Gary Williams cut down the nets in 2002Clinton Portis paid tribute to his friend and teammateD.C. got a glimpse of one of the greatest
Gary Williams cut down the nets in 2002Clinton Portis paid tribute to his friend and teammateD.C. got a glimpse of one of the greatest (Jonathan Newton/twp - Staff)
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On washingtonpost.com, readers were invited to rank the top local athletes, stories and busts of the past decade. Then Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog provided his own top 10, which follows below.

1

Maryland

men's basketball

Not everyone in D.C. roots for the Terps, and the championship game was pure anti-climax. But in the sports that dominate national media coverage, this was Washington's first national championship since the Redskins' third Super Bowl win, and the only such occasion of a bad decade. That puts it on top. Readers' rank: 2

2

George Mason's

Final Four

The Patriots' win over Connecticut was historic, and it was national, and it was more feel-good than a pot full of narcotics. So much of it was perfect: the fact that Billy Packer had criticized the Patriots' selection to the tournament, the fact that they had to beat the bluest of blue bloods to get to the Final Four, the fact that all five of Mason's starters came from Maryland, the fact that their region final came right smack in D.C. Readers' rank: 1

3

The arrival

of the Nats

For more than 30 years, D.C. had no baseball. I'm not one of the misty-eyed baseball-as-metaphor-for-life types, and I didn't care about being "a Major League City," but there's only a dozen U.S. cities with pro hockey, pro basketball, pro football and Major League Baseball. D.C. deserved to be on that list, no matter what jokes I might have made about the Nats. Readers' rank: 5

4

The return

of Joe Gibbs

I remember exactly where I was when I first heard Gibbs was returning. I remember exactly where I was during Gibbs's introductory news conference. I'm not sure if I could say the same thing for any other coaching change I didn't personally cover. The media coverage certainly helped puff up the magnitude of this event, but Redskins fans felt an almost indescribable glee when Gibbs agreed to come rescue them. Readers' rank: 4

5

The first-to-last

Capitals

I should have offered this as a choice for readers, and I didn't, instead mentioning the seven-game win over the Rangers. But the rise of the Caps happened in February, March and April of 2008; everything after that was frosting. As recently as the fall of 2007, national voices were mocking the Caps for their dead building and moribund fan base; by the next spring, "Rock the Red" and "Unleash the Fury" had happened, and we were writing A1 stories on how the Caps were the hottest game in town. Readers' rank: N/A

6

Sean Taylor's

death

There's not really a great way to rank this among other events that involved joy, but there's also no way to rank the decade's top stories without mentioning this. Tens of thousands of people just sat at their computers hitting refresh, or listened to sports-talk radio for hours in a row. It was absolutely the sort of thing D.C. sports fans will never forget. Readers' rank: 3

7

Wizards

beat the Bulls

When Gilbert Arenas shot the Wizards past the Bulls, for the Wizards' first playoff victory in more than 20 years, it seemed like a renaissance. The playoff crowds at Verizon Center that year were loud, and enthusiastic, and gave you chills. It definitely felt like the start of something. Readers' rank: 20

8

Redskins

2005

playoff run

Entering December, the Skins had lost three straight games by a combined 10 points. Then, out of nowhere, they won five straight, the last three double-digit wins over the Cowboys, Giants and Eagles. And even though the win in Tampa was about as attractive as a sauna filled with offensive linemen, it was a playoff win. People went into that offseason filled with hope. Until everything got blown up again. Readers' rank: 19

9

Ovechkin

the Icon

I'm using this as code for a few things: Ovechkin's drafting, and Ovechkin's rookie of the year, and Ovechkin's rivalry with Sidney Crosby, and Ovechkin's rise to the top of the D.C. sports landscape, peaking with the 2009 run to the second round of the playoffs and his second consecutive MVP award. The notion that a hockey player could be roundly acknowledged as the city's most popular athlete would have seemed absurd 10 years ago, and Ovechkin's reign needs somehow to be on this list. Readers' rank: 7

10

Michael Jordan's

comeback

Many of the top moments of the decade were supposed to signal the beginning of something great, but instead wound up signaling the beginning of a swim into filthy excrement, leaving the beginning as the best part. Still, Michael Jordan -- maybe the most famous athlete in the world at the time of his comeback -- packed the house for two years, and made us feel like D.C. sort of mattered. Readers' rank: 6


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