- The Washington Times - Monday, December 20, 2004

OAKLAND, Calif. — Gilbert Arenas, Larry Hughes and Antawn Jamison forged their basketball relationship while playing with the Golden State Warriors in the 2001-02 season.

So is there some sentimentality associated with their return visit as teammates with the Washington Wizards?

Not hardly.

“It doesn’t really matter to me now; it’s just a game that we want to win,” said Hughes, who signed with the Wizards as a free agent in August 2002. “We went out there and lost, and the year before that we lost, too. And if you look at it, everything out there has changed.”

A lot has changed for Golden State (7-17) since Arenas, Hughes and Jamison were Warriors teammates. In Arenas’ rookie year, Golden State was 21-61 under coach Dave Cowens, who was replaced by Brian Winters.

The next season, with Hughes in Washington and Eric Musselman the Warriors’ new coach, Golden State won 17 more games. Jamison put up All-Star numbers (22.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and Arenas was named the league’s most improved player.

But then Arenas signed with the Wizards and Jamison was dealt to Dallas, where he would go on to win top sixth-man honors last season.

Now as they return to Golden State as Wizards teammates, the feeling is that what is in the past is best left there.

“I went there twice last year,” said Jamison, who played sparingly in those appearances. “There was all the hoopla for me. But now it’s really nothing. The first time you go back it’s like, ‘Wow, this is where I spent a couple of years of my career.’ But now it’s out the window. There are no feelings at all about it.”

The Wizards are more concerned about earning their first victory at Golden State since March 18, 2002. Washington has split its first two games on its western trip. The Wizards defeated the Lakers 120-116 in overtime on Friday — ending a string of 11 consecutive losses at Los Angeles dating to the 1991-92 season — and then fell to Phoenix 110-96 on Saturday.

The Warriors, meanwhile, have lost five of their last seven games, including the final three of a recent road trip.

And even though the Wizards haven’t made a playoff appearance since 1997, the former Warriors sound like they would rather be in Washington.

“We feel good with what we’re doing,” Hughes said. “When we were there that organization was a lot like the Wizards. We were known for losing games and not knowing how to finish games. But I think this organization has turned it around and it’s completely different from top to bottom in terms of changing the attitude. I’m glad I’m here.”

Note — The Wizards and Warriors will wear throwback uniforms. The Warriors will wear uniforms from their 1966-67 season, and the Wizards will wear Baltimore Bullets uniforms.

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