Maybe people are looking at Gilbert Arenas’ fake injury all wrong?
I think there is a lot more going on here than meets the eye. Imagine that you were suspended from your job for over half of the previous year and spent time in a halfway house for doing something that was clearly wrong. Now imagine that your being suspended from work was a major media story that continues to be focused on to this day. Then think about all the anguish and regret you have been feeling since it happened for letting so many people down, remembering that you are still just 28-years old. Do you think you would be nervous about getting up and being introduced in front of over 9,000 people, most of whom you do not know and have no idea how they will react to you?
Regardless of the amount of money he makes or the fame he has attained, Gilbert Arenas is still a 28-year old human being. He would not be human if he felt no anxiety before his first appearance in front of the home crowd since he returned from suspension under these circumstances. I think this incident shows he really does feel remorseful for letting everyone down and he feared that he would be booed and was not ready to face that yet.
Was it wrong for him to lie to his coach and teammates about being injured and not up to playing? Of course it was. Trust is the most important thing in any relationship and breaking it makes it difficult to earn back. But I suspect Gilbert lied out of desperation; the anxiety he was feeling clouded his judgment and he saw no other alternative to lying that would get him out of the feared event. Not unlike when a child lies to a parent for fear of disappointing them.
Why do you think he came clean about lying after the fact? He obviously felt remorseful about it after the feared event was over and his judgment was no longer clouded. He easily could have continued down the road living that lie and I think the fact that he didn’t shows positive growth in him. Even the other lie about doing it so Nick Young could start shows me that Gilbert wants to be viewed as a good guy and that’s positive as well.
Long before Gilbert ever got into this trouble, Gilbert had publicly expressed his desire to be remembered not for his career or any rings, but rather what he did to make a difference. He along with the Pollin family (which owns the Washington Wizards) have donated a lot of time and money to the public schools in the area and other causes and I suspect once he gets back on solid ground he will delve further into ventures like these again.
I was especially encouraged to see the following quote from his coach Flip Saunders, ”I said to him that I’m most disappointed personally. Because I believe in him. There’s been a trust factor. I told him, ‘You’re going to have to be honest with me.’ It’s just like dealing with your kids. Your kids make mistakes and you deal with them. It doesn’t mean you love them any less.”
I’ve worked with people like this and I think coach Saunders gets it and appears to be taking the right approach with Gilbert. If you come down too hard on Gilbert now you could lose him forever. What Gilbert needs right now is support and understanding so he can become a valuable member of his community again.
I believe in you Gilbert and I hope you still do too!