Arenas: The Unlikeliest of Mentors

Arenas: The Unlikeliest of Mentors

Will they forgive me?

This was the question Gilbert Arenas couldn't stop asking himself. It was the morning of Oct. 12, the day of the Wizards' preseason home opener against Atlanta. Arenas hadn't played before a home crowd in nine months, since just before he was exiled from the NBA for the final 50 games of last season for bringing four guns into the locker room and then mocking the severity of the incident. He picked up the newspaper and was unsettled by statements from Wizards owner Ted Leonsis and coach Flip Saunders about the city's willingness to welcome him back. Would Washington really absolve him for detonating the Wizards' 2009--10 season?

Arenas didn't want to find out.

Last Thursday, after practice in Washington, Arenas told SPORTS ILLUSTRATED that the real reason he sat out wasn't, as he originally told reporters, to rest his thrice-surgically-repaired knee, nor was it the excuse he gave the next day, that he wanted to give backup point guard Nick Young the chance to play. "I was really scared of getting booed," says Arenas. "It's a little crazy because I was here with Kwame Brown when Kwame was scared to go out there. I used to be like, Man, it's just boos. Now here I was six years later, and I was him. I was scared to go out there."

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