Reflections: 7-23-99 Retiring the Millennium
Living Legends: John Elway, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky
“Build it and they will come.” So goes the story line of the popular movie, “Field of Dreams,” the images that captured our nostalgic imagination. “Field of Dreams,” where the game’s greatest played once more for an adoring audience, whose fondest memories of the crack of the bat, flying cleats, and the thunderous roar of fans from Yankee Stadium to Busch Field were eclipsed only by the images of the players themselves. But what if another image was created to welcome not just baseball’s immortals, but a collection of major sports figures who represent the best of the best -- men who have cast huge shadows over the last 100 years of sports? One has. America’s Sports Artist, Rick Rush, now takes us on a walk down the “golden path” journeyed by eight incomparable athletes.
These are sports figures who rewrote the record books during the last millennium, men whose exploits leave us high on their adrenaline, which compelled them to give blood, sweat and tears to attain victory after victory. In “Reflections: 7-23-99 Retiring the Millennium,” Rush has strategically and masterfully painted a portrait of power, prowess and pride. Individually, the figures represent incredible achievement, whether we’re considering Babe Ruth’s ability to belt a baseball into the stratosphere or Wilt Chamberlain’s dominating force on the basketball court. Collectively, because of their commanding presence as icons in their respective sports, they are a mighty crescendo to the victory song played out through their careers. But a closer look at Rush’s work reveals even more. Within its brilliantly intertwined strokes we find history itself -- a history that distinguishes American sports from all others. No country can match its rich competitive nature, spellbinding athletic ability, or enduring achievement. And it is unlikely any country ever will. But there’s more. Every figure invites our sensory involvement as we reflect on a particular magnificent achievement or memorable event.
The figures in the background are a tribute to:
New York Yankees’ Babe Ruth’s incredible reign as homerun king. The Baltimore Colts’ Johnny Unitas’ famous “bombs”... Wilt “the Stilt” Chamberlain’s record setting 100 points in one game. The Detroit Red Wings’ “Mr. Hockey,” Gordie Howe, one of the most prolific scorers in NHL history. “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali’s knockout of Joe Frazier.
And of course, the 7-23-99:
John Elway Michael Jordan Wayne Gretzky
These were the champions, and their goals were the trophies, cups and titles that identified them as the world’s best. In his painting, Rush has creatively captured and merged the victors with the “spoils.” For example, in the background Elway is seen proudly holding the Lombardi Trophy for a Super Bowl win. Then, the careful eye will find Gretzky holding the huge Stanley Cup, and Jordan is seen lifting high the NBA trophy (all painted to scale). Proud moments for proud athletes – representing the millennium’s best. This reflective and insightful work is a fitting tribute to the men who made sports history. These were the giants of their profession: the over-comers, the super achievers, and the never-say-die hall of famers whom we cherish above the rosters of marvelous athletes of the previous century. Some have passed on, while others have simply retired from the sport they loved so much. Irrespective of their current status, as we reflect on their brilliant careers with tremendous enjoyment, we can be assured that these stars were indeed responsible for “Retiring the Millennium.”