Detroit – the Motor City, the Comeback City. No, that’s not it. Let’s start again. Detroit – the Greatest Sports City in America. That’s it! In a city once plagued by the social injustices that spurred the infamous ‘67 riots, the sports teams within the city lines continue to be one of the very few entities that Detroiters actually are proud to be associated with. As a matter of fact, each team has been with the city for at least 75 years, so the sports teams have been there with the city through its ups and downs.
Additionally, not only is Detroit 1 out of only 13 cities to have a sports team in all four major sports, but the city has the 5th most championships with 22. Detroit is a sports town filled with culture and tradition, there’s no denying that. Each team adds different and unique pieces to the puzzle, making Detroit, unquestionably, the Best Sports City in America.
DEAD WINGS?….. THINK AGAIN!
Let’s start off with the Red Wings. The Red Wings have been playing hockey since Calvin Coolidge was president in 1926. That’s a long time ago. They’re an original six team, and arguably one of the best franchises in the league. The Red Wings have won the most Stanley Cup championships of any team based in the USA with 11, and hold the streak for consecutive playoff appearances with 26 years.
The Red Wings have been a model franchise for decades. They have had a staple of success that the newer franchises look up to. They also have had some all time greats. Who can forget Gordie Howe, and his sheer greatness on the ice, or Stevie Y leading the team on the verge of extermination to three Stanley Cup titles. Or how about Bob Probert, and his crazy fights, or Pavel Datsyuk and his Datsyukian dekes. The list goes on and on.
Along with the players, the Red Wings have some tradition with them. I can’t write about the Red Wings, without discussing the famous throwing of the Octopus onto the ice. For any non-Detroiter, you wouldn’t understand. But for those who passionately follow the Wings, it is something about a dead octopus being flung onto the ice, that motivates us as fans to cheer harder. We love that type of quirkiness, and that’s one of the very many reasons why Detroit is the mecca is of sports city.
THE OLD ENGLISH D
Moving on to the Detroit Tigers and the Old English D. The Tigers have been around as long as Detroit. The Tigers have 11 AL pennants and four World Series titles. The team found early success in its beginning years, as they acquired an 18 year old stud who played for the team for 21 years.
This budding star is regarding as one of the games great as well as one of the fastest players to play the game. His name is Ty Cobb. Although Cobb didn’t win a title, he helped the Tigers win three AL pennants. The first title came in 1935 with the help of star Hank Greenberg and his amazing total of 170 RBIs that season. Along with players like Al Kaline and Pudge Rodriquez, the Tigers have had serious luck when it has come to their managers. First, arguably one of the best managers to have ever stepped foot in a dugout, Sparky Anderson always had a way with his team. He managed the Tigers from 1979-1995 and helped them win one title, alongside his star player in Kirk Gibson. Sparky ended his career with 2,228 wins, third most all time, and was truly one of the game’s great ambassadors.
Next on the Tigers list of great managers has to be Jim Leyland. Leyland only coached the Tigers from 2006-2013, but he certainly made his presence felt. In his first year managing the Tigers he led them to the World Series. He was later named Coach of the Year. He consistently made the Tigers seem relevant in the baseball world, something that the Tigers have truly never been able to recreate. Both Jim and Sparky led the Tigers with honor and class. The Tigers have a total of 27 players and coaches elected into the Hall of Fame, but will soon be 28. No. 28 will be triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera, when he retires.
The amount of Hall of Famers and the longevity of the team make the Tigers organization and the city of Detroit so well respected and special.
THE CURSE OF BOBBY LANE?
Us Detroiters know how the story of Bobby Lane goes, and are still trying to disregard it. For those that do not, our franchise QB Bobby Lane in the 1950s has seemingly cursed the organization. Bobby Lane was the Tom Brady of the 50s, winning championships left and right with the Lions. Yes, the Lions won championships back then. Anyways, the Lions traded Lane, in Lion like fashion, for a prospects and a couple of draft picks. Angered by this, Lane stormed out of the locker room, he screamed that the Lions will not win a championship for the next 50 years.
Although the 50 years have passed up, the curse still lives on. However, we, as Lions fans, have had some great memories. For example, Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson and their record breaking seasons. Despite these two greats ending their careers too early due to organizational problems, they gave us more than we could have asked for.
Also who could talk about the Lions without forgetting this man, Jason Hanson, and his infinite amount of game winning field goals. Although the Lions are the laughing stock of the league as the only team to go 0-16 in a season, we Detroiters take pride in that. We love the Lions because we have hope that one day we will be on top like we once were. Luckily, Matt Stafford is giving us more hope than we’ve ever had before that the curse could be broken. Detroit could be an even better sports city in the years to come, if the Lions stop being the Lions.
When one thinks of the Pistons, two words come to mind. BAD BOYS. From 1980-1994 the Detroit Pistons ruled the league with a band of characters that everyone else envied. It was truly Detroit vs Everybody. With Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Mark Aguirre, Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer, John Salley, and Rick Mahorn the team was virtually unbeatable.
Probably the only team to have stopped Michael Jordan in his HOF career, the team played together basketball that was highlighted by their physical play, especially their D. The Bad Boys won back to back championships in the ‘89 and ‘90 seasons. The team soon dissolved, largely in part because of the 1995 expansion draft, and the Pistons became a hot spot of mediocrity.
Then, in 2004 the team clicked like it did back with the Bad Boys. This time the team was lead by Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace, and Ben Wallace. With Larry Brown running the schemes as coach, the Pistons out dueled Kobe and Shaq and won the title in 2004, one of the greatest upsets in sports history. Just like the Bad Boys, this group played unselfish basketball that focused their attention on defense.
At the end of the day defense wins championships. As a matter of fact, since 1980, only three NBA teams have won an NBA championship without a past, present, or future MVP on its roster: the 1989 Pistons, the 1990 Pistons, and the 2004 Pistons. This type of mentality, that there is no I in team, has made the Pistons and Detroit a great place to come to watch basketball.
THE TEAM, THE TEAM, THE TEAM
It’s hard to argue that there is another college football team that is better than Michigan. They have the most wins ever. That’s right….. the winning-est team ever. Actually, back in the early days, Michigan had to teach other schools how to play football. Michigan has won 11 national championships, and is arguably one of the most storied programs in the sport.
Yost, Crisler, Schembechler, Carr, and now Harbaugh are just a few on the list of great coaches that dates back to when the university was founded. The list of players is too long to list, or else you’d be reading this all day. Michigan has a total of three Heisman winners (Tom Harmon, Desmond Howard, and Charles Woodson).
The mean ground and pound type of football is a Michigan staple that Bo Schembechler institutionalized and Jim Harbaugh preaches. After years of disappointment and agony, Jim Harbaugh is back and is all about the culture. He wants his teams to play like the tough and hard working ones did back in the 80s. Some may call him unconventional, or a cheater, or a scum.
Call him what you what, but here in the great state of Michigan, Jim Harbaugh can seriously do no wrong. Never. Ever. This year he has a team full of young talent that is out to rid all of the skepticism. A championship to Ann Arbor could be closer than we think, as Michigan seems to be the focus point of college football.
What if I told you that a group of five college freshman that played at Michigan brought a new wave of culture to the sport of basketball. Alright, this isn’t 30 for 30, but these five freshman would soon be known as the Fab Five. Five inner city kids that shocked the collegiate world.
Entering the 1991 season, Michigan basketball was really excited. Two seasons ago, the 1989, the team, led by Michigan great Glen Rice, won the NCAA title. Having a few returning players from that team brought a lot of experience and helped a ton. But, that’s not why Michigan was excited.
They had convinced five out of the top 84 high schoolers in the country to come play for them. The Fab Five started playing together their sophomore year and then took the world by storm. Unknowingly, they helped mesh basketball and hip-hop culture. Jalen, Chris, Juwan, Ray, and Jimmy first started the trend of wearing baggy shorts and black ankle socks. They didn’t just help culturally, they were total beasts on the court.
Together, they helped Michigan reach two final appearances and became household names. Michigan was considered a joke of a school in terms of basketball until 2013. During the 2013 season, Michigan had a solid core centered around Trey Burke.
Trey Burke was the eventual Naismith Player of the Year that year, and he took his Michigan Wolverines to the Final Four via “the Shot vs. Kansas.” Although they lost in the championship game, it completely put Michigan back on the map as a basketball powerhouse. Today, Michigan continues to exceed expectations in the basketball world, largely in part thanks to John Beilein. They have a pretty promising future as well with lots of young talent.
Detroit is a city of sports, simple as that. From Miguel Cabrera and his triple crown, to the Fab Five bringing a new wave of culture, to Gordie Howe and his Wings, to Barry Sanders and his Lions, Detroit is the mecca of sports. With all these stats above, it’s hard to say that Detroit is not the best sports city in America and cannot be an even better one in the years to come.
Detroit is a hard working, blue collar city. A city in which its sports teams embrace the values of the city. All of the championship Detroit teams have one thing in common – they embody Detroit. There’s no other city that can say that.
So, Detroiters take pride in knowing that you have the best sports city in America because, you know what, it’s true.
Featured Photo provided by City-Data.com
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