For Arenas, 3 Letters Define His Play: MVP

Gilbert Arenas is averaging a career-high 30.3 points, and he's also shooting a career-best 40.2 percent from three-point range.
Gilbert Arenas is averaging a career-high 30.3 points, and he's also shooting a career-best 40.2 percent from three-point range. (Jonathan Newton - The Washington Post)

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By Ivan Carter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 5, 2007

It has become customary at NBA arenas for fans to serenade a star with chants of "M-V-P" when that player gets on a roll.

Such cheers regularly rain down on Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash, San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Cleveland Cavaliers guard LeBron James.

So far this season, fans packing Verizon Center have not given Gilbert Arenas the MVP treatment. But those chants will come soon if Arenas continues to perform like he has for the last month.

According to Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Redd, who watched Arenas beat the Bucks with a buzzer-beating 32-foot jump shot Wednesday night, MVP consideration is not a ridiculous notion.

"Who's playing better than him right now?" said Redd, who is in the midst of a career season himself. "He's been unstoppable. He's been on one of those rolls you dream about and they're winning."

Arenas's amazing shot Wednesday night was only the most recent proof that the Wizards have the franchise's first in-his-prime superstar since Wes Unseld dominated the lane for the Bullets in the 1970s.

Not only is Arenas averaging a career-high 30.3 points, but he's also shooting a career-best 40.2 percent from three-point range, he's averaging a career-high 6.4 assists and he's making 82.6 percent of his free throw attempts.

He's also carrying himself like an MVP, a player who knows he's the baddest man on the court -- as illustrated by the way he acknowledged his game-winning shot Wednesday night. As the ball fell through the net and the arena erupted, Arenas turned and strutted toward the bench as if the shot was no big deal. Arenas calls such confidence his "swag."

He has backed up such bravado this season by outdueling James in a win over the Cavaliers at Verizon Center, scoring 60 points on Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in a rare win in Los Angeles, dropping 54 in a win over Nash and the Suns in Phoenix and scoring 38 in a win over annual MVP candidate Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks in a win at Verizon Center.

Following Wednesday's 108-105 win over the Bucks, Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan even praised Arenas for his defense.

"I thought that was the one of the keys," Jordan said after Arenas and the Wizards strung together a series of much-needed fourth-quarter stops against the high-scoring Bucks.

Arenas's brilliance, along with Caron Butler's own career season and Antawn Jamison's steady play, has allowed the Wizards to win 12 of their last 15 games and moved them five games over the .500 mark going into tonight's game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Verizon Center.

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