The last thing Arenas needs down the stretch is another setback that would trigger more speculation that his days as an All-Star are done.
He is heeding the advice of his trainer and doctors. He is being smart this time. He is not going to play in back-to-back games. He is not going to try to be a hero. He is not going to push himself when pulling back is the wiser approach.
That was the Arenas in evidence against the Pistons. He did not impose himself on the proceedings. He was not worried about putting up big numbers. His principal focus was to get a sense of his place in a game that has been so cruel to him the last two years.
And that will remain his objective these last two and a half weeks of the season. If he can get through this period without experiencing another setback, he will be that much more mentally stronger going into next season.
Those who argued that Arenas should have sat out the rest of the season saw the issue in the context of the team’s record.
But there is a significant mental component to all this.
Arenas needs to be playing because that is what he is, a professional basketball player. And if you are physically able to play, then that is what you do, the record of the team be darned.
Arenas bounced right up the few times he was knocked to the floor Saturday. He showed a few bursts of his previous self. He played to sighs of relief all around the arena.
It was an essential first step for him, the franchise and the previously deflated fan base.
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