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Practicing Gilbertology

I've got to give it up to Gilbert Arenas on this one: The man sure knows how to create a buzz. Yesterday, when Gilbert dropped the news that he'd been cleared to go through full-contact practices for the first time since undergoing knee surgery on Nov. 21, there were maybe two reporters (including myself) and a couple of television crews on hand.

Today, when Arenas and the Wizards practiced, it seemed as though every media outlet in the city was on hand. When I walked into the arena and saw the scrum, I actually thought I'd mistakingly driven to Ashburn for a press conference announcing that the Redskins had signed a third-string long snapper or something.

It was like that.

Anyway, Gilbert did practice as did Etan Thomas. During the portion that we were able to watch, I saw both players participate in half-court games of four-on-four. Arenas and Thomas also ran winds sprints with teammates. I didn't seen any five-on-five, and Coach Eddie Jordan said he and his staff designed the practice to make sure that Arenas got in some hard work but wasn't caught by any blind-side screens or other such contact that he can expect to deal with when he returns to game action.

FYI: Caron Butler (left hip) was not on hand and no update has been provided on his status. As has been previously reported, Butler and the team are hoping that a period of rest will allow the hip (slight tear in left labrum) to heal. He will be re-evaluated at some point this week. However, a couple of players have told me that Caron is feeling better and is optimistic about coming back soon. We'll see.

Roger Mason Jr. (hamstring that has bothered him for a few weeks) and DeShawn Stevenson (left knee soreness) did not practice but will be available for tomorrow night's big game against Orlando.

Arenas on how he felt today: "I was surprised about my wind. I wasn't as tired as I thought I would be. It was just exciting to get out there."

How was the knee after practice?
"Fine so far. We'll see how it acts tomorrow and in another day or two after I get some rest."

On the concern/fear he expressed about coming back too quickly and suffering another setback:
"Little by little, the more you play, the more you are out on the floor, the more you interact and the more you go out there and do things you are used to doing -- like, I made a move on Nick (Young) today and it was like "OK." Just get your confidence back little by little. Today's one practice, and now I want to get enough practices under my belt before I step back on the floor."

Do you have a timetable in mind?
"No. And truthfully, I don't think I'm going to make it back before Caron. It's not: hey, my knee feels good so I'm going to out and play tomorrow. It's not going to be one of those deals."

When does he expect Caron back?
"I don't know. We'll find out. He is feeling better so he may just hop back on the floor. Mine is more of a confidence thing."

On what he was doing in practice today:
"Cutting, moving, pick-and-rolling -- just doing the things you are used to doing out in the game flow. That is the only way you can simulate. Practice. Practice. Practice."

My take on this is that Arenas is taking the right approach. This is a guy coming off of two knee surgeries within the last 11 months and, he's going into a huge summer that could determine his basketball future. When he said yesterday that he felt "scared" about getting back into game action too quickly, I took that as a good sign.

I've done this for a decade now and every single athlete I've covered who was coming off of a major injury (espcially a knee injury) trotted out familiar lines like: "I feel great." "It's actually stronger than the other one." "I just need to get my flow back." "I'm confident that I'll be the same player."

Now, the look in the eyes of almost all of those athletes as well as their body language has always suggested this to me: "Yeah, I'm scared silly." "I don't want to be hurt again." "Getting hurt stinks." But they seldom say that. I personally respect Arenas for doing so.

Judging by the folks I've spoken with the last few days, I think it is realistic to think that given two or three weeks of confidence-building in practice, Arenas could be back by the end of the month when the team embarks on that five-game road trip out west. It all depends on how Arenas feels both physically and mentally.

I've said this before and I'll repeat it now: More than any athlete I've played with, been around or covered, Gilbert Arenas ebbs and flows off of how he "feels." How the basketball "feels" in his hands. How he "feels" in a given gym based on whether it has ice underneath the floor or not. How he "feels" that a given game is being called by the refs. Etc. Remember, this is a guy who regularly changes his shoes at halftime depending on how he's going. That's just how the guy is. Other than Priest Holmes, Arenas is the single most unique character I've covered.

Antawn Jamison, who has known Gilbert since their days in Golden State, summed it perfectly when he was asked for his take on Gilbert's comments about being "scared" to get back on the court too soon.

Jamison: "Gil can say he's scared and then come out and play tomorrow night. That's just Gilbert. When he gets out there, I can promise you that he won't be scared of anything."

Stay tuned.


By Ivan Carter  |  March 4, 2008; 1:39 PM ET
 
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Comments

Good post, Ivan. I'm already dreading the anti-Gilby drivel this post and any other post will incite from certain Gilbert-obsessed corners.

Posted by: Prazak | March 4, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm getting goosebumps!!! I can't wait till they call his name after making a shot. He needs to be here for the next 6+ years...he's just too darn good a scorer and soon to be assister...defender, we'll have to wait and see. GO WIZ KIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Burg w/ a U | March 4, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Obama/Arenas 08!

Posted by: H. Clinton | March 4, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Nice post.

Posted by: Sam | March 4, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Ivan, can you confirm if there was a parachute at the practice today? And if there was, was it the much ballyhooed parachute, or a parachute of lesser ballyhoo?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 4, 2008 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I know this is greedy but im going to see the wiz kids play Letravel next thursday and im already counting my chickens fantasizing about Gil and Caron on the court again.
p.s. i'm seconding Arenas/Obama '08

Posted by: Suns | March 4, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

There's about an 80% chance that Gilbert will come back two weeks too early, and a 20% he'll come back one week too early.

If Grunfeld had any stones, we would order that Arenas not return to game action until April, and he would place a limit on the number of minutes Eddie could play Gil per game when he does return.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 4, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, Prazak. I gotta get my 2 cents worth in early before the Gil hating starts. Go Wiz !

Posted by: mark | March 4, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Trade Gilby to the Knicks for Steph and Jamal.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 4, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

DC Man88 drinks his own pee.

Posted by: Tay Biltong | March 4, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Good news, if he's ready, fine, but dont rush him! Also, great comments on the wizards web site regarding Gilbert's practice. Eddie said his passing was great, leading to easy points:
http://www.washingtonwizardsblog.com/

Also, this team really gets along - bowling pix from their bowling party. cool!
http://www.nba.com/wizards/photogallery/ballersbowl_080304_7.html

Posted by: Anonymous | March 4, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

dc man ...steph gets 20 mil next year and jamal probably 9mil...gil makes 12 this year....how bout jamal,lee and a 1st!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 4, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

dc man ...steph gets 20 mil next year and jamal probably 9mil...gil makes 12 this year....how bout jamal,lee and a 1st!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 4, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

dc man ...steph gets 20 mil next year and jamal probably 9mil...gil makes 12 this year....how bout jamal,lee and a 1st!

---------------
No, not David Lee. He is white.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 4, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

My props to gilbert for having no timetable and making sure he's 100% before coming back. I tore my ACL in college, and on the first day I was cleared for 100% practice, I ended up tearing my hamstring. No contact or anything, it was done during windsprints. Just because I was cleared didn't mean I was ready to handle the true full rigors of the game. More than anything, this is the time that Gilbert needs to make sure that he gets fit and has his legs underneath him before trying anything too crazy. Fatigue is what makes athletes the most vulnerable, and is the main reason for re-injury. Take your time Gil, and make sure you're fit before you go out there full steam ahead.

Posted by: psps23 | March 4, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

wow - he is white isn't he?
easy now posters, let's not take the bait.

Posted by: random dude | March 4, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to hear where DCMAN88 played his street ball since he's one of our resident experts. Where'd you grow up, 88?

Posted by: mark | March 4, 2008 01:52 PM

He grew up in Clewiston, FL.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 4, 2008 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Ivan, can you confirm if there was a parachute at the practice today? And if there was, was it the much ballyhooed parachute, or a parachute of lesser ballyhoo?

Posted by: | March 4, 2008 02:52 PM

Oh man... my kids had to come in the room to find out what was so funny!! Had me roaring out loud... Very funny...

Posted by: Rook | March 4, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I wish DCMan would put on a parachute and jump in to the Potomac.

I'm pumped about Gil coming back. It sounds like Caron will be back even sooner.

Posted by: The AntiDCMan | March 4, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Anybody expecting me to talk about Gilby can take a nap. I'm not going to bother. Also, these previous posts on this topic that idiots here thought were written by me are wrong. I did not make those posts.

This hype about Gilby right now is so boring. Let's concentrate on the guys actually playing the games.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 4, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

88 Fingers Louie > DC Man88

Posted by: Burg w/ a U | March 4, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

@antiDCMan

Why the parachute?

Posted by: JSchon | March 4, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Come on folks, 88 is a total loony bin - no need to rile him up.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 4, 2008 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Clearly that loser JSchon is obsessed with me. I haven't been online since early last night and I saw multiple posts with my handle made on multiple threads last night and all day today.

You really think I care if people get on this blog and use my handle? Really. No.

I'll just return the favor here and there when I feel like just to mix it up, but as I said, Gilby is too boring to talk about.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 4, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

If Gil played for the Redskins, Dan Snyder would have him parachute onto the field on his first game back!

Great story Ivan,and an interesting little tidbit about Caron. Glad to hear he's feeling better, rest seems to be the only way to heal a hip flexor. My quess is those things have probably involved tears quite often. They just have the technology to see them now.

The combined news should give the team a lift knowing help is on the way. It would be nice if they could get Daniels and Stevenson a little rest before the playoffs.

Maybe the Wiz could setup a ramp in an aisle and Gil could ride down it and onto the court on a Mountain Bike. When he gets to the floor he could deploy a parachute(With a Wizards Logo) to skid to a stop at midcourt!

And a jamb packed crowd could roar!!! BallyHoo!!!

You Know, I think I'm going to add a little parachute to the Swaddagger Tee Shirts...

Posted by: GM | March 4, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Love the Hillary Clinton post! Genius!

Posted by: g diddy | March 4, 2008 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I have only posted in by my handle JSchon or Haiku... Never DC Man88 or any derivation of it... you can take that to the bank.

Posted by: JSchon | March 4, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

If I were to use your handle DC Man88, I would be sure to make it the posts funny. This blog is so tiresome at times.

Posted by: JSchon | March 4, 2008 4:59 PM | Report abuse

DC Man88 wrote: Gilby is too boring to talk about.

-----------

I could say the same thing about DC Man88, couldn't I?

Posted by: Gilby | March 4, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

I could say the same thing about DC Man88, couldn't I?
-----------

You could, and you wouldn't be right or wrong. I am not here for your entertainment, only to spread the truth....and bash Gilby.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 4, 2008 6:08 PM | Report abuse

88 with the truth
several different flavors
my favorite: twisted

Posted by: Haiku again | March 4, 2008 6:19 PM | Report abuse

"I have only posted in by my handle JSchon or Haiku... Never DC Man88 or any derivation of it... you can take that to the bank.

Posted by: JSchon | March 4, 2008 04:56 PM "

Congrats, but you're still a loser, especially since you waste time dreaming up haikus.

Posted by: DC Man88 | March 4, 2008 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Ivan -
I appreciate the detailed reports you give on these guys. I'm glad we've been able to tread water thus far and hopefully soon Gil, Caron and Etan can be on the floor soon just in time to make the run we anticipated coming into this season.

Posted by: Lamont Johnson | March 4, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Just my opinion. I saw where people were saying Gilbert was a no defense playing shot jacker. Wow...can you honestly say Caron was the same player last year as he is this year? He's better. I think you can say the same thing for Stevenson. I think things are going to get easier on offense without those long scoring droughts we've been seeing. The bench will be stronger...and let's be serious. NOBODY played defense. I think when he does come back he'll be able to get in where he fits in and be another weapon...not a liabilty.

Posted by: DC Fan | March 4, 2008 6:41 PM | Report abuse

It's what if time for GA. The first what if: he doesn't come back until the 1st of April just in time for the playoffs and he is subpar due to the long layoff. The #2 what if is : GA has said he will opt out of his deal after this season AND he does have a subpar in the last weeks of the season and playoffs--what team will give him the deal he is looking for AND will the Wizards WANT TO GIVE HIM THE DEAL BECAUSE OF HIS KNEE PROBLEMS????

Posted by: vergens2 | March 4, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

It's also great getting Etan Thomas out there. And I'd say that no matter what team he'd play for.

Remarkable to think that people can undergo surgery on our hearts now and less than a year later be out running on a professional basketball court.

You can sorta' understand how doctors succumb to the "God complex". They can literally do things that a generation ago couldn't possible conceive.

Posted by: SteveMG | March 4, 2008 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Agreed. Nice post, Ivan.

Oh, and I enjoy the haiku.

Posted by: 7snider7 | March 4, 2008 7:02 PM | Report abuse

"A parachute of lesser ballyhoo"... Best line I've read on this tiresome blog in a long time. Anon, you should be laying claim to that turn of phrase.

Posted by: Prazak | March 4, 2008 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the update Ivan.

I'm personally very excited about the potential return of Caron and Gilbert. Hopefully both of them are able to continue to progress on schedule and be back at full speed within the month.

Posted by: AC | March 5, 2008 6:47 AM | Report abuse

Almost completely overlooked yesterday was Etan's return to practice without suffering a setback. The games always slowdown and get more physical in the playoffs, having another big around can't hurt.

Looking forward to hearing how both guys feel today and if they'll be ready to go for the next practice. Steady progress without setbacks is what we'll be hoping to hear.

Possible first round playoff preview tonight. Can Haywood handle Superman? Lots of things to start looking at with the playoffs in mind, but looks like the Wiz could be getting help at the right time.

Hope the crowd helps the guys keep the recent streak going!

Posted by: GM | March 5, 2008 7:02 AM | Report abuse

I agree, GM--should be a fun atmosphere in the phone booth tonight. I'm anxiously awaiting a morning after report. I hope we'll hear from Ivan before the game.

Posted by: Lou | March 5, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Agree GM, very glad to hear about Etan. If we do end up against Orlando in the 1st round, it would be nice to have Etan to help out on D.Howard. Etan, Songaila, Blatche, Mason, and Daniels give us a solid bench, and the rooks can fill in the right situations.

Ivan thanks for the update. Please keep up with the reports on Gil, Etan and Caron. Can't wait to see our team all together and healthy.

Posted by: Darnell | March 5, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Jamison said what I was trying to say yesterday--I would anticipate Gil's fear to decrease sharply as he gets moving and feels good doing it.

Posted by: Lou | March 5, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

vergens2, if Gilbert either doesn't come back or comes back and under-performs because he's not 100%, I'd expect him to not opt out of his deal and play out the final year with the Wiz, becoming a restricted FA after next season.

Posted by: kalorama | March 5, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

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