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Just Another Chip on the Shoulder

Five years ago Gilbert Arenas was the King of DC. His buzzer beating “dagger” helped propel the Wizards to their best playoff showing in 23 years. His mix tapes were everywhere, his swag was phenomenal and he even elevated his status high enough to have documentaries done about him along with an Impossible is Nothing commercial by Adidas.

Fast forward five years and that same person who was King of DC is now according to Forbes Magazine, the 10th most disliked person in sports joining the likes of Mike Vick, Terrell Owens, Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGuire, Tiger Woods, Ben Roethlisberger, Al Davis, Jerry Jones, and Allen Iverson.

Excuse me while I compare the similarities to a few of the people he has been associated with above.

Gilbert did not kill animals, nor did he finance a dog fighting enterprise. Gilbert did not alienate his teammates by being a selfish, egotistical fool, nor did he sit outside and do sit-ups in front of TV cameras making a complete ass of himself. Arenas never took steroids and lied about it nor was he ever accused of sexually assaulting a female.

What Gilbert did was foolish, stupid, immature and more importantly it was criminal. He also paid the price for his crime both financially and physcially spending 30 days in a halfway house.

Whether or not you believe that to be a fair sentence frankly isn’t for you or I to decide. That decision belonged to District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin. Morin who said of Arenas, “You are genuinely remorseful, and you get it”.

What everybody seems to have forgotten or better stated has chosen to omit from their recollections of Gilbert is the amount of time and money that he has given back to the community over the years. Allow me to highlight a few examples.

Gilbert Arenas Warms Up D.C.’s Homeless

March 2nd, 2010
Three-time NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas is proof that one man can double-team fur industry cruelty. First, he bared it all in his “Ink, Not Mink” ad, and he hosted PETA’s fur-coat giveaway in Washington, D.C., where donated coats were handed out to the homeless.
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Gilbert Arenas to host private meet-and-greet through the Make-A-Wish Foundation

December 3rd, 2009
Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards will continue Washington’s annual ‘Wizards Care’ 12 Days of Holiday Cheer tomorrow night prior to the Wizards vs. Toronto Raptors game at Verizon Center at 7:00 pm.
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Gilbert Arenas Donates $25,000 to Wizards Care

July 15th, 2009
The Washington Wizards announced that Gilbert Arenas has donated $25,000 to Wizards Care, the charitable arm of the Washington Wizards, in exchange for a truly one-of-a-kind item that was to be put up for auction.
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Arenas Scores for Schools for Third Straight Season

October 16th, 2008
Washington Wizards All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas has pledged to once again “score dollars” for Washington, DC metropolitan area public schools during the 2008-09 season through his ‘Scores for Schools’ program…
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More Scores for Schools

October 23rd, 2007
Washington Wizards All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas has pledged to once again “score” dollars for Washington, D.C. metropolitan area public schools during the 2007-08 season. Arenas will conduct a live drawing on the main court at Verizon Center on Monday, October 29th at 1:00 p.m. to choose the winning schools from…
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Survivor Foundation Food Drive w/ Beyonce

August 8th, 2007
Three Time NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas announced today that he is supporting Beyoncé’s pre-concert food donation drive in Washington, DC as part of her Beyoncé Experience Tour. The first 1,000 fans to drop off non-perishable food items will receive an autographed photo of Beyoncé. The fan that brings the most food will receive a special prize…
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Scores for Schools

October 6th, 2006
Washington Wizards All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas has pledged to “score” dollars for Washington, D.C. metropolitan area public schools during the 2006-07 season. Arenas will select one school for every one of the 41 Wizards home games this season and donate $100 for every point he scores…
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3rd Annual Christmas Dream for Kids

December 21st, 2005
As part of the third annual Gilbert’s Christmas Dream for Kids, Gilbert Arenas will welcome 80 children and teens from Good Shepherd Ministries, Friendship Edison, TuTTie’s Place, Webber Home for Girls, Child & Family Services, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington…
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Arenas’ visits DC Armory

September 6th, 2005
On why he was compelled to help: “This storm took down a city. A lot of people lost their lives. People lost everything, and it could’ve happened to anybody. It could have happened to me. I keep thinking ‘if it was me out there, what would I want from people.’ That’s why…

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In addition, according to Gilbert’s website, the Zero Two Hero Foundation to date has….

  • Hosted Gilbert’s Annual Christmas Dream for Kids. Currently entering its seventh year.
    One year Gilbert’s Annual Christmas Dream treated 300 kids to a holiday event, dinner, a Wizards game, and holiday presents.
  • Donated goods totaling $ 18,000 for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
  • Raised over $ 215,000 for public schools in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area with its inaugural “Gilbert Scores for School”.
    Gilbert donated $ 100 per point to the designated school during every Wizards home game.
  • Summer 2007; partnered with Beyonce’s the Survivor Foundation to do a pre-concert canned food drive to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank.
  • Gilsarena.com hosted an online auction raising over $ 75,000 for the Zero Two Hero Foundation.
  • Donated to the Arial Home Initiative.
  • Hosted Gilbert’s Annual Christmas Dream for Kids. Currently entering its seventh year.
    One year Gilbert’s Annual Christmas Dream treated 300 kids to a holiday event, dinner, a Wizards game, and holiday presents.
  • Donated goods totaling $ 18,000 for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
  • Raised over $ 215,000 for public schools in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area with its inaugural “Gilbert Scores for School”.
    Gilbert donated $ 100 per point to the designated school during every Wizards home game.
  • Summer 2007; partnered with Beyonce’s the Survivor Foundation to do a pre-concert canned food drive to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank.
  • Gilsarena.com hosted an online auction raising over $ 75,000 for the Zero Two Hero Foundation.
  • Donated to the Arial Home Initiative.

So by showing all those different acts of charity am I saying that Gilbert deserves a free ride and should be forgiven immediately for what he did?

No, absolutely not, but let’s separate the two issues at hand.

The first again is the fact that he did the crime, and he then did the time. Now we should allow him the opportunity to show remorse and apologize to the fan base as new owner Ted Leonsis has told us he would.

Once that final piece is put into play, as fans we owe it to the young man who took us where we had not been in decades to give him a second chance to win us over again. You obviously don’t have to, but have you really never done anything in your life that you regretted?

In the event that you do have a squeaky clean record, do you not believe that everybody deserves a second chance, especially when that person is not a devious or malicious human being?

It’s one thing to commit a heinous crime that intentionally hurts people, it’s another to commit a completely idiotic and childish prank that backfires and ends up costing you millions of dollars.

As I said before, Gilbert has paid his debt to society and he deserves the chance to come back, prove himself to a community that once adored him and then worry about proving himself from a basketball standpoint.

For those who wish to discuss whether or not Gilbert Arenas the player can make a successful comeback after nearly 2 years away from the game, that can be debated from now until November. That subject we will discuss in much more detail deeper into the summer as well.

My thinking right now though is that Gilbert will take this challenge much like he has every other challenge that he has ever faced in his life.

He now seems to have the full backing of Ted Leonsis as well as that of his coach Flip Saunders and the GM, Ernie Grunfeld, despite what some media outlets have written in the past 6 months such as:

Report: Wizards Ready To Dump Arenas, Will Consider Buyout

Arenas to Knicks? Walsh says wait and see

Wizards explored Arenas trade before incident

With the support of the fan base, the addition of John Wall and some other young pieces from this draft, and the continued maturation of some of the Wizards role players from last year, hopefully this time next year instead of talking about Gilbert the outcast, we can talk about the latest challenge that the man once known as Agent Zero was able to overcome.

My money is on Arenas using this latest set of detratcors, haters if you would, to come back a smarter and more hungry basketball player than he was before. If he can divert the focus from the off the court issues to his dynamic ability on the courts then I fully believe we are about to see yet again why you can never count Gilbert Arenas out.

The only thing we’ve done is provided him with yet another chip on the shoulder and just another reason for him to prove the world wrong, again.

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