Gilbert Arenas: “My favorite player Penny (Hardaway) never gained his career back, but players like Grant Hill got to play again so hopefully I can keep moving too.”September 29, 2009 – 11:55 am by Jimmy Shapiro
This post was written by Chris Fedor of WKNR in Cleveland. Gilbert Arenas flew under the radar for a very long time when it came to basketball. It started in Arizona where he was underappreciated, then he was drafted in the second round by Golden State where he never really got the attention that he deserved and then came to Washington and became a three-time NBA All-Star. In fact for a three-year stretch beginning in 2004 with the Wizards, Arenas looked like he was going to take that next step and get to the status of “elite” in the NBA. Add in his “Agent Zero” persona and media friendly style and Arenas was as marketable as any player in the NBA. Things didn’t happen that way and he’s only played in 15 games since the start of 2007 because of various injuries.
Arenas has been working hard this offseason to get back to the level that he was at before the injuries and has a lot to prove this year in Washington. He signed a max contract in the summer of 2008 and did not live up to that kind of contract because he was only able to play in two games last season. He has stopped doing a lot of interviews, he’s stopped with the blogs and the off-the-court entertainment to focus on this season and get back to playing basketball at an extremely high level. It remains to be seen if the results will show up on the court.
Gilbert Arenas joined Mike Wise on 106.7 The Fan in Washington D.C to talk about his health heading into the season, how he is dealing with the backlash that he has gotten, and how far this Wizards team can go this season.
On feeling the backlash from Wizards fans:
“I just think with the whole contract thing and me being injured. It’s just like anything. What have you done for me lately? Instead of just sitting around talking and entertaining, people want to see basketball again.”
On how his knee is doing:
“The knee is fine. I worked my butt off with (Tim) Grover this year and he gave me one job this whole year. (He said) ‘I need you to lift two times a week on that knee to keep it strong for the season.’ He said ‘the same thing that I gave to Dwyane Wade, same thing I’m giving you. Two times a week, keep it strong.”
On dealing with injuries throughout his career:
“That’s the thing about it. When you read papers and things like that, I’m the one who’s getting surgeries, I’m the one who’s going thru pain and I’m the one that’s going through the rehab. As much as you guys are mad, I’m sitting here mad too about the whole situation. At the end of the day, it happens. That’s where I got my mind to. It happens to people. Some people get hurt and some people get back their careers. My favorite player Penny (Hardaway) never gained his career back, but players like Grant Hill got to play again so hopefully I can keep moving too.”
On whether he feared his career was over:
“That’s the way life is. That’s the way the NBA is. That’s the way careers are. There are players like (Michael) Jordan who play their full career, same thing with Kobe (Bryant) and same thing with hopefully LeBron (James). Then there’s some people who got hurt and don’t make it. (Host: Is that fear there?) I don’t fear it anymore. When I first got hurt and the second time I got injured I’m looking at it like ‘lame, my career is going down the drain just from this injury.’ At the end of the day you just have to keep playing with your love until you can’t do it anymore.”
On the Wizards bringing in Flip Saunders as Head Coach:
“I don’t want to bash the last coach, but the first time I talked to Flip (Saunders) was the longest I talked to a coach since I left Golden State in that 45 minute conversation with him and that was the longest I spoke to a coach. (Host: Was that when he came out to Chicago?) No it was when he first got here. We were in the locker room and it caught me off guard because usually you’re so used to saying ‘hey, alright bye.’ Then going to practice and never really having that conversation. To sit there and talk for 45 minutes I was like in awe.”
On the Wizards this year:
“It all depends on if were healthy. I can sit here and say ‘we can go to the championship, we can go to the first round,’ we don’t know. We’ve been saying that we can win 50 games for the last four years, but we’ve all been injured. We’re just going to go out there and see. We’re going to go out there and play hard. We’re not going to beat ourselves and we’re just going to play as a team.”