The Washington Wizards are a new team with only a few pre-scandal players still on the roster. John Wall is now the leader of this team, JaVale McGee is a rising star and Ted Leonsis is now the owner of the franchise. That’s what we should focus on, right?
Nope. Gilbert Arenas is, and it’s not for the reasons when he was the star of this franchise.
He came to media day sporting a scruffy beard, a subdued demeanor and not a hint of a smile. It’s obvious that Agent 0 is a changed man. He no longer wears his trademark “0,” shedding the nickname he embraced from his rags to riches days.
He’s number 9 now and still deserves your attention.
“I lost all feeling a long time ago,” Arenas told reporters. “Basketball is basketball.” He couldn’t be more right. It’s no longer what takes place off the court, it’s what he does on it. That’s what truly needs to matter now.
Arenas was crucified by the DC media and fans for the incidents that ignited a firestorm last season, but now he is back and Wizards fans may be forced to embrace him.
And you should too because people deserve second chances, especially when they’ve paid the price for their mistakes.
I was one of the people that tore apart Arenas for the decisions he made, but he served his time and understands the consequences of his actions. He spent time in prison and a halfway house, something a large majority of the population cannot even fathom. The drama is gone and this is a new organization but Arenas is still here. So what’s the problem? There is none.
Redemption is the key word in this instance and Wizards fans need to give him a shot at it.
Arenas is under contract until 2014, though many expect him out the door before then. Even Arenas has said he expects it.
“Teach John [Wall]the ins and outs of the game and then eventually go on and move on, and I’m on my way,” Arenas said after the Wizards preseason win against Dallas.
I don’t expect that to happen largely because of the three major story lines I mentioned at the top of this post.
Wall is taking over the point guard position this season, forcing Arenas to shooting guard, a spot critics have said he’s too small for. While he won’t be as effective moving out of the way, he can still contribute like the elite player he was before the injuries and suspension.
He won’t just be mentoring Wall, but the rest of the team, including McGee. You could argue that no one in the league has seen more and gone through as many ups and downs as Arenas. In any situation, Arenas can mentor and he doesn’t necessarily have to do it in front of the media so we won’t be able to evaluate the impact he will have on the team.
Leonsis is an owner who can and has embraced Arenas. I’ve said time and time again Leonsis is the best owner in sports and I don’t doubt his ability to help the once-troubled star.
Forget the psychoanalysis of Arenas and think about the statistics. Forget the character criticisms and think about the benefits he can have on a young team. His teammates like him and now all that matters is what he does on the court. Let’s embrace Arenas again and stop crucifying a player that has paid his price.
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