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Posted at 12:14 PM ET, 12/22/2010

Gilbert didn't want to get Haynesworth'd

By Dan Steinberg

Gilbert Arenas might be in Orlando, but D.C. sports still course through his blood. When reporters asked him on Wednesday how he handled things down the stretch in Washington, he made the ultimate Washington sports analogy.

"I noticed things, so I knew I was gonna be out of there pretty soon," Arenas said. "So it was just don't do nothing to just get banned like Haynesworth did. So I basically was just walking on egg shells: didn't want to say anything, didn't really do much."

Good thing he didn't demand to only play on passing plays. Anyhow, you can see by his expression that some of the old Gilbert seems to be coming back. Jason Richardson told Michael Lee that Gilbert is smiling like he hasn't in years, and Otis Smith said Gilbert's trying to get the fun back. Can't say a cross word about any of that.

One more thing on Gilbert. I got a good deal of feedback on the thing I wrote about Gilbert's departure earlier in the week. It's sort of a complicated subject, as silly sports subjects go, and I'm still not sure exactly what I think. But this comment, from HogShotGlass, made me want to reconsider yet again. Who knows. Check it out.

Dan, this is thoughtful, solemn, 'mature', and profoundly, wrenchingly wrong....

You seem to be betraying the joyful, larger-than-cliche philosophical spirit that has made Arenas and the Bog itself so wonderful for so many years. And you're trading it in for... the ultimate sportswriting platitude, that nothing matters except championships?

Sorry, Dan, but Gilbert's wisdom strikes a deeper chord than you seem to be able to appreciate these days. Championships are not the tree, bro. They're just not. The tree is life -- the journey, as gidge says, the living, the being, the loving, the endless human splendor of existence. And Gilbert delivered so much of that that, so wonderfully, that I can't begrudge for not also producing something as relatively puny as a 'championship.' I wouldn't trade him for seven overserious Tim Duncans, or fourteen desiccated Bill Belichicks.

I appreciate the thought that went into this essay, but I'm genuinely disturbed by its conclusion. Exactly 1 of 32 pro sports teams wins a title each year. Giving into the [nonsense] that the rest are losers, no matter how phenomenal their swag, is surrendering to the worst and most brutal tendencies in American life -- the banal, pernicious, deathless Protestant Ethic/Horatio Alger nonsense that destroyed Jay Gatz and somehow, ruinously, still dominates discourse in sports, politics, and society today. Really, I thought you were better than that.

I don't want to be banal or pernicious, nor do I want to be ruinous. I'll keep thinking.

By Dan Steinberg  | December 22, 2010; 12:14 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins, Wizards  
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Next: Shanahan on his relationship with Dan Snyder


There's nothing overserious about Tim Duncan. He's actually purported to be quite the jokester.

To borrow from a phrase used by Flip Saunders, this is really about "substance v. style" a little bit, no? As a fan, while I loved Gil's style, it became tiresome when it began to seem that said style was more fundamentally important to him than the substance.

No, it's not just about winning titles. Of course the journey is more important than the destination. That's one of the most important lessons in sports. Just as important is that the team is more important than the individual -- and that, HotShotGlass, is profoundly counter American rugged individualism. Gil was about Gil -- his journey, his struggles, his triumphs, his swag. At the end of the day, that made cheering for him less fun.

Posted by: TheFunBunch | December 22, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

You aren't very fun, TheFunBunch. Sports is nothing but entertainment and Gilbert was incredibly entertaining until his final descent.

Posted by: empsg59 | December 22, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

wow...i agree with everything HogShotGlass said...i wish I could have write as eloquently as him. Honestly the reason I loved the sports bog were all the great gilbert stories that it had....the sports bog wouldnt be anything without all those gilbert stories, and it sucks to see how someone who ate off of gilberts amazing personality for a living, be the same person to not support him. Gilbert is right...he gave us so much and now the same people don't support him. I will always be a arenas fan because i rem. the bullets days and pre-gilbert days

Posted by: jasonma1 | December 22, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I would trade all of Gilbert's memories for a single title let alone a Duncan career worth of them. Hands down mans down

Posted by: JDP_ | December 22, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I hope this is the last of the Gilbert stories. Most everyone wanted him gone, well now he is. I wish him the best and thank him for the refreshing years he supplied the fans. Now that he is Orlando, let him be. Enough of the Gilbert stories now. How about reporting on this new look Wizards team. I am sure if you dig deep enough, you will find some amusing,intersting stories and not have to rely on Gilbert stories anymore.

Posted by: ivyleague | December 22, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Man, who knew a dude with HogShotGlass handle could be so deep? Impressive retort, if not entirely accurate.

Steinz you see the joy in life, dont let the Protestants get you down.


Posted by: jpfterps | December 22, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

i started watching basketball b/c gilbert arenas was sick in a video game i played with my roommate. so i started watching the wizards. now im sittin here watching hinrich snatch a rebound. thanks gilbert.

Posted by: arn3z | December 22, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse

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