As a basketball fan, I always was gratified when I saw a player come out of college and have to work their way to stardom. Lottery picks are expected to be franchise players for the most part. The lower picks, second rounders and undrafted players who get to superstardom get more of my respect, since the expectations aren't as high.
Gilbert Arenas was one of those players, getting drafted in the second round out of Arizona, and becoming a force to be reckoned with by his second season in Golden State. Considering other Arizona guards who were drafted higher (Khalid Reeves, Damon Stoudemire, Jason Terry), Arenas did pretty well for himself.
By his third season, he got his big contract from the Wizards, became an All-Star, and made the Wizards perennial playoff contenders, and eventually grew into a superstar.
He became one of the faces for the league. His scoring prowess, his enigmatic but unique personality, as well as his on-court antics made him a blast to watch. From his predictions for scoring against certain teams, to his trademark "hibatchi", to his pre-celebrating his game winners, he was a breath of fresh air for the league.
For a little while.
After a few years of success, his attitude bordered on cocky and arrogant. The Wizards were always in the middle of the playoff mix, but never were really contenders, and never made significant improvements over the years. However after years and years of failure, dating all the way back to the day they were the Bullets, they couldn't afford to lose him.
When it was time for a contract extension, I respected the fact he was loyal to the organization that believed in him and propelled him into national fame and acclaim. His loyalty was reciprocated by being offered a six-year, $127 million extension, despite missing almost 70 games with a knee injury.
He impressed me by taking $111 million instead. Not that impressed, but how many players in any sport volunteer themselves to take less money after receiving an offer? Not many.
The Wizards' patience and perseverance persisted as he missed 80 games the following season. This current season he finally returned, not quite the same, but still possessing the electricity and passion to take over a game. Washington, however, still remains in mediocrity.
Then came this past weekend, where we hear of Gilbert Arenas and career sub Javaris Crittenton having a "faceoff" in the locker room at the Verizon center. Here a few things that disturb me about this whole situation:
1. I never understood why rich people gamble. The whole dispute was over $25,000 Arenas owed for a card game. Whats 25K to Arenas, who makes $20 million a season. Why do it?
2. Gilbert was the one who allegedly owed the debt, so why would he feel the urge to pull out first, especially on Crittenton who makes a whopping $1.48 million this season as opposed to Gilbert's 20. Dummy.
3. Athletes with millions of dollars have no reason whatsoever to carry guns with them. They could well afford to hire security. Instead they walk with their chest poked out with a clip on their hip.
What if, god forbid, one of these athletes have to use their gun. Suppose they miss their attacker and hit a bystander or a kid? They never foresee the consequences. Or they do, and just ignore them, feeling their wealth will get them exonerated.
4. How stupid can a person be to bring a gun to work? Plaxico getting locked up should have deterred others from having guns. Guess not. It was rumored that he had four guns in his locker.
And considering Arenas already has a gun conviction from 2003, it makes him a bigger idiot. To have a gun at home or in the car is one thing, but who are you going to shoot in a locker room?
5. Gilbert is a superstar veteran. He should be mature enough not to do something like that. As a franchise labeled them their centerpiece, he should have had more sense.
6. Arena's nonchalant attitude infuriates me, especially his last statement that it was a "misguided effort to play a joke on a teammate". Having a gun pointed at you is no joke. Ask former Nets player Jayson Williams. He knows.
Things are pretty bad when even Al Sharpton thinks he needs to be punished severely. Even Stephen Jackson, who was suspended last year for guns, said he would be smart enough not to bring the gun to the workplace.
If the altercation happened in the parking lot, or some party, its one thing. But to have them in the locker room, in the workplace is inexcusable. There's no way to justify or defend that. Im so disappointed.
I hope David Stern makes an example of him. Even when Ron Artest ran into the stands we understood why he did it, even though he was wrong. After it is said and done, Mr. "Hibatchi" is cooked. Burned out. Finished. So the team that waited for him, paid him, believed in him, ultimately was destroyed by him.
Now Agent Zero is now just a plain zero. Worth absolutely nothing. As DeNiro said in a Bronx Tale, " there's nothing worse than wasted talent". Enough said.
Character. Commitment. Connection. That's the motto on the Wizards website. Somebody must not have read it.