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Arenas is being paid as the one to take the Wizards where they have not been since the late ‘70s.

He said he is trying not to think of the contract in that fashion. He remembers how the fat contract went down for Juwan Howard, perhaps the favorite target of the boo-birds until being displaced by Kwame Brown.

For better or worse, the onus is now on Arenas. He is being paid franchise-player money, and franchise players are obligated to lead by example on both ends of the floor.

And that includes the defensive end of the floor, always a touchy subject with Arenas.

He smiled at one point and insisted he has taken a liking to defense, which possibly came as news to Jordan and the coaching staff.

At least Arenas is consistent.

The Wizards have cleared the playoff hurdle, which was a challenge for too long. Expectations have risen considerably since that exuberant night in Tony Cheng’s neighborhood after the Wizards eliminated the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs in 2005.

The city has invested its emotions in Arenas, Jamison and Caron Butler, and now it wants to see a dividend from it. Even the injury affliction, however valid in dragging the team down the last two seasons, buys only so much understanding.

Arenas has craved to be acknowledged as the alpha male. Now he is. His contract numbers emphasize it.

So it is time for him to respond accordingly in deed and spirit. It is time for him to be the leader type he has resisted being. It is time for him to get in the faces of big-name opponents and see them as threats to his potential legacy.

It is his team, his city and his responsibility to meet the challenge that goes with a $111 million contract.