- The Washington Times - Friday, September 18, 2009

Judging from his selective trip down memory lane with Mike Jones of The Washington Times, Gilbert Arenas has returned to his old, mercurial, otherworldly self.

As it turns out, he holds the organization accountable for his protracted stay on the shelf.

He says he needed to be protected from himself, if not bound in the parachute he was training with two summers ago, and ordered to stop overdoing it.

But he says no one in the organization had the inclination to do so, perhaps because of a need to sell tickets, and so he became a victim.

That could be one version of the truth. It could be equally true that Arenas was going into the opt-out year of his contract and the organization was looking to keep him happy.

If the intent of the organization was to rush Arenas back and sell tickets, it has not worked out well.

Arenas has undergone three operations on his left knee in the last two-plus years, and the team has been stuck in purgatory.

Arenas has the benefit of hindsight now. But to be fair to the principals, Arenas always has been allowed to go his own way. That is the prerogative of being the franchise player, and Arenas exercises that prerogative whenever it suits him.

It certainly suited him on that September day two years ago, when he held a news conference at the same time Eddie Jordan was meeting with the local press. And it suited him to call his own rehabilitation shots that summer, when he and Jordan were not on the best terms.

Arenas was still dealing with the disciplinary benching from Jordan that preceded the freak injury in early April. A part of Arenas believed the injury never would have happened if Jordan had not imposed his authority on him and had him coming off the bench that night, which he was not accustomed to doing.

As Arenas saw it, the unfamiliar role increased his vulnerability.

That is a highly debatable contention and one not worth rehashing now.

What is instructive is how Arenas responded to a coach exercising his authority. It resulted in a frosty period between the two in the summer of 2007. And Jordan, understandably, was not looking to exacerbate the situation with concerns about the rehabilitation regime of Arenas.

And Jordan did have concerns in private. He knew Arenas was a dedicated gym rat who did not merely want to reprise his pre-injury self. He wanted to be better.

So it is convenient of Arenas to say now that someone in the organization should have pulled the hook on him two summers ago. If someone had tried to do that, he would have balked and added it to his list of grievances.

Aside from the organization deploying a 24-hour guard on Arenas, there was no measure that would have curtailed him. In the end, Arenas was motivated to do what he wanted to do.

His stubbornness is well-documented. It is one of his greatest attributes. Tell him he cannot achieve something and he will show you. But in this instance, with a compromised left knee, it was his stubbornness that undermined his recovery.

All the talk of liability may be so much idle chatter on the part of Arenas. Part of his appeal is his proclivity to say anything on a variety of topics, much of it for amusement purposes.

If Arenas is truly recovered - and we have the word of trainer Tim Grover on it - this momentary exercise in revisionist history will be forgotten, overtaken by a potentially uplifting season.

Arenas has vowed not to come back as a pass-first point guard, which should please most of the team’s supporters.

Arenas did not receive a $111 million contract last summer because of his ball-distributing abilities. He received that bundle because of his capacity to create shots in the closing minutes of a tight game and score in bunches, if necessary.

That is his mindset, and it should not be exorcised out of him, only tweaked for the betterment of the team.

As it is, it is encouraging to hear the uncensored one opining anew, this time as the accidental history buff.

It seems like old times.

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