The Wizards haven’t been this exciting to watch since Gilbert Arenas was still around, so when Agent Zero joined Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on 106.7 The Fan Thursday afternoon to discuss his own playoff memories, this year’s Wizards team and the status of his possible comeback, it figured to be good listening. Arenas didn’t disappoint.
Arenas was asked about his memories of Washington’s 2005 playoff series against the Bulls.
“During the playoffs, especially since we were young just like this team, we had to adjust game by game,” Arenas said. “And I know we dropped the first two games because I thought it was the same Bulls as during the regular season, and I was trying to dominate. And then going back watching film, I realized they were keying on me, so I had to get everybody else involved and then try to take over at the end of the game.”
On who was responsible for helping the team rebound from a 2-0 deficit in the series:
“Surprisingly it was Eddie Jordan and Brendan Haywood,” Arenas said. “Because we were trying to run a zone against [the Bulls], and the zone we were running, they were just eating it alive. But they only had one zone play, so it was a big argument in practice the day before Game 3 and Brendan Haywood stopped practice and said ‘[Gosh darnit], it’s this easy,’ and he said what we needed to do. Eddie Jordan agreed, and then they couldn’t score any more. It was the funniest thing because the first two games we didn’t know what the hell was going on.”
Does he ever think about how things might’ve been different if the Wizards had more of a post presence during their playoff run from 2005-08?
“I mean, we had defenders,” Arenas said. “Brendan Haywood, Etan Thomas. We had defenders. Our perimeters were the dominance of the team, so we didn’t really get that balance. It’s just hard. Some teams have it, some teams don’t. … Teams that have balance win championships, but we weren’t going to pass the ball to Brendan Haywood anyway.”
On this year’s team:
“I’m glad Nene came back right in time,” Arenas said. “I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with him, because we needed him for the playoffs. I knew we were [the five seed], but it was because of Nene being out. I feel [Chicago] was one of those teams we were going to beat up on, because in a seven game series, you actually have to put the ball in the basket and they just don’t have enough firepower to outscore us. With John Wall and Beal, they remind me of when me and Larry [Hughes] got together. If you stop one, the other one’s going to shine. If we’re both going, it’s going to be hard to beat us that night.”
On if he still considers himself a Wizard:
“Yes, I lived in Washington longer than I have lived anywhere else, so it’s considered home, even though I moved back to California,” Arenas said. “When you grow up as a kid and as an adult — from 21 to 29 I lived in D.C. — I mean, it’s my home team. Right now I’m a fan. When you’re a fan, that’s your team. That’s us. We lose, we lost, we won. Just like any other fan. I feel like most ex-NBA players don’t embrace the team they played for.”
Paulsen asked if the rumors were true that Arenas put $100,000 on Game 1.
“You know sports gambling is illegal,” Arenas said. “If I had to put that kind of money up, yes, it would’ve been on the Wizards. If you know basketball, then you know the Bulls can’t score.”
Arenas, who said he was at Nick Young’s house last night, laughing about Swaggy P’s terrible first pitch at the Dodgers game, was asked about his advice for John Wall.
“He was like, ‘Man, I’m going into my eighth season,'” Arenas said of Young. “I was like WHAAAT? It’s already been eight seasons Nick? He was like, ‘Yeah man, I’m getting old. I’m about to turn 30.’ With John Wall being there, it goes by so fast. When you blink, you’re on the back end of your career. John Wall, me and him talk a lot. Just enjoy it. Play hard, play for the people, play for yourself, and just get better.”
Paulsen asked if Arenas thought Ernie Grunfeld — the man who gave him his six-year, $111 million contract in 2008 — should be give an extension after “more bad than good” transactions over the years. When Arenas challenged that assessment, Paulsen asked if he wanted him to run through the list.
“No, I was there,” Arenas said. “But, you know, you look through those draft years and the picks we were getting. We were getting the best pick at the time. I mean, we got a couple foreign players, but we were getting the best pick at the time. We had a veteran team, we made it to the playoffs. We played against some good teams. Our first year when we finished the Bulls off, we ran against a Miami team that was stacked.”
Arenas also refuted the report that he was the third-highest player in the NBA last year.
“That’s not true, that’s not true,” Arenas said. “That’s been a fib for a while. When the amnesty came in, I think it was two years ago, what they did was, instead of me getting 20 [million] a year, they extended the years and dropped the money down. Instead of getting 20 I was getting 12 for a longer period of time. I’m still getting paid until 2016.”
The interview concluded with Arenas agreeing to join the show again soon and the news that the 32-year-old, who has been out of the league since 2012, might not be done yet.
“I’m in the middle of training now,” Arenas said. “I said I’m going to give it one more chance. I told Nick [Young] I’m going to actually put some heart into it. I lost it there for a while.”
Listen to the entire interview here.