But a couple weeks ago, Washington Wizard Gilbert Arenas released his signature Adidas shoe. Then "Agent 0" shirts started popping up all over the place (I want one). And then last night he busted 60 points on Kobe Bryant in L.A.
My first task was to narrow it down to one player per team. Much like Michigan coming in second in the Big Ten and still thinking they should have been in the national championship game, how can you be the biggest star in the area if you're not the biggest star on your own team?
I then decided that, since football is the king of American sports at the moment, the NFL teams could each have one defensive and one offensive representative in the poll.
So here's who I came up with:
*Gilbert Arenas (Wizards) - The shoes, the shirts, the scoring prowess ... Gil's even got the craziness that leads one to give an opposing coach the finger (times two) and get an elaborate system set up in one's house so that one can train and live in higher altitude conditions for better stamina. It seemed like Arenas spent the offseason making a name for himself as a personality, and now he's proving again that he's one of the best players in the NBA. Yet he wasn't going to be an all-star last year until Jermaine O'Neal got hurt, and Coach Rat Face Krzyzewski supposedly would have cut Arenas from Team USA had he not "suffered a groin injury" and taken himself out of contention.
*Alexander Ovechkin (Capitals) - One of the top two or three stars in the NHL right now ... but that's like saying "one of the top two or three comics on MADtv." It's hard to be the biggest star in the area when you're on the least talked-about team (in the "big four" sports, anyway), but he won the Calder Trophy last year for the NHL's top rookie and he is currently tied for the league lead in goals with Marian Hossa and Brendan Shanahan.
*Ray Lewis (Ravens) - The guy's got an MVP award, and the only other person on this list who can say that is his teammate, Steve McNair. Unlike McNair, Ray Ray brought a Super Bowl to this area. That's something no other player on the list can say. His off-the-field issues with the law seem to be far behind him, but I think it's always somewhat limited his superstar status.
*Steve McNair (Ravens) - If you're simply going by "whose every game is scrutinized and written about the most?," McNair is probably only behind Joe Gibbs in that category. Acquiring McNair gave the Ravens instant championship credibility, but the fact that his best years were all in Tennessee may hurt his chances in this poll.
*Joe Gibbs (Redskins) - Gibbs coached the Redskins to three Super Bowls in 12 years before retiring to do NASCAR stuff, then saying he could never work for Dan Snyder, then doing just that when Danny backed the cash truck up on his front lawn. Back when Gibbs was winning Super Bowls with Mark Rypien at quarterback this probably would have been a no-brainer -- or even when Gibbs first returned in 2004 -- but now he's in the midst of his second losing season in the three years since his return.
*Clinton Portis (Redskins) - The only local star who tries harder than Arenas to propel himself into the limelight is Portis, who has made a habit of putting on wacky outfits for press interviews. This season he also made a habit of getting hurt and now Ladell Betts is making 100-yard games look easy.
*Sean Taylor (Redskins) - Like Ray Lewis, Taylor is a ferocious hitter and a defensive leader. Also like Lewis, Taylor has some serious allegations on his rap sheet.
*Miguel Tejada (Orioles) - Tejada made headlines in the 2005-2006 offseason when he asked the Orioles to ship him out of town because he was tired of losing. He later backed off, then went out and posted monster numbers for a mediocre Orioles team despite trade rumors following him all season. Miggy batted .330, hit 24 home runs and knocked in 100, but many fans thought he lacked the enthusiasm and hustle that he showed when he first came to the O's in 2004.
*Nick Johnson (Nationals) - It was hard to pick a star from the Nationals now that Alfonso Soriano signed a megadeal with the Cubs, but while rookie Ryan Zimmerman got a lot of love last year, Nick Johnson is still the Nationals' best player. His .948 OPS in 2006 was good for eighth in the National League, better than New York golden boy David Wright, better than Braves slugger Andruw Jones and, get this, better than 2006-teammate Soriano. His injury history has been a problem, though, and 2006 was the first year he missed less than 30 games.
So who do you think the local sports world revolves around the most?
I'll post the results and some thoughts later.