There are 18 players on the current Washington Wizards training camp roster, which means there were 18 different ways they chose to handle Media Day.
Gilbert Arenas took the stoic route by answering approximately six questions before the Wizards PR staff quickly whisked him away. Hamady Ndiaye and Cartier Martin did some interviews before they got their pictures taken, then they did more talking with the media, then they kind of walked around the Wizards practice court talking to whomever wanted to speak with them. Lester Hudson was visibly nervous and shy, and didn’t really give expansive answers. JaVale McGee rarely made eye contact, but was much more chatty than he was in his previous two media days. Still, even he looked like he really wanted to be elsewhere.
Arenas was the first player to speak to the media, and about five minutes later, Young made himself available. He stood in the corner of the makeshift media area and answered every question the press could muster. While he was standing there, Adam Morrison, Andray Blatche, Al Thornton, Lester Hudson, Yi Jianlian, Kirk Hinrich, Josh Howard, and other players I am probably leaving out, started and finished their interviews, and Young was still standing in the same corner.
Maybe there were good reasons, maybe there weren’t, but after roughly two and a third years removed from making the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team with Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Luis Scola, and Al Horford, Thornton was essentially given away by Los Angeles last February to save money. In the three-team Antawn Jamison trade involving the Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers, the Clippers sent away Sebastian Telfair (to Cleveland) and Thornton and got back Drew Gooden (from Washington), whom they didn’t retain as a free-agent this summer.
Al Thornton, a former lottery pick, was thrown away … and he noticed.
The last time we saw Cartier Martin, he was lighting up the New York Knicks in the Vegas Summer League for 24 points, and wondering if that was enough to earn a roster spot on the Washington Wizards — or at the very least an invite to training camp.
When I saw Martin on Monday’s Media Day, he looked like a man who did not have a care in the world. He was practicing his post moves with Kevin Seraphin, and joking with Hamady N’diaye about the advantages of playing in the NBA versus playing in Europe. At first glance, you would have no idea that Martin was about to be in the fight of his life for a roster spot on the Wizards roster.
There was a moment between Gilbert Arenas and John Wall at Wizards Media Day on Monday afternoon, a brief exchange which I described in the previous post that seemed to slightly reflect a developing bond between the two.
The returning smile from Arenas in response to Wall’s presumed mocking/joking with him about the pains and process of media attention eluded the cameras of Truth About It.net. But I was able to snap a couple photos and TAI’s Adam McGinnis was able to shoot some video of the fun-loving Jimmy Wall in all his glory.
In the big picture, this silly little incident doesn’t mean much. But it’s also been a long time since Wizards fans witnessed positive interactions between Arenas and his teammates. And it was especially interesting on a day where Arenas was trying his hardest not to smile.
[Gilbert stands where he's told as the Washington Post's Mike Wise, a reporter/columnist
who's covered Arenas' rise and fall as close as anyone, looks on in the background.]
You could tell from the second Gilbert Arenas started his descent down the stairs to the Wizards’ practice court at the Verizon Center … the mean man, the quiet man, the unexcitable version of Arenaswe sawbefore last season, had returned (sans fines for not talking to the media, so far). Well, at least this describes the facade Arenas has resurrected in his on again, off again relationship of gamesmanship with the public media.
Gilbert, in nature, appeared to be just as reclusive on Monday’s official Wizards Media Day, looking like in front of the media spotlight is the last place he wants to be. That he just wants to play basketball is the seemingly earnest tune he’s singing again. In appearance, the bushy bead that accompanied him drove home the point. Comparisons to Harrison Ford in the movie The Fugitive, or to Ricky Williams when he surfaced from wherever he was for a spell from that segment on 60 Minutes, or to Grizzly Adams, who actually did have a beard, pinged back and forth amongst attending members of the media.