- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Kwame Brown called Gilbert Arenas to say his words had been “misconstrued” — an excuse that should be giving Brown’s new team, the Los Angeles Lakers, fits.

Brown skipped practice after Game3 of the Wizards’ first-round playoff victory over the Bulls last season, an absence reported the next day in The Washington Times.

But, Brown was quoted in an article in The Washington Post this week saying he skipped the workout because if he attended he was going to slap Arenas, whom Brown accused of telling coach Eddie Jordan to bench him.

Add another chapter to Brown’s history of serial deflections.

Let’s be honest here. Words and messages — printed ones especially so — are often taken out of context and misconstrued. However, a promise made by a 7-foot, 270-pound man to slap the snot out of someone can only be interpreted one way and one way only.

Why would Brown even bother calling Arenas to back away from something that he clearly meant. By his own admission this is why he didn’t come to work.

Arenas has matured DSL quick — did any player do more on his own to help the victims of Katrina? — and to no one’s surprise he said all the right things when confronted with the Monday morning Kwame gossip.

But who would have blamed him had he not?

After all, it was Arenas who tried to cover for the absent Brown in May by telling reporters he had seen Brown getting sick.

Fiction, a team source confirmed. Arenas didn’t see that; he was just covering Brown’s back when he didn’t have to. Brown’s agent, Arn Tellem, certainly wasn’t going to bat for him.

Arenas, an All-Star and a third-team All-NBA selection, continually stood up for Brown when he quit on his teammates in May. When Brown faced withering criticism, it was Arenas, more than any other Wizards player, who tried to divert attention from him.

Brown’s problems, of course, date to the days when he was at war with the old regime of Doug Collins and Michael Jordan. A plausible case can be made that Jordan and Collins were extremely hard on Brown and they expected too much from him too soon.

But Jordan is gone, off racing motorcycles and playing golf. And Collins is back in the broadcast booth, going about his life, gleefully talking about his grandson to anyone who will listen.

They’ve moved on.

Brown looked as if he might move on, too, especially when Eddie Jordan and Ernie Grunfeld were brought in to revitalize the Wizards.

But Brown never accepted Eddie Jordan’s guidance. This was evident when Jordan had to suspend him last season for conduct detrimental to the team.

This, you know.

What you don’t know is that Eddie Jordan had to talk to Brown differently than he did any of the other men he coached last season.

Coaching is often done most effectively in abrasive language. But that never registered with Brown, who according to a high-placed team source took that as a personal attack rather than just coaching from Eddie Jordan.

Now the new Laker says he is going back to being a “beast.”

That term is easily the highest compliment a big man in the NBA can be paid.

Say the word in NBA circles, and images come to mind of Amare Stoudemire wrist-flicking away Tim Duncan’s attempted dunk in last season’s playoffs. Think back a few seasons and envision Shaquille O’Neal backing down a helpless Dikembe Mutombo in the Finals, never allowing Mutombo to set his feet and ultimately dunking on the helpless ex-Hoya.

That is how the moniker is earned. And every general manager in the league covets a beast. A true beast, if he isn’t too old, can get a maximum contract quicker than any other type of player.

Does the term conjure images of Kwame Brown for anyone?

You get the point.

The Wizards were actively shopping Brown for most of last season. Brown could have apologized and shown contrition. It is doubtful the Wizards would have lifted his suspension, but at least teams could have seen Brown as perhaps a player who had no problem accepting responsibility.

But, Brown didn’t apologize. And that’s why the Lakers should be wondering if the Wizards robbed them in the Caron Butler trade.

Five months have passed since the playoffs and the Brown episode. It should have been a period of soul searching, of deep introspection for Brown.

But, now, the best Brown can come up with is he quit on his teammates because he probably would have slapped his team’s best player had he shown up for work.

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