The Second Rebirth of Gilbert Arenas
One way in which Ernie Grunfeld can be commended is that he found a situation relatively suitable for all parties, speaking of Gilbert Arenas too. And isn’t that what it’s supposed to be about? Should fans always feast on the blood of perfect-world trades and maneuvers? Or should they consider moves in their entirety? Maybe that last sentiment can only be reserved for special cases such as Arenas’ relationship with Washington, but that’s all we have to go off nonetheless.
Let’s go back to mid-November when I asked Arenas why he went from jersey No. 0 to No. 6 to No. 9…
You can’t really go through a proper rebirth unless you change cities, traditionally speaking in the professional sports world. And now that Arenas has found a warm place in Orlando outside of the rebirth canal, he has switched jerseys again, going from No. 9 to No. 1 in the spirit of Penny Hardaway.
Ted Leonsis implored people to re-embrace Arenas, insisted that his team wasn’t looking to trade to maligned former star. But that was more about feel-good marketing buzz, not the type of words that make decisions. We knew this. We knew it’d be easier for Leonsis to alter his sound bites when rebuilding efforts naturally can involve decisions on the fly.
In part of his last contribution to the algorithm on Arenas, Leonsis writes:
“He has intimated that he would feel more comfortable playing for a contender and not playing as a mentor to young players. He needed a fresh start and I wish him well in this next phase of his career. The trade helps us to accelerate our rebuild.”
Early talk of re-embracing Arenas aimed to make Gilbert feel better. That’s the type of person Leonsis is, one to help the fallen. And so the sales pitch regarding pre-trade Arenas shouldn’t be taken as double-talk, it aimed to keep all in the kingdom calm as the gears turned. Leonsis is also the type who lets those in place make decisions and do their job. And in this instance, the move seemed right to Grunfeld, so it was naturally going to have to work for Leonsis.
Putting aside grumblings in trade maneuver permutations, watch the video below of Arenas’ first formal interview as a member of the Orlando Magic. Look how happy he is. He’s still a personable guy despite his foot-in-mouth history of mischievous word-smithing and trouble-making. Gilbert even purchased his own plane ticket and scurried out of town. Don’t see it as him anxious to leave D.C., but ready to get something new started instead. Wouldn’t you do the same (if you were a basketball player with day-to-day games and the what-not)?
Although, it is weird to hear Arenas spout out about being docile because he wasn’t the man in D.C. anymore. Poor fella. He always had a way with the theatrics, the ‘woe is me’ kind included.
“Going back and changing my number wasn’t a new beginning, this is a real new beginning. New city, new people, new team. I get to start fresh,” Arenas says.
Good luck Gilbert, it’s going to be harder than you think.
[via Orlando Sentinel]
“I know it didn’t end like I would have liked. I had a great time playing in Washington – They made me feel like a rock star while I was there. I wish I could have took them further than the second round,” Arenas messaged Chris Miller of CSN Washington.
Rock on Gil.
Top Arenas Quotes.
I’ve said this many times: Worse than making an embarrassing perp walk at D.C. Superior Court or actually being booked into the Montgomery County Pre-Release Center, Arenas had to face the indignity of realizing what he had done to the Wizards. Every night he walked on that floor, he knew he had no support to make basketball matter in Washington in May or June. Because there is no talent beyond Wall, Kirk Hinrich, an injured Josh Howard and a bunch of guys who may or may not become bona fide role players on a playoff team. There are better summer runs at Pauley Pavilion than there are at Verizon Center on most nights.
A divorce was inevitable; Arenas had expressed his desire to leave to those close to him for several months. So when he arrived at media day looking like Tom Hanks from Cast Away, it should have served as the first sign of discord. He was upset and those sullen, bearded photos didn’t do much to help the team promote him and his fourth return to a somewhat-jaded fan base.
Arenas was never meant to lead, it turns out. Whether that’s a function of his knees, or his personality, or his game, or his leadership in and of itself or the inexplicable forces of nature, Arenas simply was not meant to be the star to take a team forward. So now he has to be a supporting character. All his quirks and eccentricities and innumerable basketball talents (or whatever is left of them), this is what his role has been reduced to, in his own words:
“If you have the open shot, take it. If not, pass to Dwight.”
“We felt like this was a better opportunity for us to move forward” is a very striking phrase here. In fact, Grunfeld used the word “opportunity” over and over again during the press conference. There’s always the possibility that Grunfeld just really loves Rashard Lewis for some reason, but the thought of acquiring someone like Lewis can hardly be seen as an “opportunity” to a rational observer. No, the real “opportunity” for Grunfeld was to get Arenas off the roster for anything.