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Mike Wise: As His Return Nears, Gilbert Arenas's Mouth Hits the Court Running

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An athlete who's recovering from a significant injury, like Gilbert Arenas, should play whenever he can -- even if the season is nearly over, Tony Kornheiser says.Video by Atkinson & Co.

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Bottom line, with maybe the exception of McGuire, none of the young fellas got better late in the season. There seemed to be two teams in the locker room -- the old heads who honored their profession and were Obama-serious about their careers. And the young knuckleheads, who, left to their own devices, enabled one another to stay children and put off adulthood. They could have used the self-proclaimed "goofball who worked out six hours a day." He bridged the locker room gap; Arenas knew when to play and when to work.

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"I will say I just don't see the same craftsmanship that was given me as a young player," he said. "If I went into darkness mood, like training camp, maybe it would have been different. But like I said, when you're not playing, they're not going to listen."

It's almost comical to remember the grief Arenas received in the fall for opining that the Wizards -- without an injured Arenas, Brendan Haywood and, well, hope -- might want to consider thinking about 2009-2010.

"When I made that comment, I saw this coming," he said. "I'm a realist. I'm not living in denial. Of the 12 players who suited up, seven of them are young. I told them in training camp, when we were getting beat by 20 and some of them were saying, 'It's just preseason,' I'd say, 'Well, it's preseason for them, too. So what does that mean?'

"Look, we have Kevin Durant talent here. We have a player who can score 30 [Young]. We have an Andray Blatche who can give you 12 [points] and 12 [rebounds] every night. We have a JaVale McGee who can be a factor every night. They could have been that type of player this year. They had the opportunity to do that."

Asked whether owner Abe Pollin's declining health had anything to do with his desire to return to the court, Arenas said, "Me and Abe Pollin, we have that father-and-son relationship. He told my father when I first signed, 'As long as he's on this team, this is my son and I'm going to care for him.'

"To this day, for all my goofball ways, if I'm in public, I'm not going to embarrass him or the organization. I don't think me playing in front of Mr. Pollin is what he cares about; me performing for those fans is what he cares about. Showing up on that floor for the organization is more important for him."

Before he got off the phone, I asked Arenas if he had any preference on whom the Wizards draft in June with their lottery pick. I could hear him sighing at the thought of another young buck to tame. "I don't pay attention to the JV until they get here," he said.


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