Free agent guard Gilbert Arenas will be suiting up for the Memphis Grizzlies as they look to upgrade their back court before the playoffs. Arenas will sign for a prorated veteran’s minimum contract of about $300,000. Welcome back to the NBA, Agent Zero.
If you haven’t already, you need to read Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick’s interview with Gilbert Arenas.
Arenas talks at length about a variety of subjects, addressing his past, present and future and acknowledging that he needed to change on a personal level before he could move forward following the much talked about ‘gun incident’.
Highlights of the interview include:
“Someone close to me told me I lost myself a long time ago when I invented Agent Zero, and I didn’t understand what the person was talking about at the time. He’s like, “You were basically on the road down anyway, the image you were putting out meant you were going to get killed at some point.” Now it’s like, “Yeah, you were right.”
- Gilbert on resetting his mentality.
“So I decided I’m not here to prove anybody wrong anymore. I’m just here to prove myself right. I’m not here to chase the money, to chase stats. Now what you have is a basketball player who’s ready to play
- Gil’s mindset.
I’m not going to lie, I feel so much better. I’m jumping and moving like before I got injured, like it’s basically ’06 again. My explosiveness, my jumping ability, my quickness — it feels like I never got injured.
- Arenas on the platelet rich procedure he underwent for his knees and hips.
“I think I’m seeing life how I saw it before I got famous, and that’s hard to do sometimes. It’s hard to break yourself back down. I’m loving life.”
“Just got the love of the game back. That’s never going to leave. I just love the game of basketball.”
- Arenas talking about his life away from basketball.
“He was saying all the other teams that he decided he was going to go to, and will I come there? I said, ‘Of course. If you want me to play, I’ll come with you.’
- Gil talking about Dwight Howard and his decision over what team he should play for.
“All I know is I’ve got a Daddy-Son Donut Day on the 24th. You go to the school, and you have donuts. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
- Classic Gil.
It seems from the interview as though Arenas is a lot happier where he’s at, both mentally and physically and he’s been able to ground himself and re-establish his priorities. He’s shown a lot of humility and maturity during the interview and appears to understand himself better than he has done in the past.
Arenas has indicated that he’s happy to ply his trade in the D-League if he feels it’s the right thing to do which strikes me as a decision Gil wouldn’t have made before. And if you look at the fact that he plays YMCA pick-up ball as well as being willing to play in the NBA’s developmental league, it looks like Gilbert Arenas’ love for the game is back.
Date: 30th December 2005
4-0 Miami: 10:59 remaining – Gil kicks off his evening with a ‘simple for him’ jumper following a hand-off.
6-4 Miami: 10:01 remaining – A jumper in transition, in traffic, off the dribble from about 20 feet out hits the bottom of the net. GILBERT ARENAS IS GOOD AT BASKETBALL.
8-6 Miami: 9:56 remaining – Jason Williams is left stranded on D thanks to a back screen which gives Arenas an open look for three.
14-9 Miami: 7:21 remaining – A baseline cut from the weak-side from Gil has him open long enough to get the ball and turn and hit a jumper. Hilariously, Jason Williams is chasing round after Gil like a little puppy chasing after a bigger dog. Even funnier is Shaq’s commitment to stepping out on Gil – he barely bothers moving.
23-18 Miami: 2:59 remaining – Arenas runs to the top of the arc and gets the ball. From there, he stops for a split second and assumes the school taught ‘triple threat’ pose, drawing in his defender who makes a lazy attempt to steal the ball as Gil blows by him. Once in the paint, Arenas is met by the giants of the Heat but adjusts his body in mid-air, moving the ball from both hands to only his left before laying it up and in for one of those beautiful circus shot moves that were his trademark. He draws the foul. God damn, you were good Gil.
28-21 Miami: 1:36 remaining – Gil crosses up D-Wade, leaving him rooted to the spot before drilling a pull up J from 18 feet like it was nothing.
28-25 Miami: 54.7 seconds remaining – From three point line to three point line, Arenas dribbles the ball up court before hitting the three and tying the game. That’s how he do.
42-34 Miami: 6:52 remaining – Gilbert Arenas doesn’t miss jumpers. That’s a fact. I don’t care what NBA.com says, he just doesn’t miss them.
54-44 Miami: 3:16 remaining – The degree of difficulty in this shot is about an 8 out of 10. It starts off in a fairly standard way for Arenas – a simple screen set on his defender – except neither defender switches off of Gil so he has two Heat players trying to stop him as he drives baseline. In one motion he stops, gathers the ball, elevates, shakes off the defender and pops the short range jumper for two.
The broadcast shows some Gil related stats that basically just alert everyone to how awesome he is. I don’t even know why they bothered telling us, we already knew.
67-49 Miami: 9:11 remaining – A strong move in the paint from Gil is finished with a short jumper.
71-61 Miami: 8:24 remaining – Agent Zero backs down his defender in the paint, slips the double team and throws the floater up which Shaq is called for goal tending on. Oh and Arenas drew the foul as well. Gil is casual like that.
73-67 Miami: 8:03 remaining – Simple kick out to Arenas for three.
84-81 Miami: 3:54 remaining – Mr Arenas is in full flight mode, leading the fast break and drawing the foul as he crosses the three point line before finishing with a lay-in. Man, Gilbert was so good at getting to the free throw line back then. Didn’t matter if he initiated contact or not, he got calls. That’s the sign of a superstar.
17, 12, 15. Those are the quarter-by-quarter stats of Gilbert Arenas against the Miami Heat. Is there a chance that Gilbert Arenas was underrated? A lot of the hype he got was generated by his post game quotes and quirky persona but as an actual talent, he was incredible.
114-103 Miami: 3:40 remaining – The ball is handed off to Arenas at the three point line, Gil kind of drops it but into his own path where he gathers it and takes a long two which hits.
It was Arenas’ last bucket of a game the Wizards lost but that didn’t stop Arenas finishing the game with 47 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists.Gilbert Arenas vs Miami Heat: 47 points and some snazzy assists
Date: 15th January 2007
2-0 Utah: 10:33 remaining – Gil has the ball about 16 feet out with his back to the basket. A couple of back down dribbles later, Gil turns, fades and fires with Deron Williams in his face and hits. The tone for the rest of the game has just been set.
4-4 Tied: 8:54 remaining – As the shot clock runs down to eight, Gil is on the wing with the ball in his hands. Arenas looks for any kind of opening but with the clock at 3 he takes a dribble to his left and shoots a three. The ball goes through as the shot clock buzzer sounds.
8-7 Utah: 8:03 remaining – A simple give and go gifts Gil a golden opportunity which he gladly takes, guiding the ball in for three. Today’s sentence has been sponsored by the letter G and the number 0.
Once again we’re reminded of the side of Gil that has often been overlooked: His generous side. Nominated learning centre, William Wirt Middle School, is the game’s recipient of $100 for every point Arenas gets.
20-18 Utah: 3:49 remaining – You know what was written a moment ago about the bucket off of the give and go? Yeah, well just re-read it because it happens again.
56-43 Utah: 59.0 remaining – Arenas drives to the basket, his defender leans on his back but Gil is still able to finish at the rim. What started off as beating just his own man turned into blowing by two men and finishing over a third.
60-51 Utah: 9:28 remaining – Gilbert steals the entry pass, gets his head down and drives the full length of the court where he draws another foul off of Brewer before finishing at the rim.
66-61 Utah: 6:14 remaining – This play is created by Arenas’ crossover on the wing but helped by the fact that instead of playing defence, Ronnie Brewer stumbles around like a hapless drunk, fouling Gil and then inadvertently clearing the path to the rim by blocking Kirilenko which allowed Gil to convert an uncontested lay-up. And talking of Kirilenko…
69-66 Utah: 4:30 remaining – Agent Zero takes the lengthy Russian for a native Khorovod dance before driving baseline and hitting the lay-up on the opposite side of the rim.
69-68 Utah: 4:10 remaining – A baseline inbounds play finds Gil a couple of feet behind the three point line. He drills it. A fan holds up a sign saying ‘Arenas = MVP’.
80-78 Washington: 15.8 seconds remaining – Arenas streaks down the court off of the Jazz miss where he lays it up and in despite Kirilenko swooping in for the block.
99-96 Utah: 3:16 remaining – “Casual [ˈkæʒjʊəl] adj: being or seeming unconcerned or apathetic” – that pretty much summed up Gil’s attitude when he dribbled back out to the three point line before taking a step in and nailing the jumper with the defender on him.
104-100: Utah: 2:15 remaining – Gil no worry about screen on perimeter no working. Gil shoot ball anyway and watch ball touch net only.
106-103: Utah: 1:47 remaining – Give + go + screen = open look from 3. Which Gil cans in typical Gil fashion.
111-111 Tied: 10.4 remaining – The ball is in Gilbert’s hands at just over centre court. Deron Williams is no more than a foot away from Gil which, considering he’s about 40 feet from the basket, tells you everything you need to know about the damage the Jazz fear Arenas could do.
Gil has the ball held away from Deron like an old brother holding a younger brother’s favourite toy away from him in order to tease him, while the younger brother looks to knock it loose. And then it happens:
With the shot clock turned off and only five seconds the difference between a W or an overtime session, Arenas spins to his right and Williams jumps off of him, allowing Gil only a little space to operate but that is all he needs. He threads the ball through his leg with the same unconscious thought that we use to breathe, there’s a slight hesitation in his dribble, less than a millisecond and then he explodes. One hard dribble to get to the three point line and then he stops, pops and it drops. GAME OVER.
The true beauty of the shot and the defining moment of the play is that as the ball was still in the air Arenas raised his arms and began to turn his back in triumph.
Some may describe his actions as pure confidence, some as pure arrogance. We can all agree though, that it was definitely pure Arenas.
Even though my mountain of Christmas presents have been opened and are now scattered throughout my house and despite the opening slate of NBA games having been played after a lengthy off-season, I am left unfulfilled. The reason for this is because Gilbert Arenas, the Agent formerly known as Zero and now perceived as being a zero following his injuries and off-court antics, hasn’t yet had opportunity to suit up.
While others have been signed off of waivers and are getting minutes with their new teams, Arenas has been left untouched and unwanted. So to remind the world exactly why Gil should be at the fore of every GM’s mind, we here at Gilbertology.net have decided that until he is signed by a team we will take a look back at some of Gil’s finest scoring performances via everyone’s favourite video library, www.youtube.com.
First up is his one man show against the Phoenix Suns.
Date: 22nd December 2006
Check out the video below to see Gil shoot the lights out.
As soon as the clip starts, we hear about the ‘Scores for Schools’ scheme where every point Arenas scores, $100 is donated to a chosen school. The school in question, East Silver Spring Elementary, is about to be on the receiving end of a very generous donation courtesy of Gil’s hot hand.
12-10 Phoenix: 7:30 remaining – Gil dribbles to the high post where he backs down the smaller Nash, turns fades and fires while the Suns throw an extra defender from the top of the arc to block the shot. It hits and kinda sets the tone for the rest of the game.
14-12 Phoenix: 6:39 remaining – Arenas makes a straight cut from the right wing to the top of the key where he receives the ball and with a half-hearted Steve Nash hand in his face, he squares up and drains the jumper. Effortless.
20-18 Washington: 4:04 remaining – Gil brings the ball up, throws it cross court, jogs down to the wing where he gets the ball back again, sets himself and let’s fly a three pointer. Bottom of the bucket.
27-22 Washington: 1:48 remaining – An attempted pick and roll between team-mates sees Jamison in the post and Gil rolling out to beyond the arc. The ball reaches Arenas with one second left on the shot clock, he shoots it in rhythm and it’s another triple. When he’s on, he is ON.
33-25 Washington: 53 seconds remaining – A screen at the top of the arc frees Gil up to launch a three which is automatic.
36-28 Washington: 05.6 seconds remaining – Arenas in-bounds the ball, receives it right back, takes four aggressive dribbles which gets him into the front court. Raja Bell is shadowing him but doesn’t expect Gil to pick up his dribble, pull up from about 35 feet out, raise up and launch a shot with two seconds left. He does and it hits. “He can do it from almost anywhere on the court”. Yes, yes he can.
45-41 Washington: 7:42 remaining – The ball is launched from painted area to painted area where Arenas collects it and lays the ball off the glass.
50-49 Phoenix: 5:06 remaining – Bell, one of the premier perimeter defenders in the league in 2006 is on Gil at the top of the arc. Arenas jabs with his right foot, gathers the ball as if preparing to take a jump shot, Bell swipes at it and Gil explodes. Not literally but figuratively. The last thing he needs is a reputation as a guy who dabbles with gun powder….oh wait….
57-54 Washington: 2:23 remaining – This time a defensive switch gives Shawn Marion the chance to lock down Arenas and enhance his reputation as one of the best defenders in the league. Gil keeps his dribble and moves towards the wing, threading the ball through his legs and forcing Marion to change his feet defensively. As soon as that happens, Gil makes his move by going into the middle of the lane, drawing the contact and making the shot.
HALF TIME: Arenas has 24 points.
64-58 Washington: 11:43 remaining – Gil drives right at Marion from the top of the arc and then pulls up in a sweet hesitation dribble, leans back slightly and draws Marion in before blowing by him. THING. OF. BEAUTY. Illegal goal tending is called on the shot.
78-67 Washington: 7:47 remaining – Gil has the ball at the top of the arc and goes iso against Marion. The ball passes through his legs as he dribbles, making Marion back peddle and giving Agentzero a clear path to the top of the key where Gil hits the jumper.
80-69 Washington: 7:05 remaining – On the elbow of the wing and with Marion on him once again, Gil pulls up about 24 feet out and hits another three. “Gilbert Arenas is putting on another clinic here”.
84-72 Washington: 5:26 remaining – Coming off two screens, Gil finds himself with a clear lane to the basket and on a hard drive he draws a foul from Bell falls to the deck and STILL hits an off balance lay up.
88-80 Washington: 3:08 remaining – Gil backs down his defender before fading away with a jumper that hits. Simple as that.
95-90 Washington: 06.8 seconds remaining – The shot clock is off and the ball is in Gil’s hands which can mean only one thing: we’re about to witness a buzzer beater. Y’know, the thing that makes great players great is that everyone watching knows how the final possession will play out and yet no-one can prevent what takes place. On the Wizards final possession, Arenas attacks Bell before pulling up and hitting the last second shot. (Check the bottom right hand corner of the screen as the seconds play out – perfect reaction by a team-mate)
103-98 Washington: 7:56 remaining – Gil uses a screen to get a relatively open look to the basket where he uses his body to shield the ball from the defender before flipping it up and in.
117-115 Phoenix: 2:45 remaining – Copy and paste an earlier field goal attempt by Gil where he dribbles towards the bucket before pulling up and canning the J. The defender, Marion in this instance, has backed off out of fear that Gil will burn him. (I waited until the fourth quarter before making weak ‘Suns temperature’ references – burn, heat, too hot, smokin’ etc. I’m proud of me even if you’re not.)
121-117 Phoenix: 1:50 remaining – Arenas puts the moves on Marion once again, actually loses control of the ball, gathers it and from about 10 feet out drills the jumper with a hand in his face.
127-124 Phoenix: 23.8 seconds remaining – Arenas in-bounds the ball inside the Suns half and gets it back where he then drives straight at Marion, draws the foul just outside the key and throws it in off the glass. Marion looks bewildered and there isn’t a single person who can blame him.
131-128 Phoenix: 2:55 remaining – Classic Arenas coming up – dribble through the legs at the top of the arc followed by a quick pull-up two point jump shot which lands. The only difference with this one is that it bangs home as opposed to swishing through the net. Shoddy technique.
136-134 Washington: 36.4 seconds remaining – Guess what happens when the shot clock is off and the ball is in Gil’s hands? If you’d guessed it was a dribble through his legs 23 feet out followed by a banked three pointer which slams off the backboard and into the basket, it would be one helluva guess and it would also be completely correct.
Gilbert Arenas finished the game 21/37 from the field, 6/12 from three point range and 6/6 from the free throw line.
It was a vintage Gilbert performance and one that showed just what a force he was back in his prime. Although those days are believed to be behind him, it still confuses me how anyone can overlook Gil in favour of four year, $12 million Travis Outlaw, especially when video like the one above exists.