- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 3, 2004

Seen and heard last night at MCI Center

IN PRAISE OF GILBERT: Although much of what was said from Oakland after Gilbert Arenas left the Warriors for Washington via free agency wasn’t always glowing, none of the negativity was generated by Golden State coach Eric Musselman.

“Whenever you’ve been around a guy for a year you get close to them, you root for them,” Musselman said. “That’s the way I am with Gilbert. He’s a guy that I want to see do well, especially since he is in the other conference.”

One reason why Arenas is here and not in California is because he was a restricted free agent and therefore the Warriors were limited in what they could pay him, unlike the Wizards, who wound up paying him close to $65 million

“There was no doubt that the organization did everything it could. It just didn’t work out,” Musselman said. “But Gilbert made a good decision for himself. He earned getting paid because he had a great year last year. For a guy who didn’t play that much in his first year he was great last year. He has an unbelievable toughness and a great desire to overcome odds. He uses that to help motivate himself.”

FAKED OUT: After saying he had overestimated what he would be able to get out of Christian Laettner from the start of the season, and sounding very much as if he would not keep Laettner out for the third time in four games, Wizards coach Eddie Jordan inserted him in the starting lineup.

Laettner replaced rookie Jarvis Hayes at forward. Jordan also put Brendan Haywood back in the starting lineup for Etan Thomas.

John N. Mitchell

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