Home Miami jersey Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison honored by Wizards

Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison honored by Wizards

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At halftime of Friday’s game against the Miami Heat, the Washington Wizards will recognize the trio of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, who formed the franchise’s ‘Big Three’ from 2005-2010 and made three appearances straight in the playoffs together. The reunion, part of the team’s homecoming party as it celebrates 25 years since the Bullets became the Wizards, has been a long time coming.

Friday will mark Arenas’ first return to Capital One Arena since Feb. 4, 2011, when the three-time all-star and Wizards legend, dubbed Agent Zero during his eight seasons at DC, was greeted with “a mixture of boos and a standing ovation” seven weeks after being traded to the Orlando Magic. Arenas was should make an appearance in 2020 in DC with a different Big3 — Ice Cube’s three-on-three basketball league — but the outfit’s season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m the only one who’s anxious right now,” Arenas, 40, said of his upcoming return during a recent interview with Butler, Jamison and former Wizards TV analyst Phil Chenier. “Oh my God, what [the fans] will you think? Am I going to get booed? I have so many emotions.

While Jamison and Butler have maintained close ties with the retired team – Jamison was named the Wizards’ professional personnel manager in 2019, and Butler, now in his third year as an assistant coach with the Heat, has was an analyst for the Wizards on NBC. Sports Washington — Arenas has been largely cut from the franchise since being traded to the Magic in December 2010, a move that came about a year after he was suspended for bringing weapons into the locker room. The infamous incident stems from an argument between Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton during a team robbery over a card game that went wrong and prompted new owner Ted Leonsis to clean house. Butler and Jamison were both dealt before the 2010 trade deadline.

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“When we looked at the history of the Wizards name, we wanted to focus on the best players to ever wear the Wizards jersey,” Monumental Sports and Entertainment chief marketing officer Hunter Lochmann said in a phone interview. “Gilbert is obviously one of them, so it was very natural that with this anniversary, it was the moment [to bring him back].”

In a team statement, Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard said: “Gilbert, Caron and Antawn represent a definitive era for the franchise and they deserve recognition for the excitement they generated on the field and the impact they have had in our community, both of which has led to a new generation of Wizards fans.

Arenas signed as a free agent with Washington in the summer of 2003 and helped change the fortunes of the franchise. Jamison arrived via trade with the Dallas Mavericks the following year. In the 2004-05 season, Arenas, Jamison and Larry Hughes led the Wizards to 45 wins – their most since 1979 – and their first playoff berth since 1997.

After Hughes signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers as a free agent, Washington acquired Butler in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. Butler came off the bench to start the 2005-06 season, but by December he had forced himself into coach Eddie Jordan’s starting lineup, and a new Big Three was born. The trio’s run ended after three first-round playoff outings — all against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Friday will be the first time Arenas, Butler and Jamison have been together in years.

“I knew when those other two guys were on the court with me, it didn’t matter if it was Boston, Miami, the Lakers, I had two other guys that were going to compete at a high level,” said Jamison, who once called Arenas the best teammate he’s ever had, Chenier said. “It’s a real friendship between the three of us.”

Despite Arenas’ concerns and some of his disgusting comments in the past, including misogynistic remarks about WNBA players, he expects a warm welcome on Friday. The scene inside Capital One Arena should also look familiar. Wizards use a classic court – designed to look like it did before the franchise changed its colors to red, white and blue in 2011 – for games where they wear the classic white, blue and bronze jerseys they introduced this season, like they will do it against the Heat.

Adding to the nostalgia of the night, the arena’s digital screens, including the scoreboard, will feature a classic look, and Blackstreet’s R&B artist and producer Teddy Riley will headline a post-match concert. The first 10,000 fans of Friday’s game will receive a Wizards hat designed by Jamison and inspired by the black and gold alternate uniforms of the Big Three era. (In an unfortunate throwback, the hat was designed in partnership with and features the logo of FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange that filed for bankruptcy this month and was previously the naming rights partner of the arena of Heat.)

“We’re really proud of how we take the classic concept and look,” Lochmann said. “When you come to a game, the shirts, the pitch, the signage, what our entertainment teams are wearing, the broadcast all look the same. You know you’re tuned or playing a classic game. It was a lot of work, but it was fun. »

The team plans to recognize additional Wizards alumni in additional comeback games throughout the season. Beloved former TV player Steve Buckhantz, who called the Wizards games for 22 years and, alongside Chenier, narrated many of the Big Three’s greatest moments, will also be celebrated at some point in the coming months. Lochmann declined to comment on whether Buckhantz will be part of Friday’s festivities, but said Buckhantz and Chenier are “integral” to Wizards history.