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The end of Agent Zero

I don't think it's possible to overstate my shock when I heard Gilbert Arenas was changing his number from 0 to 6. Gilbert was Zero, not just because of the goofy nickname, but because that infuriating sense of being slighted by the world was the thing that made his basketball career. Feels like I won't even recognize the guy when he shows up in a 6, that it'll be like seeing Art Monk in a Jets jersey, or maybe like that scene in 1984 where Winston and Julia see each other again but it's just not the same. The thought of Gilbert not wearing Zero is more jarring than the memory of him in a courtroom, pleading guilty. His career here was so intertwined with that dang number.

Anyhow, here are the first things that popped into my mind when I heard the news.

1) The above video. More than anything, the above video, in which he talks about why he wears 0.

"They thought I was a zero," he says. "Instead of sitting here being bitter, I just practiced, practiced. If no one believes in you, anything you do is a positive. It wasn't even about basketball anymore. It was about proving them wrong."

2) The section of the Esquire profile in which Gilbert talks about his draft-day injustice:

The subject steps out of his dressing closet holding a list he keeps there of every player in the 2001 NBA draft who was selected ahead of him. All thirty. He runs his fingers down the page. He has scratched out each player who is no longer in the league. "Hmpff," he says, pausing on a name. "I got to get the pencil out. Utah. Raul Lopez? Ain't seen him much lately."

3) The Zero 2 Hero Foundation. The highlight reels set to the Schoolhouse Rock tune, "My Hero, Zero." The book we might never see, which was to be called Score Like Agent Zero. His signature shoe line, the Gil-Zero. The cartoon series that never happened, Gazo The Pranksta, with Gazo coming from GilbertArenasZerO. And his long-dead blog, with the word "Zero" featured prominently right at the top. Not many athletes have tailored their marketing and their image so entirely around a single digit.

(Also, the only people with up-to-date Wizards jerseys now will be the very few psychos who invested in a Blatche, Young or McGee kit. Not too many of them out there.)

4) Somehow the "Zero" thing never seemed to be much of a storyline at Arizona or coming out of the draft, at least according to Nexis. The first time it really led a story in the archives came during a long Q&A with ANG Newspapers, from early in his second season.

"Gilbert Arenas feels he has to prove himself constantly," the story began. "That's why he wears "0" on his Golden State Warriors uniform. He chose that number at Arizona after critics told him he would get zero minutes as a freshman.

"An instant star at Arizona, Arenas left for the NBA after his sophomore year. But being drafted in the second round in June 2001 made him feel like a zero all over again. When detractors scoffed at his full-time transition from shooting guard to point guard this year, he had to prove them wrong once more Arenas is averaging 16.0 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.8 assists....Some zero this Arenas kid.

"It's like a reminder to me," he said of his lucky number.

Later in the Q&A, he was asked if he was getting more practical as he matured.

"Yeah, a lot," he answered. "When I first came in [the NBA], I was a loose cannon. But I'm trying to take responsibility for some of my actions."

And he was asked if he looks at life with a sense of humor.

"Yeah, I think too much," he said. "I think everything is funny. Life is too short for you to be serious all the time. I laugh at some stuff I shouldn't laugh at."

5) James Morris's recent quote about Gilbert. You remember Morris, yes? One of the founders of the Wizznutzz, and the man who coined the name Agent Zero? He talked to Dave McKenna about Gilbert's troubles shortly after his suspension earlier this year.

"If he stays with the Wizards, he'll be a sad and broken figure," Morris said. "If he's not smiling and telling jokes, if there's no joy, none of the things that made him special and different, and if he's not calling himself Agent Zero, then that's not redemption. What's he been able to save?"

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 11, 2010; 10:11 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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I was shocked when I heard this today too! Seriously, Zero defines Gilbert Arenas. Now to six?? It will never be the same. No more Agent Zero, Impossible is Zero, GilZeros (wouldn't have been anyway, adidas dropped him), Zero to Hero, "Zero, My Hero". Can we start a petition for him not to change? Especially the same year LeCrab is switching to the same number?!? He's doing it because of Jan. 6th, his birthday and the day he was suspended.....WACK! I think he'll be back in 0 before its all said and done. I will refuse to buy a Arenas "6" Jersey(until I do breakdown and buy one, of course lol). I sure hope he's back in Washington with it though!

Posted by: SkinsWizStangs | March 12, 2010 12:47 AM | Report abuse

If he wants to leave the gun incident behind him 6 is the last number he should use. People will just start calling him "Six Shooter!"

Posted by: kreen | March 12, 2010 2:11 AM | Report abuse

compared to number 6 King James... Gilbert is still a zero

Posted by: michaelejoseph | March 12, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse

No worries - Gilbert will always be a zero to me! Zero MVPs, zero championships, zero playoff series victories...

At least he can continue to act like a dork and be more concerned with partying with celebrities and what other people think of him, rather than reviving a dead NBA career.

Best of luck Six Shooter!

Posted by: Section104 | March 12, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

No worries - Gilbert will always be a zero to me! Zero MVPs, zero championships, zero playoff series victories...

check yourself on that last one...

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | March 12, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Maybe this is a shot across the bow to Lebron warning him not to sign here. Since Gil, y'know, has to be the Alpha dog and all. /sarcasm (slight)

There's still the MM issue, though.

Posted by: BMoreChil | March 12, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Too much fuss...too much hoopla surrounding this. The man will be one lucky muthasucka if he is able to play basketball again at the same high level he once did prior to his injury and this gun madness - if he's able to come back from all this mess and continue to be an offensive force to be reckoned with Wizards fans shouldn't give a flying fart what number he wears. Make up your minds people do you want a winning squad or do you want the chaos and distraction.

Posted by: blackman1 | March 12, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

von Oÿ

Posted by: pearlbullets | March 12, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

OMYGAWDDAN. I have never seen someone celebrate such a worthless group of players more passionately or relentlessly. PLEASE give it a rest. I'd rather you write about the NATS for cripes sakes!! WHO CARES about Gilbert's number?!?! The guy's a BUM and he'll probably never play here again! UGGGGGH. NO MORE STEINZ!

Posted by: MarylanDChris | March 12, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Anything that could possibly be seen as a slight to LeBron I highly support. Go do the BBD dance in a Geico commercial while you're at it. Say you can play Hockey. Wear Cowboys gear and have dinner with Mark Cuban. Do anything that might shed some light on what a jerk that dude is.

Or just play basketball? Welcome back, Six Shooter.

Posted by: claytonmedford | March 12, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Now if the Wiz could only get rid the sick-shooter as fast as they got rid of his number... but regardless, I wouldn't anticipate a run on #6 jerseys either.

Posted by: Vic1 | March 12, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Looking forward to buying a number 6 Arenas jersey. You still got a lot of fans in this town Gil. Don't listen to the morons who never were fans of yours or the Wizards to begin with.

Posted by: Barno1 | March 12, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Any number he wants so long as it's on some other team's jersey. He's a good scoring bozo and it's time to let him perform his act elsewhere. He ain't changing ... hell, he's a grown man. Is what he is.

Someone will take him. He could put some other team over .. in exchange we'll get a decent body in return. However, hopefully the financial hit it'll take to lose him is getting sorted out in the team's purchase price.

Posted by: tslats | March 12, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

#6 seems perfectly fitting. Now, instead of Agent Zero, he can be known as the "Six Shooter". Or would that be an insult since I'm sure the clip in his gun holds may more?

Posted by: TTURNER4111 | March 12, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Compared to number 6 King James... Gilbert is still a zero. Here is one good thing. Spend two minutes creating a profile and start connecting with tens of thousands of local or worldwide mature singles for dating, relationship, friendship, romance, ideal match or just a chat. Join my friend circle at ------Seek40Plus .C O M/tony------

Posted by: justmemez | March 12, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Good Luck!

Posted by: gwest1 | March 13, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

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