Gilbert Arenas: 'I'm Going to Try to Come Back' to the NBA

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2013

Gilbert Arenas: 'I'm Going to Try to Come Back' to the NBA

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    Three-time NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas is planning a comeback.

    Arenas, who hasn't played at the NBA level since 2011-12 when he appeared in 17 games for the Memphis Grizzlies, spoke with Bleacher Report in promotion of Zya, an interactive musical game from Music Mastermind.

    Per Zya's official website, the app allows you to "mash-up world-famous songs" and "mix your own vocal melodies into a surefire hit." Finished products can then be shared via various social-media platforms.

    While discussing his involvement with Zya, Arenas also spoke of a potential NBA return next season. The high-scoring guard played for 11 years in the Association, more than seven of which were spent with the Washington Wizards. After brief stints with the Orlando Magic and Grizzlies, he has since stepped away, surfacing only to work out at the Los Angeles Lakers facility this past offseason.

    During our conversation, Arenas also talked starting fives, NBA teams he believes could use him now, Kobe Bryant's and Derrick Rose's returns, and reflected on his career and life thereafter.

    Believe me when I say his thoughts are a must-read.  

On Returning to the NBA

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    Bleacher Report: Is there anything else you see yourself pursuing down the line, in or outside the game of basketball?

    Gilbert Arenas: Yeah, right now I'm just developing apps. Next summer, I'm going to train really hard and then try to make a team. I'm going to try to come back. 

    B/R: What would you tell NBA teams about what you can still bring to the table?

    GA: I would rather just show them. All they would have to do is give me an opportunity to perform in front of them. You know, I'm a gamer. I work hard. If I'm going to come to your team, or try out for your team, I'm going to give you my all. That's what I did [when I played].

    If you take away the last few years, from my last year in Washington, and you think about my career, there was nothing but hard work. I was in the gym three or four times a day, working on my skills. If we lost a game, and I thought I played bad, I'm staying in the gym to keep shooting. That's what I did. That's what I was known for: I was a gym rat.

    I made a mistake, and that's what we all do.

On NBA Teams He Could Help Now

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    B/R: Do you think there is any NBA team in particular right now that could really use you and what you would bring?

    GA: I know the Knicks—I've watched them. They need a lot of help; they need scoring. 'Melo [Carmelo Anthony] needs an outlet. Someone who can just put the ball in the basket and take the pressure off him.

    I [also] called Jason Kidd before the season and said 'Listen, I feel that I can be better than some of the players you're going to have.' But they were already stacked to the brim. I thought I would've been great coming off the bench for the Brooklyn Nets. 

    With Derrick Rose being down, Chicago could use some more scoring. They're struggling a little bit. 

    I guess the Lakers, with Steve Nash out. I think I could've made that squad, because that's who I was working out with before training camp started. I was playing pretty well there. But they had 15 players, so...

On Building a Starting Five and Today's Superstars

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    USA TODAY Sports

    B/R: If you had to build a starting five using only active NBA players, who would make the cut?

    GA: LeBron [James] at the 1; Kobe [Bryant] at the 2; Kevin Durant at the 3; Tim Duncan at the 4; and Dwight Howard at the 5.

    B/R: Do you have an all-time starting five, using NBA legends or whomever you'd like?

    GA: Yes, I do. I do. LeBron at the 1; Kobe-[Michael] Jordan at the 2-3. If they played in the triangle that's what it would be. My 4? That's a tough one. Hakeem Olajuwon at the 4, and Wilt [Chamberlain] at the 5.

    B/R: Which current NBA player, or players, are most similar to you, when you were in your prime?

    GA: I like Kyrie [Irving]. He's a little bit more flashier than I was, but getting to the basket, having the one-on-one ability to your game, so you don't need the pick-and-roll to get you open—he has that. It'd be Kyrie.

    B/R: Are there any active stars you think you could currently beat in a game of one-on-one?

    GA: How many one-on-one players are there? There's a difference between one-on-one players and great NBA players. Like LeBron James—great NBA player. He's going to go down as one of the best. But a one-on-one player? He's not built for one-on-one. Kevin Durant is not a one-on-one player. Kobe is the perfect one-on-one player. So, I'll just say [I can beat] about half [of today's superstars] in a game of one-on-one.

On His Career

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    B/R: What do you miss most about playing in the NBA?

    GA: The excitement, the crowd, the fans, the players. When you're in a sport, the players around you every day are like your actual family. You laugh, you fight together, you go to war together; you win, you lose together. Most [former] players miss that—being around other players.

    B/R: How do you think your career would have been different had you not suffered any serious injuries, or if there hadn't been any of that drama in Washington?

    GA: I try not to do the fantasy thing. If I didn't get hurt, what would I be? Who knows? When I look back on my career, from the hard work I put in, I got everything I deserved.

    The thing that happened in Washington—it happened. All you can do is just grow from it. That took a toll on me. That was probably—I think if I could've bounced mentally out of that situation faster than I did, I would probably still be in the NBA. But since I couldn't understand why they were trying to treat me like that, I basically gave up. I just didn't want to be a part of it anymore. I never really tried anymore. I just basically gave up.

    B/R: You said you will try to make a comeback next season. Are there any particular reasons you didn't try to pursue a career overseas more aggressively? 

    GA: I went to China. I got hurt, but I came back; I was averaging 29 and 12. I felt I worked too hard, and perfected my skill and my talent, to just play in China and go through the motions and dominate. I wanted to be challenged; I want to be challenged. I want my talent to be challenged. And China wasn't going to do it. I had three groin pulls and I'm averaging 29 and 12, and I couldn't even run up and down the court.

    B/R: When all is said and done, after you make this comeback and everything, how would you like to be remembered in the scheme of NBA history?

    GA: The same way as when I was playing: This is a player—this was a fan who got the chance to play in the NBA. All the other stuff—[like] like missing shots—I don't want to be known for that. That was just part of the game. I want to be appreciated.

On Kobe Bryant and Derrick Rose

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    B/R: Kobe Bryant recently made his return from a ruptured Achilles. How do you kind of see the rest of his career panning out? Do you think he'll return to previous form?

    GA: I watched his first two games, and they went as expected, or as I expected. He only had like three days of practice—two hard, one just through the motions. I mean, even with the best of players, which he is, I didn't see how he was going to try to dominate the game. He has to ease into it; he has to ease his body into it. 

    We'll start seeing who Kobe is and what Kobe can bring, I would say, at the All-Star break. He'll have about 15-to-17 games into his system, to get his rhythm—to find his game rhythm. I know everyone is always saying, 'Oh, it's just like riding a bike.' Yeah, it is just like riding a bike. But if you're a marathon runner, a marathon fighter, you have to get to that level. 

    B/R: Is there any advice you would offer Kobe, as someone who worked through injuries, on how to get back and deal with this moving forward?

    GA: With him, no, I wouldn't. There's no advice I could give the best player in the world who has been through injury. If I had to give somebody advice, it would have been Derrick Rose. 

    B/R: What advice would you have given Derrick Rose?

    GA: What he did last year when he missed the whole season was perfect. I loved every moment of it. That's what he should've done. If I could've [waited] longer, that's what I would've done. 

    When I saw the first preseason game, and everybody was, 'Oh, Derrick Rose is back,' I said to myself, 'He's not going to last 15 games.' Derrick Rose's problem was that, when you land, your knee comes inward. While I'm watching the games, he was—like him and [Russell] Westbrook, they're wild jumpers. Every time he jumps, he's wild. Every time he lands, he's wild. His ability never changed. He never corrected his jumping pattern or his landing pattern. 

    It was like having a Ferrari on not Ferrari tires. You have it on spare tires. So that's how I would put it: He has a Ferrari engine on spare tires—eventually, they're going to blow.

    But when I saw him jumping, I was like, 'Oh man, I wish I could talk to him and say listen, you need to change your game a little bit. You can't go in the lane jumping and exploding like you did. Your body's not ready for it.'

    My advice, especially for the first month of basketball, first two months: Just change the way you play. Stay on the ground as much as possible. Don't hit the lane as hard with so much force. That's what you should learn—like with Westbrook. He should have perfected that mid-range game over the summer.

On Life After the NBA

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    B/R: What connections, if any, do you still have with the game of basketball?

    GA: I was a fan [of the NBA] before I became a player. So today, I still watch most likely every game. I just bounce from game to game, watch it on the Internet, watch it on my phone and see what's going on.

    B/R: Outside of basketball, what are some of the projects you're heavily involved in?

    GA: Right now, Zya, the music app that just came out last Thursday. That's one of the big projects I'm working on right now. I'm very excited that it just came out. You know, sports players, it's hard for us to transfer from sports to anything else, so I was fortunate to get on this project.

    B/R: What's your favorite part about the Zya app? 

    GA: One, I'm a video-gamer. They put it video-game style so it would keep your attention. You get to mash music up. You get to blend songs from old school to new school. Instead of just buying an app and playing with it for five minutes, then you're done with it, I caught myself and my kids being on it for hours. We want to have the best song out there. 

    B/R: Are there any mashes you've done yourself that you personally like? Or any ideal song mashes you would like to do?

    GA: My daughter mashes "Poker Face" with everything. No matter what we do, it's the "Poker Face" mash. So we definitely have the same sound all the time. It's kind of funny, because she loves Lady Gaga.

On Offering Advice to Younger Players

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    B/R: Is there any advice you would offer to young guys entering the league, or who are just starting out in the NBA, based on your own experiences?

    GA: When I was younger, just like any basketball player, the dream was to make the NBA. But once you make it, then what's your dream? So I had to change my goal and my dreams. What I did was, I did everything I could have.

    If I had to tell young kids—I'd give them some advice on basketball and how to outwork everybody else.

    Love what you're doing. The NBA is not a job. Don't look at it as a job. This is your life. This is what you want to do. 

    It's a sport. Don't think of it as a job. It's your life. Because, you know, everyone gets sick of their job at some point. But if it's something that you're meant for, then you're going to be the best at it.


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