Mercurial is certainly a word that comes to mind for Gilbert Arenas, the former NBA star who is often remembered as much for strange incidents that sidetracked his career as he is for what he accomplished on the court. The three-time NBA All-Star and a three-time member of the All-NBA Team, “Agent Zero” was infamously suspended for most of the 2009–10 NBA season following a reported incident that he pulled a gun on a teammate over a gambling debt. He also bragged about committing bank fraud at a strip club and said that WNBA players needed to wear less and try to be more attractive, just to name a few more incidents.
In 2011, the Orlando Magic waived Arenas under the NBA’s amnesty clause, which allowed them to remove the remaining salary he was owed from the team’s salary cap and luxury tax totals. Arenas was in the midst of a $62 million deal and his production had fallen off to the point where the franchise was effectively able to make their case that he didn’t warrant that money anymore.
That apparently didn’t stop the Los Angeles Lakers from showing interest in him. Arenas was recently on Dan Le Batard’s “South Beach Sessions” podcast and talked about how, due to Kobe Bryant’s reported interest, the team reached out to see if they could sign Arenas to a new deal for the remainder of the season. According to Arenas, he did everything in his power to “sabotage” the deal from ever happening.
“I botched the meeting. I sabotaged it,” Arenas said, as transcribed by Audacy Sports’ Jesse Pantuosco. “They’re asking me, ‘When can you be ready to come?’ Maybe a month? It’s March. To be honest you don’t really need a player like me. You just need to tweak the second unit, make them a little faster and you guys are perfect.”
“And that was my answer. Like you didn’t really need me. Thirty days (left in the regular season), so I can go back home. I’m not coming to L.A,” Arenas said. “You guys are going to crucify me. “That’s when Kobe came out and said, ‘I want Agent Zero.’ And I’m like, with all due respect, Kobe wants a player that no longer exists mentally.”
Fair enough? While it might sound crazy for a player in the twilight of his career to turn down the chance to play alongside Kobe as a Laker, good for Arenas for apparently seeing the writing on the wall. Of course, we’re also hearing about this only from his side, so we have to take it with a grain of salt that he did, in fact, sabotage the deal, and not that the Lakers realized this wasn’t going to be a good fit.
Arenas also added during the interview that the aforementioned gun incident was “misconstrued” and was ultimately used by the Washington Wizards to get out of the contract with him. He says that he did not touch a gun during the gambling debt dispute, though he did admit his “own stupidity” was part of the problem.
So, with any things Gilbert Arenas says, you can take all of this for what it’s worth.