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Monument City: Which D.C. sports icon deserves a statue the most?

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When you think of Washington D.C. sports history, there is a multitude of legendary moments ranging from the mid-1900's up to the present day. When you think of all the greatness that encompasses D.C. sports, it makes you wonder, where are all of the statues?

On July 10 in Pasadena, Ca., 20 years after leading her team to the plateau, U.S. Women's National Team legend Brandi Chastain had her 1999 World Cup pose immortalized at the Rose Bowl to celebrate an iconic moment in U.S sports history. 

Across the country, it seems that in each major city, sports icons are commemorated for their achievements. In Chicago, Michael Jordan's famous pose is sculptured right outside of the United Center, as is in Green Bay with the great Vince Lombardi. Los Angeles is the home of the tribute to Jackie Robinson, and in the Midwest, future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning's sculpture sits in Indianapolis. In Boston, Bobby Orr is immortalized, and in Cleveland, Jim Brown is honored.

But what about here in the nation's capital? 

Legendary Georgetown head coach John Thompson Jr. was recently recognized with a statue in the John R. Thompson Jr. Intercollegiate Athletic Center on Georgetown's campus to commemorate his illustrious campaign with the Hoyas.

Other than Thompson, it feels that other D.C. icons should be in the queue to celebrate their achievements in the nation's capital. And if that is case, who should be on deck? 

 

These five come to mind.

Joe Gibbs

The most revered head coach in the history of the Washington Redskins, Joe Gibbs brought three Super Bowls to the nation's capital with three different quarterbacks. Gibbs has ventured on to other interests in his post-Redskins tenure, but remains one of the most recognizable and iconic figures in D.C. sports history

Alex Ovechkin

The greatest player in Washington Capitals history, Ovechkin led the Caps past the Golden Knights in 2018 to bring the Stanley Cup to the nation's capital for the first time in franchise history. Ovechkin has won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy, given to the league's leading scorer, a record eight times.

Abe Pollin

The architect of D.C.'s Chinatown district, former Bullets/Wizards and Capitals owner Abe Pollin spent his life's work revitalizing downtown Washington, erecting the MCI Center in 1997 as well as Gallery Place, in addition to helping the surrounding neighborhoods and being a philanthropist in the nation's capital. Pollin, who passed away in 2009, helped bring the Baltimore Bullets to Washington, as well as the only title in the team's franchise history back in 1978. Former President Barack Obama praised Pollin after his death in 2009 on his impact on the city. 

"Abe believed in Washington, D.C. when many others didn’t – putting his own fortune on the line to help revitalize the city he loved," Obama said. "He was committed to the teams he guided, generous to those who needed it most, and as loyal to the people of D.C. as they were to him." 

Cal Ripken Jr.

Albeit playing his entire career across the Beltway in Baltimore, Cal Ripken was an icon in the DMV when there wasn't a pro team here in D.C. The Ironman played in 2,131 straight ballgames for the Orioles, usurping the record set by the lengendary Lou Gehrig, a record that will never be broken. The 19-time All-Star as well as a two-time American League MVP, is regarded as the best shortstop in MLB History. 

Wes Unseld

The undersized center is arguably the greatest outlet passer in NBA history. A member of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History as well as being the only player to ever win Rookie of the Year honors and Most Valuable Player honors in his inaugural season. Wes Unseld, who spent his entire entire 13-year career with the Baltimore/Capital/Washington Bullets, helped bring home the franchise's first and to this day, only NBA Title back in 1978.

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