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Wizards back at it

First of all, I have to give some props to by boy Michael Lee for filling in the last few days. I had jury duty Monday morning (I wasn't selected) so Mike was in North Carolina for the games against the Bobcats on Monday and Tuesday. Also, that was Mike's excellent blog entry on Gilbert Arenas yesterday. I read the comments and a bunch of folks thought it was me but no, MIke gets the credit for that one.

GIlbert is an interesting cat, isn't he? It was an exchange with him today that really put things into perspective for me. Gilbert was talking about his search for a new agent and marketing team. He said he didn't want to be viewed as the typical athlete/celebrity doing typical athlete/celebrity things so he was looking for something different in his marketing team than most sports stars.
"I'm more like a character," he explained. That's it. Gilbert sees himself and the world as one big comic book and in that book, he gets to constantly reinvent himself. Sometimes he's the "silent assassin" as he dubbed himself last season or "Agent O" or the numerous other names he's acquired over the years. The thing that draws people, reporters included, to Gilbert is that he's always willing to open up and talk. He just talks. Not in a self-promotional or fake way. It's as though he's sitting in a seat next to you on a flight. Sometimes that gets him in trouble but most of the time, it's insightful and funny.
I'll give you an example. We were in Cleveland last week for a preseason game and I got a text message from my boy who is serving in Afghanistan. My boy, Sven, grew up in Arizona and is a huge Wildcats fan so naturally, he's always loved himself some Gilbert Arenas. Anyway, that night Sven texted me from the field with a message that read: "Tell Gilbert to use that crossover I taught him back in `Zona." When I showed Gilbert the text about 45 minutes before the game, he laughed and told me to send back this message: "This is Gilbert. I'll do it for you tonight. Stay safe."
Needless to say, Sven appreciated the message. By the way Sven, when you read this, give me a shout. We have to breakdown that Vikings/Seahawks game on Sunday.

The team was back on the court today for a hard practice after taking yesterday off. Except for Darius Songaila, everyone was dressed in practice gear but Antawn Jamison and Michael Ruffin were sitting off to the side by the time I was let in the gym for the last 30 minutes. Nothing serious, they were just getting a little extra rest after playing in North Carolina. I didn't get to see the entire practice today but I did see some serious scrimmaging. One of the things that has impressed me about this team is the way guys go at it in practice.

The depth of this team has created an ideal situation for Eddie Jordan and his coaches: if a guy wants to play, he'd better bring it every day in practice because there is someone pushing for a bigger role at all times. Throw in the fact that the core guys (Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison) all hate to lose and it's even better.

During one exchange today, DeShawn Stevenson was guard Roger Mason Jr. on the wing and he reached into knock the ball away. Mason Jr. turned and look to the coaches wanting a foul call. "That was a smack," Mason Jr. said. Arenas, who was on Stevenson's team piped up: "That wasn't a smack, that was a snatch." A little later, Stevenson drove hard to the basket and was obviously fouled by someone, I think it was Mike Hall. No call. He looked to assistant Mike O'Koren. "What? He pushed me in the back." Practice carried on.

Right now you have 16 guys fighting for 15 spots. James Lang, Roger Mason Jr. and Mike Hall have really helped themselves the last two weeks or so and that has served to push Donell Taylor, Andray Blatche and Calvin Booth. I asked president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld whether he'll closely monitor the cuts made by other teams. He said he'd track those moves but won't really look to add anyone this late in the preseason. Translation: the man likes his team.

The Wizards are unveiling their new alternate uniforms tonight. They'll be two-toned with black shorts and gold jerseys. I also saw some kind of pattern of stars running up the side of the jersey. Arenas said he likes them because he already has a pair of shoes that will match. Antonio Daniels must have a different view. As he walked past me in the hallway on his way out of the building, he asked: "You seen the uniforms?" "Nope," I said, "What do you think?" Daniels made a face - the kind of face I used to make when moms forced me to eat veggies - and kept walking.

Word is that the team is going to transition to blue, black and gold as a color combination while dumping the bronze color that is on the current home and away jerseys. Arenas still wants to go back to a red, white and blue pattern but that's not going to happen.

We'll have a picture of the new look in tomorrow's Post so check it out and see what you think.

By Ivan Carter  |  October 19, 2006; 2:35 PM ET
 
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