Arenas’ Flair For Dramatic Continues in Home Opener
For their first home game of the 2009-10 season, the Washington Wizards had a brand new player intro that was filled with explosions and a giant Wizards logo that had fire flying out of it. Somebody must have forgotten to tell Gilbert Arenas that the pyrotechnics were supposed to stop with the introductions.
With the Wizards leading by one and just 2.9 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Arenas took an in-bounds pass, dribbled up the court then leaped between two defenders and heaved up a shot from halfcourt that hit nothing but nylon.
"I see it everyday," said DeShawn Stevenson. "When Gilbert has the ball in his hands in the last second you already know it is going in. I've seen him do it for game winners and there's never any rim on the shot either, it is always all net."
While the three-pointer excited the crowd as well as his teammates, it was business as usual for Arenas following the make as he calmly headed over to the sideline. It is part of the new approach that Arenas is taking this season, whether he is on or off the court it is all business. He will let his play on the court do the talking.
The shot also showed that while his flair off the court may be gone (he has stopped writing his blog and he is much more serious when speaking to the media), his flair for the spectacular on the court is here to stay. One of the deadliest shooters in the league and a player whose game rises as the pressure and intensity of the game increases, Arenas is ever the game changer that the fans in D.C. and opponents around the league remember. However, there might be one small difference; he might be even better than before.
"From what I've heard from people around the league he is better now than he was before the injury," said Chris Douglas-Roberts who in his second NBA season played against Arenas for the first time on Saturday. "He creates so many problems. When he comes down and the ball is in his hands you don't even know what set you need to be in because you don't know what he'll do. You don't know if he is going to take you off the dribble, pass the ball or go to the basket. He is a nightmare to defend."
Arenas was every bit that nightmare in his return to Verizon Center and maybe the 10,000 Gilbert Arenas masks that were given away at the home opener made the Nets feel like he was everywhere in the arena.
Playing in just 29 minutes (Arenas sat out the fourth quarter because the game was well in hand), Arenas scored 32 points on just 13 shots from the field and dished out seven assists.
"Gil's very committed," Saunders said. "He's very serious right now, doing what he needs to do to keep his body at the level he needs to play at. When I saw him in the summertime I thought he was back then, and he continues to get better and better and better. I don't think he's shown any effects quickness-wise or (in) anything he's been able to do."
With Arenas back to old form on the court, there should be plenty more fireworks to come at Verizon Center this season.