Agent Zero Aims For Overt Leadership - NBC4 Washington

Agent Zero Aims For Overt Leadership

Wizards guard appears ready to embrace new role



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    You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him lead other horses.

    Much has recently been debated about Gilbert Arenas' leadership, or lack thereof; even more so when the Michael Wilbons of the world make assumptions that Gil needs the coaching equivalent of a staunch military dad.

    It's not that Arenas can't be coached, nor is unable to lead, but in the past, neither was his style. All Gil wanted to do was take quality shots, fire up the hibachi, and yell nacho to the string music. That leadership stuff, let the old heads worry about it.

    Now, things have changed. Three knee surgeries and 150-plus missed games is certainly a hard road to enlightenment, but if Gilbert's talk holds true to form, will it all have been worth it?

    In his introductory press conference, Flip Saunders said that he "loves Gilbert Arenas' competitiveness." Let's lower that "uncoachable" flag just a bit. Gil is a talented player because of his competitive nature and hard work, not because he was a physical phenomenon with god-given ability and a posse of folks catering to his every whim as he worked his way through the basketball ranks; the uncoachable tag belongs with these types.

    "Let me tell you, when you're the best player on the team, you don't have a choice," said Saunders about leadership. Flip has also exchanged text messages with Arenas almost since rumors of him coaching the Wizards began.

    Put down that brush painting Saunders as an oaf when it comes to player relations. His cognition evidently extends past his massive "60 percent defense, 40 percent offense" playbook and into motivating the star on whom his success as a coach depends.

    As Michael Lee of the WaPost relates, "Arenas has always been reluctant to be a leader." But as Gil has hopefully come to realize, the most vocal locker room presence who gets the ball in his hands with the clock running down must be on that leadership platform.

    It doesn't mean that other leaders such as Jamison, Butler, and Haywood have to take a back season to Arenas. What it does mean is that it will be easier for the team to come together, on the same page, once Gil embraces the role that's inherently his.

    Kyle Weidie is a D.C. resident who writes Truth About It and contributes to Bullets Forever, both Washington Wizards blogs.