For a brief moment, everything was perfect.
In mid-January, Bears ownership finally got their act together and hired a coaching staff that makes sense. The Blackhawks were still fighting other teams, not their own teammates. And, above all else, Derrick Rose was still a headline – not a punchline.
Things seemed too good to be true. But as we learned on Tuesday night, that’s only because they were.
I’ll be frank. February 24th, 2015 was the worst day in the history of Chicago sports (and the only day more infamous than October 14th, 2003).
Late on Tuesday night, the Chicago Bulls announced that Derrick Rose suffered another knee tear. By the next morning, the team’s odds to win the NBA Finals went from 8-1 to 20-1.
That same night, Chicago’s next most popular athlete went down with an even worse injury.
After taking a cross check in the first period of Tuesday night’s match against the Florida Panthers, Patrick Kane went to the locker room and didn’t return for the rest of the game. Following his surgery to a repair a left clavicle fracture, the team announced that Kane will miss 12 weeks, diminishing any shot at a scoring title.
But just when things couldn’t get any worse for Chicago sports fans, they did.
Much later on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning actually), another key figure in Chicago sports took a hit.
In his first election as the incumbent, Mayor Rahm Emanuel didn’t receive enough votes (50%) to claim a victory. Between controversial decisions in his four years as mayor, an unforeseen opponent in Jesús ‘Chuy’ Garcia and a terrible voter turnout – Emanuel was forced into a runoff.
Ironically enough – the runoff election will take place on April 7th, just 23 days before one of Emanuel’s biggest achievements thus far: the 2015 NFL Draft.
From bidding the Super Bowl to attending Simeon basketball games in his spare time – Mayor Emanuel’s agenda has always been covered in sports.
Almost immediately after being elected in 2011, Mayor Emanuel created the Chicago Sports Commission with one very clear vision: “To establish Chicago as the premier U.S. destination for sporting events.” And as you’d expect, Emanuel kept his word.
In 2013, it was through the approval of Depaul’s $173 million stadium proposal. Then, it was the $240 million reconstruction of the Red Line to smoothen out the commute to White Sox games.
Somehow, someway, Emanuel even managed to facilitate a compromise between the Chicago Cubs and rooftop owners after years of exhausting and bitter disagreements. Despite delays in the grand plan, the “Wrigley World” renovation commenced in the name of Rahm Emanuel.
Then it was the West Side’s turn.
The Chicago Bulls opened a 60,000 square-foot space across from the United Center, funded through a partnership with Advocate Medical Group. And just a few weeks ago, the Blackhawks announced plans to build a $50 million, 105,000-square-foot two-rink hockey training facility.
Any way you spin it, one politician has shifted the landscape of Chicago sports in its entirety.
Sure, this past Tuesday was an absolute nightmare. Derrick Rose and Patrick Kane went down with injuries on the same night. And while the teams will suffer in their absence, Chicago sports almost lost an even more important figure on Tuesday night.
Before you know it, Derrick Rose will be back on the floor. Patrick Kane will be finishing up rehab. And Rahm Emanuel will be refocused on the NFL Draft (as opposed to being focused on keeping his job).
Mid-April isn’t far away, so cheer up.
As we learned on Tuesday night, things can always get worse.