The residents of Washington, D.C. and the surrounding suburbs have been suffering fans of their professional sports teams. With the exception of the hockey team, the Washington Capitals, the other 3 major sports franchises, Wizards, Nationals and Redskins, have all been dismally inept with standings at the bottom or near thereto of their respective leagues. This was supposed to change for the Washington Wizards basketball team with the return of their star player, Gilbert Arenas, who had missed most of the last 2 seasons with knee injuries. The team lost Saturday night to the Indiana Pacers 114 – 113. One of the main reasons was Arenas missing 2 free throws with less than a minute remaining.
The Wizards resigned Arenas on July 13, 2008 to a contract worth $111 million over six years. This was regarded by many basketball analysts and even Washington Wizards fans as highly risky and suspect due to the fact that he had suffered several different injuries which had reduced his playing time. He played in only 15 games during the 2007 – 2009 seasons and in those games displayed reduced skills and scoring ability.
This year was to be a successful and winning one as the team would have its 3 main stars, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Arenas, together again for the 1st time in a year plus the return of their center Brendan Haywood who missed most of last season due to an injury. It has not turned out that way so far this year as the Wizards sit in the basement of the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association with a record of 7 – 14. In the prior game against the Boston Celtics, the Wizards held their own and led as the game neared the end. With time running down, Arenas missed 2 crucial free throws and the Wizards lost 104 to 102.
After the loss to the Pacers, Arenas was despondent. He had a strong game overall with 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for the fourth triple-double of his career and second since March 2004. However, all this meant little because he had blown the game at the free throw line for the second time in three nights. A proud man with a glittering personality, Arenas sat at his locker dejected and wondering what had happened to his touch at the free throw lane and his normal game winning tendencies. He mused that it was psychological as he said “I make those shots in practice.”
The game ended in a bizarre manner. With the Wizards still up by 2 points, 113 – 112, and less than a second remaining, the Pacers inbounded the ball under their basket to Mike Dunleavy who was fouled by Haywood with a tenth of a second on the clock. Dunleavy made the 2 free throws and the game was over resulting in the 4th straight loss for the Wizards and the 2nd bad night at the free throw line for the Wizards star.