Gilbert Arenasmight've missed most of last season, but he hasn't let that affect his swagger. With two weeks before training camp, Agent Zero has broken his media silence, speaking to Mike Jones of the Times.
And what'd he tell the paper? "Nobody could guard me before, and can't nobody guard me now."
Gilbert says that his leg injuries were worse than anyone expected, calling his unique health problems a "case study." After failed attempts at normal rehab, Arenas rehabbed with a guy who used to train Michael Jordan. Basically, they had to repair a bunch of dead tissue in his league and build leg strength from scratch. Arenas told the Times that his trainer "saved my career."
Mr. Zero feels that he's back to where he needs to be, hence his confidence in the league's ability to defend him. "You can't crumble up a piece of paper and then when you open it up again expect it to be smooth like it once was. But I know my legs are stronger than what they were, and now I don't have to just rely on my speed," he told Mike Jones.
It's clear from his comments, though, that he's not entirely happy with the Wizards franchise.
First, he's mildly critical of the team's approach to rehabbing him. He says that because his injuries were unusual, nobody with the 'Zards knew how to treat him. It's further amplified by his comment that there'd be a 95 percent chance that he wouldn't play this season had he not sought out a different trainer on his own.
Second, he thinks the team did a poor job with the timing of his rehab because they needed him as a draw for ticket sales: "If I'm saying I feel good and you know it's supposed to take six months, instead of letting me at four months run ... they should have held me back. Rather than saying, 'Let's let this guy do what he wants and use him to sell tickets' -- sometimes you have to protect players from themselves. I don't feel like I got that type of protection."
To be fair, his criticisms were couched in phrases that tried to tone down their impact, but that he said them to a paper as his first significant comments in months tells you that these are things that certainly weigh on him.
But the most important takeaway is that he's healthy. And more importantly, he thinks he's healthy. The confidence is back.