Bears, Bulls, White Sox, and Blackhawks: Where Were You When They Won Their Titles?

Bears, Bulls, White Sox, and Blackhawks: Where Were You When They Won Their Titles?
Michael Jordan sinks Game 6 winner in 1998 NBA Finals Scott Winningham, NBA photos

Bears, Bulls, White Sox, and Blackhawks: Where Were You When They  Won Their Titles?

 We can all tell you exactly where we were on June 24, 2013, when the Blackhawks won their 2nd Stanley Cup in four years against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. But how many of you remember where you were when:

  • The Bears won the Super Bowl in 1986
  • The Bulls clinched their sixth NBA championship in eight years in 1998
  • The White Sox won the World Series in 2005
  • The Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years in 2010

What say we take a little trip down memory lane.

‘Da Bears

Bears hoist Defensive Coordinator and Head Coach Mike Ditka after 1986 Super Bowl winTribune photo by Ed Wagner

Bears hoist Defensive Coordinator and Head Coach Mike Ditka after 1986 Super Bowl win
Tribune photo by Ed Wagner

It was Sunday afternoon, January 26, 1986. The Chicago Bears were making their Super Bowl debut against the New England Patriots at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. Their head coach, former tight end Mike Ditka,  had been hired by George Halas in 1982 to create a new Bears image and end the team’s losing streak. Ditka put together a formidable group: punky quarterback Jim McMahon, 310 pound defensive lineman William (the Refrigerator) Perry, future Hall of Fame running back Walter (Sweetness) Payton, and a defensive line featuring Mike Singletary, Richard Dent, Dan Hampton, and Gary Fencik. The Bears won 15 games in the regular 1985 season, only the second team in NFL history to do so. Their one loss was a Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins.

The next day the Bears shrugged off the loss by making a rap music video called “The Super Bowl Shuffle”. The Shuffle became a mainstream phenomenon and had all America talking. The idea had come from die-hard Bears fan, Randy Weigand, who wrote, produced, and directed it. Each player performed lyrics directly related to him. The single sold more than a half-million copies and reached #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, making the Chicago Bears the only American professional team of any sport with a hit single. The song was also nominated for a Grammy Award in 1985 for best rhythm and blues performance by a duo or group. It lost out to "Kiss". Over $300,000 in profits from the song and video was donated to the Chicago Community Trust to help needy families in Chicago with clothing, shelter, and food.

The Bears won Super Bowl XX in a rout, 46-10, setting Super Bowl records for sacks (7), fewest rushing yards allowed (7), and margin of victory (36 points). The only suspense was what head band McMahon would put on next. Richard Dent was named the MVP of a game watched by nearly 93 million viewers

Where were you that fateful day?  I was watching the game with our friends Sydley and Roger Skolnik in their North Park Condo. It was the first Super Bowl game I had ever seen, and I was as excited as a kid in a candy store. My only regret was that Ditka did not get the ball to Payton and allow him to score the final touchdown. Sweetness deserved that.

Bulls Clinch Their Sixth NBA Championship, 1998


Michael Jordan's shot wins 1998 NBA  FinalsFernando Medina/NBA photos

Michael Jordan's shot wins 1998 NBA Finals
Fernando Medina/NBA photos

It was June 14, 1998. The Bulls were playing the Utah Jazz at the Delta Center in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. It promised to be a tough game. The Jazz and the Bulls had both finished the season tied for the best record in the NBA: 62-20. The Jazz swept the Lakers in the Western Conference playoffs, and the Bulls beat the Pacers 4-3 in the Eastern Conference playoffs. This set up a rematch of the '97 Finals, which the Bulls had taken in 6. Bt the Jazz had defeated the Bulls twice in the regular season. Game on.

The Series finals went back and forth. The Jazz took the first game; the Bulls 2, 3, and 4. Jordan air-balled his last shot in game 5 at the United Center giving the Jazz an 83-81 victory. It was back to the Delta Center for Game 6, which was another nail biter. Pippen scored first with a dunk that aggravated a back injury and left him in pain for the rest of the game. Jordan took 35 of the Bulls 67 shots, leading the team in scoring and minutes played. Karl Malone led for the Jazz.

The Jazz were up 28-24 in the closing seconds of the first half. Howard Eisley sent up a three that appeared to be good, but referee Dick Bavetta ruled that the ball was released after the shot clock expired. (Replays showed that the ball had actually left Eisley's hands with a second left on the shot clock, but this was 4 years before the NBA allowed instant replay to review calls.) In the second half, Ron Harper made a jump shot as the clock went off to tie the game at 79. The Bulls got the call.

The Jazz led after three quarters but let the lead slip away in the fourth. Stockton hit a 3 with 40 seconds left, putting his team up 86-83. Jordan followed with a layup that cut the lead to one. And then came the shot that would go down in history. With 18 seconds left, Jordan stole the ball and drove inside the 3-point line. He hit a 20-footer that NBC sportscaster Bob Costas prophetically said might be Jordan's last as a Chicago Bull. The Bulls led 87-86. Stockton attempted a 3 that rattled out, and the Bulls had won their 6th NBA title.

And where was I when this bit of history played out? I was in Paris at the Pavillon de la Reine. Given the time difference, it was early morning, but I had the radio on. Even Paris had stayed up for this one, and the announcer informed us, in French, that Michael Jordan had won the NBA Championship for the Chicago Bulls. (Parisians regarded Jordan as a god.) Top that!

White Sox Win the World Series in 2005

Chicago White Sox win 2005 World SeriesAmy Sancetta, AP photo

Chicago White Sox win 2005 World Series
Amy Sancetta, AP photo

It had been 88 years since the White Sox won a World Series. They hadn’t even played in one for 46 years. If people remembered anything about the team, they remembered that Shoeless Joe Jackson’s Black Sox threw the 1919 Series against Cincinnati. But at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, at 3:20 p.m. on October 26, 2005, that memory was about to be erased.

The Sox came into the World Series with their longest postseason winning streak. They faced the Houston Astros who had defeated the St. Louis Cardinals to clinch their first trip to the Series in franchise history. In the Series opener, Jose Contreras kept the Sox ahead through seven innings. Closer Bobby Jenks got three outs in the top of the 9th to give the White Sox a 5-3 victory.

Game 2 took place on a cold, rainy night in Chicago. The play was as sloppy as the weather. Buehrle gave up four runs in the 7th to put the Astros up 4-2. Then Konerko stepped up to the plate and sent the first pitch into the left field bullpen for a grand slam home run—the first in White Sox postseason history. Although Bobby Jenks gave up two runs in the top of the 9th to tie the game. Scott Posednik, batting second in the bottom of the inning, sent one into the right field seats for a walk-off home run. Sox win 7-6.

Game 3, in Houston, was the longest game in World Series history, lasting five hours and 41 minutes. The Astros had a 4-0 lead through four. The Sox came back to take the lead in the fifth. The game was nip and tuck until the top of the 14th when the Sox scored two runs. Buehrle came in at the bottom of the 14th and got the save for Chicago. Final score 7-5. The Sox were one game away from their first World Series championship since 1917.

Game 4 was played in Houston. Freddy Garcia pitched eight innings when Guillen replaced him with pinch hitter Willie Harris, who singled, then moved to third with two outs. Jermaine Dye drove him in with a single up the middle. The Sox were ahead 1-0. Bobby Jenks came in to close, but the hero of the game was Juan Uribe who chased down a foul ball and hurled himself into the stands to make the grab. It was one of the best catches in World Series history and made the White Sox World Series champs. Earlier, owner Jerry Reinsdorf had said that he would trade all six of his Chicago Bulls NBA titles for a single Series win. He didn’t have to trade a thing.

And where was I when Reinsdorf got his wish? Sitting in a doctor’s office in Jackson Hole, Wyoming being treated for a nasty case of flu. Luckily, the doctor was both a baseball and a Chicago fan. We listened to the game and celebrated together.

 Blackhawks Win the Stanley Cup 2010

Captain Jonathan Toews hoists Stanley Cup June 9, 2010Photo: Jim Mciassac, Getty images

Captain Jonathan Toews hoists Stanley Cup June 9, 2010
Photo: Jim Mciassac, Getty images

It was June 9, 2010. The Chicago Blackhawks were skating against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, hoping to win the prize for the first time in 49 years. They had come up empty in five previous trips to the finals, and they didn’t want to see this one slip away.

Two days earlier, the Hawks had moved to within one game of winning the cup with a 7-4 victory at the United Center. Blackhawks fans were beside themselves. The tension grew in Game 6 when the Hawks carried a 3-2 lead into the third period. But with four minutes left, Philadelphia scored, tying the game and forcing an overtime. Just your typical Blackhawks game drama.

Four minutes into overtime, Patrick Kane did what Patrick Kane always does. He donned his Superman cape and scored his third (and winning) goal of the series. That shot still has everyone talking. It came suddenly from the bottom of the right circle and whizzed in under the stick and pads of the Flyers’ goalie. Most people in the crowd didn’t even know a goal had been scored until they saw Kane and his teammates throw their sticks in the air. Even then, the outcome was unclear. The red light did not go on. Officials huddled reviewing the play and searching for the puck. They had to lift up the net, to find it embedded in the padding underneath. Coach Joel Quenneville observed from the sidelines, “I don’t think many people knew it went in; but it made a funny sound. So, I asked Kane, where did it go in?” Kane answered that he saw it go right through the [goalie’s] legs and stick under the pad in the net.

The Blackawks were the Stanley Cup winners. The last time that happened, Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita were young men playing with curved sticks. Goalie Glenn Hall did not wear a mask. And John F. Kennedy was President of the United States.  Jonathan Toews, the team captain and game MVP, declared afterwards, “This is the best feeling you can ever get playing hockey. I just can’t believe it’s happening.”

Where was I on that historic night? I have no idea. But I’ll bet my friend and #1 Blackhawks fan Steve Brodwolf could tell you exactly where he was. Right Steve?

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