- The Washington Times - Friday, November 19, 2004

The Washington Wizards got another dose of encouraging news yesterday when forward Kwame Brown completed his first full practice with the team since the end of last season.

Eyewitnesses said Brown did surprisingly well for someone who hadn’t played since breaking his right foot and undergoing late-summer surgery to repair the fifth metatarsal.

“Kwame looked real good,” teammate Jarvis Hayes said of Brown, who is carrying close to 270 pounds on his 7-foot frame. “I told him he’s been in the weight room too much since he got hurt. He should be back real soon.”

Brown’s return continued an upbeat week for the Wizards, who were told earlier this week backup point guard Steve Blake was close to returning after missing all the preseason and the early part of the season following ankle surgery and could be activated for tomorrow night’s game at New Jersey.

On Wednesday night, the team continued its promising start by rallying to defeat the Boston Celtics 110-105 in overtime, evening its record at 4-4.

Brown is the only one in the organization who has ventured a guess as to when he will return. However, Hayes, after watching Brown practice, noted, “I’d say he’s about a couple of weeks away, if not sooner. He’s playing 5-on-5, making contact. He’s getting there.”

According to almost everyone in the Wizards’ front office, Brown, who suffered the injury during a pickup game in Georgia, was working out diligently to prepare for the season. The one drawback is that Brown added so much muscle that getting his wind back might take him longer than he or the team would like.

But that didn’t discourage Brown, who signaled with fist raised that he had completed the practice with no hitches.

Earlier, point guard Gilbert Arenas playfully chided him, saying, “You can’t jump like you used to. Your head isn’t getting near the rim.”

Arenas then squeezed Brown’s right biceps and pronounced him fat. Brown acknowledged he will need to lose some weight. But just getting out on the court and doing without pain the things he usually takes for granted pleased Brown, who also is recovering from a sprained left ankle.

“They feel pretty good,” Brown said of his ankle and foot. “They held up for the whole practice. They let me go full contact. They took me out a couple of plays, but I was able to finish and I was able to move. I just have to work on getting light and getting quick again.”

Then Brown added, “I’m begging for a dunk, man.”

Brown has been pointing toward early December for his return to action, but he remained cautious yesterday despite the positive practice.

“I still don’t want to do too much,” he said. “I’m just going to do it little by little, a little more every practice.”

Last season was Brown’s best as a pro with career highs in points (10.9) and rebounds (7.4). Washington eagerly awaits his return to bolster a front line that also is missing reserve center Etan Thomas (abdominal strain).

Like Brown, coach Eddie Jordan was encouraged by Brown’s practice.

“You can see the strength, and you can see the power,” Jordan said. “His technique was good in the post offensively. It was good to see. It was a good sign.”

Brown and the Wizards did not agree to a contract extension by the last day of October. As a result, the first player selected in the 2001 NBA Draft will become a restricted free agent.

Note — Official ballots were released for the 54th NBA All-Star Game, and four Wizards — guards Arenas and Larry Hughes and forwards Brown and Antawn Jamison — are listed as Eastern Conference candidates. The game will be Feb.20 in Denver.

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