Gilbert Arenas was known for his jokes. A fellow former basketball beat writer for the Arizona Daily Wildcat told me that Arenas once pulled the fire alarm in McKale Center as a practical joke. Only if we knew that those 'jokes' would eventually get to this level.
Arenas is bold, uncensored to a high degree. Sometimes that's to a fault.
You know the story. Guns in a locker room. An NBA locker room in Washington D.C., no less. It was apparently a practical joke, a "playful gesture aimed at his teammate." Arenas was supposedly making show out of a card game during a team flight days earlier, when he and teammate Javaris Crittenton had a little debacle. Five-figure debts will lead to such indiscretions.
And then he was blacklisted by David Stern. When Gil Zero finally returned, he was open about his silence. It wasn't Gil being Gil. And that's a shame.
Where was the Arenas not worried about crossing the line? Now as a member of the Orlando Magic, will we ever see him again? Maybe. Just today, the first of the 2011 NBA lockout, Arenas' tweet took a step back toward the entertainer, the fun-loving guy we've known:
@agentzeroshow: So the lockout rules–there’s none once it hits midnight we can say and do what we want without any fines or future fines
In fact, his Twitter handle tells us about the Arizona Wildcat who first took to the number zero because people told him he'd never play a minute for coach Lute Olson's team. While he's now number one with the Magic, the Agent Zero moniker still drives him. And the show?
Gilbert's mission is to entertain. Why else would he be planking with Dwight Howard this offseason?
Yeah, guns in locker rooms is crossing the line. It's overly-bold, too stupid in fact. But on the court, I'll remember Arenas for his attitude that can't be replicated.
The 28-foot jumpers that came with a slight flick of the wrist before hitting the bottom of the net. The smooth handles and killer speed that got him to the rim. He had it all. His game was cold-blooded yet carefree, deadly but playful. When he was released from Team USA, he vowed that assistant coaches Mike D'Antoni and Nate McMillan would pay during the NBA regular season.
"I can't wait to play the Suns and Portland," Arenas told the Washington Post. "Against Portland, Nate McMillan, I'm going to try to score 100 in two games and against D'Antoni, I'm going to score 100 in two games. I'm going to try."
You know what he did? He sure as hell tried to score 50. Against McMillan's Portland Trailblazers the following season, he dropped a lowly nine and 19 points in two games, shooting a rough 7-for-31 from the field. But against the Phoenix Suns and D'Antoni, he dropped 54 and 31 points respectively.
Sometimes successful, sometimes not. Arenas told teams he was going to go at them hard. It was all about his boldness, his cockiness. Yet, Arenas has a soft side as a man raised without a solid family structure, without constant guidance. He has a special spot in his heart for others in his position, helping one Wizards ball boy through the loss of his sister and mother in a fire that burned their home.
Whatever comes next has yet to be seen. Creaky knees and hardened soul aside, he hasn't lost his love for the game. Maybe his legacy is tarnished now, but never again will Wildcat fans or otherwise see another like him.
What is your favorite memory of Gilbert Arenas?