April 25, 2011
Gilbert Arenas(notes) is obviously a lion in winter, shoved knee first into the tail end of a career that really shouldn't have presented itself this quickly, and he'll just say whatever he can to whomever he can to try to amp up the idea that he's still relevant as an NBA player. If that sounds harsh, I'm sorry, but Arenas' decision-making has cost the Orlando Magic plenty of games (or, at least, chances to win games down the stretch) since his trade to the team last winter, and (shock horror!) it doesn't actually appear as if Gil gets it.
Gets that he should be pushing the ball, and trying to find others while working through that surgically repaired knee. Gets that he shouldn't be firing up long jumpers. Gets that, sorry Gil, those superstar days are over.
But in an interview with SLAM, Gilbert just doesn't get it:
"If you gave me—hypothetically because I'm not going to get it anytime soon—if you gave me 38 minutes, I'd give you 25, 9 and 6 assists," he says. "I had the same knee last year and I was averaging 22 and 7. I had this knee the beginning of the season and I was averaging 17, 7 and 6. It's the same knee."
I like how, after an interview spent mostly trumping up how much he likes to find J.J. Redick(notes) and Ryan Anderson(notes) on the break with his passes, he still goes conservative with the assists average. How with the Wizards he was averaging six assists, and how that number would remain the same with Orlando despite better teammates and more minutes.
Also, in 34.6 minutes per game with Washington this year (same knee) he averaged 17.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists. The recollection of last year's stats was spot-on, but pro-rated over 36 minutes of action per contest with the Magic this season, Arenas is averaging 13.2 points, 5.3 assists and four rebounds per game. It's entirely possible that Arenas could make up that 12-point, five-rebound, and one-assist gulf in two more minutes per game, as he predicts, but you'd have to be under the influence of crazy to do so.
No word on how an increase in minutes would significantly help Arenas' ungodly 34.4 percent shooting mark from the field, or the brain that tells him to shoot over six 3-pointers for every 36 minutes he plays despite managing just a 27.5 percent mark from long range, but … well, I guess I just did spend a couple of hundred words ripping on the guy.
I'm sorry, but the empathy and goodwill towards a player that has gone through various unfair and crippling injury issues nearly goes out the window when the player continues to fire away as if nothing has gone wrong, while talking up his own skills behind the scenes. Had Gilbert changed his game to suit his floor-bound ways, or attempted to even slightly sound humble as he brags away on record, then we'd feel completely different. Despite what you think of us media, we honestly do want a nice story at the end of our particular day.
But this is just another example of Glbert flailing away. On court or off, pretending as if nothing's happened. And it's sad. It truly is.
"I guess people look at the numbers and not the production. As soon as I get here, we go on a nine-game winning streak. Ryan Anderson is all of a sudden playing basketball out of this world. Who's finding him? Or JJ? Who's finding these guys?
"But nobody really looks at that. It's just the stat line."
Gilbert, I write a column called "Behind the Box Score." I pay attention to stat lines, but I couldn't tell you how many points per game you averaged this year without looking it up. That also goes for Keith Bogans(notes), but that also goes for Durant, Kobe and D-Wade. Overall, I watch the games, not the stat lines.
And in the games I saw, I watched as you forced things that weren't there, working with a body that hasn't worked for you for three years. That last part isn't your fault, but the lack of recognition is your fault. If I can recognize it, without looking at your stat line, then you should be aware following another night of missing 7-of-10 shots.
But most of all? This post wouldn't even exist were it not for the pull quote that has you bragging about putting up LeBron James(notes)-level numbers if you were afforded 38 minutes per game. It looks as if you, more than anyone else, is obsessed with your stat line.
Or, what it used to look like.