Don't hate the player: The grate of fame

Where we were.
Where we are.
Turning on Arenas is about the most predictable backlash in the L--and maybe the easiest story for a blogger to write today, after the Wiz beat up on the Heat in a feature game on TNT. Heck, we all love a good Ewing Theory.

But easy doesn't always equal accurate.

Gilbert had a Cinderella season on- and off-court in 2006-07, even if the ending was more fractured than fairy tale. Then, once his hype got a bit ahead of his 'comp this year, Gil was shelved before he could yet again let his play speak for himself. And do you doubt that he would have stepped up? Take a lesson.

So now we're into a favorite pastime: Making yesterday's hero into today's tackling dummy.

The Wiz are more than Arenas, of course, and we DC-ites all enjoy the new look, but like Dwyer/Truthaboutit/HSCS point out, let's not pretend this team into a contender yet. Especially without Arenas. Over the past 15 years, nobody--not Webber nor Howard, not Butler nor Jamison, and certainly not Err Jordan--has been as dynamic or clutch in a Washington uni as Gil.

Not even Ledell. It may sound like blasphemy, but even if Arenas is half the man of A-Train, he's three times the player.

20 Second's Friedman may contend that at 128-118 from 2004-2007, the Arenas-led Wizards have been "mediocre for quite some time"--but behind Gil, the Clippers of the East have finally shaken off the cellar! Dave, you realize this is Washington's best three-year stretch in 30 years? Antawn and Caron were strong additions, but Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, they're not.

Injuries sometimes fast-track certain players to the spotlight. Tracy McGrady became a star at the expense of Grant Hill's ankle. Kurt Warner only started because Trent Green went down in the preseason. But the sidekick getting to (short-term) star is a more familiar theme. Last week, Manu's 37-point specials pushed the Duncan-less Spurs over the Mavs and Jazz. Last year, one A.I. stepped up for another in Philly. Even Scottie was MVP-caliber when MJ left for...well, we've collectively forgotten that chapter. Yet who thinks Iggy > Iverson, or would take Pippen over Jordan?

So temporary vanishing acts and surprise star turns are essential parts of the sports fabric; fans aren't required to hate on what's gone missing, just better appreciate what we've got. And in the Wizards' case, maybe it was more than we knew.

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posted by Doctor Dribbles @ 12:37,


At December 19, 2007 at 1:45 PM, Blogger JC said...

Turning on Gilbert Arenas is like choosing Ben's Chili Bowl over Ruth's Chris.

You just wouldn't think about doing it.


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