Nick Young wants to beat "big brother" Gilbert Arenas
The Wizards were simulating late-game situations on Thursday afternoon when Nick Young got the ball with his team team trailing by one point. Young caught the ball, dribbled left and shot a fallaway jumper over Cartier Martin. The shot dropped and Young celebrated by stealing Sam Cassell's signature dance -- which Miami guard Eddie House recently brought back to life.
Young ran around the court, with his hands hanging near his knees. "That's a $25,000 fine," Cassell joked, referencing the punishment House received for the obscene gesture in Oklahoma City.
Young shouted and nodded afterward, as his confidence continues to grow in practices and games this season. Young's opportunity has come as the result of the Gilbert Arenas trade. Since moving into the starting lineup, Young is leading the team and averaging 20.9 points per game.
And Arenas has been keeping tabs on Young in Orlando, sending a message to him earlier this week in anticipation of his return to Verizon Center.
"Gil told me it's going to be like Raja Bell and Kobe" Bryant, Young said with a laugh. "He's going to clothesline me, he's going to do everything he can. It's going to be somebody out there trying to get 30 [points] and somebody trying to get six fouls. It's going to be a battle."
In the time Arenas and Young were together in Washington, they rarely shared the floor. Arenas was often injured, and when Arenas played, Young was often confined to the bench. Arenas pranked, counseled and encouraged Young, providing friendship and brutal honesty. "Gil, he was like a big brother to me," Young said. "He was somebody that had confidence in me and installed confidence in me. He's been there.
"Even though he's been traded. He still calls me every day, tells me things to do out there, little things," he said. "That's something that carried over, that confidence. Most definitely, more minutes, more confidence to go out there and play hard every night. Try to make something happen. That's what I try to do, make something happen. That's still in the back of my head."
Young has battled Arenas numerous times in practice and pickup games over the years, but those matchups usually ended with Arenas peppering him with a little trash talk and also some advice on how to get better. Now, Young will get the chance to go against Arenas as an opponent, although Arenas will be coming off the bench for Orlando.
"It's like playing against your big brother. You want to win, show him you're here, you've grown up," Young said. "I'm going to go out there and try my best. We're going to get a win."
This season could've been the first time that Young and Arenas actually played a lot together, but Arenas felt early in the preseason that his days in Washington were numbered. The last remaining piece from a core of former all-stars in Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, Arenas decided to take a step back, as he looked around and saw an incredibly inexperienced roster built around No. 1 overall pick John Wall.
Believing that the team was going younger as he grew older, Arenas said he began grooming Young to take over for him, believing the 25-year-old could better run with Wall. His efforts even yielded a $50,000 fine when he faked an injury to help Young get a start (and avoid hearing boos in his home debut).
Young's emergence as a solid backup made Arenas more expendable and the Wizards felt that acquiring Rashard Lewis would help open more opportunities for Young while adding another perimeter scorer to assist Wall. "Nick had some real good stretches, last year, also," Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld said. "He's shooting the ball basketball well and he's competing at a more consistent level."
Andray Blatche was asked after practice if the Wizards miss Arenas near the end of games and Blatche shrugged. "We do. On the plus side, we got Nick now. He's stepping up. He's balling. He's our new scorer. He's playing great, and I just want him to continue to work hard and continue to score for us. We have another player that stepped up and he's playing to that ability. It's pretty much the same."
Not quite, but at least Young is starting to believe.
| February 4, 2011; 2:55 PM ET
Categories: Gilbert Arenas, Nick Young
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