Hey, Melo! Not In Gilbert�s House

By Carla Peay
Updated: December 14, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. — There�s no way of telling how many people in the crowd of 14,304 came to the Verizon Center on Wednesday night to see Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony, a favorite son and native of nearby Baltimore.

�I�ll bet just about all of West Baltimore is here,� said Anthony, whose Nuggets will make only one trip to the Verizon Center to face the Washington Wizards this season.

But while this year is proving to be a breakout one for Anthony, on this night, it was all about Gilbert Arenas and the Wizards, who spoiled Anthony�s homecoming with a 120-91 blowout victory.

The normally defensively challenged Wizards held the Nuggets to 45.1 percent from the floor, and narrowly won the rebounding battle 39 to 38.

While Anthony led all scorers with 37 points on 16 of 27 shooting with four assists and eight rebounds, it was once again Arenas� night, with 34 points on 10 of 21 from the floor, with five assists, and 11 of 12 from the free throw line.

Wednesday night�s contest marks the fifth straight game in which Arenas has scored at least 30 points, including a 41 point performance against Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets, the Wizards only loss in that five game stretch.

At 10-11, the Wizards now sit a game below .500, and after going 0-for-November on the road, seem to finally be turning things around. At least they will if Arenas has anything to say about it.

�We out rebounded them tonight, and we focused on keeping them out of the transition. We�re finally starting to do on the road what we�ve done at home, which is run. When we play well, nobody can beat us,� Arenas said.

With Arenas poised to make his third All-Star appearance, and Anthony his first, it seems fitting to wonder when the name of Gilbert Arenas will finally begin to roll off the tongues of the basketball pundits whenever talk turns to the names of the best young stars in the game.

Carmelo Anthony. Dwyane Wade. LeBron James. Should Arenas� name be that far behind?

�They all came in the same class. I came into the league three years earlier than they did, so that�s one reason why,� said Arenas, answering the query in an unusually pragmatic fashion.

True, Melo, Flash and the Chosen One are all beginning their third seasons, while Arenas is in his fifth, but at age 24 (Arenas turns 25 in January) young is still an accurate description of the Wizards All-Star guard.

�I am starting to get a little more love from the NBA,� said Arenas, whose delightfully quirky personality has spawned the phrase �Gilbertology�. Consider, for example, Arenas� reaction to the league returning to the old leather ball on Jan. 1, 2007.

�The new ball is a shooters ball”, Arena said. “So someday when I�ve set some records, I don�t want anyone saying �oh, he got those records with the new ball�. I want my records with the same ball that all the great ones used.�

He then gave a laugh-out-loud description of the way the new micro fiber ball bounces on the floor and off the rim as compared to the old leather one.

During Friday night�s loss to the Houston Rockets, Arenas left the court during a timeout in the first half, only to return a few moments later wearing a different pair of shoes.

�I had to change my shoes. I wore those shoes yesterday,� Arenas said after the Rockets game. In the middle of a poor outing during last year�s playoffs, Arenas changed his entire uniform at halftime, deeming the first uniform to be bad luck.

But Arenas is correct about finally getting a little well-deserved love from the NBA. Arenas was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, the fifth time in his career he has received the honor.

Gilbert Arenas billboards have finally started to appear in the nation�s capital. Last week, his new shoe, the Gil Zero hit the market, and Arenas is appearing in shoe commercials, which he insists he hasn�t seen yet.

�I don�t watch regular TV,� he admits. �I watch movies,� Arenas said. Several reporters were crowded around his locker as he said it, the next obvious question being, �What�s your favorite movie?�

No one wanted to ask it. There are just some things about Gilbertology that we all like to leave to our imaginations.