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The Wizards having the first pick in the NBA draft means that Gilbert Arenas reign in Washington could be over

05/31/2010

Gilbert Arenas — for all intent purposes — saved basketball in D.C. With the help of others, he made it fun and enjoyable to cheer for my hometown team.I know this is late but it is something that I want to talk about.

To put this in prospective, I am a native of Washington D.C. area .

Two things were always going to be common among the thinking of residents in the DC/MD/VA area when I lived there. Len Bias was the greatest basketball player that the beltway area ever produced and the Washington Bullets — later the Wizards — were always going to be mediocre.

The only time the Wizards drew an above average crowd then was when the names on the back off visiting teams jerseys read Johnson, Bird, Abdul-Jabbar, Jordan, Wilkens, Barkley and Robinson.

After they went to the Finals and lost to the Seattle Supersonics in 1979, they didn’t make the playoffs again until the mid to late 80s. They had solid but not exciting players. Mose Malone, Tom Gugliotta, Bernard King, Darrell Walker, Juwan Howard and Chris Webber to name a few.

The closest I came to following the team was when they landed Rod Strickland, the New York bred point guard who was vastly underrated during his playing days.

Strickland’s style of play made me of fan if his as a rookie in New York . When he signed with the Wizards, I knew I would go to games regularly. Simply put, he had no jump shot. His opponents knew he was driving to the basket yet couldn’t stop him. As a result, he would average 20 points and 10 assist for his time in Washington. His only downfall, the team only made the playoffs once, in 97 when they were swept by the Chicago Bulls.

All those thing’s changed in 2003 when Arenas signed with the Wizards as a free agent. By his second season with the team, he led the team in scoring and assist, made his first all-star team and the Wizards won 45 games, their most in over 20 years. They made playoffs and advanced to the second round of the playoffs that year.

“Agent Zero” plays with a mix of consistency and flair, making him an instant hit with the fans. Off the court, he is very involved with the city and mentors. That clashes with what took place with the handgun incident from this season. This earned him a year- long suspension by the league.

On top of all of this, longtime Wizards majority owner Abe Polin died.

The family said they will keep Arenas and not void his contract, meaning that he would be a free agent once again. The twist is that the minority owner Ted Leonsis has bought the majority stake the Polins have and the Wizards have the number one pick in the draft, which they will most certainly use on Kentucky freshman sensation John Wall.

Arenas has not ties to Leonsis the way he did with the late Polin and his family. If the new owner wants to start fresh he could start by making Wall the focal point of the team.  He needs the primary ball handler to be effective, as does Arenas. Wall seems to have a good head on his shoulders and the new management seem willing to give their team to the rookie instead of the established veteran.

With Arenas hefty contract, he doesn’t seem to have many suitors for his services outside of Washington. Free agency starts July 1. The New York Knicks may be in the hunt for him if they do not land LeBron James. The New Jersey Nets could be in the same boat as well.

His contract is the only thing keeping him around and the team does not want him in contact with Wall. If that is not a sign then I don’t know what is.

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