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Team of Future Must Be Warriors

Golden State's Arenas is MVP of rookie game and his teammate Richardson repeats as dunk contest winner.

February 09, 2003|Mark Heisler | Times Staff Writer

ATLANTA — Gilbert Arenas, the Van Nuys Grant High graduate who spent two seasons at Arizona, went pro and wasn't drafted until the second round, Saturday became MVP of the rookie game, scoring 30 points to lead the sophomores to a 132-112 victory.

"It's a great feeling," said Arenas. "I never expected this, being drafted No. 31 and now I'm sitting here in front of you guys with a trophy....

"I'm a part of it. I mean, when you're a little kid dreaming about something like this, you never think it will happen in real life."

Arenas, a shooting guard at Arizona, has become the Warriors' starting point guard and will soon get his reward. A free agent after this season, he is expected to be offered $4.5 million by the Warriors and possibly more on the market. He has talked of wanting to stay in Oakland, which he says is "close to home," but in the NBA, home is often where the biggest offer is.

"It's a great place to be," Arenas said of Oakland, "close to home with a young team. I came into the draft with Jason [Richardson] and Troy [Murphy]. I mean, we have a team here. I'm just thinking about playing and whatever happens in the summer happens."

Golden State's Richardson, harkening back to the days before players became offended if they were known as dunkers, defended the dunk contest title he won last year. He defeated Seattle's Desmond Mason in the final round.

"I've got to think up some new dunks," said Richardson, "because I'm coming back next year."

Sacramento's Peja Stojakovic won the three-point shooting contest.

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