A Tattoo You Can Believe In
"Gilbert's bored," Etan Thomas said, shaking his head, as he got prepared for Saturday's eventual debacle against the Orlando Magic.
As usual, Gilbert Arenas was holding court and cracking jokes with his teammates before the game, so I assumed that Thomas was talking about Arenas doing his nightly comedy routine. Shortly thereafter, it became clear that Thomas was talking about something else entirely.
Arenas walked by Thomas and Thomas stopped him to look at Arenas's hand. Then Thomas licked his thumb and rubbed Arenas's hand trying to smear off the ink. When the ink remained, Thomas chuckled, shook his head some more, and walked away.
I walked up to Arenas to see what got Thomas so worked up and looked in amazement. Arenas has decided to show his permanent support of President-elect Barack Obama with a tattoo. Arenas had the words "Change We Believe In" tattooed onto the fingers of his left hand in cursive writing. Then, Gilbert showed the outside of his pinky finger, which had "44" inked on it.
Arenas shortened Obama's campaign slogan, "Change We Can Believe In," choosing not to add ink to his thumb. Arenas has "change" written on the outside of his index finger; "we" on the inside of his middle finger; "believe" on the inside of his ring finger; and "in" on the inside of his pinky and "44" on the outside of his pinky. In case you didn't already know, Obama will be the 44th POTUS.
Arenas said he went down to Miami to have his favorite tattoo artist stitch him up after the Wizards arrived in Orlando late Friday night. He didn't explain how he got there -- Miami is an hour flight or three-hour drive from Orlando -- and I was too shocked by the tattoo to ask a follow-up question. All that I could say was, "You've got a lot of free time, don't you?"
For a player who said he wasn't even going to vote just three weeks ago, Arenas changed his apolitical stance quickly -- and dramatically. Arenas said on Saturday that his previous comments about not voting because he was afraid of having higher taxes were "a joke that nobody got." He added that he always planned on voting for Obama but was waiting to find the right reasons.
"I wasn't going to sit there and wing it for no reason," Arenas said, "Like oh yeah, he's black so I'm voting [for him]. I could've said I was voting for [John] McCain because he's from Arizona and went to all the games."
Arenas said he went with Obama because he was impressed with his demeanor and temperament.
Arenas has gone all out for Obama, adding that he hired an artist last week to paint a mural with Obama's family on one side and Arenas's fiancee and children on another side of a wall in Arenas's house. "He united people," Arenas said of Obama. "By him winning, it showed the world that we're not as racist as people think we are. I think that's the beauty of [the election]. Not just because he's the first African American president. America is not as bad as people think we are."
Arenas once dubbed himself, "Black President," but said he had no problem conceding the title with a real black president now heading to Washington. He said he even plans on getting a Wizards jersey that reads "Obama 44" and will ask him to sign it if and when Obama decides to attend a game at Verizon Center. Arenas said there is even more reason to win a championship, "because if you win the championship, you go to the White House."
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