- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The cyberspace-spun notion that coach Eddie Jordan is on the hot seat runs counter to the philosophy of continuity, chemistry and familiarity, the talking points of the organization in the offseason.

The notion lurking on the Web sites of ESPN, SI and Yahoo! earned a tiny lift after the Wizards saw their losing streak reach five games in a 100-point loss to the Nuggets on Fun Street.

However nightmarish the Nuggets game, no coach is apt to fix what ails the Wizards unless he is well-versed in sports medicine and the psyche, two disciplines that possibly could benefit Gilbert Arenas.

No one recognizes the surgically repaired version of Arenas, more role player than All-Star in the first six games of the regular season.

Arenas seems to have inherited the shooting misadventures of Jarvis Hayes and is still unable to recognize the hazard of the low-velocity crosscourt pass.

The one-mile-an-hour pass of Arenas that results in a layup for the opposition reduces fans to a puddle of tears and the eternally vexing question: “Why?”

Perhaps the marketing gurus of the Wizards should hold a Black Armband Night in recognition of the lazy crosscourt pass that kills a team’s rhythm and good feelings.

Arenas also remains committed to making the 70-foot pass to a teammate.

At least most of the team already is back on defense after the pass is intercepted.

Arenas sometimes is rewarded with an assist, just as a blind squirrel is sometimes rewarded with an acorn. The reward is certain to lead to another four turnovers before the long pass is successful again.

Basketball is nothing but a game of percentages, which is why Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler shoot the most and DeShawn Stevenson and Brendan Haywood shoot the least of the five starters.

A high rate of turnovers is a bane on a team’s shooting percentage, because turnovers are stifling, restrictive and mentally deflating.

Fewer shot attempts mean fewer opportunities for a team to find that harmonic place on the floor.

It has been the history of the Wizards the last three seasons to routinely find that special place. That, of course, was with a physically sound Arenas, capable of delivering a 40-point gem on any given night.

The radio call-in and desk-bound experts reflexively turn to the coach in troubled times, even if the obvious is staring them in the face.

Lead players drive basketball teams at all levels of competition.

If Haywood does not have a double-double, if Stevenson does not locate his outside shot and if Butler and Jamison do not play at a high level in Atlanta, the Wizards still would be looking for their first win.

That is how much Arenas has meant to the franchise the last three seasons.

The Wizards did not need so many contributions from so many others in order to win, not with Arenas scoring 30 points and living at the free throw line.

Now Arenas is muddling along with an inefficient 20.3 scoring average. Even his free throw shooting is at 71.7 percent, nearly 10 percentage points lower than his career average coming into the season.

All anyone can do is wait on his return, whether it is tonight, next week, next month or deep into the winter.

Imagine the Wizards without Arenas the last three seasons. They possibly would have slipped into the playoffs in 2005, but not in 2006 or last season.

And they will not be a playoff team this season unless Arenas finds his legs sooner rather than later.

The Wizards have a favorable seven-game stretch on the schedule, starting with a visit from the Pacers tonight.

But if the Wizards are to go 5-2 or 6-1 in that stretch, Arenas is going to have to show up.

That is not on Jordan and the coaching staff.

That is on the face of the franchise still trying to recover from offseason surgery to his left knee.

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