The Mt. Rushmore of Sports is...

Charles PennContributor IFebruary 24, 2009

Illinois? Seriously?

Ok, I understand that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player that ever lived, but just because he is on the Illinois Mt. Rushmore of Sports does not mean the state of Illinois deserves to be the Mt. Rushmore of all sports. Walter Payton is arguably one of the greatest running backs in NFL History and is second on the All-Time rushing yards list. That's fine, but when Ernie Banks and Mike Ditka are on the list, the door had to be wide open for other states to at least deserve this crown.

Ernie Banks was the first African-American baseball player to sign with the Chicago Cubs and was the first Cub to have his number retired. He was a great shortstop that put up outstanding numbers with 512 home runs and the most extra base hits in franchise history with 1,009.

Mike Ditka led the Chicago Bears to their only Super Bowl win as a coach in 1985 and was one of the greatest tight ends in NFL History. He also won a Super Bowl playing for the Dallas Cowboys. These last two guys deserve to be on Illinois Mt. Rushmore of Sports, but there were way better sports figures that overtake him, Banks, Payton and Jordan for this honor.

Pennsylvania should have been ahead of Illinois

Who are these fans that be voting on Not only that Illinois should not have been the Mt. Rushmore of Sports, but how can you put Pennsylvania second? Sure they have a great list as well with Joe Paterno, Wilt Chamberlain, Mario Lemieux and Roberto Clemente.

Joe Pa has coached for four decades (43 years and counting) at Penn State, has had five undefeated football seasons, but only voted the National Champion twice, and he is currently holds the record for most wins in College Football history by a coach. Pennsylvania is off to a great start right?

Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain is in the Top 5 as far as the greatest centers to have ever played basketball, holds the 100-point scoring mark that will never be broken again, and has won two NBA championships. Just for a bonus, he holds the "womanizer" award. (Hint: 20,000 speaks for itself. I'll let you figure out the rest)

Mario Lemieux was the next hockey great to challenge Wayne Gretzky as far as being the greatest player in the history of the NHL. Due to injury problems, Super Mario was forced to retire twice in his career and it slowed his production on the ice. Wayne Gretzky quoted, "You don't replace players like Lemieux...the game will miss him." He led the Pittsburgh Penguins to two Stanley Cups and is seventh All-Time in scoring with 690 goals and 1,033 assists.

Roberto Clemente is the best Dominican baseball player of All-Time. He was a 12-time Gold Glove All-Star and won two World Series playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Unfortunately, his life was short as he passed away at the age of 38 in 1972. He finished his career batting .317 with 3,000 hits and 240 HRs. Clemente opened the door for Hispanics to play the game of baseball.

Pennsylvania has a better list than Illinois, but why is Chuck Noll not on here? I know this was one of the hardest states to determine who the final four should be, but he started "The Steel Curtain" and the dynasty in the 1970s. Chuck Noll helped form the Pittsburgh Steelers nation into what it is today. They are now known as the city of "Six-burgh" with six Super Bowl titles.

Who is the real winner?

California should have won the Mt. Rushmore of Sports hands down. So what if they already have Hollywood and the Red Carpet? The number of accomplishments as far as championships in the state of California says it all. We're talking about one of the greatest college basketball coaches of All-Time in John Wooden, Magic Johnson who is the best point-guard in NBA history that redefined the position, the greatest golfer of All-Time in Tiger Woods with 14 majors that will soon pass Jack Nicklaus' 18, and Jackie Robinson who made the way for African-Americans to play Major League Baseball.

I can't believe the fans slept on this state. It's mind-boggling to me.

John Wooden aka "The Wizard of Westwood" coached UCLA basketball for 27 years, led the Bruins to ten National Championships (seven in a row from 1967-1973), and UCLA currently holds the longest winning streak with 88 regular season and 38 postseason victories. His UCLA teams also had four perfect 30-0 seasons in his tenure. He was named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated in 1972. Wooden went out on top in his final game as a coach when he won his 10th National Title in a victory over Kentucky in 1975. Wooden brought basketball tradition to UCLA and has continued since his departure with six Final Four appearances, but only one National Championship (1995).

Magic Johnson is the greatest point guard in NBA history. He redefined the position to be what it is today as far as running the "show" on the offensive and defensive end of the floor. Named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, he is currently the All-Time leader in assists per game (11.2), holds the record for most assists in a playoff game (24), and the All-Star Game record for most assists (22). Magic is also a five-time NBA Champion, a three-time NBA MVP, and a 12-time NBA All-Star. He helped introduce a fast-paced offense called "Showtime" with dazzling behind-the-back, no-look passes to go with amazing alley-oops on the fast break. 

At 6'9", Magic Johnson played every position in the NBA. His size made him tough to guard for most point guards as he could post you up and make a hook shot or throw a beautiful "dime" to one of his teammates for a nice assist. He has 138 triple-doubles, which is second All-Time to Oscar Robertson. Magic Johnson was forced to retire in 1992 due to the HIV disease he caught. He is currently still battling this disease as an HIV activist and owns Magic Johnson Enterprises. His company has a net worth of over 700 million dollars.

Tiger Woods is the best of the best when it comes to playing golf. Tiger can retire right now and still be known as the greatest golfer to ever play this sport. He currently holds the No. 1 world ranking. It is funny how he still manages to still be No. 1 despite missing half of last season after his dramatic U.S. Open win. Tiger has 14 majors, 89 wins overall, a 44-3 record after leading 54 holes in a tournament or major, never lost a major when having a least a share of the lead after 54 holes, nine-time PGA Player of the Year, and is one of highest paid sports athletes in the history of sports. Tiger Woods is a huge sports icon as he is the most marketable athlete in sports. By the year 2010, he will be predicted to be the first sports athlete to cash in $1 billion dollars in total earnings.

Jackie Robinson made the way for African-Americans to play Major League Baseball just like Roberto Clemente did for the Hispanics. He started his professional baseball career playing in the Negro Leagues for the Kansas City Monarchs. At the age of 28, he made his MLB debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947 that broke the color barrier for all of baseball. Robinson made the NL All-Star Team six times, was the 1949 NL MVP, and won a World Series title in 1955. Jackie played most of his career as a second-baseman. His number is currently retired by the MLB. 

With all of that being said, California is the "real" Mt. Rushmore of Sports.