The Washington Times - November 20, 2008, 08:21PM

Gilbert Arenas has the big shoe deals, the commercials, the $111 million contract, the nicknames and now a wax statue in his likeness.



Becoming only the third NBA player to have a wax statue made of himself, Arenas and Madame Tussauds Washington D.C. earlier today unveiled the guard’s life-size wax likeness.


The figure, wearing an official uniform of its real-life double, joins the wax museum’s sports area which features legendary athletes Muhammad Ali, Babe Ruth, Tiger Woods and Evander Holyfield.


When asked if he ever as a kid with dreams of playing in the NBA imagined that he’d have a wax statue of himself, Gil — who joins Michael Jordan and Shaq as the only other NBA players immortalized in wax — had this to say:


“This is, wow. When you’re a little kid, you don’t think about stuff like this. You see it of all the movie stars, but you don’t think about athletes. When I got the paper and they asked me, I said, ‘Of course!’ Are you crazy? They said they hadn’t done LeBron, they hadn’t done Kobe. I came here and I was ready.”


On how he has remained so popular although he has hardly played in the last 19 months he said:

“I guess it’s just the impact of the people. They said the people of D.C. chose for me to be the next one in and I’m just very honored.”


Agent Zero also spoke of his return, saying unless Caron Butler or Antawn Jamison gets hurt, he’s not coming back until after Jan. 1. The trainers have limited Gil to babysteps in his rehabilitation and refuse to let him rush back. The earliest he could come back is Dec. 15, but he said he still won’t be in top shape. And so, the plan is for just after the New Year.


“We decided this time that I’m not going to come back limping. When I come back, It’s going to be like I never left,” Gil said. “And they said January 1st, I’ll definitely be ready to go.”


Always one to come up with some brow-raising comments, Gil said he hopes the Wizards can get it turned around this season, but that if they don’t there’s always a silver lining.


“If this is one of those years where we don’t make the playoffs or we finish in last place, hey, that’s what happened to San Antonio. They had a few players injured and wound up with the top pick, and that’s how they got Tim Duncan.”


In other Wizards news, the team returned to practice today, a night after back-to-back losses to Miami and Atlanta, respectively. Coach Eddie Jordan said he was encouraged by the improvements he saw on Wednesday, particularly the energy with which the team played, and the results netted from moving point guard Dee Brown and center JaVale McGee into the starting lineup.


“I feel like we’re getting close,” Jordan said reflecting on the 91-87 loss to Atlanta. “We found harmony and rhythm last night. We started out the quarter pretty well. We moved the ball even though we had a new starting lineup with JaVale and Dee. It was a good showing for us.”


Point guard Antonio Daniels, who has missed the last three games, returned to practice two days after receiving a cortisone shot, but his status for Friday’s game us uncertain.