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Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Gilbert Arenas is no villain for faking knee injury


Gilbert Arenas, John Wall
Gilbert Arenas, sitting with rookie John Wall, never shed his warmups Tuesday while feigning injury.

I know, I know: Gilbert Arenas faked it. Claimed he had a bum knee before last night's Washington Wizards-Atlanta Hawks preseason game. Sat on the bench. Didn't play a minute. Never took off his warmups. Then he told reporters that his knee was just fine and that the injury was a well-meaning ruse, a way to ensure more playing time for backup shooting guard Nick Young.

As a Wizards fan -- no, really! -- I ought to be upset. As a Wizards fan who went to the game to see Arenas in person for the first time since his gun charge suspension -- again, really! -- I ought to be very upset.

As a human being interested in trust, because trust is the very basis of our economy, and our society, since without it life becomes "Lord of the Flies," I ought to be downright disturbed. Thing is, I'm not. I can't be. Not if I'm being honest with myself. Oh, and everyone else, too.

Look, I'm not saying it's cool for George O'Leary to puff up his résumé at Notre Dame, or for Albert Haynesworth to feign ouchies in order to catch a breather, or for Pete Carroll to pretend to have LenDale White jump off a building during practice at USC. (Though that was pretty funny.) The truth is essential. Same as flossing. That said, Arenas-style fudging is inevitable. In fact, it's human nature. Same as blowing off flossing. And every last one of us is guilty.

Like Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally," we all have to fake it sometimes.

Fake interest in what your date is blathering on about. Fake excitement over precious Halloween costume photos of other people's kids. Fake enthusiasm for your co-worker's fantasy football team, or your supervisor's decidedly non-genius ideas. Faking being awake in class. Faking humility, contrition and respect when a law enforcement officer trying to make his monthly ticket quota pulls you over for going 32 mph in a 25 mph zone, and then has the gall to ask, "Do you know how fast you were going?" Faking is what we do; it's who we are; as a social lubricant, it makes the world go 'round, even more than alcohol and caffeine. Day after day, we fake it to make it.

Heck, if we didn't fake it, we'd all end up strangling each other.

Faking is a gift. A blessing. As such, I can't condemn Arenas. I commend him. Trust me: I went to an NBA preseason game last night, and I cheered. I know all about faking it.