The year’s 10 most memorable moments in Chicago sports
BY NEIL HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org December 26, 2012 10:40PM
Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose hobbles and holds his leg after injuring it in the fourth quarter of Game 1 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday, April 28, 2012, in Chicago. The Bulls won 103-91. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, John Starks) MANDATORY CREDIT; TV OUT; MAGS OUT
Updated: December 27, 2012 12:57PM
The year began with angst over the Bears losing five of their last six games and missing the playoffs last season. The new year might begin with more angst if they can’t sneak into the playoffs after starting 7-1 this season.
Leave it to the Bears to add
perhaps the best receiver in franchise history, only to see their offense become less productive.
Here are the 10 most memorable moments in Chicago sports from 2012:
10 The year began with a change at Halas Hall, as longtime general
manager Jerry Angelo was
relieved of his duties and
eventually replaced by Phil Emery.
‘‘The decision was made that we need to keep pace with our division rivals,’’ president Ted Phillips said.
Keeping pace with the Green Bay Packers is what Phillips really meant. The Bears have dropped two more games to their storied rivals since the change was made.
9 When little John Lucas III made that fadeaway jumper over LeBron James in the final seconds of the Bulls’ 106-102
victory against the Miami Heat on March 14 at the United Center, anything seemed possible.
Derrick Rose didn’t play because of a groin injury, but the Bulls’ bench outscored the Heat’s reserves 56-15. Not only did this appear to be a likely preview of the Eastern Conference finals, but there was reason to believe the Bulls’ superior depth and
chemistry might be enough to knock off ‘‘The Big Three.’’
That perception changed when the Heat bullied the Bulls in their next meeting in Miami.
8 It was a milestone home run for a franchise that has too few of those, and it was accomplished by perhaps the most popular White Sox player in history.
Paul Konerko was having an MVP-type start to the season when he hit Oakland Athletics closer Grant Balfour’s first offering over the left-field wall at the Oakland Coliseum on April 25 for the 400th homer of his career. His homer tied the score in the ninth inning of a game the White Sox eventually would lose in 14.
‘‘Everybody likes round
numbers, and when I’m done
playing, it might hit home,’’ Konerko said. ‘‘When you’re in the grind, you don’t think about it. But, yeah, it’s nice. It’s cool. I’ll tuck it away for now.’’
7 The way he landed in the end zone — with legs splayed awkwardly after crashing into teammate Major Wright — made fans fear the worst. Brian Urlacher was writhing in pain after injuring the posterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee after a collision with Wright in the Bears’ final game last season against the Minnesota Vikings.
The damage wasn’t as severe as many feared — or that’s what was initially believed, at least. The fact is, that probably was the last time we would see the Bears’ iconic middle linebacker playing at a Hall of Fame level.
‘‘It’s never going to be the same,’’ he later admitted.
6 It was a brutal blow, and it signaled the end of the Blackhawks’ fourth
appearance. But it was the way Marian Hossa landed and rolled helplessly to his side that made the moment so scary.
Raffi Torres left his feet and delivered a devastating shoulder blow to Hossa’s head in Game 3 of a first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Hossa was taken from the ice on a stretcher after suffering a severe concussion. Torres was suspended for 21 games, and the Blackhawks were ousted in the first round for the second consecutive season since winning the Stanley Cup in 2010.
5 Ron Santo finally was inducted into the Hall of Fame. It was just a shame the former Cubs third baseman-turned-broadcaster, who appeared in nine All-Star Games and won five Gold Gloves during his 15-year career, wasn’t there to enjoy it — in person, at least.
Vicki Santo spoke eloquently about her late husband, who died of bladder cancer in December 2010, at the induction ceremony.
‘‘This is not a sad day, not at all,’’ she said. ‘‘This is a very happy day. This is an incredible day for an incredible man, a man who lived an extraordinary life to its fullest.’’
4 It wasn’t long ago that we were asking whether Notre Dame still could compete for national championships in the sport the university helped make famous.
With a 30-13 victory against Oklahoma on Oct. 27, everything changed. Suddenly, earning a BCS bowl berth wasn’t enough. Notre Dame’s victory at Oklahoma made a team with a redshirt-freshman quarterback and question marks in the secondary a national-title contender.
Love ’em or hate ’em, the Irish were back atop the college football world.
3 Philip Humber became the 21st pitcher in major-league history to throw a perfect game — and perhaps the most unlikely.
Humber underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow
before the White Sox plucked
him off the waiver wire. But there he was on April 21, striking out nine on his way to retiring 27
consecutive Seattle Mariners.
Humber joined Mark Buehrle and Charlie Robertson as the only pitchers in team history to throw perfect games.
From there, it was all downhill for Humber, who finished the season with a 5-5 record and a
2 This was the type of bold move the Bears never make. That’s what made Emery’s decision to send two third-round draft choices to the Miami
Dolphins for three-time Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall so memorable.
The Bears finally had the big, athletic receiver fans had been clamoring for. He came with some baggage in the form of mental-health and personal-conduct issues, but reuniting him with Jay Cutler seemed worth the risk.
Finally, the Bears’ offense
would be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Or so we believed at the time.
1 Rose was writhing on
the floor in pain while
Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins waved for trainers to tend to the injured superstar.
Good grief. Could this really be happening?
Rose already had missed 27 games in the regular season with toe, back, groin, ankle and foot injuries after missing only six games in his first three NBA seasons combined.
When it was learned that Rose had torn the anterior cruciate
ligament in his left knee, the
reality began to set in. Not only were the Bulls’ hopes of competing for an NBA championship in 2011-12 dashed, but the lengthy rehab meant the Bulls had to hit the reset button on 2012-13, too.