Leonsis stands by Arenas
Through countless media appearances over the past few months, Ted Leonsis has stuck by Gilbert Arenas, consistently saying that Gilbert would still have every chance to succeed in this town, and to get a second chance. Still, there's been a perception that all is not right in this world, and that Leonsis would rather be rid of Agent Nine. Here's from David Aldridge's recent NBA.com column:
Washington tried to ratchet up the penalties with a $50,000 fine on Arenas, but that's throwing good money after bad. The only solution is to sit Arenas down, Jamaal Tinsley-style, and keep him away from the team until it can either work out a trade or a buyout. Both are problematic; not many teams were interested in Arenas before the latest incident, and Arenas certainly has no motivation to give any money back.
And here's from Joseph White's AP preview:
No one in the organization wants to talk much about him; it only dents the team's image even more. Leonsis will blog about anything, but he didn't post a word about Arenas' fine. Asked if the franchise is just going to have to keep putting up with inevitable bumps in the road with Arenas, President Ernie Grunfeld avoided answering the question by talking about how Arenas, Wall and Kirk Hinrich will form a "nice three-guard rotation."
Leonsis was asked about Arenas during a lengthy Tuesday appearance on DC101's Elliot in the Morning, and he again went with praise, repeatedly using Alex Ovechkin as an example. He certainly didn't shy away from the topic.
"It's so strange what you've seen in the last two days about Alex," Leonsis said, referring to the GQ coverage. "And I think what happens is that when you develop a very high profile, you end up feeding the monster....I'm certainly guilty of it. I'll do something, say something on my blog, and it becomes front page news.
"And I look for the signal in the noise, and every time I've spent quality time with Gilbert, what he talks about is his love for the game of basketball. He is a student of the game, he's excited that we were fortunate enough to bring someone in like John Wall, he knows how he and John Wall and Kirk Hinrich and Nick Young can form the nucleus of one of the better backcourts in the NBA, and he's psyched to play. And he understands that if we have a great team, if this team can develop, then that's what the fans will fall in love with. So I am convinced that the signal is very strong."
Leonsis then talked about how Ovechkin is "fundamentally, instinctively, a very gracious, very sweet, very well-behaved young man," but how stories of his sweetness and grace don't make news.
"I can only deal with what I see and what I deal with," Leonsis said. "I love Alex Ovechkin, and so far everything that I've seen personally from Gilbert Arenas has been positive, and that's how I have to judge it."
Leonsis also said he told Arenas that he "had to come to camp in great shape" and that he had to be a great teammate, and that Arenas has thus far delivered on both demands.
"He's highly regarded, he's well-liked, he's bonding with everyone," the owner said. "And everyone, from the coach to the GM to the players, has been supportive of him. This is his chance for redemption and comeback. I don't want him to be pressured. I want him to fit in and be a part of what we're building, and I think he can do it."
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