- The Washington Times - Monday, May 2, 2005

The saga of Kwame Brown took another turn last night when the often-criticized big man called in sick and missed Game 4 of the Washington Wizards’ series against the Chicago Bulls with a stomach virus.

Brown missed Sunday’s practice after playing a season-low four minutes and failing to score in Washington’s Game 3 win over Chicago on Saturday. Brown has not made a field goal since Game 1, when he played 35 minutes and had 13 points and nine rebounds.

?We will wait for a phone call [today],? Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said before last night’s game. ?I wasn’t there when he got sick, so I don’t know. He left here after the game and didn’t come in for practice [Sunday]. He got sick overnight.?

It was the latest disappointment in a season full of them for the No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft, who will become a free agent in the offseason. The 6-foot-11 power forward missed a total of 40 games this season, including the first 32 after a broken bone in his right foot last summer required surgery.

Jordan said the reason Brown played so little Saturday was because production was coming from elsewhere.

?The other bigs were playing better for us,? said Jordan, who used Michael Ruffin extensively for the first time Saturday. ?I thought Michael Ruffin was more effective. I thought Etan Thomas was more effective. Brendan [Haywood], Jared [Jeffries] and obviously Antawn [Jamison] were more effective. We had five bigs, and that was enough for the rotation.?

Brown has wondered about his playing status at times this season, and the 23-year-old has failed to build on the progress he made last season.

?He really suffered,? Jordan said. ?The injury in August and then the surgery, that really set him back tremendously. We had a lot of success when he was out and had a rhythm to our game. When he came back, we talked about including him in and went about extra measures to get him involved.?

Party on, Gilbert

Gilbert Arenas has made a habit of throwing his jersey into the stands to celebrate a Wizards win, but the point guard is starting to think bigger.

He was so impressed with the playoff atmosphere at MCI Center that he has a lot more gifts in mind.

?I’m thinking about buying everybody a beer,? said Arenas, who had 23 points, six rebounds and five assists last night. ?We’re having a Game 6. We are going to be back here. I might just do it.?

At $6 a beer at the arena, that’ll cost him more than $100,000.

Shorts are too long

The NBA called Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld to warn him that several players were wearing their shorts too long for the league’s fashion code, particularly Gilbert Arenas and Juan Dixon. Of course, those players have been dressing that way for the first 85 games this season.

?The league has rules about that, and we are complying,? said Grunfeld, who added a memo had been sent to all teams early in the season. ?It’s no big deal.?

Rough-up-Ruffin ploy

The Bulls played a version of Hack-a-Shaq late in Saturday’s game by fouling the free-throw challenged Michael Ruffin. The defensive and rebounding specialist, who made 43 percent of his foul shots in the regular season, responded by making a season-high five of seven from the line and totaling a season-high nine points.

?It was more or less after the game when everyone realized what they were doing,? Ruffin said. ?They were trying intentionally to put me on the line. At first, I was like, ?What are they doing?’ I understood what they were trying to do.?

The 6-foot-8 power forward has been working hard on his foul shots, taking about 100 each practice and working closely with assistant coach Tom Young.

?I have been working on my form a lot and my rhythm,? Ruffin said. ?I am fairly comfortable when I come to the line. For me, now it is all mental. I have to allow myself to relax and become a good shooter.?

The gift of gab

Antawn Jamison won the Magic Johnson Award, given by the Professional Basketball Writers Association to the player who combines excellence on the court with outstanding cooperation with the media off it.

?I really like being a role model for the kids,? the Wizards forward said. ?This speaks volumes of who I am as a human being.?

Fine talk

Eddie Jordan was asked about Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy being fined $100,000 for publicly criticizing the officials in the playoffs.

?Maybe the league is expecting a lockout, and they needed some money in the kitty,? said the Wizards coach, who then was told he may be fined for that comment. ?I was just kidding.?

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