Let His End Not Be in Vain

It's been a very complicated year for me and Gilbert Arenas. I've seen my favorite player turn into a household name, stand tall as a gargoyle of the media, and foster his self-championing along into outright megalomania. I'd be lying if I didn't say, in typical snobbish fashion, that things were easier before all of this. Fame may not have spoiled Arenas—after all, any franchise NBA player is already pretty fucking famous—but notoriety and some version of affirmation have, somehow, made him seem less blither, maybe more bitter, than before. Arenas was once a dreamer who played weird, talked weird, and boasted the way kids plan to have children. With some power under his belt, suddenly all of that has heft to it, and throwing it around no longer comes off (or likely is) as innocent as it was before. Suggesting that Gil just isn't like that is an insult to him as a ruthless competitor and as a starkly self-determined individual.

But that doesn't mean I wasn't speechless when I found out he was gone forever, or at least until next opening day. That he got taken out by #2 on my personal power rankings makes me wonder if God is speaking to me through basketball. Or it just forces me to admit, once and for all, that those football pads are bullshit. Wallace is a force of nature whose productivity depends on how out of control he can get. And he's a former football enthusiast who still looks like one. Regardless, if both had suffered career-ending injuries on that play, I don't think there would be any question that I, Bethlehem Shoals, am least as important to the cosmic order of the NBA as Billy Donavon.

The most searing consequence of all, though, has nothing to do with this site's implacable role in stacking up the universe. Instead, it's about plain and tawdry pragmatics: in the playoffs, I need to root for someone. That or when basketball really matters, I break down, turn into a far more normal fan, and clutch all sorts of things in search of Wizards victory. Admittedly, I only care about Washington, D.C. because of Arenas, and my secondary allegiance to Phoenix hinges pretty much exclusively on Stoudemire and Barbosa's prevalence. Still, being able to watch Wizards/Cavs with investment in both LeBron's abstract luminesence and the more subjective enthusiasm I have for Arenas and his Wiz was, to say the least, two very different realms brought together in a manner that allowed both to adequately represent their respective strengths and weaknesses. I will never shit on LeBron because that's just inane, but it's a waste if you don't find some degree of partiality in a playoff series. That's like starting a fire for warmth and not making s'mores!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thusly, this year's playoffs just got a heck of a lot dimmer for me. I was already intensely worried about the Wizards' prospects sans Caron, since he's that assertive middle ground between Arenas's whimsy and Jamison's supplementary steady. Take Arenas out of the equation, though, and nothing pretty will happen. One, the Wizards will be unrecognizable to me as a team I support. And secondly, they will be drawn, quartered, and slaughtered by just about anyone they encounter in the first round. Actually, scratch that—they will be lucky to steal two games in the first round.

Therefore, I want to suggest something, for the good of the Washington Wizards and the NBA as whole. Let them trade away their playoff spot. Granted, we've seen injury-ravaged teams amaze us all, but so what if the Wizards somehow make it out of the first round? They're as good as dead, even more so than the Nets or Knicks still striving to lock up a postseason invite. This year, it would be lunacy for anyone to trade away a lottery pick. But what about some sort of elaborate orchestration in which they got a non-lottery first-rounder? Teams can sell picks, so why shouldn't they be able to give up a similar privilege for which they have no use? For teams struggling to define themselves, a playoff spot could be a milestone, and any of the lower-seeded East teams are arguably more deserving now than the Wizards.

I know that there are holes in this plan, and that it stinks heavily of bitterness and despair. Surely, respect for the law of the league and the sanctity of seasonal outcome must take precedence over breaking circumstances. But in effect, the Wizards are no longer the team that earned this distinction. To let them carry on as such would be mildly irrational; to force them to march on when others would rather take a go is, to me, the utmost in totalitarian folly.


At 4/05/2007 2:12 PM, Anonymous Joel said...


At 4/05/2007 2:21 PM, Anonymous lightninghank said...

To all freedarkofans looking for a team to root for: let me be the first to welcome you all onto the Raptors bandwagon. (If, as seems most likely, the Raps find themselves pitted against the totalitarian Skiles regime, we'll need all the support we can get.)

At this very moment I have stashed in my desk drawer tickets that say "Toronto Raptors Round 1 Home Game 1". Never has the mere proximity of a few small pieces of paper made me happier.

At 4/05/2007 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Darkofan: Easy for a blogger to way, but the injury could have been worse; they'll clean out his knee and he will be back, maybe with distaff incites about surgery and rehabilitative medicine. The way it happened was so mundane, it was frustrating to see on replays. Consider NJ, as a substitute, striving against the distractions , to several players apparently , of monumental domestic conflicts.

At 4/05/2007 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Root for the Bulls, if only to see Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas tear it up.

At 4/05/2007 3:11 PM, Blogger Joey said...

When I first read this news, I was sad. And then I thought that this site should now solicit entries from its readership for an omnibus post of mourning poems.

At 4/05/2007 3:16 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

Not that this is a serious post, but: I say the 76ers should offer one of their three draft picks (the highest, a.k.a. furthest from #1, pick they get) for the Wizards' spot. They could make a little bit of noise against the Raptors, and it'll be good to get AI2 into the playoffs.

Beyond that, maybe a West Coast team (Golden State can offer Jason Richardson, who can then take Jamison' place if he opts out)?

This is as much as I can contribute to this nonsensical idea.

At 4/05/2007 3:17 PM, Blogger terriblist said...

how bout this, joey?

they tried to co-opt your narrative,
and look what happened
maybe this will teach them
that nutsacks were not made for swinging

At 4/05/2007 3:19 PM, Blogger stopmikelupica said...

I lied. Maybe a Western team should offer to swap spots with the Wizards; like I could see the Nuggets or Lakers jumping into the Eastern Conference playoffs and taking the East. And the Wizards just get slaughtered in the West, instead. For agreeing to that the Lakers can offer the Wizards their revenue generated from the second and third round of the playoffs.

I bet in soccer this would be legal.

At 4/05/2007 3:56 PM, Blogger Joey said...

Terriblist is onto something. FD needs to flush this out.

At 4/05/2007 4:38 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

if/when wade realizes he's too hurt and shaq gets hurt, can this apply to the heat?

At 4/05/2007 5:39 PM, Anonymous Amphibian said...

For some reason, I am reminded of this Klosterman passage:
"Okay - now, don't take this the wrong way, because I'm probably just nuts, and I'm probably just too fucked up to know what's going on, and I'm probably overreacting for no valid reason, and I hate to sound unreasonable or immature, and I don't want to sound pretentious, but elks are prevalent. And perhaps this is out of line and I'm certainly open to debate on this issue, but I need to go on record and say that I am not 100 percent comfortable with the situation regarding this truck at the moment, because I have a feeling that we are all going to die."


At 4/05/2007 8:09 PM, Anonymous Free Bonzi said...

I remember the days, circa 2002-2003, before he was exiled to the care of Emperor Hubie Brown, when rooting for anyone other than Bonzi was sacrilige. Okay, so he doesn't play, but don't you think Van Gundy is going to look at some tape from last year, realize that Bonzi can rebound like no other 6'6" guy on the planet, and then say, "Hey Bonzi, how does your groin feel because if it geels okay we'd like you to go for about twenty minutos, that's spanish for minutes, and this is the critical thing Bonzi, you have to play in Spanish minutes, we're not paying you for regular ones, regular minutes will not do, though if you want, you can substitute Spanish bombs or Spanish flys for Spanish minutes. As a matter of fact, you can substitute pretty much anything so long as its Spanish and there's 20 of them." "So what's mean coach?" "Rebound." And that's how it will happen, Bonzi will return and then subsequently rip AK-47 a new one. So basically, what I'm saying is, root for Houston. They've got a 7 foot Yao as well, it's not quite a 7 foot Wang, but he married the world's tallest woman last year and is currently incapacitated.

At 4/05/2007 8:48 PM, Blogger Christopher Ervin said...

I've just finished writing a Fall song about all this; it should be done and posted in full .mp3 glory before the night is though.

My only talent is that I can sing exactly like Mark E. Smith, and that isn't much of a talent, is it?

At 4/06/2007 2:16 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Hey FB, I think it's the veinte tapas that VanGrumpy is worried about.

At 4/13/2009 4:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...




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