Gilbert Arenas has found life in exile to be liberating. His sabbatical from the NBA and the "fantasy world" of the league has helped him clear his mind and focus on the one thing he didn't have the will or the time to do -- get healthy.
Arenas' 49-game tenure with the Magic last season turned into a complete disaster. Coming off the bench for the first time in his career, he averaged only 8.0 points per game and shot 34.4 percent, including 27.5 percent from beyond the arc. More than that, Arenas seemed like he had lost a lot of the joy that made him such a thrilling and dynamic player to watch earlier in the decade.
Knee injuries, suspensions and perception finally caught up with Arenas and worked to ruin his fresh start playing underneath the watchful eye of his mentor, Magic general manager Otis Smith.
Arenas may have also been fighting another problem. One that contributed to his rapid and unreal decline that helped tank the Magic's season, ending it in a first round loss to the Hawks.
No psychologist may have clinicly diagnosed him (Arenas jokes that between the TV shows Dexter and The Sopranos, he got plenty of therapy time), but as that joke I just shared may have shown Arenas had a lot of time to sit and think as his playing time dwindled and he could not figure out what he needed to do to crack Stan Van Gundy's rotation.
But Arenas all but admitted he was battling some demons in his own head in an extended interview with Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated.
"You just reflect on your basketball career and see how far you came," Arenas said of what he did after the Magic cut him. "I watch a lot of game tape of last year in Washington and finishing up in Orlando. I just realized even going back to training camp it was basically a spiral down. I didn't have it anymore. I didn't have the spirit. I guess somewhere that summer, or somewhere the season before that, I lost the spirit to play, and that's what showed last year. I was depressed.
"When something drastic happens in our life, one person goes and hides and doesn't want to be seen. That's what I did. [Others] want to stand up and fight and think they're tough. Like if someone gets shot, you're either scared of guns or you think you're Superman. In my situation, I wanted to hide. I didn't want to be seen anymore."
Arenas said he had no ill will from Smith, his mentor, deciding to cut him at the beginning of this season using Orlando's free pass on a contract. In fact, he said he welcomed it -- even going so far as to tell an allegedly upset Dwight Howard that Arenas needed the time to get himself right before he could contribute to any team and that he would have done the same thing.
Arenas said Smith told him to get his mind right and get his body right before coming back to the NBA. That is what Arenas was doing when he worked out in front of Lakers brass while in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. Arenas though told Amick he was not quite there yet.
So how did Arenas get to that low point where he lost "the spirit" as he calls it?