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Who is Gilbert Arenas? Even he doesn't seem to know

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by Shaud, Jan 8, 2010.

  1. Shaud

    Shaud Member

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    It's exhausting, this fight to believe that Gilbert Arenas is a better guy than he seems. Exactly when is he is going to start acting like it? As opposed to the scattered, seven-faces-of-Gilbert split personality on display? When will he pull himself together into a whole, consistent, coherent person? Because so far all we have are versions of him.

    Arenas bears a series of tattoos on his legs that he calls Black Rushmore: images of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, and Barack Obama. When he first displayed them, they seemed nobler than the usual body art, more interesting than the inked lion on his chest. They bespoke a guy who, beneath his teasing, was susceptible to meaning, conscious of things beyond himself. But now they just seem like costuming. The guy might as well have tattooed a feather boa onto his neck, for all the emblems seem to mean to him.

    Two of those men, of course, were slain by gunfire. You would think that would have occurred to Arenas when he laid out four guns in the Wizards locker room over a card game called bourré, and rat-tat-tatted his fingers at his teammates the other night. But it obviously escaped him, perhaps because he was too preoccupied with his standoff with Javaris Crittenton, and seeing which one could act more facetiously street.

    Is there anything more ridiculous than a soft guy pretending to be hard? Arenas had an admittedly painful childhood -- a mother who abandoned him, a struggling father who raised him in a Van Nuys apartment -- but there is nothing in his background that suggests he knows anything about real gangsterism. He has played a game for a living since he was 19 years old. You get the sense that guns are adornments to him. Like jewelry. One of the weapons he pulled out in the Wizards locker room was patently absurd, a gold-plated Desert Eagle that is the same model used in the Austin Powers movie "Goldmember."

    What a weak-willed, fraudulent gesture, to pretend to be someone lesser instead of someone better. And that's the deeper offense that Arenas has committed; it's what underlies our anger at him, and our sorrow for him, and our bafflement. The most winsome, talented young man in town is indefinitely suspended from the NBA, and facing a grand jury, because he stepped down instead of up. He didn't have a strong enough sense of self to shrug off a quarrel, and had to go one-up on the dumbest kid in locker room.

    Arenas shows no sign yet of understanding the outrage leveled at him, of why his gunplay was so unfunny. He specifically rejected the criticisms of Al Sharpton, who isn't normally my idea of a moral authority, but who in this case absolutely nailed it. Writing about his own childhood in Brooklyn in a Washington Post editorial, Sharpton observed, "Our ambition was to not submit to a subculture that would confirm the worst depiction of who we were and what our destiny would be."

    There it is. Depiction is what this is all about. Specifically, it's about identity. You can almost sympathize with kids in gun-plagued neighborhoods who grasp at a powerful identity through a weapon because there doesn't seem to be any viable alternative: They don't have an obvious vehicle to lift themselves out of their lousy situations. But Arenas had a powerful identity: He was a sublime athlete with a nine-figure contract, who got to play a game for a living and call it work, who had surmounted his lousy beginnings, to become Washington, D.C.'s greatest goodwill asset.

    When Arenas was embroiled in a child custody dispute a couple of years ago, he was supported by owner Abe Pollin with the following words: "We're proud of Gilbert as a player and as a person. He has overcome a great deal in his life, he has exceeded most people's expectations, and he has become an integral part of the Washington, D.C., community." That was the depiction of Arenas the Wizards bought into when they signed him to a contract worth $111 million in 2008: the Gilbert who led them to consecutive playoff appearances, who was striving to overcome personal unevenness, who loved attention but was never notorious, who was charitable as a Rockefeller and unfailingly giving to fans, and who they assumed would grow steadier over time.

    So why does he need to always create some other persona? Why does Arenas seem to constantly shift his self-depictions? That's an urgent question for him, and it's the whole key to what he does with himself and his career from this point forward.

    I don't claim to know Arenas well, but like so many others, I've always enjoyed him for his lightness of being, but looking backward, perhaps it was a sign of trouble. That lightness now looks like an empty vessel that he fills up with whatever version of a self pleases him in the moment, or that he finds expedient. This season alone, we have seen Strictly Business Gilbert and Vow of Silence Gilbert morph into Chattering Gilbert and Unstoppable Twittering Gilbert. He contradicts his own statements, one day he expresses regret for bad judgment and the next he's got nothing to be remorseful about. The emerging depiction is of a man with sharply veering moods, whose sense of self is highly unstable, and who has yet to adequately address or heal some inner divisions and fractures.

    Arenas is in trouble because he doesn't know who he is, because he play-acted the most harmful depiction imaginable. He's a maker of manners in a city where violent crime occurs at three times the national average, yet he showed zero cognizance of that fact. He's in trouble because he seems profoundly disconnected from his himself, and his community. The District's gun laws have been headlined and debated incessantly, news he apparently found beyond his personal concern. He's in trouble because he didn't devote even a passing thought to the ideas held by men whose faces are tattooed on his body, whose profiles are stained and ink-scarred in his very skin. He's divorced from his own limbs.

    Like most people who have watched Arenas over the last few years, I've always liked him immensely. I believe he's an essentially gentle man, edgy but not malicious, and that his lightness is genuine. Humor is an understandable and damn effective mechanism for coping with pain. But it's time he defined who exactly he intends to be in this world. The Gilbert we've had up to now is a figment, a sketch. He has all the substance of a tattoo.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/08/AR2010010802166.html
     
  2. Chinahype

    Chinahype Member

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    Yup, that's gil zero.
     
  3. DallasThomas

    DallasThomas Contributing Member

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    Did anyone else notice that Gilbert got intercepted by Arenas last night?
     
  4. SuperMarioBro

    SuperMarioBro Member

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    I think people need to post the original article link before[/I] the article for threads like these, not after. Not only should you be encouraging people to support the original article/source by clicking the link, but it's damn confusing (for me at least) when I start reading and get to thinking that you wrote this yourself until I realize how sports-publication-y it sounds.
     
  5. RudyTBag

    RudyTBag Contributing Member
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    I think this guy might be overthinking it a tad...
     
  6. Shaud

    Shaud Member

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    I will do that next time.
     
  7. SuperMarioBro

    SuperMarioBro Member

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    Thanks... and I hope I didn't sound like an ass for going a little OT to rant like that, but it's something that's bugged me a couple times, so I decided to say something about it. ;)
     
  8. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Contributing Member

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    When words fill the whole screen for a new topic, I'm going to assume it's copypasta'd rather than someone slaving a dissertation away on a message board.
     
  9. Shaud

    Shaud Member

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    Nah I understood your point. Sometimes I just post the link instead of copying and pasting the whole article.
     
  10. Depressio

    Depressio Contributing Member

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    I always thought Gilbert Arenas looked like a funny guy... a friendly guy... a good guy. He might actually be all of those.

    According to the article, he just stooped lower for some reason, trying to be something he's not. It's unfortunate he hasn't realized it yet, and dug himself a deep hole while being oblivious. He's probably still a great talent and a great guy, he just seems to be trying not to be either of those and it's quite baffling.
     
  11. Shaud

    Shaud Member

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    I thought the writer in the article was reaching big time by saying Arenas was trying to make people think he was a gangster.

    Gangsters are not the only people who carry guns. Also it just showed that he made a bad decision in bringing the in the locker room and playing a joke. It's not like Arenas was out robbing people or bragging to people that he had guns.

    At the end of the day Arenas has been known as a big time joker and him joking is what has gotten him into this mess not him trying to prove he's a gangster or a thug.
     
  12. JuanValdez

    JuanValdez Contributing Member

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    I think people -- or at least the media -- are now going a bit overboard on the Arenas gun scandal, and this article is a good example. I don't think this is a catalyst for deep introspection. Nor was his prank the big affront to decency they make it out to be. He was just slow to understand how the prank would look to people outside the team. That doesn't make him a thug or even a faux-thug, like this article would like to suggest. It just makes him someone who feels perhaps a little too comfortable at the office.
     
  13. oldgunrules

    oldgunrules Member

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    I maybe the minority on this topic, but I really think Arenas is being over punished. People, let's get real. His only crime is he brought unloaded guns to the locker room. He never hurt anybody. He is not the reason why the crime rate in D.C. is 3 times the national average. He is not a terrorist. He is not responsible for guns/violence being a deep part of our culture. The opposite might be true. He is the victim of it.

    I can't help but laugh when I read the criticisms thrown at him by the media, the league and his own organization. How hypocrite can we be as a people? If guns are such a horrible thing, why Hollywood keep make films after films that glorify guns and violence? And we love to watch them, the bloodier the merrier.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not saying it's okay to bring guns to an NBA locker room even though they are unloaded. It's just that we over reacting to it, we are over punishing an athlete for a problem that we all helped to create.

    Finally, who's to say there is no hidden agenda within the Wizards' organization? If Gilbert Arenas is convicted, he might lose his contract. And the Wizards will benefit the most from their own player's misfortune.
     
  14. Chamillionaire

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    i think there's something wrong with him mentally personally. that's just me. most of the interviews i've seen him in, he seems really odd. maybe he needs to be on meds.
     
  15. gmoney411

    gmoney411 Member

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    To me Arenas is just one of those guys that doesn't know when to stop joking around. I'm sure everyone knows at least one person that continues to joke about stuff no matter how inappropriate or serious the matter might be. In his head it was just a harmless joke and it appeared that some of his teammates felt the same way based on their reaction to his fake gun show earlier this week. I'm sure anybody that has played sports and been in a locker room can understood how some stuff that might come off as being terrible to outsiders might not be a big deal at to most or all of the players in the locker room. I think Arenas just refused to acknowledge this and decided to keep joking about it because in his head he felt that he had done nothing wrong. This incident has not convinced me that Gilbert Arenas is a bad person, but it has led me to believe that he might be a bit of an idiot when it comes to dealing with some serious issues.
     
  16. BaMcMing

    BaMcMing Contributing Member

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    Yeah, a few of my friends have brought this up about being over punished in our discussions, and you may be right.

    However, Stern has been trying to improve his product's image for the last few years. The perception out there is that the NBA is full of thugs. The story's, like this one, that get the most play in the media support this perception.

    The fact that Gil reacted the way he did caused Stern to have to act. From twittering about being John Wayne, to calling Stern "mean", to the pregame pic; Gil just didn't seem to take it seriously. Perhaps if he had, and tried to say all of the right things, he'd still be playing.
     
  17. tiger0330

    tiger0330 Contributing Member

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    I agree this is getting way overblown as far as Gilbert is concerned. I think Stephen Jackson firing his gun in the air was a lot worse. There is a lot of confusion over the gun laws in DC because until the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeals overturning the DC gun laws in 2007, guns were prohibited in DC. Presently you can own a gun if properly registered in DC, you can't carry a gun around in public or own an assault weapon but you can own guns. If Arenas guns were legally purchased and registered he has a good chance of avoiding any criminal charges, he's in trouble if they were illegal which I don't think is the case.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Member

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    I agree.

    Sometimes a person is just an idiot.
     
  19. A_3PO

    A_3PO Member

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    Overthinking understates what's wrong with this article. This guy goes way overboard making rocket science out of a very stupid act by Gilbert and his cluelessness in realizing how serious a mistake he made. No social commentary about Gilbert's psyche is necessary.
     
  20. professorjay

    professorjay Contributing Member

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    This author really JUMPED THE GUN. Heyoooo...

    I doubt he comes to this same conclusion with an NRA member. I think he buys into the NBA thug stereotype.
     

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