Gilbert Arenas and the Wizards have a redeemable relationship

The Washington Wizards' Gilbert Arenas talks about the reason he faked a sore knee in Tuesday's preseason win against the Atlanta Hawks.
By Mike Wise
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 13, 2010; 11:40 PM

"I screwed up again."

- Gilbert Arenas, after admitting he lied to his coach.

Succinct. Pointed. Really, of all the epitaphs I've ever considered, "I screwed up again" pretty much says it all.

What, you wanted him to be the morose, bearded, sullen guy who showed up at media day like Joaquin Phoenix once showed up on David Letterman? How depressing.

You honestly thought the man was going to go an entire season being a model employee? You believed Mr. Mischief would not put his foot in his mouth about something before April?

Ha. He couldn't even get out of the pre-season without incurring people's wrath, without being judged and told to leave Washington for a fresh start.

Look, I'm not here to endorse Arenas lying to Flip Saunders about an injury so his teammate, Nick Young, could play in a meaningless exhibition game Tuesday night. I'm not here to minimize Arenas's most recent mistake in judgment.

I am here to say it is small potatoes next to his last mistake in judgment. And for all the impassioned pleas about Arenas needing to start over with a new team in order for the Wizards and himself to forge new identities, I finally agree with this premise.

Gilbert Arenas indeed needs to be in a different environment that will give him a new lease on his NBA career. In fact, he's already on that team; they're called the Wizards.

Of all the indignities of nearly throwing his career away, Arenas is about to appropriately suffer one of the most painful ones. He returns to a young, uneven team that has no shot of contending for a playoff spot, much less an NBA title. He returns as not the star, but a player thought of as a complement in the back court to the No. 1 pick in the draft, John Wall. He returns to skeptical fans tired of his bravado and still waiting on his humility, the moment when he picks up the microphone before the Nov. 2 home opener and says, authentically, "I'm sorry."

With four years and $80 million left on his contract, there was almost no way for the Wizards to trade him. But that exorbitant deal almost certainly guaranteed one thing: that Arenas was going to have to be part of the clean-up crew.

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