Arenas' Weird Leadership Is the Missing Piece

I supposed I could've included Gilbert Arenas in my non-stories column, but at this point, I almost don't want to jinx the star-crossed Wizards guard. He's been injured forever, his contract is hard to justify, and since he's been gone, a host of guards have probably leapfrogged a healthy Gil in the rough rankings we all agree on. ↵
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↵Since Agent Zero finally made his way back to the court, he's shot horribly, while putting up impressive assist numbers. But if you've ever wondered what Gil brings to this zany squad, why he's both the focus of their floor game and their spiritual leader, look no further than last night's improbable win over Cleveland. Sure, they'd beat them once before, on account of that notorious "crab-dribble" call on LeBron. This, though, gave them two wins against the Cavs on the year -- which, as Wizards Insider notes, puts them in the select company of the Celtics and Lakers. ↵
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↵LeBron, for his part, pointed to the long-simmering, or whatever the goofier version of simmering is, rivalry between the two teams: ↵
↵⇥"Records never matter when you play the Wizards. It doesn't matter if you're in first place or who is not in first place. It's always going to be like that every time we play them." ↵
↵I have no idea what the tone of that quote is. I do, however, get exactly what this gem from Gil is getting at: ↵
↵⇥"No matter when we play, if we have three players, 12 players, when we have to play Cleveland, we get up for it. It's been a rivalry since Larry Hughes decided to go there. It's always going to be a good game." ↵
↵Right, Larry Hughes, now departed and if anything a help to the Wizards, is what set this whole thing off. Not the multiple playoff meetings, the Wizards refusal to bow down, or Soulja Boy. But regardless of how little sense this makes to me, I do get that it's the kind of thinking that has allowed the Wiz to find success in the past. It's all wrong, but it's all right. And that attitude begins and ends with Arenas. ↵
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↵We've seen this year how much DC misses Gilbert's talent on the court. But I wonder how much it's his oft-maligned "leadership" -- which in his case, translates into a suspension of common sense and general distortion of reality -- that might be his greatest asset for this team. You pay for the points, the big shots, and the PG play. After these Arenas-less seasons, though, I think we might be seeing that the attitude once thought of as a problem for the franchise might be essential to its future.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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