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?"
Posted by: SkinsWizStangs | March 12, 2010 12:47 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: kreen | March 12, 2010 2:11 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: michaelejoseph | March 12, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Section104 | March 12, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | March 12, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: BMoreChil | March 12, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: blackman1 | March 12, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: pearlbullets | March 12, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: MarylanDChris | March 12, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: claytonmedford | March 12, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Vic1 | March 12, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Barno1 | March 12, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tslats | March 12, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: TTURNER4111 | March 12, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: justmemez | March 12, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: gwest1 | March 13, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.