Arenas goes from ‘Boy Wonder' to NBA superstar

By Darnell Mayberry Published: January 12, 2007
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He
signed with the Wizards, saying he "doesn't go with the grain.”

Arenas is known among many NBA fans for removing his jersey and tossing it into the crowd after every game. But he's also known for playing video poker in the locker room during halftime.

He prides himself on getting just three to four hours of sleep each night — because of marathon video game sessions or middle-of-the-night workouts.

During the 2003-04 season, Arenas traded a pair of shoes and a jersey to a shoe store in exchange for a box of All-Star ballots in an attempt to vote himself into the game. Didn't work.

In the past, Arenas often crossed the line when pulling pranks. While his fascination for hiding teammates' jerseys seemed harmless, using players' cell phones to send inappropriate text messages appeared tasteless.

During his rookie season, Arenas would lick doughnuts and cover them with baby powder before putting them back in the box and presenting them as the powdered sugar variety to his veteran teammates. Golden State forward and former teammate Troy Murphy said he stopped eating doughnuts the day he caught Arenas in the act.

It's all a part of what Wizards coach Eddie Jordan refers to as "Gilbertology,” saying, "Arenas doesn't just march to the beat of a different drummer — he marches to a different beat.”

Jordan has labeled his point guard "Captain Quirk.”

"Gilbert is a person who truly enjoys life,” said Jamison, who's been a teammate of Arenas' for four of his previous five NBA seasons. "He's just somebody who likes to have a good time and is always smiling.

"I think he's definitely matured from the time when he first got into the league. I think once he realized that he could become a star, he really stayed focused more on basketball.”

Quality shots
With the antics on the shelf — well, most of them — Arenas has blossomed into a superstar.

More than the career-high 60 points against the Lakers or the 54-point effort against the Suns, Arenas' signature moment this season came against the Milwaukee Bucks four games ago, when he buried a game-winning 3-pointer from 32 feet out as time expired. Arenas turned and began walking off the court before the shot splashed through the net.

"He's probably the deadliest guy in the NBA,” said Hornets guard Chris Paul, who was chosen over Arenas as Team USA's starting point guard. "His offensive ability is like none other. After working out with him before my rookie season and this past summer, I see why it is.”

Arenas has transformed from "Boy Wonder” to "Agent Zero,” a moniker that was created and popularized by an internet sports blog site dedicated to the Wizards.

Arenas has referred to shots like the Milwaukee game-winner as "Hibachi,” a word Wizards center Brendan Haywood coined after the Japanese grill and used whenever opponents got hot and "cooked” one of his Wizards teammates. Throughout the season, Arenas has screamed "Hibachi” while shooting jumpers during games.

But when Bryant called out Arenas for not having a conscience for shot selection after his 60-point outburst, Arenas changed his slogan to "quality shots.”

‘The Takeover'
With respect and recognition now securely squeezed in his palms, you would think Arenas is out of motivational tools. Think again.

"This is the NBA,” Arenas said. "No one respects anyone around here. You could be the No. 1 team and still people will throw shots at you about something.”

Now the questions are, "Can Arenas keep up his torrid scoring pace?” "Can he do so and lead the Wizards to a championship?”

"Now it comes down to me leading this team to see how far we can go,” Arenas said. "Right now, we are a playoff team. Before, people would be wondering if we could even get within 20 games of reaching the playoffs.

"It is really just a satisfying feeling, and I am excited and look forward to seeing how far we can go.”

Sounds more like Agent Zero than Boy Wonder.

"He's kind of like my little brother, because I've been there from Day One,” Jamison said. "And to see him go through the transformation that he's been through is unbelievable.”

Or maybe it's all a part of "The Takeover.”

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Washington's Gilbert Arenas is averaging 30.2 points per game for the 20-14 Wizards. Associated Press

Wizards at Hornets
When: 7 tonight

Where: Ford Center

Television: ESPN (Cox channel 29)

Radio: KHBZ-FM 94.7

Probable starters

Hornets (13-22)
Pos. Player Ht. Pts. Reb. Ass.
C Tyson Chandler 7-1 6.3 11.3 0.7
F Marc Jackson 6-10 9.4 3.6 1.3
F Desmond Mason 6-5 13.2 5.1 1.6
G Rasual Butler 6-7 11.1 3.4 1.2
G Devin Brown 6-5 10.8 6.2 3.3
Wizards (20-14)
C Brendan Haywood 7-0 6.6 6.6 0.7
F Antawn Jamison 6-9 19.4 8.4 1.8
F Caron Butler 6-7 21.2 8.1 3.9
G DeShawn Stevenson 6-5 9.7 2.7 2.5
G Gilbert Arenas 6-4 30.2 4.4 6.4

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