After Gilbert made comments Saturday that he might not return this season, I think that a lot of people decided to take a more pessimistic approach to what he said. Before I get into why I think people are overreacting, let’s take another look at what he said:
“If we have a chance to go far with me playing in the playoffs, then I’ll say yeah, if not, then I’ll shut it down and just rehab.”
Now, I don’t think anyone really has a problem with what he said on the surface, it doesn’t make sense to comeback and risk more injury for a team that doesn’t have a shot at making the playoffs. As competitive as Gilbert is, even he knows that you have to pick your battles and that would not be one worth fighting. With that said, I think he still has a lot to fight for right now. Consider the following:
The Wizards are doing really, really well: As of right now, the Wizards are holding on to the fourth spot in the East and they show every sign of staying in the race for a playoff spot until Gilbert’s return. Barring an injury to a key player or an unforeseen cold streak, the Wizards should still be in a good enough position to make a serious playoff push once Gilbert is healthy.
Gilbert has always tried to prove the doubters wrong: You don’t seriously think that Gilbert’s been ignoring everyone that’s been saying the Wizards are better off without him do you? If you don’t think Gilbert has some room in his Colorado-altitude adjusted mansion where he puts up quotes from all of his critics to look at while he’s rehabbing, you just don’t know Gilbert well enough.
Above all else, Gilbert is a competitor: We’re talking about someone who’s so competitive that he uses late night shooting sessions to get better, plays poker during halftime to keep his competitive edge going, and will pull out every trick in the book to win a shooting competition. If there’s a battle to be won, Gilbert will be there. Ivan Carter (the Wizards’ beat writer) would tend to agree:
Translation from a guy who has covered Gil for three years: He’s coming back as soon as he thinks the knee is sound. No way I see him sitting out all the way until next year. The guy misses it too much.