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The People's Court: Arenas edition

By Lee Friedman

As the son of a licensed mental health professional (mother) and an unlicensed mental health professional (father is a divorce lawyer), I’d like to think I’m sensitive to those who have mental problems. I’m not sure what the DSM-IV diagnosis is for having a screw loose, but Gilbert Arenas definitely has a chronic case of it. For those of you that don’t follow the Wizards as closely as some, here it is in a nutshell. On Tuesday night Arenas told his coach that his thrice-surgically repaired knee was a little sore and he wanted to rest it that night. Coach Flip Saunders started Nick Young in his place. After the game Arenas bragged to the press that he had lied to his coach and his knee was actually fine, he just wanted to get some more playing time for Young, who he felt hadn’t been given the opportunity to show his ability in the preseason thus far. He said he was “sacrificing” for his teammate.

You’d think spending time in jail on a felony charge might encourage you to take your life/your job/your interactions with others a little more seriously. Apparently not for Agent Sacrifice (Dishonest Arenas didn’t quite have the same rhythm). If this were any other athlete, you’d think it was just an idiotic decision. But with Arenas, it continues in a long line of idiotic decisions. 

Since Gilbert seems to be familiar with the legal system and in honor of my father I’ll break this down by the aggrieved parties who should be considering legal action against Mr. Arenas, aka The Defendant. I bet Peter Angelos would do this class-action pro bono:

Flip Saunders: Gilbert has singlehandedly managed to neuter his coach in front of his teammates, management, and the public. It took LeBron years to do that to Mike Brown. How much credibility does Flip have after being publicly manipulated by one of his key players?  Gilbert basically let everyone know that he has the ability to decide who plays. When a coach has to state that he makes decisions about who starts (as Flip did), he’s already lost the fight.

Wizards teammates: Granted it’s pre-season, but since the team has so many new players, they need to spend as much time together on the court as they can. Instead of setting an example for the younger players, he snubs his nose at them and sends them off to play without him. Also, how many of the fringe guys were thinking “man it would have been nice for him to do that for me.”

Nick Young: As an accomplice in this Nick doesn’t have much standing for a lawsuit. If Gilbert did tell him ahead of time about this stunt, you’d think Nick would have enough self-respect to tell him he can earn the playing time on his own. There has been much talk about Gil mentoring Nick over the course of his career, treating him as a little brother. Well you might as well let Charlie Sheen raise your kid -- his or her life would probably end up like Nick’s career so far: underachieving, one-dimensional, long-term job prospects diminishing each year, along with some questionable haircut choices.

The Fans: Ted Leonsis should immediately refund the money for every single ticket that was sold for that game. It was the first home game and everyone was excited to see in-person this “fresh start” that the Wizards have been selling. Instead it’s like Groundhog Day. I know there are a lot of Wizards fans out there who remember each of Gilbert’s aborted comebacks over the last three years, where he would say that he would play, and then at the last minute beg off. The disappointment continues…

Ted Leonsis: …which brings me to Uncle Ted (no we aren’t related, but he just seems like your rich uncle doesn’t he?). I’ve been vocal in giving Arenas a second chance to prove himself, and Uncle Ted seems to be on the same page. Gil loves to complain about feeling betrayed when people aren’t there for him after one of his screw-ups. Did it ever occur to him that there might be a slight chance that the decisions he makes actually impact the way people treat him?

The Wizards fined Arenas, which is a good place to start, but if I were Uncle Ted, I’d suspend Gil for at least a couple of regular season games to teach him a lesson. I mean it worked with Pavlov’s dogs right?



By Box Seats blogger  | October 15, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Lee Friedman, Wizards  | Tags:  Lee Friedman, Wizards  
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Arenas did undermine his coach by lying, but not to the point as described. Flip still decide who to start in place of Arenas. So starting NY in place of Arenas was Flip's decision, not Arenas. Every player in the locker room knows that. The reason Flip had to state the obvious was because the media keeps on twisting it, and makes Flip seem more inept than he is.

As for refunding the fans, that was purely nonsense. This is preseason, there is no guarantee that fans get to see the stars play. For instance, Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki sat out one game simply because he did not want to play outdoors. Fans come to preseason knowing very well they may not see the stars play. In fact, true fans are more interested in seeing which new comer will shine during preseason.

Yeah, Gilbert was wrong, and should be punished. The team's fine is appropriate. However, we've already been bombarded by so many sport analysts on this topic, there really is no need for a wannabe mental health expert/lawyer to jump in. Wonder what kind of Pavlov’s experiment can we, as a true sports fan, do to stop this kind of nonsense.

Posted by: sagaliba | October 15, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I will take this as a campain to try to get rid of this stupid man from the nation's capital.

Posted by: gtefferra | October 15, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Racsism only

Posted by: m1richone | October 15, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

yes it is "gtefferra"
And it is just as old as arenas antics!

Posted by: m1richone | October 15, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Well, said, sagaliba: "However, we've already been bombarded by so many sport analysts on this topic, there really is no need for a wannabe mental health expert/lawyer to jump in. Wonder what kind of Pavlov’s experiment can we, as a true sports fan, do to stop this kind of nonsense."

This piece was bad on so many levels; more fine work under the aegis of WAPO.

Posted by: Fief1 | October 15, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

The fine should have been ten times what it was, and let the Players Union fight with the club's lawyers over the amount. A nice ten-game no-pay suspension on top would apply some significant salve to the payroll owed ol' GILBO. And that's what I would do every time he "screws up again." Several of those would relieve the club of a majority of his pay. Let GA have to hire an attorney to get his checks for him. Maybe that will get his attention, and if not, well the club's out only what he's "earning." There's more than one way to skin a cat.

Posted by: glawrence007 | October 15, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I will take this as a campain to try to get rid of this stupid man from the nation's capital.

Posted by: gtefferra | October 15, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Are you talking about the uninformed ignoramous thar wrote this article?

Posted by: NewManagement | October 15, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Some people change but with Arenas it's once a knucklehead always a knucklehead. I didn't think so before but it's time to get rid of the guy. He's a constant distraction. With all his (I presume) remaining talent the Wizards would be better off without him.

Posted by: canyonjunkie | October 16, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

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