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Illinois's Mt. Rushmore of Sports

2/19/2009

ESPN reviewed the submissions and discussions on your state/region's conversation page. The four figures on Illinois' Sports Rushmore are below:

Ernie Banks (Chicago Cubs) -
"Mr. Cub" was the 1958 and 1959 NL MVP and a 14-time All-Star.

Mike Ditka (Chicago Bears) -
"Iron Mike" was a two-time NFL Coach of the Year and the first tight end ever inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls) -
The five-time NBA MVP won six NBA titles and was Finals MVP each time he won a title.

Walter Payton (Chicago Bears) -
"Sweetness" was the 1977 NFL MVP and a nine-time Pro Bowler.

Other standouts (even more nominees in conversation)

Bonnie Blair (Champaign)
- Won 5 gold and 1 bronze medals in speedskating over four different Winter Olympics

Dick Butkus (Chicago, Chicago Bears)
- 8-time Pro Bowler with Bears, attended University of Illinois

Harry Caray (Chicago Cubs and White Sox)
- Most famous for "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" as Cubs broadcaster

Red Grange (Illinois Fighting Illini, Chicago Bears)
- Charter member of College and Pro Football Hall of Fame; ESPN's 2008 list of Top 25 Players In CFB History ranked him No. 1

George Halas (Chicago, Chicago Bears)
- Won 6 NFL Championships, 2-time NFL Coach of the Year, 2nd all-time in NFL coaching wins

Bobby Hull (Chicago Blackhawks)
- 2-time MVP, 10-time All-Star, Blackhawks career leader in goals

Phil Jackson (Chicago Bulls)
- Won 6 NBA titles, 50-plus wins in 8 of 9 seasons

Jackie Joyner-Kersee (East St. Louis)
- Won six Olympic medals (3 gold), set heptathlon world record in 1988

Stan Mikita (Chicago Blackhawks)
- 2-time MVP, 6-time All-Star, Blackhawks career leader in points and assists

Scottie Pippen (Chicago Bulls)
- Won 6 NBA titles, 7-time All-Star, 3-time All-NBA 1st Team

Gale Sayers (Chicago Bears)
- 4-time Pro Bowler, 1965 Rookie of the Year

Ryne Sandberg (Chicago Cubs)
- 1984 NL MVP, 10-time All-Star

Ron Santo (Chicago Cubs and White Sox)
- Spent entire 15-year career in Chicago, also Cubs broadcaster since '90

Mike Singletary (Chicago Bears)
- All 12 NFL seasons with Bears; 10-time Pro Bowler and 2-time AP NFL Def. Player of Year

Frank Thomas (Chicago White Sox)
- 1993 and 1994 AL MVP, 5-time All-Star, leads White Sox in career HR, RBI, runs