Alex Ovechkin Turns 24
Alex Ovechkin turned 24 today. Among his presents were a shaving cream pie in the face from Alexander Semin, and a scheduled trip to see the Mystics open their playoff run against the Indiana Fever tonight at Comcast Center.
And thus, if you're counting backward, Clinton Portis spent $200,000 and rented out the Kennedy Center rooftop when he turned 26, Gilbert Arenas brought in Diddy, Busta Rhymes, Lil' Wayne, T.I. and The Game when he turned 25, and Alex Ovechkin is going to see a sub-.500 WNBA team begin the playoffs inside a college arena because their homecourt has been occupied by a dinosaur show when he turns 24. That's supernova style.
So, social plans? "No party, nothing," Ovechkin said.
Presents? "I don't need anything," he said.
Newfound maturity? "I feel the same, young," he said.
Birthday excitement? "I don't like my birthday; I'm getting older," he said.
Fine, maybe he doesn't really want to talk about it. Just the same, I asked a few of his longest-tenured teammates questions about this aging star. Like, is the 24-year old Ovechkin more mature than the kid who first arrived in D.C.?
"I don't know, I don't think so," Mike Green said. "He's the same guy. None of us are mature."
Has his personality changed at all?
"His English has gotten better," Shaone Morrisonn joked. "He's the same guy as he was when he first came here. Obviously he's a little older, but he hasn't changed in any way. He was a great guy when he came and he's still a great guy."
Has his celebrity taken hold?
"He's kind of always been a bit of a rock star," Eric Fehr said. "He says what's on his mind, he does what he wants to do, and that hasn't changed from the first time I saw him 'til now."
And can he get even better?
"Yeah, obviously--he's only 24 years old," Morrisonn said. "He's not even in his prime yet."
"I guess there's always room for improvement, is what they would say, but he's pretty good at what he does," Fehr said.
"He's gonna improve every year, because every year he's gonna have more experience and he's gonna get smarter," Bruce Boudreau said. "So there's no doubt in my mind he can improve. But does improving mean scoring more goals? Is that what people are basing the word improve on? I think the word improve means being a better all-around player, knowing the game better, approaching the game from a little more experience. That's where he's gonna improve.
"The results offensively, who knows, might not be the same. But I think Alex has only got one goal left. He's won two Harts in a row, the goal scoring title [two] years in a row. He's only got one Cup that he really wants to win. So whatever it takes to improve upon that, if it makes him play a little more defensively at certain times, I think he's more than willing to do it."
Boudreau, for the record, didn't even know it was Ovechkin's birthday, and said he'd offer him birthday greetings but no breaks on the ice.
"He knows he's got Saturday off, he doesn't have today off, [and] he's got to work Friday," the coach said. "I've got to believe every day is a birthday for Alex. It's pretty good to be Alex."
(And I finally asked Ovechkin who's the most popular athlete in D.C. He thought about it. "Probably Semin," he said.)
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