A Eulogy For the Wizards' Gilbert Arenas Era
Basketball in the DMV was electric during the Agent 0 era, Gil and the boys had the city buzzing. It was the first time there was sustained success in the nations capital since the late 80’s when they were the Bullets. The Wizards had just come off the failed experiment that was MJ’s forgotten years. It wasn’t entirely his fault, Jordan the player did all he could with what little he had left to give, Jordan the President of Basketball Ops was an epic disaster. The city, the organization and the team needed a lift. Insert Gilbert Arenas. Ernie Grunfeld (deservingly) gets a bad rap around town, but you don’t become the second longest tenured GM in team history by fumbling every move. I could spend an entire day blogging on Grunfeld, but the one thing he nailed was signing Gil. The most ironic part is, Arenas flipped a coin to decide which team he would sign with in free agency, between the Wizards or Clippers. Ernie got lucky, Gil cashed out and the rest was history.
Arenas’ first year was completely forgettable, they only won 25 games total with a roster that needed some tinkering. Jerry Stackhouse was traded to Mavs for Antawn Jamison and Christian Laettners’ NBA career was all but finished, they also shredded some fat aka Lonny Baxter. It pained me to type that. In his second year the team posted it’s best regular season record in 26 years, winning 45 games and made the playoffs as the 5th seed facing off against the Bulls. The original “Big Three” of Arenas, Jamison and Larry Hughes was the highest scoring trio in the league. It was a magical time in DC for hoops as they won their first playoff series in 23 years. Gil himself had the best year of his career to that point, averaging 25.5 ppg, 5.1 apg and 4.7 rpg on his way to making his first All Star appearance. While also hitting a game winner in Game 5 to give the Wizards a 3-2 series lead that they obviously went on to win. In the next round they got swept by the Miami Heat, led by DWade and Shaq so it’s hard to fault them for that.
I added the foreign version of this video to culture you, to get you out of your comfort zone and expand your horizons. You should be thanking me. I also thought it was funny. Marv Albert is terrific, but that is certainly not one of his better calls.
In the offseason the team acquires AD (Antonio Daniels, I’m just proving to you I’m a fan by listing nicknames) and Caron Butler. Butler replaced Larry in the “Big Three” in the leagues highest scoring trio and Arenas continues to kill it, raising his scoring average to 29.3 and assists to 6.1. Somehow, he still didn’t finish in the top 10 in MVP voting, absolutely ludicrous. Time for a side rant, how in the hell does Ray Allen, Chauncey Billups, Tony Parker and SHAWN MARION finish ahead of him in MVP voting in 04’/05’ + 05’/06’. Completely discredits the award. Nobody was apparently actually watching the games. Rant over. So they clinch the playoffs again, and the 5th seed again but this time they face off against a young King James and the Cavs. It was a complete rock fight of a series, with 3 games decided by 1 point and 2 of those were in OT. It took a LONG time for my Lebron hate to go away after this series, he completely took over, scoring no less than 26 in every game. He averaged almost 36 a game and literally not one person could stop him. It ultimately came down to Gil missing two clutch free throws in game 6 that would have pushed their lead to 3 and instead Damon Jones, who was a relative BUM, jams his fist in the butt of Wizards fans everywhere knocking down a jumper with 4.8 to put the Cavs up. They win. I can't sit. We lose. I hate everything and everybody.
The only real difference between that team and the 06’/07’ squad was the addition of Roger Mason who signed as a free agent in the offseason. One thing that didn’t change, you could always count on Agent 0. For the third consecutive season he made the All-Star team and averaged 28.4 a game, he also started to gain some respect around the league and finally finished in the top 10 in MVP voting. Did I mention what a scam that is. They squeak into the playoffs as a 7 seed, matching up with the Cavs for the second straight year. But this time was different, they got fingerblasted in 4 games and it wasn’t a very competitive series – leaving all of us Wizards fans butthurt for another offseason. Little did anyone know; this would be the beginning of the end to the Agent 0 era. The next year he only started in 8 total games, battling knee issues even though the team won 43 games without his help. They made the playoffs again and as you may have guessed pulled a first round match up with LeBron. Great. Grand. Wonderful. I don’t need to go super in depth on this one, they obviously lost in 6 because it’s LeBron. Whatever. Let's just try to move on.
They take a complete nosedive in 08’/09’ and win 19 games total, Gilbert only plays in 2 of them due to his degenerative Brandon Roy knees. Then comes the guns. Agent 0 becomes Agent Glock 9 and somewhere along the way believes he became a real-life version of Shaft bringing a firearm to his locker at the Verizon Center. He shortly thereafter get’s traded and the Gilbert Arenas era comes to an abrupt end. Even if Gil turned into Denzel Washington from Training Day, he was beloved in the city and we’ll always have a soft spot for the Agent.
I meant for this blog to go in a completely different direction and instead it turned into a eulogy. Don’t be sad it came to an end, smile because it happened. Or something like that.