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Gilbert's Knee: A History of Misplaced Optimism

Gilbert's knee is worked on last September. (By Jonathan Newton - TWP)

"Why's everybody tripping out?" Gilbert Arenas asked Mike Wise yesterday. "Big picture, if I start rehabbing now and get through the pain that prevented me from running or jumping this summer, I'll be back on the court sooner," he said. "How's that a bad thing?"

Well, the reason everybody's tripping is because we've heard such reassurances before, and they've been consistently, wildly, depressingly wrong every time. That's why I'm getting lengthy e-mailed manifestos about the history of Gilbert's knee from Wiz fans, whose heads this morning feel like they're filled with loose debris. A brief history of the misplaced optimism inspired by that wackest of joints.

April 5, 2007: "Gilbert will approach his rehab regimen with the same work ethic that has made him one of the league's most outstanding performers. We expect him to make a full recovery." (Ernie Grunfeld, in a team release after Gil's first injury)

April 12, 2007: "I'm actually already starting rehab. The swelling went down, the pain is out, so I'm ready....It would have been a quicker recovery but I have a sprained ligament that needs to heal, that's the only thing they're worried about because if that doesn't heal then it will be a lingering ordeal down the road. They're trying to be very careful, that's why they said eight to 12 weeks because this injury is usually three to four." (Gilbert, in his blog)

April 28, 2007: "I have a long summer, I'm not going on vacation this summer. We'll stay here and make sure this knee is 100 percent. I'm going to come back stronger than I was last year. Faster. I have to work at it." (Gilbert, at a press conference about his EA cover spot)

May 10, 2007: "I've just been working on my leg. I'm past Stage 1 faster than a lot of people thought I would be. Usually when you get a knee injury you try to get the lag out of your leg....Sometimes that takes months, and I got my lag out already." (Gilbert, in his blog)

Oct. 27, 2007: "Physically, I'm right where I want to be. I just need to go in there and get some more shots up and tweak some things a little bit. I need to sharpen up my game these next three days." (Gilbert, to reporters)

Oct. 30, 2007: "I'm at about 92 percent. Maybe 90 percent. That's good enough for me right now. Once you get your knee drained it takes a while for it to effectively heal. I'm ready to go." (Gilbert, in his blog)

Nov. 7, 2007: "There's no red flags. He just has to keep getting through his therapy, his rehab, and getting some rest when he can." (Eddie Jordan)

Nov. 23, 2007: "We expect Gilbert to make a full recovery." (Ernie Grunfeld, after Gilbert's second surgery.)

Feb. 19, 2008: Arenas has set the March 2 game against New Orleans as a possible target date for his return. That would give him 24 games before the conclusion of the regular season. "That gives me enough time get my legs and get my wind," Arenas said. "But it might be before that or it might be after that, we'll just have to see. (Ivan Carter, in The Post)

March 20, 2008: "I'll be back way before the playoffs. Hopefully, within this week I'll be playing or maybe on the West Coast road trip." (Gilbert, to reporters. He wound up missing both the rest of the week and the West Coast trip.)

April 30, 2008: "We just have to go back and start rehabbing it again and get ready for next season." (Gilbert, to reporters after announcing he was ending his season)

May 4, 2008: "I'll be full speed by October...I'm going to take my time and prepare for next season. I'm going to be smart about it this year. I'm going to have five or six months to get this thing strong again and ready to go again." (Gilbert, to reporters)

June 1, 2008: ""Everything feels good now. I have to get it strong this month." (Gilbert, in a text message to Ivan Carter)

July 14, 2008: "My knee feels good. It got a little sore on the airplane from the altitude up and down, but now it feels fine. I finally gave it some time off. I'm just getting ready to get back." (Gilbert, in his blog)

And then yesterday happened. This is why, even when Gilbert tells Ivan Carter yesterday that this "really isn't that big of a deal," people are still tripping out.

By Dan Steinberg  |  September 18, 2008; 11:29 AM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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At least people are choosing the "trippin'" route instead of the "hatin'" perspective.

Posted by: | September 18, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm mad that they didn't keep Roger Mason here... in the long run he can shoot and make baskets better than Gil.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Why is Grunfeld's "We expect Gilbert to make a full recovery." starting to sound a lot like 'Sheed's "Both teams played hard, it was a good game."?

Posted by: | September 18, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

The Wizards paid to send Gilbert to Berlin and Spain for the NBA promo tour in July. If he knew then that he wouldn't be playing on the team there, what was the purpose of sending him instead of someone more suitable.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Dan, you hit the nail on the head with this one. "Why is everyone tripping out". After hearing that quote, I have just about given up on this guy. I am losing more respect for him each day. Either he is a liar, or he is dealing with Dr. Nick from the Simpsons. I'm leaning towards the fact the Gil's a lying POS, who just kind of "dragged the team along" since the original injury in Apr. 2007. I find it impossible to believe that an injury that was originally diagnosed as 2-3 months, could take 20 MONTHS to heal. He is dealing with the best trainers and doctors in the country. Gil has fooled all Wizards fans, and more importantly, EG and Abe. I bet it was originally far more serious (in APR 2007) than was reported, and he knew it. He knew his contract year was approaching, so he didn't want to go out on the court and stink it up and lose. Think about it, if Gil plays the ENTIRE 07-08 season, and the Wiz still lose in the 1st round, do you really think he gets 111 million. Absolutely not. He knew what he was doing all along, then he teases the team and fans by opting out, saying he will explore all options. This gives EG and Abe a taste of life w/o Gilbert, and the fans all beg for him to get signed. he never had any intention of signing anywhere else, he just wanted to get a few offers thrown at him, so EG would be forced to sign him to a max. Arenas is a lying cheat, and he totally PLAYED the front office of the Wizards. Way to go Gil! I hope the business world works out for you well!

Posted by: cj658 | September 18, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to add, I will bet anyone money that he returns in January, once the Skins season is over. He will only return when him, and only him, will DOMINATE the DC sports headlines. More face time = more publicity = more endorsements and media. Again he is a lying POS, who is truly a greedy, selfish person.

It's pretty easy to give 1,000 bucks to a local school, when you get pain 175,000 per game to SIT AND WATCH. That is less than 1% of his PER GAME salary. Yeah, what a humanitarian.

Gil, you fooled us all, including myselef. I used to actually vouch for the man. This will go down as the one of the worst sigings in all of pro-sports.

Posted by: cj658 | September 18, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse


"It's pretty easy to give 1,000 bucks to a local school, when you get pain 175,000 per game to SIT AND WATCH. That is less than 1% of his PER GAME salary. Yeah, what a humanitarian."

cj658, what percentage of your salary do you donate to local schools or charity? I hate Arenas just as much as the next guy, but I'm just curious...

Posted by: Tom | September 18, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Tom, I make nowhere near what he makes. If I were to donate 1% of my salary, it would not make much of a difference to a school. The point I was making is people make him out to be a "great guy" who gives back. Most average working American are in no position to donate their salaries to local schools, especially with the economy. Mr. Arenas makes 200,000 per game, to sit and watch. Think about that befor you call me out. That was a rather stupid response to my post, I hope you read this.

Posted by: cj658 | September 18, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

He is dealing with the best trainers and doctors in the country.
Posted by: cj658 | September 18, 2008 1:01 PM

I didn't know the Wizards traded their medical staff for the Suns' one.

Posted by: Pradamaster | September 18, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Connell should clip this post to his resume.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Have you ever played sports, cj658? Have you ever been injured? Besides your ignorance, the root of the problem with Gil is this bog. This is all Dan's fault. He is also at fault for Ben Olsen's injuries and the rest of DC United.

Posted by: sitruc | September 18, 2008 8:31 PM | Report abuse

The Wiz and United have had some bad diagnosis the past few years that have sidelined important players longer than initially thought. I doubt any of them planned potentially career ending or shortening injuries.

Posted by: sitruc | September 18, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

cj658 you are an idiot, which other NBA players donate any of their pay check to schools? Don't hate on the guy. He is one of the nicest people.

On the other hand, I really hope Gil makes it back to the court ASAP. I want him to prove that he can still play.

Posted by: Mikey G. | September 19, 2008 3:00 AM | Report abuse

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