In the summer of 2006, Gilbert Arenas was cut from the United States national team that was to compete in the 2006 FIBA World Championships (Kirk Hinrich made the final roster). National Team Managing Director, Jerry Colangelo, attributed the early exit to the groin Arenas injured while going up for a dunk in practice. Arenas said he never really got a fair shot to make the team.
“No joke, I felt like I was the 16th man on a 15-man roster. You are there to support your team and support your country and be happy to play but you know, I did everything they wanted me to do; but if I did everything they wanted me to do, why am I on the bubble of getting cut? I sacrificed. You’ve got LeBron being LeBron. You’ve got Carmelo being Carmelo. You’ve got D-Wade being D-Wade. Why can’t I be me? Why do I have to transform? I did that and now you are going to cut me?”
Due to this perceived slight, Arenas vowed to get his revenge when the regular season started. Portland Trailblazers coach Nate McMillan, Mike D’Antoni (then the coach of the Phoenix Suns) were assistant coaches for Team USA, and Arenas said he’d do his best to wreak havoc on their respective teams.
“I’m going to be the silent assassin this year. I can’t wait to play the Suns and Portland. Against Portland, Nate McMillan, I’m going to try to score 100 in two games and against D’Antoni, I’m going to score 100 in two games. I’m going to try.”
Arenas ended up averaging 42 points a game against the Suns and just 14 points a game against the Trailblazers.
JaVale McGee actually had two opportunities to make the US national team that was to play in the 2010 FIBA World Championships. He worked out with the team in July in Las Vegas, but was cut when the roster was trimmed to 15 players. Then, when New Jersey Nets center Brook Lopez withdrew from the team after a bout with mono, McGee was named as his replacement, only to be cut again (along with former Georgetown Hoya Jeff Green).
McGee broke the news via Twitter.
“The Bad news is….. I got cut from the USA team :(… But i get to go back and work out again and get better for the wizards”
Leading up to media day, I could not wait to ask McGee how he felt about his summer experience. Not only had he been cut twice, but the biggest weakness of the USA Team, even though they won the gold medal, was their lack of a true inside presence. I wanted to know if McGee held an Arenas-like grudge, and if he was even a little bitter while watching the 2010 FIBA championships. McGee responded in his typical monotone, yet matter-of-fact voice.
“I wasn’t angry [about watching team USA] I was just hoping that they won, so no one could say anything about the “B” team. So I just felt like I was glad they won. And I’m not going to go harder [against any of the players who made the team], I’m going to go as hard as I can either way. So I’m not envious or anything, and I’m not going to go hard just because I didn’t make the USA team.”
I then asked McGee if he took it personally that he was cut from the team. This time his answer was even shorter, “Nah man, not at all.”
Other observations from McGee on Media Day.
On playing with John Wall in the Summer League:
“It was nice to see us bonding together and showing our chemistry out there. But it was summer league and some would say it wasn’t real NBA competition, but it was like I would say, playing the “B” team on football or the practice squad, but it was good to see … but we got a feel for each other.”
On his comfortable playing weight:
“I really don’t want to get over 265 … I want my light[weight] to 255, I don’t want to not eat one day and get down to 250 … I feel like when I jump and somebody hits me, I can take the hit, catch the ball, dunk it or get the rebound.”
On his athletic asthma:
“I’m taking my asthma medicine everyday, my inhaler, and it just feels a lot better, it’s a lot easier getting up and down the court, and I’m starting to figure out what body exhaustion is and what not being able to breathe is. During college, every game I would go two minutes up and down the court, and I’d be breathing hard, I wasn’t tired, but I was breathing hard.”
On Gilbert Arenas:
“I think Gil is very clear, he’s going to do what he has to do to make it in this game, and he’s never going to quit. I don’t know what the public perception of Gil is though, but he’s trying to get some wins and trying to be a veteran leader.”
On being a leader:
“When we play pickup and stuff, I’m just talking loud and making sure everyone can hear me trying to make my defensive assignments and the way I should guard the pick and roll and stuff like that. It feels good being able to call some kids ‘rookies’, and it feels good them looking up to you. But it’s also a monkey on your back, because if you do something wrong they look at you like ‘he did it’, so I just gotta be a good role model.”
On whether the leader of this team is Arenas or Wall:
“I don’t know whose team it is right now, we won’t know until we start playing.”