Remember last year? I do. I blogged about it and all. In fact, I’ve been blogging about this Wizards team solid since October 2007. And what have I learned most? Curb your enthusiasm. Now, I’m not here to sell you a glass half-empty today that I purchased half-full yesterday. I do, as just about anyone involved with the Wizards, from within the organization to outside, from media to fans, have hope for a better future (thanks to, namely, John Wall and Ted Leonsis).
It’s just that being entrenched in D.C. sports and getting hype for what may lie ahead no longer go hand-and-hand, at least for me. I’m not sure if this feeling has existed within me the whole time, it’s just now I’m older, wiser. Or if the whole Gilbert Arenas gun ordeal last year (as the topping on other D.C. sports futility), which at one point had me contemplating ending this whole blog … briefly, has created a faintly apathetic feeling toward hope (or a hatred of false hope).
My point: Donovan McNabb comes to town and I shrugged my shoulders (and thanks to Mr. Irrelevant, I’ve also been cautioning people that we’ll likely see Rex Grossman start for a couple games). The Wizards land the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft (okay, that was bat-sh*t surprising), and take Mr. John Wall … more shoulder shrugging (sort of).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than thankful that I’ll get to cover Wall, but right now, he’s just a fresh-faced kid who happens to wear the jersey of the NBA team I’m close to.
Not to be a Debbie Downer … I’m often a ‘It could always be worse’ type of guy. I’d rather have McNabb than Jason Campbell, and I’d trade Ricky Rubio and a futile rental of Mike Miller and Randy Foye for John Wall in a second. It’s just that … I am D.C. sports. Expecting a bad-case scenario (not necessarily the worst) has become the rule, not the exception.
So now Mr. Ted Leonsis relays in his blog that he just happened to catch Gilbert Arenas playing in a pickup game at the Verizon Center on Tuesday evening. Leonsis wrote in his blog, Ted’s Take:
Gilbert Arenas played last night. It was a very good evening of basketball. Gil – our All-Star - matched up against another NBA All-Star. It was quite a show and quite a display of talent. I won’t comment yet on Gilbert or who was in the gym last night but suffice to say Gilbert looked trim, fit and explosive. His shot was sweet and he did one left handed dunk that was something to see. It had everyone talking. I was impressed and am happy.
If you just felt a butterfly in your stomach, the good, exciting kind, you must be a Wizards fan. You also must calm down.
Let’s get a couple things out the way real quick. It seems that Chris Paul was the unknown All-Star, thanks to a Tweet from CP3 (via Dan Steinberg). Seems that local baller Sam Young was in attendance too, along with James Posey, Morris Peterson and Hilton Armstrong. There were possibly more quenches for a basketball hungry appetite on the Verizon Center court Tuesday evening than the entire 2010 FIBA World Tournament will provide … possibly … at least for Wizards fans.
Now, my friends, it’s time to finish my little dance on that fire in your belly. Read this quote:
“There’s no question, a player of [Arenas'] talent, when he’s playing, he puts us from a team that’s competing for the playoffs to a team that’s an elite team in the playoffs. When you walk in the gym right now, you wouldn’t think that he’s hurt. If he’s at that ability when our season starts, we’re going to be an elite team in this league.”
Flip Saunders said that just over a year ago after visiting Chicago where Arenas was training with Tim Grover. Ignoring ‘Gil’s Gun Gate’ and I’ll tell you that the Wizards went 11-21 in 32 games before Arenas was suspended. Yes, a lot of other things happened, but I think you get my point. And that’s not all. Andre Igoudala, who trained with Arenas, among others, at the famed, Grover-run gym in Chi-Town, Tweeted on August 12, 2009:
@AI9: Runs at attack were pretty good today, gilbert arenas is back like he left his black card!
Yea, left the Black Card at the gun store.
What, did I not warn you there would be zingers?
The WaPost‘s Michael Lee also brings up the fact that Arenas looked good at Barry Farms last year.
Now Leonsis did warn us that he would not yet comment on Arenas (or who was in the gym with him), but said in the same sentence that Arenas, “looked trim, fit and explosive.” Oh, and that his shot was “sweet.”
Of course, these observations Leonsis did not want to comment on spread across the Internet like wild-fire … SB Nation DC, SLAM, Hoops World, Washington Examiner, Pro Basketball Talk, The Washington Post, Bullets Forever, True Hoop, etc.
What does it all mean? That Arenas still holds a great deal of relevancy (and this comes as no surprise).
But it’s almost magnified even more, as Arenas has achieved what I like to call “unicorn” status with nary a public appearance in ages. Which makes me wonder (and I’m certainly not the first), wouldn’t it be better for Arenas to come out an apologize to Wizards fans (and the public) now rather than later?
Arenas addressing the past in this instance is a must. Gun-Gate won’t completely go away until the worthy/legit questions are answered. And it seems better to do this now than, say, on Media Day when one would hope the focus is more on basketball. Then again, I’m not a public relations guru.
Until Arenas makes himself available, the people will just have to feed off these second-hand morsels, these unicorn sightings … for better or worse.
Leosis has already shown he has the Midas Touch*, now add spotter of mythical creatures to his talents.
And I suppose I’m here to say, ‘Stop eating those morsels of unicorn, you’re going to ruin your dinner!’ Hearing that Arenas is doing well is certainly preferred over nothing, and definitely preferred over hearing Twitter rumors that he hurt his knee again at Grover’s in Chicago. But otherwise, no need to put any stock in it unless you see with your own eyes.
Besides, a great man once said, “Don’t think it can’t get any worse because it can.” That great man is none other than Flip Saunders.
Now flip that advice and don’t think it will get any better until it does.
*(Okay, the positive changes around the Wizards franchise have come as a result of Leonsis being an owner in-tune with the community and a hard worker, but you can’t tell me some sort of luck/magic/Midas Touch was involved in the Wiz getting the No. 1 pick. And actually, ‘Midas Touch’ might not be the best comparison … golden beer-holding shelves over golden urinals at a golden Verizon Center would be awesome — hot dogs and beer made of gold, not so much.)