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Leonsis not ready to give up on Gilbert Arenas

Apr 30, 2010, 11:47 AM EDT

Ted Leonsis will be the next owner of the Washington Wizards, which puts him in a unique position to dictate the course of Gilbert Arenas’ career. If Leonsis wanted, he could banish Arenas a la Stephon Marbury. He could try his damnedest to keep Gil away from his team until Ernie Grunfeld could find a way to move him. Leonsis could stick Arenas in the closet and try to move on by putting the face of the turmoil out of sight and hopefully, out of mind.

But those options seem a bit ridiculous with Gil. The tales of real guns and finger guns and “Pick one,” and cover-ups are too complicated for their own good, but even though Arenas has made some really horrible decisions over the last few months, nothing he did deserves banishment. Especially not when the Wizards are going to be stuck with his contract one way or another, as few owners would willingly take on Gil’s deal with a new CBA right around the corner.

Leonsis gets that, or at the very least gets that Arenas’ transgressions aren’t worthy of vilification, and that his banishment would accomplish little aside from its symbolism. Maybe what everyone needs in this case — especially Gil — is a hug. From Dan Steinberg of the Washington Posts’ DC Sports Bog:

And so Leonsis chatted with Comcast SportsNet’s Russ Thaler on
Thursday, and offered I believe his first specific comments about
Gilbert Arenas’s future.

“I know Gilbert a little bit from seeing him in the hallways and
talking to him,” Leonsis said, when asked what he would say to Arenas.
“He’s always been a very, very sweet kid. I like him. And I believe in
the best in people. And so I don’t think I’ll say much. I want to get
to know him, but you need to do it in a way that’s respectful of the

…”And I do want to look Gilbert in the eye and see what makes him
tick and understand what he’s thinking. I’ll probably give him a hug,
and we’ll kill a couple of aliens with some video games and get to know
each other. You have to empathize with people and understand them and
what makes them tick, but his boss is Flip and Flip decides what system
and how he plays. And I’ll never get in the way of that relationship.”

I suppose nothing is certain as of yet, but it appears as though Leonsis may give Arenas an open door. It’s his call as the man paying the bills, and while it’s not exactly optimal for Washington to start next season with Gilbert’s baggage, the Wizards reboot will likely include Arenas.


  1. J.Sturman - Apr 30, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    I remember when Gilbert Arenas was the top dog at Grant High School in Van Nuys, Calif. where my daughter also attended. I was a guest lecturer for a career education and drivers ed. program (97/98) and remember having Gilbert in the class. I brought to his attention back then about the word “team” not having an “I” in it and he giggled about it back then, and seemed to blow it off. Seems he still has his own agenda and inside giggling to the fact that he could care less about others i.e. Teammates, the franchise, ownership, the fans/public, and why not? He’s a multi-millionaire who wins either way; trade or cut but still has guarantees on his contract. His thinking should have been obvious when he thought so much of himself that he went pro after just his freshman year at the U. of Arizona and struggled at Golden State. Best of luck to those around him and one can only hope he has some sort of epiphany and realizes how privileged he is to play in the NBA. I would take a fraction of what he makes (1%) or even play for free for the opportunity to play even one game in NBA, and I’m 52 years old and would be an exemplary individual both on and off the court without anyone having to worry about my character and would represent the franchise in a positive light especially to kids. Gilbert: It’s called “LEADERSHIP, set by example”. Get with it or give it up, it’s that simple.

  2. C. Edmund - Apr 30, 2010 at 2:03 PM

    Mr. Sturman:
    Your point is well taken. Let us take a couple of things into consideration in regards to how “you” would carry yourself if you were in Gilbert Arenas’s shoes. You and I both do not know the pressures an NBA professional is under. Yes it is nice to obtain a big contract but you can not fault him for what the organization gave him.
    By no means am I saying the antics that Gilbert brought to the game is justifiable but let us get one thing straight. Gilbert is an exceptional basketball player. A few years back when he was hitting game winners after game winners and was mentioned as one of he league’s MVPs, everyone was praising him. This year was his come back year to test and see how well he recovered. Despite learning a new system and adjusting to the NBA game again, he lead his team in points and assist before he was suspended.
    I am said to see the group of guys that were brought together get broken up. I know this whole experience has humbled him and he will come back with even more determination. I believe he has learned his lesson and will do what it takes to be the ultimate role model. Don’t write Gilber Arenas off. He will prove himself for sure.

  3. Randall - Apr 30, 2010 at 4:07 PM

    It’s not like the Wiz have many viable options. They can’t void the contract (which is ludicrous IMHO), they pay him if he sits/stays home, and if they’re lucky they’d get back some ratty Chuck Taylors via trade. Might as well see if it can work in DC until his trade value rises.

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