Nov 10, 2010, 2:04 PM EDT
Gilbert Arenas always came off as a guy above it, a guy who didn’t care what you think. He was playing the game, his way, you could love it or leave it. Agent Zero was footloose and care free.
Except that’s not the case, especially after last season’s gun suspension. He missed a home game this preseason not because of a sore knee (what he told the team) or because he wanted Nick Young to get some burn (what he told reporters and got fined for), his real concern was the crowd reaction, he tells Sports Illustrated.
“I was really scared of getting booed,” says Arenas. “It’s a little crazy because I was here with Kwame Brown when Kwame was scared to go out there. I used to be like, Man, it’s just boos. Now here I was six years later, and I was him. I was scared to go out there.”
You can buy this version of the story or not. To me, it seems the most plausible, and makes Arenas the most accessible. Nobody wants to be booed by 18,000 people. Not even Kobe (although he’ll just grind it up into hate fuel).
The fantastic piece by Chris Manix in SI shows a lot of sides of Arenas, including the one who is sure he and Wall will blend perfectly.
“I said to my friends that I wish (Wall getting drafted to the Wiz) happened four years ago,” says Arenas, 28. “I wish it happened before the knee injuries, because this team would have been fabulous. I always kept saying I wanted another two guard that can take on the scoring or for them to bring in a point guard so I can go to the two. When they drafted him, I thought it was the smartest idea.”
Really, go read the whole piece. Arenas is not a two-dimensional character, he’s real and flawed but seems to have grown through it all.