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Feb. 8, 2005

Arenas, Jamison both very worthy All-Stars

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
Any one who saw Gilbert Arenas light up the Indiana Pacers for 43 points on Monday, Feb. 7 surely must agree that he's an All-Star. Arenas' 24.7 points per game are more than worthy of some accolade, and a chance to shine as an Eastern Conference reserve will do the trick.

Antawn Jamison getting on the team came as much more of a surprise to me. He's been very, very good, and is worthy of making the team. I'm just stunned he's on there. I mean, he DOES play for the Wizards. Twenty eight wins in early February and two All-Stars. For the Washington Wizards. Is this really happening to this once lowly franchise?

And lowly was about four months ago.

Arenas' play is so refreshing to watch. I was a witness to the Michael Jordan-led Wiz losing close game after close game on their way to a disiappointing 37-45 record in 2002-03. I saw the Wizards lose 57 games last year. But Arenas has stepped his game up many levels, and he's carried this club since Larry Hughes got hurt.

His 43-point output against the Pacers was his 14th 30 plus point game of the season and his seventh since Hughes' thumb injury against the Suns. And Hughes was healthy three weeks ago! Even on those rare nights where he can't make a shot, he hustles and inspires his teammates with his energy.

When his offense is slumping, his intensity isn't. And during an 82-game grind, that's as important as a double double a night.

In June when Jamison was dealt here for Jerry Stackhouse, Christian Laettner and Devin Harris, I was lukewarm. Jamison was the sixth-man of the year, but that meant he couldn't crack the starting lineup of a Dallas team that bowed out in the second round of the playoffs. He got less time on the floor late in close games than even Marquis Daniels.

He also didn't seem like a winner. During his time in Golden State, the Warriors averaged about 23 wins per season, and in Dallas, he struck me as less valuable than even Daniels down the stretch.

But I was wrong, and thank goodness for that. Jamison's arrival has been a blessing. He's snaring nine rebounds to go with his 21 points per game, making up for the void on the glass left by Etan Thomas' injury that's cost him most of the season so far.

The Wizards have only been on national TV once, and they blew out the first-place Seattle Sonics at home back in January. The All-Star game on February 20 (7 PM, TNT) in Denver will give the two best players on the biggest surprise team in the East a rare chance to show how good they really are.

Jamison and Arenas have given the Wizards PR department a chance to finally do something rare; promote the home team as the main attraction. I got tired of going to MCI Center and paying $75 to, as the promos said, "come see Peja Drobnjak and the Atlanta Hawks take on the Wizards!”

Now the Wizards are the main attraction. What a novel concept! Arenas is one of the most exciting players I've seen in years, and certainly more fun to watch than Ladell Eackles was.

Speaking of Eackles, these two remind me of my best year as a Wizard fan, 1997, the last time this franchise made the playoffs, led by Chris Webber and Gheorge "Big Lumpy” Muresan. The team had a theme song back then, where every player was "the man” and the reason "why I'm a Bullets fan.”

Well, these two freshly minted All-Stars have put the Wizards in position to make the playoffs for the first time as, well, the Wizards. They've made the NBA in DC fun again, and yes, I'll say it. Gilbert Arenas, he the man, he the man! Antawn Jamison, he the man, he the man!

They're the reason I'm a Wizards fan.



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  • sam on February 9, 2005 at 2:50 PM
    isnt there a limit to how many exclamation points are allowed in a piece?
  • Matthew Lesko on February 9, 2005 at 3:28 PM
    no theres not sam!
  • varun gulati on February 14, 2005 at 9:14 PM
    in the recent pistons game, arenas was pretty good; however, jamison upset me a little when he ended up missing 14 shots (out of 19!!)
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