When I was kid 15 years ago, I would wake up before the sun came out and walk to the newspaper vending machine at the corner of Lincoln and Sheffield
Standing in my pajamas, I would look in each direction to make sure nobody was looking, then pop the machine open using my crafty 12-year-old skills. I would grab a fresh Sun Times and run straight home. Shame me for whatever reasons you’d like, I needed to see how my Chicago teams — the Chicago Blackhawks, Cubs, Bears, Bulls and Sox — did the day before and nothing was going to stop me.
I would sit down and flip the paper on it’s backside where the sports section was and peruse the day’s top stories. Just inside the back cover was a grid where the schedule was for all the Chicago teams.
I would check this first to see if there was a game I could beg my dad to take me to even though we would probably end up sitting in outer space. I would then check the standings and box scores to see how my favorite players were doing. Once I was done, I would dispose of the paper like a carcass freshly picked of just the best pieces of meat.
A lot has changed since then, but a lot has stayed the same. Chicago is a sports town and always will be. We have high expectations for our teams and can be brutally critical of them when they aren’t winning. But most of that is out of love.
In many cities, if a championship wasn’t won in over 100 years, you’d figure the fans would either boycott or the team would be moved. This wasn’t the case for us. Chicago fans will kick, scream and moan about their dissatisfaction with a losing team, but when we get a winning team we immortalize them.
1985 Chicago Bears
I’m not sure there will ever be a more famous team in Chicago than the Chicago Bears of 1985. Loaded with unforgettable characters across the board, this band of brothers steamrolled the NFL and gained the respect of football fans around the country.
The type of dominance set the bar for Bears teams that has yet to be met or exceeded. The members of this squad have gone on to coaching, broadcasting and even opening up their own restaurants. Not to mention they probably haven’t ever had to buy a drink in this town.
1990s Chicago Bulls
Michael Jordan. Need I say more?
Chicago fans were lucky to see the greatest basketball player of all time take the NBA to astronomical levels. Jordan and the ’90s Bulls were an international sensation that exceeded sports.
The Jordan Brand alone launched sports marketing into it’s own industry and gave future athletes a platform to earn more through endorsements and sponsorships. Jordan and the Bulls put Chicago on the map, hence the United Center is coined “The House That Michael Built.”
2005 White Sox
All Chicago fans should recognize this World Series as a major accomplishment. I know we’re a divided city when it comes to baseball, but this championship was unique.
The 2005 White Sox won the World Series without any future Hall of Fame players. In essence, this group of underdogs went all the way working together, and that’s something rare today. Teams without superstars are almost destined for failure.
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Blackhawks and Cubs
Many of us Chicagoans can attest that it hasn’t been easy being a Chicago sports fan the last few decades. Wearing a hat in another city that represents a team nicknamed “The Lovable Losers” isn’t an easy thing to defend. But we’ve always had pride.
As much as the Cubs, Bears and Blackhawks have sucked in the past, we still show up. We complain a lot, but why else would we be called the Windy City?
The Blackhawks’ story isn’t anything new anymore. The old man passed away and turned over the keys to his son Rocky, who turned this Honda Civic of a franchise into a Corvette. Since then, the ‘Hawks have won three Stanley Cups and reinvented hockey in Chicago.
Similar to the Hawks, the Cubs changed owners not too long ago and started reconstructing the team. Built through the draft, the Cubs formed a nucleus of young players that led their city to a World Series title for the first time in 108 years.
Both of these teams are young and they’re hungry for more. Chicago Blackhawks top players Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are signed for the next 8 years, and many of the Cubs’ young stars are still on their entry-level contracts.
Both teams are also led by great coaches who are respected around the league. A word the Blackhawks like to use is “core,” which both teams have solidified with a championship caliber.
I grew up hating teams like the Yankees, Red Wings and Patriots because I was jealous of their success. I was jealous of the history, tradition and demand for perfection they reeked of. I know that sustained success isn’t easy today and winning is cyclical, but I think we’re going to be the next Boston.
Derek Rose is gone, Jay Cutler will be gone and we have two young exciting teams in “win now” mode. It’s been tough for us Chicago fans, but I think we’ve already entered a new era that we all can be proud of.
And kids — “Do as I say, not as I do.” Stealing is bad, even if you have to check the sports section.