Agent Zero and the Hibachi announced their retirements from the NBA Monday, making way for a newcomer named Gilbert Arenas.
At the Washington Wizards' media day at Verizon Center, Arenas, who has missed all but 15 games the last two seasons thanks to three operations on his left knee, claimed that he planned on being a serious player this year, not the one who was "goofing around'' in his previous eight seasons, when he assigned himself nicknames, blogged religiously, put on practice exhibitions whose videos went viral, showed off his "phenomenal swag,'' and generally turned himself into a colorful and popular character.
"When I was entertaining and playing, all you guys focused on were my words. Now I'd rather that you guys just focused on my basketball,'' Arenas said during a nearly half-hour interview session that, contrary to his usual mode, he began at precisely the scheduled time.
(In fact, he did not appear at media day at all a year ago, as he was coming off his latest surgery, and said Monday he spoke mainly to avoid a fine.)
"So I'd rather take the gimmicks out and just play basketball,'' he continued.
Arenas' new approach was unveiled less than two weeks after being quoted in a Washington Times story as saying the organization brought him back too early previously "to sell tickets'' and that "they should have held me back.'' He stood by his comments today, although he accused reporters of "pull[ing] a couple of comments out of a full story.''
The three-time All-Star maintained that tone throughout: far less joking, more jabs at how he believed he was portrayed in recent years, and even sharper jabs at Eddie Jordan, who preceded newly-hired head coach Flip Saunders.
Part of it, Arenas said, was his determination to return to his previous form after so many setbacks to his knee; part came from a need to set a more serious tone in what had been a very loose locker room in recent years, and a big part was what he said is a reliance on him by Saunders for leadership.
"I'm just choosing -- I don't want to entertain anymore, I just want to go out and play,'' he said, adding about his former moniker-laden persona, who would never hesitate to admit that he played video poker before games in
the locker room, "That player is gone. I don't do that anymore.''
In discussing his satisfaction with Saunders, who both acknowledge has spoken to him regularly and at length throughout the offseason, Arenas weaved in digs at Jordan, fired 11 games into last season and now the head
coach in Philadelphia.
Follow NBA FanHouse "Besides my high school coach and Lute Olsen [at Arizona], actually, he was the only one I've ever had conversations with more than once,'' he said of Saunders, hired after the conclusion of the Wizards' 19-63 season, in which he played just two games. "It surprised me, especially when I read in the paper that he'd stay away from me, like I had the Ebola virus.''
Arenas, 27, said that he embraced the idea of being a leader, because after Jordan deemed him too young for the role five years ago when the coach first arrived, he turned down every subsequent request to be one.
When Saunders asked him, he said, "I was shocked, because I thought he was going to judge me by what everybody said. What I was hearing was that I was hard to coach, which surprised me because when I was playing I wasn't hard to coach, but the two years I didn't play, I was hard to coach. That was funny to me.''
I had to read the first sentence of that article a couple of times cause i thought it said gilbert was retiring. Im glad that gilbert's growing up but im not sure if it will be good for his game. He is coming into what... his 8th or 9th year (sorry if im off by a year or two) and you would think that he has developed into the type of player he was going to be for the rest of his career, and now he is changing that completely I just hope that he doesn't lose any of his old skills when he kicks out Agent 0 and hibachi