an active athlete, but he is the most legendary player in Cleveland Cavaliers history, and one of the most beloved after returning to town from the Miami Heat. "King James" has not brought an NBA title back to Cleveland yet, but he has already been established as one of the best basketball players in NBA ever, and will only climb up this list in future years.
Brown became known as perhaps the greatest running back in NFL history during his nine-year career with the Cleveland Browns. He made nine Pro Bowl appearances, racked up 12,312 yards, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971. Brown seemed to be able to run through brick walls during his playing day, and no child grew up in Cleveland without trying to emulate his moves.
Jordan is the greatest player in NBA history. He led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles while making 14 NBA All-Star game appearances throughout a majestic career. People around the world continue to grow up wanting to play basketball like "His Airness," who holds a special place in the hearts of all sports fans.
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