Wizards' Jamison, Arenas are All-Stars

First-time selections are among East's 7 reserves

Pro Basketball

February 09, 2005|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - The trade last summer for forward Antawn Jamison and the free-agent signing the previous year of point guard Gilbert Arenas have transformed one of the NBA's most laughable franchises into one of the league's most improved teams this season.

Those transactions also accomplished something for these two members of the Washington Wizards: Coming to play here turned them into All-Stars for the first time in their pro careers.

Jamison, 28, and Arenas, 23, were named yesterday among the seven reserves on the Eastern Conference team for this year's All-Star Game, which will be played Feb. 20 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Wizards owner Abe Pollin celebrated the franchise's first dual All-Star selection since Moses Malone and Jeff Malone in 1986-87 by interrupting practice to present the two players with a cake as the song "All Star" by Smashmouth was piped into the main arena at MCI Center.

"I think it's rewarding for the team; it's all about team success. Obviously, Antawn and Gilbert are very deserving of this honor, but it comes with team success," said Ernie Grunfeld, in his second year as the president of basketball operations. "I'm really happy for them, and I'm really happy that they've played such a big role in our success."

After winning 25 games last season, the Wizards are tied with the Detroit Pistons for the second-best record (28-19) in the Eastern Conference going into tonight's home game against the team with the league's best record, the 39-10 San Antonio Spurs.

Jamison had received serious consideration a couple of times during the five seasons he spent in Golden State, but in Dallas last season all the 6-foot-9 forward merited was the award for being the league's top reserve. Arenas was the NBA's most improved player during his second season in Golden State, leading to the 6-3 point guard's signing a six-year, $65 million contract with the Wizards.

"It's a good feeling," Jamison said. "I've been through a lot and for this opportunity to happen, it wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for Mr. Pollin, Ernie, the coaching staff and foremost my teammates. I tip my hat off to these guys in appreciation. I'm happy for Gilbert. I wish Larry could have been a part of this, also."

Point guard Larry Hughes, who was putting up All-Star numbers before sustaining a broken right thumb last month, was asked by Pollin to join Jamison and Arenas in cutting the first pieces of cake at yesterday's impromptu ceremony. Arenas said he planned to buy two tickets to the All-Star Game for his injured teammate.

"We wish Larry was healthy," Arenas said. "I don't understand why he didn't get picked. He's taking the pin [in his thumb] out Friday. Things happen that you don't expect. But he's proud of us."

Arenas might have benefited from the injury to Hughes. His scoring role has increased in recent weeks, and he has scored 30 points or more in eight of his past 11 games, including tying a career high of 43 points in Monday's 108-104 home win over Indiana.

Arenas, whose scoring binge lifted his average (24.7) to second among Eastern guards behind Philadelphia's Allen Iverson, made a rare admission for an NBA All-Star.

"To tell you the truth, they don't even have to play me," Arenas said. "I can just sit there. I can be a great cheerleader. I'm just going to enjoy the weekend and enjoy myself."

Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said that yesterday's recognition of Jamison and Arenas was good for the rest of his players to witness.

"We have young guys, they like stuff like this, it's exciting, it's new, they like being a part of it, the guys who are not even All-Stars," Jordan said.

NOTES: The Wizards were among seven teams to have multiple All-Star selections. The Suns had three players named as reserves yesterday - point guard Steve Nash, forward Shawn Marion and center Amare Stoudemire. After being chosen three straight years in Houston, former Maryland star Steve Francis was snubbed in his first season in Orlando. Even though the game is being played at his home arena, Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony (Towson Catholic) was also not picked.

NBA All-Star rosters

(x-denotes starter; game is Feb. 20 in Denver)

Eastern Conference

Yrs

Player, Team Pos Ht Wt All-Star

Gilbert Arenas, Was G 6-3 191 1

x-Vince Carter, NJ F 6-6 220 6

x-Grant Hill, Orl F 6-8 225 7

Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Cle C 7-3 260 2

x-Allen Iverson, Phi G 6-0 165 6

x-LeBron James, Cle G 6-8 245 1

Antawn Jamison, Was F 6-9 230 1

Jermaine O'Neal, Ind F 6-11 230 4

x-Shaquille O'Neal, Mia C 7-1 325 12

Paul Pierce, Bos F 6-6 230 4

Dwyane Wade, Mia G 6-4 212 1

Ben Wallace, Det F 6-9 240 3

Western Conference

Yrs

Player, Team Pos Ht Wt All-Star

Ray Allen, Sea G 6-5 205 5

x-Kobe Bryant, LAL G 6-6 220 7

x-Tim Duncan, SA F 7-0 260 7

x-Kevin Garnett, Min F 6-11 220 8

Manu Ginobili, SA F 6-6 210 1

Rashard Lewis, Sea F 6-10 215 1

Shawn Marion, Pho F 6-7 228 2

x-Tracy McGrady, Hou G 6-8 210 5

Steve Nash, Pho G 6-3 180 3

Dirk Nowitzki, Dal F 7-0 245 4

Amare Stoudemire, Pho F 6-10 245 1

x-Yao Ming, Hou C 7-6 310 3

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