Gilbert Arenas gets his big profile in The Washington Post magazine. In my experience, a lot of us Wizards fans are experiencing a bit of cognitive dissonance over the whole Gilbert phenomenon. When I first moved to town and the Wizards were, as they are today, a middling franchise capable of making the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, nobody in DC seemed aware of that fact. It’s not really been a basketball town historically, the Wizards/Bullets had been terrible for a long time, and everyone wanted to talk about the Redskins or the new baseball team.
But for DC’s NBA fans there was this treat — a charismatic underrated combo guard with at times questionable decision-making and commitment to defense, but an unquestionable nose for scoring and various delightful quirks. Now over the past twelve months or so, Gilbert seems to have leapt from underrated to overrated — he’s on the cover of NBA Live, I saw his jersey prominently featured in the NBA Store in New York, etc. — and I’m not sure he realizes that he owes his fans in DC something more. In particular, a winning basketball team. In double particular, the Wizards defense was so bad last season that it seems to me that something as simple as a little leadership by example from the team’s star player could do a lot to boost the defense from “awful” to “below average” and win a ton of games. But I’m not at all optimistic that it’ll happen.