City's Best: Indianapolis' Top Five Athletes
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When people who don't live in Indianapolis think of Indy sports figures, the first person that comes to mind is Peyton Manning. MasterCard commercials will do that, I guess. Amazingly, there's more to this town than the Colts, and in fact, Naptown is hoops crazy. (Many thanks to Football Outsiders' Ned Macey, who's input was invaluable in making this list.)
5. Eric Gordon: He was named 2007 Mr. Basketball winning 91 percent of the vote (third-highest finish after Damon Bailey and some dude named Greg Oden). That's right, Gordon's in high school (he's headed to Indiana University), but he's a top-10 recruit and a pretty good player. His senior season, Gordon averaged 29.0 points per game, shot 57.9 percent from the field, and 46.2 percent from 3-point range. Jimmy Chitwood would've made the top 5 but he's not from Indy ... or a real person.
4. Jermaine O'Neal: Assuming he's not traded, O'Neal is the best player on the Pacers. Of course, that's a little less impressive now that Reggie Miller retired and Austin Croshere ended the year at the end of the Maverick's bench. Last season, O'Neal averaged 35.6 minutes, 19.4 points and 9.6 rebounds a game. All while the Pacers managed to lose 47 games.
3. Marvin Harrison: This is a no-brainer. The only issue was where Harrison would land on this list. He's ranked third -- probably too low for some people -- because he's on the back end of a Hall-of-Fame career (notice I didn't say downside). Harrison's entering his 12th year in the league, and amazingly, continues to post ridiculous numbers. In 2006, he registered his eighth consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season. The only reason he's not ranked higher is because the Colts have so many offensive weapons that the team can win without him.
2. Bob Sanders: I have no problem with listing Sanders here ... when he's healthy. Unfortunately, he's missed a chunk of action because of various ailments. But if anybody doubts how important he is to the Colts defense, just take a look at the 2006 postseason. Defensive end Dwight Freeney gets most of the pub, but Sanders is the best player on this unit. Now if he could only avoid those pesky injuries.
1. Peyton Manning: Shocking, I know. Even if the Colts lost to the Patriots in last year's AFC Championship game, Manning would still top this list. Yeah, he can be a jerk with kids, but it's that competitive spirit that makes him so good.
6. Dwight Freeney - The second-best player on the Colts' D.
7. A.J. Graves - Two-guard coming back for senior season at Butler.
8. Reggie Wayne - Thanks Peyton!
9. Tarik Glenn - Underrated, but protects the franchise QB.
10. Mike Dunleavy - Slips in as Random White Guy No. 3.