The blog has gone silent, the bold predictions have not been made, the echoes of "Hibachi" and "Quality Shot" do not resonate in the Verizon Center anymore. The Wizard formerly known as Agent Zero has been silenced.
The Washington Wizards haven't been the same since losing Gilbert Arenas at the end of the 2006-2007 season and for most of the last two seasons. Now Arenas is back in action, the Wizards can breathe easy.
But the Arenas that dons the familiar zero is not the same player he was three years ago.
He doesn't run his mouth to the media anymore. He doesn't pander to the fans the same way. He doesn't have the same swagger he did before his knee injury. The Arenas that the Wizards have right now is light years away from the foremost Gilbertologist in the world.
The new Arenas is better than Agent Zero ever was.
The 2006-2007 season was hardly a breakout season for Arenas. He had established himself as a premiere scorer the season before with a 29.3 points per game average. But before he went down with an MCL tear, the Wizards looked poised for a deep playoff run.
Instead, the Wizards were swept in the first round by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The loss of Arenas for such a long period of time had an impact on what the Wizards were able to do against teams with elite scorers and over the course of a season. Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler had to shoulder the scoring load, but no one on the roster was able to emerge and fill the void left by Arenas.
Arenas was just a natural born killer on the court. He wanted the ball in his hands when the game was on the line. He developed catch phrases for his shots when he was criticized by other players and NBA experts. He was a big personality with an enormous ego.
Then he lost two years of his career to a single knee injury and multiple surgeries.
Since his last procedure to repair his knee, Arenas has been uncharacteristically quiet. He was fined during the preseason because he wouldn't talk to the media. He was averaging almost as many assists as points during the preseason, too.
He had the same explosion, the same spring in his step, but he wasn't playing the game the same way.
Agent Zero had left the building, and in his place, the real Gilbert Arenas is proving more valuable than his alter-ego ever was.
Statistically speaking, Arenas is on par with his pre-injury numbers. He is averaging 28 points, 6.7 assists and a steal per game. He is averaging more turnovers this season than ever before, but this is due to his efforts to pass more. His efforts to be less selfish are apparent in his three-point shooting numbers.
Before his injury, Arenas had been averaging almost eight three point attempts per game. He was making a little less than three of those attempts per game, but the quantity isn't the real issue.
The quality of his shots from beyond the arc raised a few eyebrows.
In contrast to his previous tendencies, Arenas is only attempting four 3-pointers per game and making half of them. Three games into the season, Arenas is showing his maturity like never before.
The Arenas of old may have put on a better show for the media, and brought the ire of his contemporaries and a number of fans, but it was just "Gilbert being Gilbert," as the saying goes these days.
Truth be told, Arenas has never been himself with Washington.
Two years after being sidlelined for a couple of seasons has changed Arenas. It is amazing what multiple surgeries and a lot of time to think can do for the perspective of a player of Arenas' caliber.
He may not be the same Arenas fans are familiar with. He has no need to disguise himself as Agent Zero for the sake of fans and critics alike. Gilbert can finally be Gilbert, and after seeing what he can do for the Wizards, there is nothing wrong with that.