It goes without saying that in the past year Washington Wizard guard, Gilbert Arenas, once seen as an all-around nice guy with a happy-go-lucky attitude, has seen his popularity and reputation take a huge hit since the gun incident between himself and Javaris Crittenton.
It seems as if Arenas has been unfairly vilified for his violation of the Washington D.C gun laws and the NBA gun policy, something for which he seemed sincerely apologetic.
Arenas grew up with a mother who was a drug addict, and left the family when he was a small child. He looked up to his father, who raised him on his own, and has worked to be a good influence on the less fortunate around him.
Gilbert is a perfect case of today's media focusing on the bad that someone does, while not taking into account all of the good the person has produced.
After the gun incident, and the successive pregame exposition by Arenas in which he pretended to shoot his teammates, poking fun at the situation, he didn't go on television and read from a script with fake remorse. He wrote a letter to the Washington Post recognizing his wrongdoing, not because it hurt his image, but because it was a bad message to kids.
Throughout his career, Arenas has worked to help the children in his community. From 2006 until 2009, Arenas donated $100 for every point he scored during the season to area schools. He also took a boy under his wing after his family died in a fire five days before Christmas in 2004.
It's Arenas' classic happy-go-lucky attitude, mixed with the swagger that any NBA player shows off, that had made him a fan favorite in Washington. His ritual of tossing his jersey into the crowd after every game endeared him to the fans.
Arenas recently faked an injury prior to a game against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday so Nick Young could get more playing time.
It makes sense for Arenas to gravitate toward Young, a kid who saw his brother murdered in high school, dropped out twice, and had to take the SATs three times before he could graduate. Arenas knows the importance of a father figure, and that is what he tries to be to people around him. His personality just has him do it in misguided attempts.
Could Arenas have gotten Young more playing time by simply talking to coach Flip Saunders? Probably. Should he have told the media after the game that he sat out purposefully? Definitely not.
Through one viewpoint, it is easy to say that Gilbert is a distracting force on the team, and that he just doesn't get how to behave at this point, but it is just as easy to see the humanitarian in Arenas.
It is easy, once you look below the reports, to see the boy inside Arenas trying to act like a man to help a young teammate.
Arenas has been vilified over the past year, and rightfully so. It is, however, time to move on, because he is the type of player that not only should be a role model to children, but wants to be a role model. And he is one of the few in the NBA fit to be, despite his past troubles.
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