Gilbert Arenas’ rise and fall is one of the saddest stories we’ve covered at LBS. Back when the site began in 2007, Gil was around the peak of his popularity and one of the personalities that drove the site. He was the first professional athlete to embrace new media and his NBA.com blog was immensely popular. He talked wildly, made boastful predictions, and he made the NBA fun.
Arenas hurt his knee at the end of the ’06-’07 season, re-injured it trying to come back too quickly, and then missed almost the entire season after having his third knee surgery in two years. The knee surgeries took away his quickness, which was his greatest asset as a player. When he did come back, he played 32 games before getting busted for bringing guns into the Wizards’ locker room and ended up suspended the rest of the season. Gil went from being one of the most beloved players in the league to one of the most notorious.
In a lengthy interview with SI’s Sam Amick, Gil said he doesn’t want the gun incident to define him, and he doesn’t think it should.
“When I got amnestied, I could’ve just taken the money and just left, and just basically said, ‘Hey, you guys did me a favor. I don’t want to be crucified anymore.’ As much as I’ve done for fans and for people, it sucks the way the world works. You can do a hundred things for people, but you do one bad mistake and everyone crucifies you and that’s all they want to remember. They don’t want to remember I gave my own money to the [Washington] D.C. school district and built up the D.C. school district. They don’t want to remember none of that. They just want to remember, ‘Oh, I single-handedly destroyed the Washington Wizards franchise.’ It sucks, but that’s the way it is.”
Arenas opened up about many of his mental issues. He talked about his Agent Zero persona and how he confused it with real life. He admits he wasn’t mentally ready when he was traded to Orlando last season. He talked about not having his basketball spirit. But he insists he’s not a bad person.
“I might have my issues like every other person, but other than that I have a good heart, a good spirit,” Arenas said.
“Before that incident, I was the people’s champion, God’s gift to all fans, gave fans everything. If I never go back to the NBA, I had a great career. I’ve hit big shots. I’ve had my moments. Hey, everyone can’t win a championship, but I had fun. I got to play the game that I always dreamed of, and I did it more than I expected it. That’s how I look at it now.”
Gil is trying to make a comeback but says he won’t until he’s completed his rehab from procedures on his knees and hip. I hope he’s able to have a successful return to the league. It wouldn’t seem right for him to end his career so depressingly.
There is plenty of more good insight about Gil’s life in the interview. Go here to read it all.
H/T Ball Don’t LieGoogle+