I have a soft spot for people who fall down and attempt to get back up. Some fall down due to circumstances beyond their control. Others at the hand of their own doing. Either way, that’s what life is about. Mistakes, making them. Learning from them. Not making the same mistakes again. Michael Vick is currently the poster-child for making good on a second chance, rightfully so.
When you see Gilbert Arenas on television in his new uniform, what do you see? Many of you will think of the incident in Washington where him an a teammate got into a dispute over a card game that spilled into the locker-room and resulted in the brandishing of some handguns.
That’s not what I think of when I see Gilbert Arenas.
I always liked Gilbert Arenas as a player. The whole reason behind him using the number “0” was creative and inspiring to me. It was about proving the doubters wrong.
I can remember a particular game against the Knicks where he did not take 1 shot in the first half because teammates had allegedly claimed he shoots too much. The Knicks were winning that game until the second half where Gilbert then exploded offensively and lead his team back to victory. Point made.
The Rookie/Sophmore Game where Gilbert Arenas bounced the ball off Carlos Boozer’s face as if he was playing in Rucker Park and ended up taking home the MVP Of The Game Award.
There was the big shots in the playoffs against Chicago and his epic playoff battle with Lebron James where they went blow for blow, bucket for bucket in one of the best playoff series of that year.
The 3 time all-star, Most Improved Player Awards, 3 time ALL NBA Selections, The nick-names (Agent Zer0 and Hibachi), The Blog before Players Blogged, All of this from a 31st pick in the second round of the 2001 NBA Draft who was predicted to play zero minutes in college. Pretty impressive right?
I suppose. Whats more impressive to me is the road before the NBA for Gilbert Arenas.
Gilbert Arenas was raised by his father. His father gained custody of him when Gilbert was just three years old. Gilberts mother was mixing it up with the wrong crowd and was battling her own demons. The type of demons that make it unsafe for a young child to be around.
Gilbert Arenas Sr. was an aspiring actor. They headed to California in search of that dream. $75 dollars, a car and a dream. That car ended up being their home. Gilbert Jr. & Gilbert Sr. both slept in that car at night. Either there or the local YMCA. Something similar to the bond between Will Smith and his son when he played Chris Gardner in “The Pursuit Of Happyness” Something a young father and his son should not have to go through but these are the lessons life teaches you, even when you did not sign up for that class.
Gilbert Arenas Jr fell in love with basketball. Gilbert Sr. was an athlete himself but his sport of choice was baseball. Either way, this was the common bond between son and father. They spend hours on the court together. Imagine Denzel Washington and a young Jesus Shuttlesworth on the courts of Coney Island in “He Got Game” except this was not a movie. This was Gilbert Senior schooling Gilbert Jr. Not only on basketball but life in general. Pushing him as hard as he could. Making a man of a boy. A father was a luxury a lot of friends of Arenas growing up did not have. So it was special for him. He appreciated it.
Gilberts started as a backup at Arizona but when Ruben Douglas transferred to New Mexico, it was game time. He went from backup guard to a starter and MVP honors of the NIT Pre-Season. He then became the teams leading scorer and helped take the team to the National Title Game.
Riding off his success, the NBA Draft was the assumed destination. He slipped to the second round. Something he did not expect. Adversity shows its ugly face again for Gilbert.
Stuck on the bench. He proclaimed he would be a starter by the Allstar Break. Bold statement by a bold young man. He worked on his game every day, every night, jumper after jumper. Improvement came. By the 50th game or so, he was a starter. Averaged 14ppg and 5 apg as one.
Gilbert – 3
Adversity – 0
He became better and better. Most improved player., Allstar Player, All NBA, Clutch shot after clutch shot. He arrived.
Never did Gilbert forget the road traveled to get here. Many NBA players make millions and forget about the days of not having. Not Gilbert.
Sure he loved the spot-light., the attention, the life. Who wouldnt? But in his spare time he was working with the homeless, giving out fur-coats, donating $100 for every point scored, or jumping off trampolines dunking the ball in order to get Shaq to make a $100,000 donation to Gilberts Charity “Zer0 to Her0”.
Remember the score? 3-0 against “Adversity”? Well, adversity has made a comeback in a winner take all re-match.
Gilbert gets a new start though. New team, New Year, New Goals, Same Fight. Him vs Adversity. This time the match although self-inflicted by Gilberts folly. I am pretty sure he can come away victorious again.
He’s teamed up with the leagues best big man in Dwight Howard and newly acquired Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu. It might take them some time but if they go to clicking, I’m sure Gilbert got some heroics left come April, May or June.
Hibachi’s heat up quick.