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It probably says way, way too much about the state of the NBA in the early-to-mid aughts that Gilbert Arenas once ranked (to some) as one of the more interesting characters that the league had to offer. He wasn’t merely an entertainer, Arenas did make three All-Star teams and averaged 25.5, 29.3 and 28.4 points per game in three consecutive years – but those were the healthy years.
A series of knee woes limited Arenas’ effectiveness and made him a millstone for the last seven years of his career. Six of those seasons came under the payroll setting of a six-year, $111 million contract (criticized even by this nascent site at the time) signed in 2008 between Arenas and the Washington Wizards.
With some of that money deferred, Arenas has been living off of that deal for years beyond its 2014 expiration. Though the length of the extended deal never approached Bobby Bonilla-territory, it does stand out a bit considering Gilbert’s quick fall – he hasn’t been a Wizard for six years, or a part of the NBA for four and a half years.
“Monday will officially sever Arenas’s last real connection to the Wizards — even though the franchise washed its hands of “Agent Zero” long ago. That’s because the Orlando Magic, which acquired Arenas from the Wizards for Rashard Lewis back in 2010, will send one final check to the three-time all-star guard, the final installment of the six-year, $111 million contract Arenas signed with the Wizards in 2008.”
Washington hoped to secure Arenas’ prime in signing the then-26-year old to a six-year deal back in 2008, coupling the transaction with an extension for 32-year old Antawn Jamison as well. Arenas, still smarting from a torn MCL and (more importantly) torn meniscus suffered late in 2006-07, was a bad investment. Gilbert played just 13 games for the Wizards in 2007-08, but Washington general manager Ernie Grunfeld thought it best to retain him at an average of $18.5 million a year in spite of the warning signs.
In total, Arenas worked just 55 total games with Washington after signing that contract, with his injury woes exacerbated by a suspension he took in partway through the 2009-10 season.
Arenas had gotten into a verbal spat with teammate Javaris Crittenton following a lengthy dispute over money owed from card games. The two then had an altercation that included firearms inside the Washington locker room. Showing no remorse once the altercation became public knowledge, the 28-year old Arenas decided to show off some finger guns during player introductions during Washington’s next game, drawing the ire of a league already embarrassed by his and Crittenton’s back and forth.
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Arenas returned to the Wizards for 2010-11, but he was a shell of his former self. Traded to Orlando, Arenas worked off the bench for the Magic for a spell, shooting 34 percent from the floor. Gilbert then signed with the Memphis Grizzlies during the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, after Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace admitted he’d taken the idea from a fan website. His last NBA game was May 13, 2012.
Since then, Gilbert has lived the colorful life. He was caught with a cadre of illegal fireworks in 2013, and he decided to say some stupid things about WNBA uniforms and something about possible credit card fraud on his Instagram account.
All while getting paid, as he negotiated for and (despite what you think of his playing years from 2008-through-2012) earned). Arenas, according to TMZ, recently flipped a mansion he no longer needs, and according to Basketball-Reference.com he retired having taking in over $140.7 million in his playing career.
Let’s all toast to one final round, on a tab set up by the Washington Wizards back when George W. Bush was president. It’s been that long, and now it’s gone, gone, gone.
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