Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gilbert is becoming the girl next door

This Gilbert Arenas news hit me hard. I've had just about enough of this injury stuff. I barely remember watching the Wizards play with their full complement of players completely healthy. Every moment it seems you can reach out and touch this team, the glass shatters right on your hand. There was the beginning of last season when Gilbert came back, hit a buzzer beater to send the season opener against Indiana into overtime, only to have the team lose the game and Gilbert four games later. There was the playoff comeback last season, where Gilbert hits a decisive bank shot with 20 seconds left in game four against the Cavs, only to watch LeBron win it and Gilbert shut it down again before game five.

Seriously, just the other day as I was driving into work, listening to the Sports Junkies (who are still around and definitely still wildly entertaining). They had Antawn Jamison on for an interview, and the leader made it clear the Wiz wanted another piece of the Cavs. Loved the attitude and it got me all amped up. Now we've got this. It's just been a perpetual excitement followed by bitter disappointment and subsequent questioning of the excitement to begin with. No matter what way the Wiz or Gilbert want to spin this, it can't be good when your best player, whose main asset on the court is his raw explosiveness, has had three knee surgeries in 17 months.

Stop teasing me.

Now that I've gotten that doom and gloom out of the way, let's look deeper at this. I realize it's an injury the team somehow managed to get through most of last year and the procedure yesterday was something Gilbert downplayed in interviews, but it's definitely a blow to this team. Even if Gilbert comes back at the beginning of Decemeber, it's going to take at least three weeks, and probably more like a month, to get going again. I still think the Wizards will be good enough to make the playoffs without Gilbert 100 percent for a quarter of the season, but with how much the Eastern Conference has improved, it's going to be awful tough to get a high seed.

Everyone around the DC area is saying this will hurt even more now that Roger Mason isn't around to pick up the slack. I look at it as a perfect opportunity for Nick Young to step up and show more than just glimpses of that flair he displayed last season. He can either embrace it and become (what I hope/think) is a less quick, plays more above the rim version of Monta Ellis OR he can crumble under the pressure, stunting whatever potential people have seen in him thus far.

Because you've been given the privelege of making millions to play basketball, you are not entitled to long for your childhood like everyone else. You must grow up. NOW!

And simply relying on the old guard (Butler, Jamison, Daniels, Stevenson, Haywood) to step up might be asking too much with the way the Eastern Conference changed over the offseason. Philly, Toronto, and Miami are going to make noise, Atlanta has more confidence than ever after last year's playoffs, and the Celtics, Pistons, Magic, and Cavs are all bringing back the same nucleus that made them so good a season ago. All that being said, the Wiz have shown themselves

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