Mon Oct 04 12:50pm EDT
When David Stern asked Gilbert Arenas(notes) to cool it on any "I brought guns to the locker room for lord knows how long and mock-threatened a teammate with them and then joked about it" reflections a little while back, I don't think this is what he had in mind.
I don't think Stern hoped for Arenas to show up to Wizards camp with a terribly uncomfortably looking beard, change his number, not smile for pictures, refuse to talk to the media for days at a time, and somehow still find a way to draw negative attention to himself while sitting out of Washington's open scrimmages.
After tweaking an ankle, Arenas has been sitting off to the side of Washington's otherwise well-received scrimmages, and as Michael Lee of the Washington Post tells it, he's hardly finding a way to ease into inconspicuousness.
Arenas received the second-loudest cheers from fans on Sunday, but he was a spectator as well, with a towel covering his head, leaving only his new, thick beard visible. Although he was announced with the white team with expected starters Wall, Blatche, Thornton and JaVale McGee(notes), Arenas didn't leave his chair from the earlier practice and started sitting on the bench with the black team. He later walked over to the white team bench after the first quarter, only to leave the court entirely and return from the locker room with a black towel covering his head as he sat back on the black team bench. Late in the game, a fan said something to Arenas to make him laugh, but Arenas concealed the smile by covering his face with the towel.
Listen, it's obvious that Gilbert is pretty sad about how things have gone for him over the last few years. Who wouldn't be?
He's played in just 47 games, combined, over the last three seasons. He had to serve time in a halfway house earlier this year. Gilbert has the dual frustrations of trying to ease back into NBA speed while recovering from microfracture surgery, and the pressures that come with the whole "bringing guns to the locker room for lord knows how long, mock-threatening a teammate with them, and then joking about it later"-thing.
But he's got to find a better way to -- I don't know, what would you call it? Mourn? -- here.
If Gilbert wants to show us he's sad? Great. We're glad you're sad and that you're attempting contrition. But now that you're a member of a team and playing a team sport and working (if not playing) in front of fans that have come out to watch the Wizards, and not Gilbert Arenas (not because they don't come out to see you, but because you're injured so they can't watch Gilbert Arenas), that stuff kind of gets set aside.
You have to find a way to blend in. You have to find a way to not make it all about Gilbert Arenas, for the first time since 2003-04.
You have to not be the guy with the towel on your head.
Unless you still think that you've been unduly wronged. If that's the case, then, forget it. It's hopeless to even try.