Gilbert’s Arena meet Gilbert Arenas

e-mail Pete

1:25 PM

This was just too good to pass up. Wizards All Star guard Gilbert Arenas, in the midst of his best season, maybe an MVP season, facing Portland in a game where he guarantees 50 points, it’s not televised, and my blog is named Gilbert’s Arena. Yeah, this trip to DC had to be made.

The reason for the guarantee is downright biblical. Vengeance. Gilbert was left off the Team USA final roster last year and the eccentric stud took if personally. Much of the story is chronicled in Gilbert’s own website. As for the guarantee, the last time he promised to torch a snubber, he did, hanging 51 on the Jazz (Jerry Sloan was on the coaching staff that helped pick Team USA). Although, here we sit with 6:00 already gone in the first quarter and he hasn’t taken a shot. Gilbert has some work to do.

2:10 PM

The first half of this one lived up to the hype about as well as Tony Mandarich. Gilbert, like all the Wizards did virtually nothing as they put up their worst 24 minutes of basketball this season. Against a sorry Trail Blazers team they trail 41-30 at the break. Their 30 point total is about 25 below the season average. And Gilbert, he has six points, the same as teammate Andray Blatche.

Now Gilbert is completely capable of a 44 point 2nd half. But the collective funk with which this team played was like the Orioles in late September. Apparently a 1:00 start on a Sunday is a bad idea for a team that enjoys the nightlife of D.C.

That said, it is nice to see Juan Dixon playing for Portland. He doesn’t start but gets his minutes and as always, if you give him a opening he’ll bury the jumper.

9:45 PM

Sorry for the delay, but it took this long to recuperate from watching that amount of putridity. The Wizards scored a season low 73 points, and stunningly, only nine came from Gilbert Arenas. So what happened? Apparently team mutiny.

The whole going for 50 thing took a third row seat in the Washington mini van compared to the inner turmoil on this team. Even though they sit in the first place the Wizards have some serious problems. The biggest is the absence of Antawn Jamison. His defense, scoring, and leadership will be missed for another three or so weeks thanks to injury.

Add in the ongoing feud between Wizard big men Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas, the latest episode resulted in fisticuffs and a two game suspension for Thomas.

Then there’s the change in philosophy. The Wizards earned their first place standing by running and gunning, averaging the second most points in the NBA. Now head coach Eddie Jordan wants them to slow down and focus on defense. It didn’t work before today with three losses in four games. Then a stern pre-game speech sent the Wizards into complete disarray. They played with the energy of a five watt bulb. With their worst game of the season, they sent a message to their coach, this won’t work.

Jordan didn’t handle the message well. A 20 minute post game scream fest in the locker room was the end result.

Jordan typically meets with the media 10 minutes after the game. We waited. He never showed. Then a Wizards representative announced the locker room was open and that Coach Jordan would be available in the media room following player interviews.

We went in and talked to Gilbert about the loss and his prediction. He handled the discussion well although he failed to give any credit to the Blazers. Instead, his frustration was directed at the “new philosophy”.
I think a little humility and acknowledgement that Portland didn’t even let him score until 7:32 of the 2nd quarter would have been appropriate, but at least he was available for comment.

I did ask him if, as long as the new philosophy was in play would he avoid making offensive predictions? His response, with a laugh,

I guess I’ll have to start predicting I’ll get ten steals.

Meanwhile, Eddie Jordan was nowhere to be found. He actually went to the media room, but did so while we were all in the locker room. He then left. And unfortunately, we had to jet ourselves. To prepare for a 6:00 sportscast I needed to be back in Baltimore by about 5:00.

Jordan though did finally meet with the media, and according to a photographer at WRC , Jordan fumed at Arenas’ remarks and thought the line of questioning about it was stupid.

I like the Wizards. When healthy they are fun to watch and put on a good show. But their season heads quickly in the wrong direction. For fun’s sake, I hope they find the off ramp. The stories about grandiose predictions and game winning threes are much more fun.

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