Saturday night, cities across the world were supposed to join in on Earth Hour, where they turned off their lights for one hour. The light stayed on at the Verizon Center, but they didn’t use much electricity, because there wasn’t much in the arena — despite the return of Gilbert Arenas after he had been out effectively for nearly two seasons recovering from a knee injury and surgery.
There was very little buzz in the arena before the start of Saturday night’s game against Detroit, despite the fact that Gilbert’s return had been hyped all week. I thought it would become a major event, but it turned out to be a dud. There were empty seats — a number of them when the game started — and Arenas’ introduction as part of the starting lineup was very weak. For some reason, he was introduced fourth, not last, as Caron Butler was the final player introduced, and the reaction from the crowd was not impressive, nor did it last very long.
As far as Gilbert playing, I thought it was an impressive display — 15 points, 10 assists. He opened the game with some sharp passes feeding his teammates, and easily hit several threes. But he never seemed really engaged with his teammates until he came in for the final eight minutes of the game. At one point earlier in the game, during a timeout when they were all on the court, Rasheed Wallace got up from the Pistons bench, walked on the court and gave Gilbert a welcome back greeting — illustrating the low-key atmosphere. The final eight minutes, though, when the Wizards had cut the Pistons lead to 86-83, Gilbert seemed more animated and into the game with the rest of the team. And he nearly pulled it out until his ill-fated three point attempt in the corner — stopped when Kwame Brown (yes, that guy) put Arenas on the floor — when Detroit was up 98-96 as time expired.
The Gilbert show was not a must-see event for Washington sports fans, who, rightfully so, want more from their NBA franchise than simply the appearance of a diva, who, along with the Wizards, has some work to do to turn the lights back on.
I will be on The Sports Reporters on ESPN 980 AM on Monday (March 30) from 5 to 7 p.m.
To learn more about Thom Loverro, go to www.thomloverro.com