Gilbert Arenas is averaging a microscopic 4.3 points, but he seems happier than most guys who are putting up 20 a night.
At Friday morning’s shootaround at AmericanAirlines Arena, the guard was all smiles as his Memphis Grizzlies prepared to face the Miami Heat. And why not? What he calls the worst period of his life is over.
“I call them the dark years,’’ Arenas says of the period between December 2009 and December 2011. “What’s funny is I don’t remember them. When people ask me about those years, I just don’t remember. I guess I just subconsciously blanked them all out. … I’m just trying to have fun now.’’
That gloomy period started when it came to light Arenas had drawn guns in the locker room with guard Javaris Crittenton when the two were with the Washington Wizards. Arenas ended up being suspended for the remainder of the season.
“From there, I just tried to forget about life,’’ said Arenas, 30, a three-time All-Star who is now just a role player.
He says the dark years ended last December when, as part of the NBA’s amnesty rule, he was let go by Orlando. While the Magic remained on the hook for the final three years and $62 million of his contract, it would seem strange to think the day he was waived out of the league would be such a happy one.
But let Arenas explain.
“When I got amnestied, I thought that was the best thing that happened to me because I didn’t have the pressure anymore,’’ said Arenas, who averaged 8.0 points in 49 games for the Magic last season after he had begun the year with Washington before being traded. “I didn’t have the media scrutiny anymore. I was just free. I was just a normal person again.’’
Well, he didn’t exactly live the life of a typical working stiff. Arenas embarked upon what he called an “extended vacation.’’
He went fishing. He spent his days in Orlando racing go-karts, reaching speeds between 80 and 90 mph.
“I called that my job. I’d wake up and take the kids to school and then go (to the track) from like 10 o’clock to 5,’’ said Arenas, who has four children with girlfriend Laura Govan, the two oldest being 5 and 6. “It was fun. When I was playing, I focused so much on basketball that I never really had (the time) to enjoy myself. So, I basically was just enjoying myself for the first time.’’
Maybe it wasn’t driving go-karts, something Arenas said he can’t do under an NBA contract, but he certainly did have his fun before all this, too. Wearing No. 0 and having given himself the nickname “Agent Zero,’’ he spoke and blogged about plenty of wild things while with the Wizards.
But the fun came to an end once Arenas and Crittenton drew guns on each other in the locker room during an argument about gambling debts.
“We had a locker room incident that happens in locker rooms,’’ said Arenas, who now wears No. 10, while giving few specifics. “Nobody usually finds out about locker rooms. So it got put out, and the way it got put out. I mean, it was more business than it was what I did or what people think I did. It was more business. It was a business deal. … You’re in the middle of a negotiation. You got to find all the leverage you can.’’
While Arenas returned to Wizards the following season, Crittenton has not played a single minute in the NBA since the incident, which resulted in him also being suspended for the remainder of 2009-10.
Crittenton last summer was charged with murdering a 22-year-old mother of four in his hometown of Atlanta. Police allege Crittenton had instead been targeting another individual who had robbed him earlier in the year. Crittenton, who has denied any involvement, is currently out on bond awaiting trial.
“Hey, when it was supposed to have been both of us going through the same thing, I didn’t hear his name,’’ Arenas said of Crittenton. “It was Gilbert and a teammate. Now, everyone finds out who was the real problem. Hopefully, he gets through it, and God bless him. But that’s none of my concern.
“Like people say, the light eventually turns on the good one. At first, I was supposed to have been the bad seed, but I’m back doing something I love and that’s all I can think about. I can’t think about what he’s going through. He has his own problems and, hopefully, I just wish him the best.’’
Story @ Fox Sports Florida
- NBA Rumors: What Gilbert Arenas Signing Does for the Memphis Grizzlies (bleacherreport.com)
- Report: Grizzlies to sign Gilbert Arenas for $300K (cbssports.com)
- Crittenton free after arrest on speeding charge (espn.go.com)
- Javaris Crittenton: Former Lakers Guard Arrested for Speeding (bleacherreport.com)