It seems a cruel thing to kick a Gilbert when he's down. At least, I won't mention the guns in a closet and the indefinite suspension and the millions he will lose and even the chance at jail time. Again, I won't mention them again.
All D.C. fans are disappointed; the season of promising turn around has gone downhill since an opening 'W' in Dallas and now taken a nosedive with Arenas's foolery. Some are not surprised (Arenas is the NBA's leading prankster) while still disappointed. And then there are the many, many Wizards fans who are disappointed with the team and with the $14+ million a year star player while being EXCITED by the prospect of potentially losing that star forever.
The obvious argument is that, if Arenas's mega contract is voided or the Wizards are able to trade him for expiring TMacs or other players, D.C. will jettison an injury prone clown unfit to take the court in an NBA game. This doesn't, however tell the whole story.
Even before Arenas blew his knee out, he wasn't worth the kind of money given to him by Abe Pollin. Sure, he was a top 5 scorer, fast and strong, and a self-described "layup artist" who could shoot from anywhere on the floor. Anywhere. He had his share of buzzer beaters, the two that stick in my mind being a playoff game winner against the Chicago Bulls in 2005 and the 3 pointer against Milwaukee in the regular season where he famously turned around and began walking away BEFORE the ball dropped through the net. He scored 60 against the Lakers after which the Black Mamba himself said "Gil doesn't have a conscience."
Sexy? Very. His talent was always through the roof. But it's not the injury and his recovery from it that gives me pause, because he's obviously working his way back from a long time off and he has indeed shown flashes of his old Agent Zero self. It's not the off the court stuff. The reason he wasn't worth the money is because Arenas was not a good point guard, on the floor team leader, gave poor defensive effort, and had horrible shot selection.
A franchise player he is not. The best player on a team has to give that team a persona. Kevin Garnett is the howling wolf (sorry Minnesota), defensive minded, passionate player who influences everyone on that Boston team. Even though he can't play like he used to (I miss that unstoppable turn around on the baseline, the jumper released almost behind his head as he fell away) he is that team and he maximizes what he does so that the Celtics can win games. Want a younger example? Brandon Roy, the Lebron James Lite who gets his teammates involved, takes over in the 4th, and plays both ends. Ok, the list of overpaid, max-contract NBA players has more than a few names that stand out, and only in the past year and half have teams began to get really thrifty. But Arenas is not a franchise money guy. He doesn't put a stamp on a winner like the aged KG, nor is he able to harness his prime time skills like Roy, James, Kobe, Wade. Don't even get me started on the fact he's not a point guard.
Back in 2006 I watched Arenas in Orlando. The game was indicative of the Wizards during their "Big 3" "heydey": the Wizards' combo of matador D and 3 streaky scorers meant they could lose or win on any given night. Jameer Nelson made a couple nice plays, including a drive and score on Arenas. There was some jawing. Arenas proceeded to take bad shot after bad shot, driving wildly, not getting calls, isolating on Nelson and firing away early in the shot clock, complaining. The score, which had been back and forth in the first half and beginning of the 3rd, grew for Orlando as the Wiz watched Gilbert one on one them to death.
I was reminded of that game when I caught some of a Phoenix route of Washington last month. Arenas 's shot selection was like a bad Japanese bistro buffet. Shitty raw oysters, old deep fried chicken with sweet sauce, and sushi rolls all rice no fish. He seemed as determined to shoot himself, Butler, and the rest of the squad in all their feet as he was determined to average 20 and 10 at the start of the season.
So those good old days for Washington fans? Compared to those lean years featuring an aging Mitch Richmond and Rod Strickland they must have been like winning a championship. However, when you really look back at them, Charles Barkley was right when he said that team could never really compete on an elite level. And while it wasn't all his fault, Arenas was a huge factor. Sure, the Hibachi could get red hot now and then. Sure, those buzzer beaters were great. But time and again Arenas and the Wiz put themselves in holes they needed to come back from, or let leads slip away. These things that wouldn't have happened had they defended better and been more efficient offensively.
He's a dangerous gun to have, but he's no sheriff...sorry that was terrible. I mean, he can't even holster his weapons properly. He's not even a deputy. He'll go somewhere else and hopefully provide a long range attack next to a true superstar, and while Washingtonians won't want to see the business end of his jumpers, they're eagerly anticipating the Wiz brass running him out of town