WizardsExtreme: Gilbert Where Have You Been?

WizardsExtreme: Gilbert Where Have You Been?
July 28, 2010, 4:24 pm
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010 12:10 p.m.

By Joe Glorioso

The two biggest questions in the Nations Capital right now when it comes to the Washington Wizards are:

1. Is John Wall as good as advertised?
2. What is going to happen with Gilbert Arenas?

The first question wont be answered for quite some time, but so far things are looking pretty good for John Wall after a couple of Summer League games.

The second question is one that will get you a variety of answers depending on who you talk to.

Ive spoken to friends in the media who are absolutely positive that Gilbert will not be on the roster by the time training camp comes around.

Others believe that the Wizards will keep him, try to get the most out of him for the first three months of the season and then trade him at the deadline. Also along these lines you have some that think Washington will allow Gilbert to show off his talents for a full season, so that he can be used as trade bait going into next summer.

Me, Im in the absolute minority that believes Gilbert can revive his career and do it in Washington if he truly wants to.

There are two parts to this though. First is the fan relationship, second is team relationship.

The problem with my logic is that besides the training that he is said to be doing right now in Chicago which is great news, when it comes to repairing what was once a beautiful relationship with the people of DC, there is still a huge disconnect.

Back in June at an event set up by Ted Leonsis to discuss some matters with former season ticket holders, a fan praised former team captain Antawn Jamison for coming out and apologizing to Wizards fans about the whole finger gun incident. However that same fan pointed out that Arenas had yet to do so himself.

Leonsis responded that at some point, both he and Arenas will definitely address the fans and "face the music".

I thought that was great news when we found out about it but unfortunately I think waiting for the beginning of the season for that time to come is not such a good idea.

What Im seeing across the internet is that the more people see of John Wall and the less they see and hear from Arenas, the harder this welcoming back process is going to be for Gilbert.

Having also read the message boards, and all the other Wizards fan sites out there, you can get a sense that people are still feeling a wide range of emotions. You have the fans that are upset, those who feel betrayed, others who feel like they deserve an apology and even some who feel like Gilbert has done his time and deserves a second chance.

I fall in the last group, but with a caveat - I dont think its wise for Gilbert to be completely in the dark right now.

As I mentioned earlier, we know that hes working out in Chicago with Tim Grover again, which is a huge plus in my eyes and we have even seen Gilbert at Verizon Center when he showed up for the Wizards first pre-draft workout.

This all leads to the second part of the equation, his relationship with his current teammates.

What we havent seen or heard about yet is that Gilbert has been in contact with John Wall, who is undoubtedly the Wizards new franchise player.

Why is this important you might ask?

When asked back in early June by Kyle Weidie if Grunfeld had been in communication with Arenas and what their relationship was like Ernie responded:

Yes, I have, and the relationship is good. Weve spoken several times as a matter of fact. He was in the building for two, three weeks in a row working out. And hes excited. Hes excited about whats going on. Obviously Ted spoke with him, and what happened in the past, nobodys happy about, but were trying to put that behind us, move forward. I think hes very excited about the No. 1 pick and the possibilities that brings. And I think hes excited with new ownership and having a clean slate.

This would seem to be great sign but I have spoken to several Wizards players over the past few weeks, and some who are very close to Gilbert and they have all said the same thing. He is doing well, training in Chicago, but they havent spoken to him in quite some time.

Now, those of you who believe that this doesnt matter; I would beg to differ with you.

Even if Gilbert doesnt play with the Wizards next year, he owes it to his teammates to do what is right, and what is right is to communicate with the guys hes played with before and hopefully will team up with next year.

Wall and Arenas need to seek each other out and this isnt advice coming from just me this also comes from the King of Georgetown, Coach John Thompson Sr. too.

Have a look at this excerpt that came from an interview Wall did on the John Thompson show the day he was introduced to the fans in DC - courtesy of Dan Steinberg:

Thompson: Have you had a chance as of yet to meet Gilbert Arenas and to sit down and talk with him?

Wall: No sir, I talked to him through BlackBerry Messenger, that's the only time I talk to him.

Thompson: What the hell is that?

Wall: BlackBerry Messenger. BBM. It's like a chat

Thompson: Y'all sit down and like them little text things?

Doc Walker: It's like Facebook.

Thompson: C'mon, man. C'mon, John.

Wall: No no no no, it's on your phone, it's on your phone, it's on your phone.

Thompson: John is a brother from the hood. Go talk to the man, man. Go ahead, John, go sit down with that man and talk with him.

Wall: Yeah, he's supposed to come to D.C. soon, so hopefully I can sit down and talk to him face to face and see how we can try to work this out for next season.

I cannot imagine it is easy to know that you were once the face of the franchise and have been replaced in a matter of months. I also cannot imagine what it is like to have your likeness stripped from every facet of the arena you play in, the stores that sold your jersey and have every good memory you helped create erased for what even Arenas has admitted to be a very foolish mistake.

What we also know is that Gilbert has been battling obstacles all of his life, whether it was through being on the streets with his father, being told he would never get any minutes in college or that he would never be drafted, to those who now tell him there is no way he can ever come back and be the player he was. This is the same guy though who taught us all that impossible is nothing.

This will no doubt be the greatest humbling experience that Arenas has ever faced, and probably the biggest ego check he will ever have to endure but he stands to gain so much from it if he can just see the benefit.

The bottom line is that he doesn't have to be the player he was anymore. Gilbert has the potential to be an even better player than he was prior to his injuries and the antics that led to his suspension. Rashad Mobley, formerly of Hoops Addict had a fantastic write-up on why Wall and Arenas would work well together but why the two need each other.

The fact of the matter is that Arenas has never played with a guard that has the abilities and basketball IQ that John Wall possesses. No offense to Larry Hughes, Deshawn Stevenson, Antonio Daniels or any of the other guards that he has played with but none of them can touch Wall's ability.

When you have two players with the talent levels that Gilbert and John possess combined with the passion and practice habits that they both show, you can only dream that they can somehow make the relationship work.

The first step in their relationship though is to have that sit down and discuss how they can both help each other to make the most of the season ahead.
In order for that to happen, somebody has got to find Gilbert and let him know that the sooner he comes out of the shadows, talks to Wall, then tells the people who loved him for the past 6 years that he is truly sorry and lets us all know that he is ok being Robin to Wall's Batman, we can move onto the next chapter.

If anybody out there has Gilbert's ear, could you let him know that a city is looking for him. All we really want is some closure and a reason to believe in him yet again.