Calvin Johnson, Chauncey Billups headline 2020 Michigan Sports Hall of Fame class
All dressed up and no place to go.
The Michigan Sports Hall of Fame has unveiled its star-studded, nine-member Class of 2020, headlined by Lions legend Calvin Johnson and Pistons great Chauncey Billups.
The class was announced Wednesday night on Fox Sports Detroit. It will be enshrined in a ceremony at some point in the fall of 2021. The Michigan Sports Hall of Fame will not hold votes for a 2021 class, keeping next year's ceremony focused on 2020.
“Even though we couldn’t gather in person to honor this outstanding class, whose members are among the most revered names in sports in our state, we will be proud to recognize them with an induction ceremony as soon as it’s safe to host an event, hopefully in 2021,” Scott Lesher, Hall of Fame chairman, said in a statement. “We thank the thousands of Michigan sports fans who took part in our voting process this year.”
The Hall of Fame unveiled its finalists in April, and asked fans for their votes. It remained optimistic about holding a gala in October, but COVID-19 wiped out those plans.
Johnson, the retired Lions receiver, is the star of the class. The second overall pick in 2007 out of Georgia Tech, he played nine seasons, all for the Lions, with 731 receptions for 11,619 yards and 83 touchdowns. A six-time Pro Bowler, he also is up for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Billups, a point guard affectionately known as "Mr. Big Shot" in parts of eight seasons with the Pistons, helped lead Detroit to its third-ever NBA championship, in 2004. He was MVP during the 2004 NBA Finals.
In the amateur category, honorees include Shane Battier, the former basketball star at Detroit Country Day who was Mr. Basketball in Michigan before going on to an acclaimed career at Duke and in the NBA, and Jordyn Wieber, the DeWitt native who won an Olympic gold medal as part of the 2012 U.S women's gymnastics team.
Two coaches are being inducted, including legendary Central Michigan softball coach Margo Jonker, who won 10 conference titles in her 40-year run in Mount Pleasant, and late Albion College and Okemos High School football coach Pete Schmidt. For Jonker, the honor was a total surprise. That's her M.O. She's humble, and avoids the spotlight.
"I loved coaching. I love the game and seeing young people do well," said Jonker, a Holland, Mich., native, who played softball at Grand Valley State. "Nothing better."
A pair of media members are part of the Class of 2020, including the late Tom Kowalski, who was the longtime Lions beat writer for the Oakland Press and Booth Newspapers (now MLive) and who was among the first beat writers to embrace the changing industry, and Mary Schroeder, who broke barriers as a female sports photographer for the Detroit Free Press. She famously captured the euphoric shot of Kirk Gibson, arms raised, after his homer off Goose Gossage in the fifth game of the 1984 World Series. That single image is arguably the most famous in Detroit sports history.
Rounding out the class is the late Ralph Wilson Jr., a Metro Detroiter who founded the Buffalo Bills. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.