Gilbert Arenas Speaks Without Saying Much at Wizards Media Day
Arenas displayed his new No. 9 jersey and a scruffy beard, but none of the quirkiness that has made him such an entertaining and endearing personality. This more serious version said he is "very happy" but needs to channel his outward displays of happiness onto the basketball court.
"The only place I want to smile is on the court," Arenas said. "That's where my job is, that's where my love is. That's the only time I need to smile now."
He acted accordingly, holding back a smile through photo shoots and interviews. Coach Flip Saunders said Arenas has a lot to prove and is ready to move forward. With that as the goal, he lauded Arenas for taking "the right approach, as far as a very serious approach."
"I don't think anyone looks forward to talking to 50 people," Saunders added. "You guys aren't the nicest guys in the world, so let's put it all in perspective."
Arenas' teammates have noticed his muted approach, as well.
"The attitude he has right now of being more serious, it's a good attitude," Andray Blatche said. "A new Gil, it'll be better for him right now. Stay focused, and go out there and get the job done."
That being said, it's reasonable to believe Arenas is very much still the lighthearted, engaging person that he has been known to be. He still smiles and laughs with teammates during pick up games.
"It's the regular Gil, the behind-the-scenes Gil," JaVale McGee said. "But of course he's going to be professional, he's going the professional route now in the media."
Just don't expect much of that to bleed through in front of the cameras or away from the court. Last season Arenas tried to use humor to cope with the situation, and we saw how well that turned out.
"We're not talking about last year, we're moving forward," Saunders said. "We're optimistic about the future and what it holds ... so I think that's how we're approaching it."
And in a way, it's possible David Stern's gag-order takes pressure off Arenas, who has a clear out in terms of leaving the past in the past, and moving on. Besides, Gilbert understands the path to moving past this brouhaha is on the court, not in the media.
"You know, at the end of the day, the fans just want to see good basketball," Arenas said. "No matter what you do, your game speaks for yourself."