Wes Unseld Jr. looks back on his time coaching Arenas, Butler and Jamison

Unseld Jr. looks back on his time on coaching Arenas, Butler and Jamison originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON -- Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. has dinner plans on Thursday night to meet some old friends and, while he did not disclose the location to reporters earlier in the day, there are likely to be some conversations Wizards fans would love to listen in on.

For the 1st time in over a decade, Unseld Jr. will get together with Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, whom he worked with in the mid-2000s as an assistant coach with the Wizards. The latter three will also reunite at Friday night's game between the Wizards and Heat with a halftime celebration honoring their tenure, which included three playoff appearances, plus another with Arenas and Jamison at the helm.

Unseld Jr. cut his teeth as an NBA assistant coach with those three as the leaders of the locker room. He later returned to the franchise as their head coach, still benefitting from the experiences they all shared.

"You look back at it, those were really good days for me professionally and personally," Unseld Jr. said. "We had some really good teams and those three spearheaded that group. Very talented, very competitive and we had a lot of success, a three or four-year window where we played at a high level."

Unseld Jr. was one of the youngest assistants on the staff under head coach Eddie Jordan. Because of that, he was tasked with both relating to the players and also leading them through player development drills.

Back then, NBA coaching staffs were much smaller. Nowadays, the Wizards are among many teams with entire groups of assistants solely dedicated to player development.

Unseld Jr. says the Wizards' 'Big 3' of Arenas, Butler and Jamison were integral in helping him learn how to manage people, that every player had their own personality and way of communicating. Arenas was famous for his idiosyncracies and Unseld Jr. flashed a big smile when asked about their time together.

For the record, Arenas never filled Unseld Jr.'s car with popcorn. Arenas was a famous -- or perhaps infamous -- pranskter. But he was also one of the best players in the NBA at his peak.

"It was special. We see players now, more players, who have the ability to do some of the things he did. I don't know if he gets enough credit for the shot-making, the histrionics behind some of the shot-making," Unseld Jr. recalled.

"There was a flair to it. I don't know if people realize how talented Gilbert was, in particular before he got hurt. But he was doing a lot of things on the floor and it felt magical because you just never knew. You felt like every night you had a chance. That's a rare thing in the league unless you've got elite-level talent. You walk in with the confidence like 'we're gonna beat this team, there's no reason that we're not gonna win.' It's very unique."

As a young assistant, Unseld Jr. developed a reputation for always being available when players wanted to put in extra work at odd hours. He would come back to the arena at night to rebound or provide defense in 1-on-1 situations.

Arenas was also famous for wanting to shoot well into the night and sometimes the early morning. Unseld Jr. was often right there with him.

"Sadly, I was," he joked.

There will probably be plenty of joking around between the four of them over the next two days, at dinner and then on Friday night when the Heat are in town. Butler serves as a Miami assistant and Jamison works in the Wizards' front office. Arenas, meanwhile, is in town just for the occasion.

The Wizards will wear the same 'blue and bronze' jerseys they wore back when those three were on the team. It should be a fun celebration for fans and, for Unseld Jr., a full-circle moment.