By Mike Wise
Class was out by the time his team was ahead by 24 points, the arena agog with noise and disbelief.
This lesson in Gilbertology (when in doubt, pass) lasted all of 24 minutes. It involved taking the Chicago Bulls to school not by detonating for 39 points in a Game 2 loss. No, Gilbert Arenas helped the Wizards embarrass the Bulls in Game 4 with his ability to serve as a distributor first, a first-half decoy second and a no-conscience jump-shooter last.
All unselfish, all even.
Arenas, the man who never met a shot he didn't like, did not hit his first field goal until five minutes remained in the first half. He moved the ball; he didn't dominate it. Arenas shared the spotlight almost as much as he shared the ball in the Wizards' victory, which ensured a Game 6 in this bedlam-struck building that is used to being dormant each May.
"I watched Game 3 live, with the volume up," said Arenas, who took just 12 shots, made six and finished with five assists. "We got criticized so much for the shots we were taking, it upset me. Larry [Hughes] and I are good enough to take five shots and win or 20 and win. I just don't understand why everyone is down on us for how we play."
In his first three playoff games, Arenas took 68 shots. That's more than Hughes, Brendan Haywood, Anthony Peeler, Laron Profit and Peter John Ramos combined to take in the first three games.
And yet, like other point guards whose job is more to win than score -- Jason Kidd and Steve Nash come to mind -- he played maestro rather than movie star. He slapped hands with a row of courtside fans before it was over, enjoying the night he didn't need to shoot to win.
The incomparable Walt Wiggins. The man was resplendent in his off-lilac long-sleeve T-shirt behind the Wizards' bench. Wiggins, who looks tremendous for a 52-year-old, bemoaned every call, pumping his fists toward the players, just like Spike Lee in New York or Jack Nicholson in Los Angeles. The Wizards were lucky to have such a luminary courtside.
"I'm no celebrity," Wiggins said. "I just do computer work for the Small Business Administration. I'm just some guy who gets the fans fired up. I've been doing it for 40 years."
"He's right," said Joyce, the security guard, standing next to Wiggins. "I used to see him going crazy at Redskins games when I was a little girl. I'm 45 now."
All right, so Wiggins may not have been the biggest name in the house. But do you really want to hear how Bob Johnson, the owner of BET and the Charlotte Bobcats, and Mayor Anthony Williams somehow got great seats again?
Puerto Rico's 7-foot-3 gift to the Wizards' bench may see action after all. Some warped person suggested a pay-per-view one-on-one game between Ramos and 7-foot-7 former Wizard (and current MCI Center luxury-suite ambassador) Gheorghe Muresan. Billed "My Giant vs. The Tall Dude Who Doesn't Play on the Wizards Bench," the challenge has already been answered by Muresan.
"I don't want to make him look bad," Muresan said, talking Romanian junk before the game. "I love play one-on-one. I don't know if I kill him or he kill me, but I won't give up."
Muresan played in the 1997 playoffs against the Bulls, but had to retire in 2000 because of problems related to back surgery. He is 34 to Ramos's 19, and his wingspan is slightly longer. Gheorghe Boy clearly gets the experience nod, having actually put on a uniform for a playoff game. "To get better, you have to play," Muresan said. "If you play pick-up games with not very good players, you don't get better."
Correct us if we're wrong, Gheorghe just disrespected the Fajardo, P.R., playground crowd.
It's on. It is so on.