Richard Jefferson on Gilbert Arenas, Just Because
I promise you this isn’t some type of effort to chronicle the spoken word of every single person who has crossed paths with Gilbert Arenas. I mean, wait, who? Oh, yea, John Wall.
In any case, this transcription seems somewhat appropriate for a couple reasons today. No. 1: Milwaukee. No. 2: Just because.
Gilbert Arenas and Richard Jefferson have a bit of a history together. They spent two seasons playing at the University of Arizona with each other (1999-2001—Arenas’ only two seasons and Jefferson’s second and last seasons). They also have a somewhat chronicled rivalry, from Gilbert’s blogging days on NBA.com, over who once donated more money (or something like that). You can find it from the 2007 summer archives on ESPN TrueHoop here and here.
Gilbert at one point LOL’d at Jefferson because he got traded to this evening’s destination for Washington: Milwaukee. In June 2008, Jefferson was sent from the New Jersey Nets to the Bucks in exchange for Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons, both ex-Wizards. On his blog, Arenas wrote (also chronicled on TAI):
Richard Jefferson going to Milwaukee …. HAHAHA! Oh man, now that is funny. When I heard that, I started laughing. Oh man, did I start laughing. You know why? Because every player hates Milwaukee. Nobody wants to live in Milwaukee. I’m sorry, Milwaukee, to come down hard on you, but no one in the NBA wants to play in Milwaukee.
Jefferson is still in the NBA, in his 13th season, and making over $11 million. Arenas is still being paid handsomely, too—over $22 million in this the last technical year of his $100 million Ernie Grunfeld/Wizards contract (which is being paid by the Orlando Magic, courtesy of Otis Smith)—and last appeared on an NBA court 665 days ago. But, Gilbert can be seen here gambling with Nick Young on a Fisher-Price court. So there’s that.
Jefferson is toiling away on a bad Utah Jazz team—second worst in the West—when his team last year, the Golden State Warriors, is currently fighting for playoff positioning. But he’s learned to embrace his current role of a veteran helping kids, and a franchise, develop, and he’s started all 62 games for Utah this season.
“I had a similar role in Golden State last year with a lot of young guys and obviously they turned things around, not having made the playoffs in probably five-or-six years and then making the playoffs last year and it looks like they’re going to make it again this year,” Jefferson told me before the Jazz faced the Wizards last Wednesday. “That’s a role that you learn to embrace and you enjoy it.”
Amongst answering questions about John Wall’s speed (and saying that he’s not quite Jason Kidd), and other queries from the media, it seemed worth it to not let Jefferson get away without talking about our pal, your pal, his pal, Gilbert.
Gilbert Arenas is a name that you still hear around here [Ed. note: the Wizards recently told Drew Gooden that jersey No. 0 needs to “cool off for a second” when he requested it.], you spent two years with him at Arizona, any particular memory that stands out from way back when?
“I think Gilbert is a guy that … he’s a tad bit misunderstood. Mainly, the misunderstanding comes because he doesn’t quite comprehend the seriousness… Or, I don’t want to say the seriousness, but he doesn’t comprehend that people are going to judge him not only by what he does on the court but sometimes by some of his actions off the court.”
[Ed. note: By now I think Gilbert comprehends, he just doesn’t care. And maybe that’s OK. He can’t be totally unhappy that he made (still is making) all that money from a couple years of good basketball, right?]
“As far as a guy that works hard, he’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around. One of the most competitive players I’ve ever been around. Just knowing him for all these years, and I think the knee injury first and foremost is something that probably hurt his career more than any of the antics. Because I think once he had a lot of idle time, he started getting into some idle trouble.”
Do you keep in touch with him? It seems like he’s just in Southern California, putting basketball clips on Instagram, popping up on TMZ from time to time.
“We don’t keep in touch like that. I run into him in L.A. quite a bit when we’re working out, stuff like that. But for the most part, I wish him well. And I would talk to him whenever we play against each other. He’s a good dude. I normally run into him once or twice during the summer.”
Did he pull any pranks on you while at Arizona?
“Aw, pranks? Gilbert? Just know that Gilbert did not mature from the age of 17 to last time you guys probably saw him. If anything, he got more immature. He got more dangerous. And it’s not all like, pranks … it’s just like, ‘Really, dude?’
[Jefferson says this with an ‘aww, shucks’ smile on his face.]
He was a special, special, special individual. Very special.”
I’d say he still is special. Gilbert is 32 years old. He can kick. And he can stretch.
There, your ghost-of-the-day has been dug up. Carry on.
Shared on Twitter the other day (I believe by @jakewhitacre but I can’t find the tweet), and from Mr. Irrelevant, “an AOL sports blog,” in 2006, when Gilbert Arenas flipped the double-bird during a game in which Paul Pierce hit a buzzer-beater to give the Celtics a win over the Wizards in overtime: