Memphis Grizzlies guard Gilbert Arenas will always be associated with his felony gun charge as a member of the Washington Wizards — it was simply too big and controversial a story to leave the minds of the general public. He's spoken about it in public recently, most notably in a very great interview with Sam Amick at SI.com, but he's yet to give a full account of what happened in the locker room with Javaris Crittenton.
"No one actually saw a gun in my hand at all. … I was not pulling a gun on anyone. That's actual fact," he says. [...]
Then-Wizards center JaVale McGee had beaten Crittenton out of $1,100 in a card game. Wizards guard Earl Boykins loaned McGee $200. McGee didn't immediately pay back Boykins as he won the money and an argument blossomed. Arenas says he wasn't involved in the actual bet.
" 'Pay the man his (expletive) money. You've got all my money,' " Arenas says Crittenton shouted at McGee. "So I jumped in, 'Why you talking to your teammates like this? We family.'
"That's when (Crittenton) started coming at me, '(Expletive, racial slur), just because you got all money, this and this and this.' That's when we started going back and forth. I didn't owe him anything. It was over a $1,100 pot he just lost." [...]
"Someone said they were going to shoot me. So since I'm one of those guys who says, 'I want to see this happen. I want to see you actually shoot me,' that's where that came from," says Arenas, declining to mention that someone by name. "I brought the four guns in and said (in a note), 'Pick 1, so the day you want to shoot me let me know, I'll be ready to get shot.' That's how."
Arenas introduces this story by saying that he no longer wants to be noticed, so it must have taken a lot of mental energy to speak about what happened in D.C. Several of his other stories were a bit lighter, like the time he pooped in Andray Blatche's shoe ("lighter" being a relative term, of course) and his relationship with his ex-teammates:
There were other incidents with Arenas, too. According to him, Blatche once threw his clothes in a Jacuzzi, accusing Arenas of cutting up his suit. Arenas denied the suit-cutting because he wasn't in the building and insists it was another Wizards teammate. But Arenas was OK with playing that game. He got payback with Blatche's shoes.
"It was just dog doo-doo in it. It was really dog doo-doo. … I took his sole out, threw it under there, put the sole back on and threw the baby powder on there so he couldn't smell it," Arenas said.
But today, "We're all friends," Arenas said of his former teammates today. "We're still cool. We still talk to each other. Everyone is happy they're in better places.
"What's funny is when JaVale and Nick (Young, another former teammate) got traded this year, they called me and said, 'We out on good behavior. Dray went up for his parole hearing and got denied,'" Arenas' way of saying Blatche still remains with the Wizards. "We make a joke about it."
And then there's the experience in Memphis, where he hopes to have a long-term home:
There haven't been any pranks. No altering the name on a jersey as Arenas did with Blatche's to make it read "Bitch." No putting dog excrement in teammates' shoes in Memphis. [...]
"My image, I don't want to rebuild it. What was it before? If you really think about it, it was an erratic, eccentric player. The image I built was the image I was selling. I was selling the Agent Zero product," Arenas said.
"What you see on the court is not who the person is. That's what they're showing you. All that Twitter, that's product placement. 'We had a good day. Great team win.' … 'Oh, bad loss, get 'em next week.' No one is really trying to be themselves because being themselves gets them in trouble.
"If you go out there and say, '(Expletive) coach didn't play me today,' that's really me, but I'm going to get killed for that. So nobody is really themselves on Twitter."
What becomes clear throughout the feature is that Arenas wants to move on from his past but also realizes aspects of it are inescapable. People will always ask him about the gun charge, because it was an important story. No matter what he does, he'll be Gilbert Arenas, the guy who brought guns into an NBA locker room. It'll follow him around for the rest of his career.
Speaking about what happened might be uncomfortable for him, but it's also the best way to change the conversation about the incident. As more information comes out, we can move away from barely informed speculation and start talking about it as the past rather than some unresolved aspect of Arenas' career. That's not putting the issue to bed, but it's a lot better than carrying it around like a weight for the rest of a career.