In the mid 2000s, the NBA was filled with a plethora of talented point guards. You had the playmakers, such as Steve Nash and Jason Kidd. There were the scorers, such as Baron Davis and Allen Iverson.
You can’t forget about the young duo of Chris Paul and Deron Williams being selected in the same draft. However, there is one name that we tend to forget about due to his own doing.
That man is Gilbert Arenas. From a second-round pick, to being one of the best guards in the league, Arenas had a peak that was up there with the big dogs of the NBA.
However, his peak came and went with some truly forgetting about his greatness. Washington Wizards fans have not witnessed a lot of great players within the last 25 years. Arenas’ peak might be the best we’ve seen in recent Wizards history.
Unfortunately, Arenas has helped diminished his legacy in a multitude of ways, but maybe he is somewhat misunderstood. Maybe we should separate the flaws and simply focus on the positive. Maybe it is good to remember one of the joyous stretches in Wizards fandom.
Three Years of Fun
Coming out of Arizona, Arenas had the talent, but was lacking in the maturity department. This led to him slipping to the second round of the 2001 NBA draft.
When the Wizards signed Arenas back in 2003, it was looked at to be a great addition. He was coming off a two good years with the Golden State Warriors, while winning the Most improved Player Award in his second year.
The first year in Washington saw him put up 19.6 points per game, but the record was still awful. It was fun watching one of our guys put up good stats, but we didn’t expect it to mean anything. That all changed the following season.
Arenas improved yet again in 2005, but it was backed up with winning as well. He increased his scoring average per game by six points and made his first All-Star game. The future looked promising and Arenas was the one to lead us into it.
He led them to the playoffs, where the Wizards even advanced to the second-round. The next two years were followed up by even better numbers; culminating in 2007 with his third straight All-Star appearance and a Second Team All-NBA nod. (he was Third Team the previous two seasons)
The 2007 NBA season was a showcase for some of his best and most memorable performances. There was a 54 point outburst against the reigning back-to-back MVP, Steve Nash, and his Phoenix Suns. A few days prior to that phenomenal performance, Arenas outdueled Kobe Bryant.
He dropped 60 points in Los Angeles to take down the Lakers. He was on top of the world. After two straight playoff appearances, the Wizards were ready to head back for a third time with Arenas at his peak. Unfortunately, things began to come crashing down infinitely.
The End of a Short Era
At the end of the season, Arenas had his knee fallen into, which led to a torn MCL. This put him out for the rest of the year, including the postseason.
The next year was in jeopardy as well, but he ultimately came back towards the end of the 2008 season. However, he was never the same Arenas we saw years prior.
That summer was the turning point for Arenas with the Washington Wizards. Coming off a serious knee injury, and a sample size that was not too pleasant, the Wizards gave Arenas a huge contract extension. That contract was worth 6 years for $111 million.
The hope was that the knee issue would be a thing of the past and he will be the All-Star he was two years ago. That hope dissipated fast.
Due to those lingering knee issues, Arenas did not make his season debut until March. He ultimately played two games during the 2009 season. That made it 15 games he played in two full seasons on a brand new contract.
The Wizards became one of the worst teams in the league during this stretch, which made the fans turn on him slightly. Hopefully 2009-10 would be different.
The team was not very good, but Arenas was able to showcase his scoring prowess once again. However, it wasn’t as consistent as it once was. Then things went from bad to worse.
The infamous gun incident happened. This led to an indefinite suspension of Arenas for the rest of the season. Prior to the suspension, Arenas appeared in a team huddle mocking the incident.
This left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. He returned for the next season, but was dealt after 21 games. The end of the Arenas chapter in Wizards history had officially closed.
Time has past and we have somewhat forgotten this era of the Wizards. John Wall came and now we have Bradley Beal, but this era might have been the most enjoyable. However, the way it ended makes us think of it differently.
Arenas and His Legacy
The legacy game is something that we as consumers of the NBA play everyday when we talk about our favorite players. We bring up the best, while someone might bring up the bad to debate with you. Arenas is one of the few where we tend to always bring up his lack of maturity and that gun incident.
That shouldn’t be the discussion. His peak in the mid 2000s was one of the best in the league. He went toe-to-toe with some of the best guards of that generation.
Granted, he didn’t accomplish a lot in the team aspect, but the Wizards fans appreciate that era for what it was. Arenas brought the Wizards back to the playoffs after years of floundering.
He chose to come to Washington and tried his very best to help this franchise win. Some franchises would look at this as a small blip, but to the Wizards fans, we saw this as a great time to be a fan.