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
Previous: Gilbert Arenas: "I'm Not Quirky." | Next: Little love for the Wiz

Comments

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Michael Lee: tightness on that Gilbert post.

IC: do you have the same fear I do that this Darius Songalia injury situation could turn into a drawn out shabingus? The kind where it doesn't get better for a while and next thing we know, he is scheduled for surgery in December?

Posted by: Bernard King | October 19, 2006 3:50 PM

Props to Arenas. He's a great player, a great competitor and a great guy. I'd be interested to hear, either Michael or Ivan, whether you know of any other basketball player - or team, for that matter - that's as open to reporters as Arenas and the Wizards.

I'm a stone cold Knicks fan, but it seems like covering them is like reporting on the CIA. Everything's top secret.

mdalton913@yahoo.com

Posted by: Matt Dalton | October 19, 2006 4:50 PM

Hey Gil,
If you're reading this, holla at me for your marketing needs. I've never done work for athletes, but I doubt that branding your image is a hard job. :)

Mike, thanks for the great read.

Posted by: le bullez | October 19, 2006 5:31 PM

shabingus.... hmmmmmmm, where have i seen that before BK ;-)

Posted by: hmmmmm | October 19, 2006 6:07 PM

it'll be interesting to see what happens with the cuts. i am pulling for mason (loved him at uva and he's from the area). i know some other local people might like hall, but we'll see.

Posted by: uva fan | October 19, 2006 6:40 PM

new uni:

http://www.nba.com/media/wizards/arenas_hires_061019.jpg

eh, not so sure how i feel about it.. if the jersey was black to match the shorts, would look better

Posted by: hmmmmm | October 19, 2006 7:45 PM

Ivan,

How can self-respecting grown men be forced to wear such a hideous uniform? I don't know what look they were shooting for, but they missed entirely, kinda like Ruffin's free throws.

Do you think the team would reconsider if enough players objected? Could you help us in this effort? Those unis look worse than my 11 year old's county rec league team.

Posted by: Robb | October 19, 2006 9:18 PM

Today's Wiz article mentions they were 10-18 in games decided by 6 points or less. That should be 10-17 -- the game they lost in the playoffs because LeBron took four steps on the last play and the refs chickened out doesn't count.

Posted by: Zonker | October 20, 2006 9:15 AM

At some point doesn't the league office have a responsibility to step in and veto those hideous uniforms. They look like arena football league attire. David Stern has to be shaking his head right now in disbelief. Its 2006, global NBA, record broadcast contracts, but Abe still runs this thing like the family circus.

Posted by: Wei | October 20, 2006 10:26 AM

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/basketball/nba/specials/preview/2006/10/20/bc.bkn.suns.diaw.ap/index.html

Okay, so the Suns just signed Diaw for $45 million. Before that, they signed Barbosa for $33 million. Before that they locked up Nash for like $55 million and Stoudemire in the $70 million range. So how on God's green Earth are they going to keep Marion? Can someone explain this? Is there a math they do on Jupiter that somehow will make it possible for them to sign Marion, who will command at least $60 million?

My point, as I have long said, is that Marion is going to be traded because they can't afford him next year. He is EXACTLY what we need to "compete for the East". Gilbert's talk in today's article is nonsense. I quote from the SI scout's take: DeShawn Stevenson was rated one of the worst starters in all of the NBA last year. If he's starting for you, you're in trouble. If he comes off the bench, you're okay. Also, none of their big men are legitimate NBA starters.

So how are we going to be better this year? I know, we'll call up Gandalf the Grey using the Horn of Gondor and he'll give us the One Ring of Power he jacked from Bilbo.

I get so upset with this nonsense. This is a complete and total shabingus.

Posted by: The Governor | October 20, 2006 10:28 AM

Those uniforms are the most ridiculous looking sports uniforms since the White Sox wore those silly shorts back in the 1970s.

Oy. Horrific.

Posted by: OhMy | October 20, 2006 10:57 AM

Why do you say that going back to the red, white and blue will never happen? I guarantee that a return to the old-school jersey will lead to more sales.

Posted by: Bullets Fan In L.A. | October 20, 2006 2:15 PM

Black and Gold ummmm... Are we now the Wake Forest Deamon Decons of the NBA? By the way, on NBA 07 why are the knicks rated at 90 and the Zards are 82?

Posted by: Moses Malone | October 21, 2006 2:51 AM

Ivan Carter- don't know if you'll have a chance to answer this but here goes: Your article today on the roster as well as the one in the Times seem to indicate that there is one roster spot remaining (although they pick Lang over Mason, I think). On the other hand, the Wizards forum/blog reads like there is one cut to be made. Which is it and why the discrepancy?

Posted by: question... | October 21, 2006 1:16 PM

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