- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This was the reflective Gilbert Arenas on Monday, presumably after meditating on the mountaintop, asking the deep basketball questions of his time.

“What is a true point guard?” he said, at least one not named Jason Kidd, the favorite of Eddie Jordan.

The latter is not the best name to drop in the presence of Arenas, who once lobbied to have Jordan’s contract extended before their relationship went down in a crumpled heap in Charlotte, N.C.

That was nearly 30 months ago, the last time Arenas was healthy.

“What is a leader?” Arenas said, seemingly ready to assume the responsibility.

The hibachi has been placed in storage. Agent Zero, the alter ego of Arenas, has been retired. The entertainer who was Arenas is no more. And no more blogging, either.

Or so Arenas said.

He also said he is done with being interviewed the rest of the season.

He may even keep to that vow through training camp in Richmond.

You just never know with Arenas, powered by a disarming openness and a 100-watt smile.

The 27-year-old Arenas undoubtedly has been impacted by all his time on the shelf. He would not be human if he did not have doubts and frustrations from the ordeal. And he won’t know where he truly is until he is on the floor in the regular season.

Asked if he were satisfied with his recovery, Arenas said, “The season hasn’t started yet.”

If he has a goal, it is to play in all 82 games, a condition he has been able to meet only once in his career.

Antawn Jamison pronounced Arenas physically fit after playing with him in the pick-up environment the last month.

“He’s definitely healthy,” Jamison said. “He has that swagger about him.”

Jamison is reluctant to the notion of Arenas becoming sober-minded, knowing that people cannot change the core of who they are, and Arenas is the eternal class clown.

“He says he’s serious,” Jamison said. “We’ll see. Off the court, he seems like he’s maturing a bit. As long as he is out there on the court, that’s all I’m concerned about.”

As is their conditioned habit before going to the campus of Virginia Commonwealth each fall, the Wizards discussed the importance of being committed to defense.

The old talking point must be contagious.

Even newcomer Randy Foye embraced the tenet.

“To be a championship team, you have to play defense,” he said.

If this is to be a transformed team, with a cold heart and assassin’s eyes, it might want to speak with Fabricio Oberto about the new spirit.

The Argentine kept himself amused and those around him by performing soccer tricks with a basketball.

Andray Blatche, coming off yet another Best Player in the Summer Award from the team brass, appeared at the function sporting the new jersey number of 7 and an unsettling lack of guarantees from the coaching staff.

“I have no idea,” he said of his role. “That’s why I’m going into training camp with a chip on my shoulder.”

Both Ernie Grunfeld and Flip Saunders have not shied from increasing the expectations on the Wizards.

Fifty wins? A deep run in the playoffs?

“We just don’t know,” Arenas said, expressing the most candid sentiment regarding the prospects of the Wizards.

What he knows is this: “I don’t want to entertain anymore,” he said.

That is everyone’s loss, if Arenas sticks to it.

Members of the media forever like entertainers instead of the one-game-at-a-time bland sorts.

But there comes a time in an entertainer’s career that the act is judged to be contrived, if not distracting to the larger cause, and therefore open to the criticisms of the media.

That is the paradox of the hibachi-loving media.

Otherwise, the Wizards have eight preseason games and four weeks worth of practices before their opener in Dallas.

Their tiny goal until Oct. 27 is to stay healthy.

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