Wizards' Arenas: 'I'm not the entertainer anymore'

Sep 28, 2009 - 7:52 PM WASHINGTON(AP) -- Agent Zero had a lot to say about talking less.

Gilbert Arenas arrived for the Washington Wizards' mandatory media day Monday declaring he doesn't want to be judged by his words anymore. Then he spoke for 30 minutes.

"I'm 27 now. I'm not the entertainer anymore," said Arenas, whose blog was once among the most entertaining NBA fixtures on the Internet. "I wouldn't be here today if there wasn't a big fine. I don't feel like speaking anymore. I just want to go out there and play.

"If I'm not going to get fined, I don't think you're going to hear me again. I don't have a blog. I don't have a tweeter. When I was entertaining, all you guys focused on was my words. Now I'd rather you just focus on my basketball."

Arenas said little about the last two seasons, when three operations on his left knee limited him to 15 games. He stood by his recent comments to The Washington Times in which he blamed the team for letting him rush back from his prior rehabs. But he wouldn't elaborate.

Even so, he said he doesn't regret trying to come back so quickly from the first two surgeries.

"Regrets? I want to say I worked too hard, but at the end of the day I didn't get hurt again in the summer while I was working. I got hurt during the season," he said. "Now I'm smarter and know that I need to maintain the strength I put on in the summer during the season."

Arenas said he thought about retiring for about "three hours" one day in January when told a fourth knee surgery was required. A second opinion showed it wasn't.

"That three hours, I said I'd rather retire than go through another surgery again," Arenas said. "It was only three hours."

The three-time All-Star figures he got his rehab right this time. He spent the summer working with renowned trainer Tim Grover, who helped Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade recover from knee surgery. Arenas said he lost 25 pounds, dropping to 209, while increasing the weightlifting strength in his left leg from 65 pounds to 315 pounds.

Arenas and the Wizards open training camp Tuesday in Richmond, Va. He said returning to a veteran team with a new coach and offense won't be an easy assimilation. He said he's talked at length with new coach Flip Saunders, and the two traded text messages as often as three times a day over the summer.

Saunders asked Arenas to be a team leader, something the unpredictable point guard resisted in the past under former coach Eddie Jordan.

"What is a leader - before I answer that one," Arenas said. "The leader is a guy who comes to the gym at 7 o'clock when practice is at 11, or when the game's at (at 7 and you arrive at) 3:30 and you go out there and play hard - is that a leader? Or is a leader something you say, 'Coach, I'm a leader' and he says in the paper 'I'm a leader' and I'm a leader? Is that a leader? I have no idea.

"Before, my first year here, Eddie appointed (Jerry) Stackhouse and Larry (Hughes) to be the leader. He didn't want me to be the leader. He said I was too young. So from that moment I was never the leader. In my mind, I was too young. So every time he tried to appoint me the leader, I just didn't want to be it. This year, Flip said, 'I want you to be my leader,' so I said 'OK."'

Can Arenas lead the Wizards back to the postseason after just 19 victories last season?

"We don't know what we have yet," he said. "We have a whole new coach, a whole new system, a whole new philosophy."

But, maybe, the same old Arenas.

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