Gilbert in the News. A lot.
[Edit: In case you don't want to read all that follows, we have:
You hate to think about the end before the beginning, but I can't stop wondering if this will be the best Gilbert week of my life, if it's all downhill after this. Filling out the all-star ballots, praising Kobe, hitting that shot, the birthday party, the inntertubenets gone gaga, what's next?
Oh, and I forgot the "Agent Zero Movie Trailer" that Comcast showed during SportsNite last nite. YouTube, anyone? From the trailer, to the introduction to the trailer, to the commentary on the trailer, I'm guessing CSN used the phrase "Agent Zero" about 83 times last night. My only complaint was that the fake "critics' praise" lines came from Mike Wise and Joseph "The Omnipresent Beret" White. I mean, if you're doing an "Agenz Zero" trailer, you have to use a quote from the Wizznutzz, no? I know of at least three CSN employees who occasionally stop by these parts; explain yourselves, please.
Anyhow, here's some help in decoding this week's events. The NYTimes finally weighs in after visiting us on Tuesday. GMEG calls Gil an assassin. Gil talks about being a person, not a superstar. But this is my favorite quote, one that evidently emerged when I was not in the room:
"Most of the stars, they're not entertainers," Arenas said in an interview in Washington on Tuesday after a Wizards practice. Referring to Heat center Shaquille O'Neal, he said: "When I was growing up, that's what I loved about Shaq. I want to be like that, fun-loving. I think everyone takes things too serious. For some reason, I look around, it's like, we're not grateful for what we get and what we are."
He says things like this, and you wonder how much self-consciousness enters into the world of Gil. But frankly, I don't buy it. Even if he can recognize the value of what he's doing, it's still genuine. Woody Allen might understand that his withering self-loathing might make for great comedy, but that doesn't mean he doesn't hate himself.
The NYTimes writer describes Wednesday's end like this: "He simply turned around and walked to the Wizards' bench before it even dropped. For once, his drama was in the understatement."
But I think that gets it wrong. If you've watched that clip as much as I have, or as much as FreeDarko has, you'll be struck by the same thing FD was struck by: the sneer. The AP called it a snarl. It was vicious. I didn't know that guy. I've never seen anything remotely approaching that look from Gil off the court. That wasn't a ha-ha-ha, I'm 8-for-8-from-35-feet, I-have-phenomenal-swag, I-play-halo-and-make-funny-comments look. That was Kobe. That was M.J. That was "I'm better than you, and I know it, and now you know it." FD writes:
I don't doubt that Arenas is a kind-hearted fellow and a pleasure to know, but on the court he is every bit as bad as Kobe, KG, Iverson or Amare. In a roundabout way, he ends up with the same ecstatic "[bleep] you," that ability to show the game belongs to him. And while he may be making pulp of the league as of late, cognitively this is nothing new to him....
Gilbert Arenas hasn't changed. He's still the same guy he always was, is still going to say weird [bleep], make backward decisions, remain at once loose and grounded, and refuse to take himself too seriously as a public figure. Flip to basketball and all that's true--except he's always taken the game deadly serious. He doesn't see luck or whimsy, either in the career he's led or the way he goes about extending it each night. We're just only beginning to recognize the contrast between on-court Gilbert and the off-court icon we've polished. Similar form, completely different impetus. It's only when he's casually lighting up every team in sight, and baring his soul with a walk-off sneer, that this has become truly impossible to deny.
I couldn't say that better, so I won't try. I willl, however, steal from one of FreeDarko's commenters, Abe Froman (Froman?), who writes this:
Since moving to DC last year, the Wizards and Gilbert have simply made my life better. It sounds weird, but in a town so focused on style over substance, a town where true diversity provides the vibration of life into the city, a city where the longer you are here the bigger the gap between the haves (the kids who can afford to take 20K a year Congressional jobs and live in Georgetown and are the macro-image of DC), and the haves-not-so-much (the born and bred locals who make this city beautiful on the micro scale) seems so evident... the Wizards this year have been an amazing experience.
Tom Knott would likely disagree with the pinko sentiments implied, and maybe this goes a little too far, and let's be honest, those Wiz tickets aren't exactly being offered at Safeway Savings Card prices, but I can see how Gilbert could make one's life better, I think.
When Gilbert gets into a rhythm he doesn't get hot. Hot gets Gilbert Arenas.
Why did Gilbert go for the three when it was tied against the Bucks? Because he couldn't go for five.
Etc. Closer to home, The Examiner tells us that Gil has been offering advice to Phil Hubbard's high-school aged son. The Omnipresent Beret recaps Wednesday night the day after, while dropping in the prospect of some MVP votes. Official Wizards Beat Writer Ivan Carter goes further, saying Gil has been playing like he "knows he's the baddest man on the court," and giving us a Michael Redd quote that seems to endorse Gil's MVP candidacy:
"Who's playing better than him right now?" said Redd, who is in the midst of a career season himself. "He's been unstoppable. He's been on one of those rolls you dream about and they're winning."
Bob Cohn at the Washington Times, who was also in on Gil's 30-minute discourse Tuesday afternoon, offers his look at our "Public Superstar No. 1:"
Right now, this is Gilbert Arenas' time and place, and he is alone on the stage.
"It seems to me that he's the most popular athlete in town, and he's earned that," said Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld, who lured Arenas away from Golden State in 2003 . "He's a compelling personality and also someone who produces. He's playing as well as any player in the league right now."
(Although I might quibble with this part of BC's story: "He acquired the nickname 'Agent Zero.'" Well, yeah, and in the Garden of Eden, Adam "acquired" Eve. I mean, let's be fair here; Gilbert was given the nickname "Agent Zero." He was subject, not actor.)
(And this nugget was actually disturbing:
Moreover, according to Neil Schwartz , director of business development for SportsScan, Arenas jerseys do not rank in the top 50 in sales nationally.
"Gilbert Arenas doesn't have a large national following," Schwartz said. "It's really all about players and visibility, getting to the playoffs, winning the championship. Right now he doesn't have that."
That's just wrong. I'm gonna forget I read that.)
Tom Knott also weighs in this morning, calling Gil "the anti-Webber" and giving a very nice plug for the Bog, earning the title Bog friend. Although the item he cited was far from exclusive. Still, thanks for that. This is The Power of Gil; he can even bridge journalistic divides.
Finally, the Wizznutzz offer up Daaaaaaggeeeeeerrrrrr ring tones, referencing the play-by-play call that "was so powerful Steve Buckhantz had lost 2 pant-sizes by the time he was finished." Also, WNTZ sum up the final shot thus:
Did u see poor CHarlie Bell try and defend.. C Bell couldnt have been more disrespected if his wife got pregnant, then died in childbirth, then doctor comes and tells him paternity test shows father is a bogeyman from Cuban Folklore called: "El Jambomba!" (The BaconMan!)
Bacon wraps it all up, like "it" was a scallop. Oh what a beautiful morning; here's to a beautiful day.
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