Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Chicago Sports Memories Awards

Play of the Year: Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks, April 27

     After spotting the Vancouver Canucks the first three games of their first-round playoff series, the Hawks roared back to take the next three contests, forcing a Game 7 on April 27.
     In that game, the Hawks trailed 1-0 as the clock wound down to the two-minute mark in the third period. Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews took possession of the puck off an errant Vanvouver pass at center ice, circled, then moved in on the left wing. As he was being dragged down by two Canucks defenders, Toews slid the puck across to Marian Hossa, whose backhanded attempt was stoppped by goalie Roberto Luongo.
     Unfortunately for Luongo, the rebound landed in front of Toews, who poked it into the net as he himself skidded face-first along the ice. There was 1:56 remaining in regulation, and it looked as if the Hawks might pull off a miracle and capture the series after all. They ended up losing in overtime, but they demonstrated the heart and resilience that will contimue to be their trademark for years to come with Toews as their captain and Joel Quenneville as head coach.

Game of the Year: Bears vs. Green Bay Packers, January 23

     For the first 90 years of their existence, the Bears met their ancient rivals from up north only once in posteason play, in 1941 when the two teams tied for the Western Division title and needed a special playoff game to decide which would go to the NFL championship game.
     The Bears and Packers met for the second time in postseason play this past January, again with a trip to the NFL championship game (now known as the Super Bowl) riding on the outcome.
     In the NFC title game at Soldier Field on January 23, a knee injury forced Bears quarterback Jay Cutler out of the game early in the third quarter with the Bears trailing 14-0. Afterwards, Cutler had to endure ridiculous questions about why he hadn't been able to continue with a torn MCL (medial collateral ligament)!
     The Bears got to within 14-7 early in the fourth quarter, but finally went down to defeat 21-14. The biggest Chicago game of the year and of the past several years ended in frustration and recrimination. Meanwhile, the Packers went on to win the Super Bowl.       

Player of the Year: Derrick Rose, Bulls

     The third-year point guard carried the Bulls to the NBA's best regular-season record at 62-20 and in so doing became the youngest winner of the league's Most Valuable Player award at only 22. The Bulls made the conference finals, and they have justifiably high hopes again as they enter the truncated 2011-12 season.
     Rose's play on the court is truly jaw-dropping, but what makes him so much more impressive is his maturity, dignity, and humility. You might lump it all together under one word: class. Fame and fortune have not changed Rose at all. If anything, they have made him even more respectful and accountable to his teammates, to the game of basketball, and to those less fortunate than himself.
     Is it all too good to be true? We'll have plenty of time to find out, because Rose will be with the Bulls for a long time. For now, we'll close with a quote from Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf: "If you don't see something special in Derrick Rose, then you're blind."

Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order):
Marian Hossa, Blackhawks; Patrick Kane, Blackhawks; Paul Konerko, White Sox; Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks; Brian Urlacher, Bears.

1 comment:

  1. I see you no longer use this blog in all likelihood, but I'm starting up a blog of sports memories and this provides some nice inspiration so thank you! I'm a New Yorker so can't share in many of your memories but I have plenty of my own obviously.