Chicago has a rich sports history. There have been good moments, bad moments, and everything in between. While there are seemingly endless moments to choose from, in this list we will countdown the top ten iconic moments that have left a lasting impress on Chicago and beyond. This will be a two-part series and, when possible, we’ve linked to the videos so you can see them for yourselves.
LET THE COUNTDOWN BEGIN!!!
10) The Refrigerator Rushes for a TD in the Super Bowl
The ‘85 Bears were about many things: the famous 46 defense, the Super Bowl shuffle, Mike Ditka, Mike Singletary, Walter Payton, etc. But perhaps the moment that somehow captured it all was William “The Refrigerator” Perry rushing for a TD late in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. The Refrigerator was a 6’2”, 335-lb defensive lineman–not the type of ball-carrier you normally see celebrating in the end zone after a TD. The Refrigerator’s Super Bowl ring–size 25–is the largest in NFL history and his TD demonstrated the Bears larger-than-life Super Bowl run that mixed aggressiveness, dominance, and a Hollywood-like flair that will not be forgotten any time soon.
9) Walter Payton’s Single Game Rushing Record
Walter Payton is not only one of the greatest running backs of all-time, they even named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award after him. The signature moment of this legendary Chicago sports figure’s career came in 1977 when he rushed for 275 yards in a Bears victory against Minnesota, a record that stood for 23 years. Payton had little help in pursuit of this achievement as the Bears were a floundering team at the time with a 4 and 5 record and Bears QB, Bob Avellini, threw for a measly 33 yards that day (six to Payton). Even more impressive is that Payton did all of this while having the flu. As incredibly as that was, it is the next moment on our list that earned the title, “The Flu Game.”
8) Michael Jordan’s Flu Game
While Walter Payton’s great performance came while he had the flu, “The Flu Game” refers to Michael Jordan’s performance in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA finals. Suffering from flu-like symptoms that made it look like he could barely walk, Jordan seemingly miraculously scored 38 points in the pivotal victory towards the Bulls 5th NBA title. The moment immediately spawned conspiracy theories. Jordan’s trainer Tim Grover claimed it was deliberate food poisoning from bad delivery pizza; others have said Jordan was hungover. It also produced one of sports most iconic images: Scottie Pippen helping the Jordan off the court after the game. You can even buy socks with this famous image on them, so The Flu Game can literally walk with you wherever you go.
7) Steve Bartman
The Cubs hadn’t won a World Series since 1908. It was Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series. Five outs away from a World Series appearance with their best pitcher on the mound and a 3-0 lead, a foul ball was hit into leftfield. It looked like outfielder Moises Alou would grab it, but he was out-reached by a now-infamous Cubs superfan. The Cubs went on to allow 8 runs that inning and lose the game… and then lost Game 7 at home. Rather than the blame the Cubs, much of Chicago went berserk on the fan who caught the ball. The Chicago Tribune chose to print Steve Bartman’s name, hometown, and workplace and Bartman subsequently had to retreat into hiding from mobs of overzealous Cubs fans. This was a low point for Chicago sports both on and off the field, but it remains one of the most iconic.
6) Michael Jordan: The Shot
One of the most iconic moments for Michael Jordan and the 90s Bulls dynasty happened before that decade even started. It May 7th, 1989. In the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, The Bulls were playing the heavily-favored Cleveland Cavaliers, whom Magic Johnson had dubbed “the team of the 90s” because they had a good core of young players. In Game 5, the deciding game of the series, Jordan capped off a 44-point effort with a game-winner at the buzzer to win the series in what has simply become known as The Shot. Though they eventually lost in the conference finals that year, The Shot marked the Bulls arrival as a serious contender and Jordan as a true clutch performer that might just make another appearance on Part 2 of this countdown coming out in two weeks.
As you see, there are plenty of moments to celebrate in sports… so many we have a part 2! Stay tuned!