Over the past year, Washington Wizards fans have seen Gilbert Arenas pull a complete "180." In 12 months, the one-time superstar has transformed himself from playful NBA character to a stern, serious player on and off the court. The timeline for Arenas hasn't come without sin, as we all know, but looking closely at how the point guard has changed should make us feel a bit sad.
Arenas first came into the league in 2001 as a member of the Golden State Warriors. Arenas, then a ripe and immature 20 years old, started 47 games his rookie season, accumulating 511 points. Two years later, he moved to Washington and became the face of a franchise and a city that, with the addition of the Washington Nationals just two years later, was in the midst of a youth revival.
Immediately Arenas elevated from an all-star to superstar. In his first four seasons with the Wizards, Arenas scored more than 7,500 points and lead Washington to the playoffs three times. Soon, however, things soured, ultimately resulting in last season's incident in which Arenas brought guns into the locker room, landing him a 50-game suspension and time in a halfway house.
But that was last year. Now, a more serious Arenas has reported to Wizards camp, evidenced by his comments so far this preseason. Wednesday, Arenas talked to reporters and offered this comment regarding his future and that of the Wizards.
"Right now I'm out there to hit open shots, teach John the ins and outs of the game and then eventually go on and move on -- on my way," Arenas told reporters.
John, of course, meaning first overall pick John Wall, who so far has played like a No. 1 pick. But what Arenas' comments show me is a man who, if his thoughts are genuine, has accepted his past and is ready to move on.
I think wanting to take Wall under his wing shows great maturity. After all, one of the hardest things for athletes to do is admit when their time is up. It's a rare sight to see a superstar bow out when he knows it's time, and it's even rarer for that star to offer wisdom and advice to the guy taking his place.
But that's exactly what Arenas seems to be driving at. He knows his time in Washington is nearing an end, and that Wall is the future for the Wizards. Arenas simply wants to make sure Wall's transition into the NBA is as smooth as possible. Maybe this is Arenas' way of truly apologizing to the organization and the fans during his time. Whatever it is, it's nice to see Arenas is trying to end his time in Washington on a positive note.