Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Gilbert Arenas Should Calm Down. But Just a Little Bit.

I have had enough of Gilbert Arenas. Really, Gil, it's enough.

Now, this is absolutely hypocritical of me. I know this. I can't stand it when athletes rattle off quote after rehearsed quote without even thinking about what they are saying. Nothing could be more boring. It was beyond refreshing when Gilbert started just saying whatever popped into his head. Most every athlete is going to have something funny or insightful or crazy or ridiculous to say every so often, but no one delivers the goods on a consistent basis like Gil - it isn't even close, actually - and, really, my life is more fulfilled because of it.

But he needs to just quit for a while. I don't stop altogether, but just take a break, gather his thoughts, drop some more game-winners, keep the Wiz winning, and everyone will be dying to hear from you come playoff time. I picture him with a little dry erase board where he can write things down that pop into his head so he won't forget later.

Let us miss you a little bit, Gil.

It is just getting to be too much. You can't go two days without hearing something outlandish from Gilbert HQ. Take his prediction that he would drop 50 on he Blazers because he feels Nate McMillan played a huge role in getting him cut from team USA this summer. He didn't get 50; he didn't even come close: he scored 9. Instead of just chalking it up to an off night or making a small joke - really, anything would have done - he came up with some excuse about too much focus on defense that I don't even think he believed:

"I knew after I said that that they'd double (team) me," he says "so I came out not too aggressive and got my teammates involved. It was part of my plan. But when we go up to their place, they won't be expecting it, and they won't double me. That's when I'm really planning on dropping 50."
(Quick sidenote: I'm getting all this from The D.C. Sports Bog, which, aside from blogging about all things DC sports, is awesome and couldn't have possibly picked a better pro basketball team to blog about. You have the daily Arenas quote, you have Brendan Todd Haywood ripping out dreads, Etan Thomas reading poetry and psyco-analyzing teammates, you have DeShawn Stevenson gambling away 5% of his salary while on film, you have a coach flipping out and kicking basketballs...really, if this was a TV series, no one would even believe it. Hell, it's real and I don't even believe it.)

First of all, how the hell do you "come out real aggressive and get your teammates involved"? Those seems to be mutually exclusive to me. But even that isn't true; he only had two assists, plus he jacked 8 threes and made none of them. And now the next time you play is when you "really plan on dropping 50"? C'mon Gil, just say you had a bad game and move on.

Then, for no real reason apparently, he decides to take a jab at LeBron:
"The guy LeBron needs is Sam Cassell," says Arenas, "He needs someone who wants to take the big shots at the end of the game." I interject that LeBron would never stand for that -- it would kill his ego. "LeBron would much rather have Cassell take the final shot," says Arenas. "People don't realize that LeBron doesn't want it."
This...this is just astounding to me. Is Gilbert a goldfish? Does he not remember how his season ended last year? LeBron had two game winners, and a third if you count him psyching Gilbert out at the line before Damon Jones drilled a game winner to send Gil back to his hyper-baric chamber for the summer. Unreal: Arenas has the most memorable choke at the free throw line since Nick Anderson committed career suicide, and he takes unprovoked jabs at LeBron for not being clutch enough.

(Incedentally, LeBron really could use a great - um, good - point guard to play with. Cassell would be phenomenal in this regard. But not because LBJ isn't clutch enough.)

Listen, I love Gilbert. I love how he uses slights, whether real or perceived, to motivate him. If every athlete was this driven, the sporting world would be a better place. Much better, actually. I love how he wears the number 0 to remind himself of his doubters. I love how he works on his game constantly, to the point the coaches worry about him. I love how he looks for even the smallest advantage and then takes it to the extreme, like converting his entire house into one, huge hyper-baric chamber to simulate high altitude conditions. I love how he never forgets any disparaging comment, no matter how tiny; he started saying "quality shot" instead of Hibachi when he shot, because Kobe (!) questioned his shot selection.

But I am worried that he is turning into George Costanza in the last few seasons of Seinfeld, where George just really turned into a paradoy of himself. It was too much, it was over-the-top. Gilbert seems to be heading down the same road. He seems to just be saying shit because people have come to expect ridiculous shit from him. But really, he's like that guy from the Tigers last season who hit like 15 homers in the first week of the season - phenomenal, yes, but there is just no way to keep up that kind of pace. (Hey, I made Gil into a sitcom character and a baseball player in one paragraph. That was fun.)

Most of the stuff he says and does is usually all in good fun. After D'Antoni made his Duke comment, Gil took is seriously, but not too seriously; his "84 or 85" comment was great. Admitting he plays poker at halftime is hilarious, even if his coach probably wanted to pull an Awvee Storey on him after he said it. The $20,000 bet with Stevenson? Absolutely phenomenal; it showed simultaneously how good and light-hearted he is.

But this latest stuff....really, what purpose does it serve? Does it make him look funny? No, and it doesn't even seem like that is just "Gil being Gil." It seems forced, unnatural. Unprovoked shots at a player who owned you and your team in the playoffs? Bad excuses for dismal performances? He really set the bar too high; he set himself up to look bad. I just don't want him losing his credibility or people being dismissive of him because all he does is talk, talk, talk (man, I really do care...) and then has to make even more outrageous statements to cover for his old ones.

So, Gil, take a break. Honestly, what would cause more of a stir: Gil saying a few more off-the-wall things, or refusing to speak until the playoffs? People would lose their minds if he suddenly turned into a Belichik-level recluse. That, I think, would be the most talked about thing he ever did.

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