Today Gilbert Arenas sat out of practice because of that injured groin. Afterward, he took about 25 minutes or so to sign autographs for and take photos with fans after an open house/practice the Wizards held at the Verizon Center. Arenas signed everything from paper money, to ipods, to jerseys, to human arms … pretty much anything fans could produce. The people showed him love and he showed them love back, joking and talking with fans and not just solemnly signing his name .
He didn’t speak with the media afterward, about all four of us who were there to check out the event, saying with a smile on his face, “I’m happy today, I’ll talk to y’all tomorrow.” (or something like that). Take a look at some pictures first … and then, commentary.
Here are two things we can all agree on:
- Most people in general, the basketball fans of the Washington area in this particular instance, are more forgiving than the media, especially the national media. Sometimes the media, and sure, I’ll include myself in on this as some “blogger with access,” are some unforgiving SOBs lacking real-life compassion and reason.
- Those of the national media, and not all are bad, clearly, but mostly the talking heads … they simply are clueless in their perspective because they are so removed from the day-to-day goings-ons of a professional sports team, the Wizards in this instance. They judge people in sound-bytes from miles away and not on a basis of daily, weekly, or even monthly interaction.
By no means and I a complete Wizards insider, but I certainly am less removed and more informed in my opinion, at times. And no, I’m not blanketing all national media members in the same boat. Some used to be beat reporters covering teams here in Washington. Most have very good sources … but keep in mind that sources are not infallible, they have their angles too … just like the media.
These are two simple things that we know.
When it comes to Gilbert Arenas, many in D.C. are clearly still fans of his.
As I understand, Arenas had a very positive reception from fans at Friday’s event for season ticket holders at Six Flags in Maryland… which was good for him, I’m told, to see that he’s not “hated” by the masses. Will that stop Arenas from running his mouth? No. Might it put someone who is human like you and me a bit more at ease? Surely. And perhaps that’s why Arenas was willing to connect with fans today, unlike at Midnight Madness when he was still in “Emo” mode and chose not to throw t-shirts into the crowd like all of his other teammates.
And as an aside, TBD.com has recently caught some heat (mainly from the DC Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg) for their “aggressiveness” in their online correction mannerisms. Instead of beaming at yourself in the mirror because you are able to make a correction, just do it.
Perhaps TBD.com should run a correction in their piece that ran after Thursday’s preseason game against the Atlanta Hawks. TBD.com wrote:
“There was also, however, a smattering of boos from some in the arena who noticed Arenas leaving the floor.”
I heard a single boo, from a single loud antagonist … both when Arenas checked into the game and when he left for the locker room after injuring his groin.
There was no “smattering.” In fact, when Arenas took the court, over half of the very sparse crowd gave him a standing ovation.
So is Arenas a “great guy” just because he took several minutes to sign autographs for fans? Is he admirable because most in Washington still seem to like him? Should criticism of him be quelled because of this?
A resounding “no” is the answer to all. Again, I will not refute that Arenas deserves much of the criticism that he brings down upon himself with his unfiltered mouth.
It’s just that your argument, national member of the media (Kornheiser/Feinstein/Bayless/Etc. — the “cadre of old, white men,” who “all but stole megaphones from each other to condemn Arenas most loudly,” according to Joey of Straight Bangin’) is less invalid because you lack perspective.
But if you’re outrageous enough and your voice is loud enough, you’ll be heard regardless of lack of substance. Good for you. We get it, you’ve never made a mistake. Go pat yourself on the back like you usually do.
Meanwhile, Arenas is here to play basketball (well, when free from fake or real injury), and Wizards fans in D.C. are here to support him. Add that to the list of things you know.