A couple weeks back, the Pittsburgh Penguins officially unveiled a new statue of Mario Lemieux outside the Consol Energy Center. And while it’s not really a greatstatue, it certainly isn’t bad, either. That’s because the sculptor, Bruce Wolfe, adhered to the two basic principles for making a decent sports statue: it should be an action shot, and it should actually look like the person being commemorated.
These are pretty basic principles, really. But for some reason, so many sports teams fail to understand them. What this means, sadly, is that there are a lot of really bad statues honoring really amazing athletes. Guys who were known for their blazing speed get statues of themselves just standing there. Guys who were known for their fierce competitiveness get statues of themselves with blank stares. And guys who were known for their sweet poetry-in-motion swing get statues of themselves just hanging out with a bat on their shoulders.
Want to see what I’m talking about? Take a look at today’s list of 11 terrible sports statues. Then come back tomorrow for our list 11 awesome sports statues so you can see what the terrible ones are up against. It’ll be like night and day.
Boxing is such a kinetic sport, and it’s yielded so many iconic photographs over the years. So with all the possible types of boxing scenes to depict, why did the people behind this Oscar De La Hoya statue choose to have the guy just standing there with his arms up in the air? How about a statue of the guy throwing a punch, or at least actually boxing—I mean, that’s what he’s famous for, right? And of course, there’s the other main problem: the statue of Oscar does not actually look like Oscar.
11. Oscar De La Hoya (Los Angeles)
Arthur Ashe was a great tennis player, but also a great humanitarian and social activist. So I get that they’re trying to commemorate that side of the guy with this statue. But I don’t think they succeed. To me, it looks like the poor little kids are begging for the books and tennis racket, but Ashe won’t hand them over. The statue could be called “No, they’re mine!”
10. Arthur Ashe (Richmond, VA)
Citizens of Kannapolis were probably very confused when their town unveiled a statue of Paul Bunyan. Of course, it’s supposed to be a statue of Kannapolis native and NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt. But with those beefy forearms and the plain (non-racing) clothes, you can understand the confusion.
9. Dale Earnhardt (Kannapolis, NC)
Usain Bolt definitely deserves a statue. The dude is amazing. It’s just a shame that he got this goofy cartoon statue. Actually, I think this thing looks more like 1985 National League MVP Willie McGee than Usain Bolt. But maybe that’s just me.
8. Usain Bolt (Kingston, Jamaica)
Diego Maradona might be the greatest soccer player of all time, and he’s certainly in the top 2 or 3. Have you ever seen him play? The little guy was just electric. So, obviously, he gets a statue of himself just standing there, stiff as a board. Really captures his style, right? At least they got the hair right.
7. Diego Maradona (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
The idea of a team honoring Commissioner Bud Selig, the second-most hated man in baseball (after Barry Bonds), is just ridiculous. Yeah, sure, he was the original owner of the Brewers who saved baseball in Milwaukee by bringing them in after the Braves left. But the dude is still a tool who presided over the expansion of the playoffs and, most infamously, the steroid era.
The statue itself? Totally boring and lame. But, on the bright side, at least it captures Selig’s personality
6. Bud Selig (Milwaukee)
The greatest hockey player of all time deserves a better statue. And it’s not the decision to depict Gretzky holding the Cup that’s bad; it’s the execution. This statue is just so vapid. I mean, does he look elated to be hoisting the chalice? Not really, no. Instead, he looks tired and only mildly amused. So the Oilers kind of blew this one.
FYI, the Kings also have a statue of Wayne. It’s not nearly great enough for The Great One, but it is slightly better than the one in Edmonton. (At least you can clearly make out the Kings crest on the jersey.)
5. Wayne Gretzky (Edmonton)
In the years since Disney sold the Ducks, the franchise has done everything they could to dissociate themselves from the <em>Might Ducks</em> movie franchise. This includes dropping the “Mighty” and ditching the cartoonish team colors. And yet, for some reason, they’ve stuck with their mascot, Wild Wing, and this monstrosity of a statue that sits outside the Honda Center in Anaheim.
4. Wild Wing Duck (Anaheim)
Stan Musial is the greatest player in the history of one of baseball’s most storied franchises in what some people say is the best baseball town in America. Underneath his statue is a quote from former Commissioner of MLB, Ford Frick, that reads: “Here stands baseball's perfect warrior. Here stands baseball's perfect knight."
It’s a shame the statue couldn’t be as awesome as the inscription. The thing is disproportionate, it’s not lifelike, and it’s completely boring. It does seem to get his batting stance right, but why isn’t Stan “The Man” Musial swinging the bat? Wouldn’t that be better
3. Stan Musial (St. Louis)
Bob Cousy won 6 NBA Championships with the Boston Celtics in the 1950s and 60s, was a 13x All-Star, and won an NBA MVP award in 1957. That makes him easily the greatest player to ever come out of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusettes, and thus very deserving of a statue on campus. Unfortunately, this stiff, lifeless thing is what the poor dude gets. I think it would actually be difficult to make the guy look any lamer than this.
2. Bob Cousy (Worcester, MA)
Babe Ruth was from Baltimore, so we’ll forgive the Orioles for erecting a statue of the greatest player of their greatest adversary outside their home park. What we cannot forgive the Orioles for is the fact that this statue doesn’t look anything like any image of the Great Bambino we’ve ever seen. Be honest: if I didn’t tell you that was the Babe, would you have been able to guess who it was?
Also, why is the greatest homerun hitter in the history of baseball just <em>standing</em> there? Replace that bat with a three wood and he looks more like a golfer than a baseball player. It’s just embarrassing.
(Full disclosure: the statue does look more like Ruth in profile. But the last time I checked, a statue is meant to be viewed from all angles. So I stand by my criticism.)
1. Babe Ruth (Baltimore)
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