I tweet. A lot. 28,038 tweets as of writing this sentence, in fact, and I’m sure a few will be added to it before I hit “publish” on this post. (Though not an ideal practice, I tend to social media-multitask.)
Some people say that this tweeting is pointless and a waste of time other than when I post links to my site that drive traffic. I disagree. Strongly. Twitter has now become the breeding and testing ground for most of my blog post ideas. It allows me to test out an idea before committing the time necessary to turn it into a full article. Ask any blogger and they’ll tell you that is invaluable.
Case in point: today.
On a whim, I tweeted the following:
May turn this into a post. What is your personal sports Mount Rushmore? … Clarification: personal sports Mount Rushmore is favorite, most beloved players, not necessarily best.
Immediately, responses starting pouring in. Clearly, this was a question that had gotten people thinking and that people were excited about sharing their two cents to answer.
Ding! Ding! Ding! I knew right then and there that I needed to turn it into a blog post.
So, now that this impromptu Twitter tip is complete — use Twitter to get, test, and develop your blog post ideas! — it is time to share my Personal Sports Mount Rushmore (PSMR) and then open the comment section for yours – the real fun of this.
I will warn everyone though: the greatest possible answer has already been given by @bschultzy, who said that his PSMR would just be “4 Ditkas.” Can’t top that.
And a quick note on criteria as you think about your own PSMR: there really is none. This is your Personal Sports Mount Rushmore. For me, that means weighing memories and personal feelings more than strictly accomplishments. For you it might mean something else. As the commercials say: no rules, just right.
Here is my Personal Sports Mount Rushmore:
There is no question who is #1 on my PSMR. It’s IU legend Calbert Cheaney, still the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer with 2,613 career points (a record he just may hold forever; I’m not kidding), a former National Player of the Year, and currently the new Director of Operations for the Indiana basketball program.
Obviously there are many IU basketball players I could have chosen. Reading Steve Alford’s book Playing for Knight is was inspired me to work hard to become a good basketball player, but I was five years old in 1987 when Alford was a senior. AJ Moye played when I went to IU, and and there were few moments more exciting than being part of a packed Assembly Hall chanting “A-J Mo-ye” after #2 did something badass. Greg Graham, DJ White, Brian Evans, and others all are personal IU favorites of mine.
I saw almost every home game he played during his four years at IU, and the 1992-93 Indiana team is my favorite sports team of all-time. They unfortunately fell short of a title, but to paraphrase Coach Norman Dale, they’ll always be winners in my book.
Calbert was as deadly efficient a scorer as there has ever been in the Big Ten. For the conference’s all-time leading scorer to be a wing player who had a career field goal percentage of .559 is astounding. That’s not a misprint. Calbert made almost 56% of his shots as a Hoosier. He was a complete player too. He averaged more than five rebounds a game, played defense, and was a leader on one of Bob Knight’s most deep and complete teams.
Calbert was also well-spoken, a good student, and a class act. To 12-year old me in 1993, Calbert he was the quintessential example of what an IU basketball player should be, and at that time in my life I did not think human beings got a whole lot more special than those who wore the Cream & Crimson and the candy-striped warm-up pants.
And then there are the memories. His surprising scoring from Day 1 after being one of the more unheralded members of the super 1989 recruiting class. His battles with the Big Dog and the Fab 5, which the Hoosiers usually won. The Final 4 in 1992. The 17-1 conference mark in 1993, including the electric game against Northwestern when his baseline jumper broke the Big Ten scoring record. Coach Knight even stopped the game to honor Calbert, something I’d never seen him do before. It was a testament to how much he thought of his humble, superlative senior.
Yes, on my Personal Sports Mount Rushmore, Calbert’s face is the one being carved first. And it’s not a debate. His greatness coincided with the time in my life when I was the most innocently and genuinely in love with sports, and I got to see so many of his great moments live. No one will ever supplant him.
If I had been a little older when A.T. was running roughshod over the Big Ten, he might be able to give Calbert a run for his money. But I was just a little sprite back then, with Anthony’s incredible college career in Bloomington spanning my fourth through eighth years on this earth.
Image source: ESPN
And while I still remember how genuinely nice Anthony was to me when I’d tag along with my dad to practice and games, and while I have mementos like the picture hanging in my parents’ house from the cover of the Herald-Times sports page of me and Anthony from Picture Day, I was too young to truly appreciate his greatness like I could Calbert’s.
Here is one of the best examples of Anthony’s prowess, the day he scampered for 377 yards (then an NCAA record) against Wisconsin.
I have said many times before, and I’ll continue to say it probably forever, that Anthony Thompson is the most underrated player in Big Ten football history. I’m sure that good arguments could be made for many others in this regard, but I just cannot see anyone having a more underappreciated career of consistent greatness than A.T.
Remember folks, in 1987 Indiana was ranked #7 in the country at one point! Indiana! And who was the straw that stirred the drink? Anthony. He’s an icon in Bloomington and he should be an icon in the Big Ten in general. He was that good.
And he’s the second obvious, no-debate-required person I’d place on my Personal Sports Mount Rushmore.
When I originally tweeted this PSMR question out, I had Dan Marino listed as being one of my four, but I’ve thought better of that. I loved Marino, but I was three years in 1984 when he burst onto the scene, so I didn’t really appreciate Marino at his best.
But Michael Jordan, oh boy did I get to appreciate him at his best; and it’s the best I’ve ever seen an athlete be, and perhaps the best any athlete ever has been.
Image source: Life-Fashion.com
I don’t follow the Bulls much anymore, but when I was younger I loved the Bulls. Certainly, I was not alone. Michael and Scottie were just fascinating to watch play basketball together, and they just seemed to get better and better together every year. And once they started winning championships in the early 90s, and then didn’t stop, it was impossible for me not to become completely swept up in the Cult of Jordan. (You know, when Jordan would do something remarkable and you’d say “Holy crap, Jordan is God!” and only be half joking.)
No, I didn’t put Jordan on my list initially, but when I sat down and thought about it, I realized I was underestimating just how Jordan-crazy I was back then. I watched every game of his I could, my dad and I took a few trips up to Chicago for events Jordan would be at, and I had all the shirts and hats and books and Nike Jordan gear I could handle.
When I add up the memories and the adoration, MJ comes out way ahead of Marino, so substituting him was an easy decision.
By the way, it is no coincidence that the first three choices all were at their peak before I could drive. Unbridled and innocent sports enthusiasm was possible back then, where it’s really not now. I certainly love my teams, and I’m a big fan of certain players nowadays, but it’s just not the same as it was back then; and I doubt it ever will be.
- He has produced spectacular memories like the no-hitter, the perfect game, and his career-best 2005 season that culminated in a World Series title.
- I still remember when Buehrle first came up and have these random but fun memories like when fellow White Sox fanatic KVB and I were at our digital animator’s parents’ house talking at length about this new guy named Buehrle who was having great start after great start. That may not sound like much, but it’s a fun memory for a whole host of reasons, none of which would make sense if I tried to explain them.
- Like Anthony Thompson, I fear that Buehrle is destined to go down as severely underrated, and I feel invested in stating his case to the masses. I know that his career ERA and WHIP are never going to knock anyone’s socks off, but look at his year-by-year totals. He starts 30+ games every year, he pitches 200+ innings every year, and he wins 10+ games every year. That kind of consistency is a very underrated quality for a starting pitcher.
- I don’t know how much the numbers back this up, but my visceral feeling any time Buehrle steps on the mound in a big spot is that he is going to deliver. We all have those athletes that we just believe in, perhaps even a bit irrationally. Mark Buehrle is that guy for me. I know he’s had his share of stinker games over the years, but in the ’05 playoffs he was outstanding, and against AL Central opponents he always seems to step up.
Plus, I need a player from the White Sox. Frank Thomas was the easy choice, but I always felt like my appreciation and love for The Big Hurt was a bit arm’s length. I respected him and his contributions more than I just loved him as a player.
Paul Konerko is another obvious candidate, but when I was faced with the decision a couple years ago of getting a White Sox jersey, and the decision came down to Buehrle or Konerko, I went with Buehrle. That had to mean something, right? I used it as my tie-breaker, so Mark and his rubber arm got the nod.
So there it is, my Personal Sports Mount Rushmore:
- Calbert Cheaney
- Anthony Thompson
- Michael Jordan
- Mark Buehrle
But the fun only just now beginning, because now the comment section is open to you.
Who is on your Personal Sports Mount Rushmore, and why?
I can’t wait to see your responses.
* – Calbert Cheaney photo credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images via Life.com