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Kelly Dwyer

Gilbert Arenas fakes an injury to give Nick Young a start

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Come on. COME ON.

Your team stinks, your prime is slipping away and the best-case scenario anyone expects is for you to possibly live up to enough pre-injury/felony expectations in order for the Wizards to make a deal with a team for you that said team would eventually (read: quickly) regret. Outside of Washington Wizards fans, this is how most people are regarding your return to the office.

And now you're telling Michael Lee of the Washington Post and other reporters that you, Gilbert Arenas, faked an injury in order to give the far-from-plucky Nick Young(notes) some preseason playing time? (Note: The Washington Wizards have fined Arenas an undisclosed amount for his actions).

[Photos: More images of Gilbert Arenas]

Gilbert, Kobe Bryant(notes) can't do that. Kevin Durant(notes) can't do that. Grant Hill(notes) can't do that. You, least of all besides possibly Eddy Curry(notes) (who doesn't have to fake an injury, he just has to sprint more than 12 paces) can't do that.

The attempt is noble and nice. The sentiment, even if it provides minutes for a chronic underachiever like Young, is sound. But you can't lie about an injury to get out of a night's work, no matter how slim the work, and no matter how unimportant the night.

You can talk to your coaching staff. You can reason with them. You can sit out because you need to clear your head, and you can sit out because your knee (just a few years removed from microfracture surgery) needs the time off. Hell, you can say it's in the team's best interests for Nick Young to start as a preseason tryout. It's probably the smart thing to do. But lying, just to get out of a flippin' preseason game?

[Video Rewind: Nick Young's summer jam gone wrong]

You can't do that, Gil. You can't do that. Not because it's the preseason. Who gives a crap about the preseason?

You can't do it because it's duplicitous. You can't do it because you're lying to your boss. Actually, forget that. You can't do that because you're lying to your co-worker. And Flip Saunders is your coach and your co-worker. You have to talk to Saunders. You have to deal with him as an adult. There has to be a better way of finding Nick Young minutes -- even if you think Flip Saunders can't stand Nick Young -- than lying about a nagging knee injury and taking a seat on the bench.

Because it's a shame that you can't talk to your coach and co-worker on a level that would allow you to sit out a beyond-meaningless preseason game to rest your surgically repaired knee to give minutes to a youngster who might be turning a page after years of only looking out for his own shots. You grok?

There is, unequivocally and absolutely, nothing wrong with sitting out a preseason game in order to let Nick Young work as a starter. If you go about the appropriate channels, there is no story here. There shouldn't be a story. You're a former All-Star with a dodgy knee and you could use a night off in anticipation of six-or-maybe-more months of nonstop basketball. And Nick Young has starting-quality talent, even if he has a second-team nose for anything beyond midrange jumpers.

It's just the execution, Gilbert. The execution stunk. And no matter how small the lie or how harmless the lie, it's still a lie. Two things, beyond that, make it so frustrating.

One, as mentioned above, a five-minute conversation with Saunders could have avoided all of this.

Secondly? It's you, Gilbert. You're under the microscope. You haven't played much for three years, and you're coming off time in a halfway house for goofing around with guns at work. You just can't afford to slip.

And this slip? It's so stupid. It's so avoidable. It's so typical. And that's, for us, what's so frustrating. You're 28. You're supposed to be past this.

[Rewind: Player misses games after pizza-place injury]

You're about to enter what you hope -- what we hope -- is your best chance at an 82-game season since 2006-07. You're about to enter a season without a knee that needs repairing, and without some sort of ballistic arsenal in your locker. You're about to, hopefully, turn it around.

But because your knee injury was so serious, you're probably going to need to take some days -- some games, some practices -- off. On a kneecap that surgeons had to purposefully break in order to save, it's only natural.

Because of Tuesday night, though, you're going to get a squint every time you muse about needing some time off. People are going to wonder about your motivations, and where your heart is, because you coupled this with telling people that you "lost all feeling" for this game a long time ago. People are going to rightfully wonder. Are you concerned about taking a respite in anticipation of that four-games-in-five-nights stand? Or is this just a further extension of losing all feeling?

Which is a shame. Because what little is left of your credibility can be saved with just a five-minute conversation with someone that, while he may not have made you one of the captains of your team, is clearly rooting for you. And, unlike Eddy Curry, there's a reason this site has spent hours writing about you this much during this preseason. It's because we're rooting for you, too. Because you make people happy. And, with your gifts working for the right reasons, you can win basketball games for a fan base that really deserves to watch winning basketball.

It's a nice thing to try and get the youngster a starting nod. And even with all the blown chances at earning a starting slot following your (just about) three years off, we're rooting for Nick Young, same as you are.

But he shouldn't be earning his stripes due to a fake injury. And you, more than just about anyone else in this league, can't afford to fake anything anymore.

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