Arenas Bummed By the Beach

By Michael Wilbon
Thursday, June 1, 2006

Gilbert Arenas knows people are roasting him. He woke up to a morning radio show on ESPN, "And I heard Mike & Mike killing me." His Washington Wizards teammates are, too. They're greeting him this week with: "Do you know who I am? I'm a basketball player. I play for the Washington Wizards."

If I'd been arrested in Miami Beach for simply getting out of my car, I'd have called Jesse L. Jackson or Al Sharpton or somebody. Arenas, as is true to his personality, is taking this remarkably in stride. In fact, when he was handcuffed Saturday night for going to the aid of teammate Awvee Storey, Arenas at first thought he was being "Punk'd" by MTV. But he wasn't; he was being arrested. "I was told it was for resisting arrest without violence," Arenas said in a phone conversation yesterday.

"I still don't understand what for. I was in a limousine, stuck in really bad traffic going to this restaurant, Ago, when I decided to step out of the car. The limo driver said, 'The guy who just got out is being arrested.' I looked over and saw seven police officers arresting Storey. . . . I didn't have the chance to say anything; an officer put cuffs on me from behind. . . . When I was taken in, I said, 'I don't mean to be rude, but can I talk to the officer who arrested me?' And the officer says, 'You were being nosy.' And I said, 'Are you putting that in your official police report, that I was being nosy?' And then he keeps asking me questions:

" 'Do you have tattoos?' I said, 'Yes, I have three.' And then, 'What is your street name?' I laughed. Of course I laughed. My street name? What? Okay, it's Zero Hero. [Arenas wears "0" on his Wizards jersey.]

" 'And he says, 'Oh, everything is funny to you, huh?' "

Arenas is lucky he wasn't in Los Angeles . . . or Prince George's County.

Anyway, what we all want to know is whether he said it -- whether he said, as the police report stated, "You can't arrest me. I'm a basketball player. I play for the Washington Wizards."

Arenas took a deep sigh. "You know I didn't say that," he said. "It's so dumb. . . . Have you seen the movie 'Anchorman?' There's a scene where Ron Burgundy says, 'I'm kinda of a big deal; people know me.' It reminds me of that. It doesn't work in the movies or on TV . . .

"Anyway, there was a guy locked up in one of these three cells who said, 'Hey, Gil, if they brought you in here I'm never getting out.' And one officer said to me, "Gilbert, what are you doing in here?' And I said, 'I don't know.' I watch a lot of TV, and I know I haven't even been searched. I've still got my cellphone on me and stuff.' That's when a lady officer told me what I was being charged with."

Okay, we have to back up here and provide a little context. Miami Beach is beyond packed on Memorial Day weekend. After Atlanta essentially threw "Freak-Nik" out of the city, all the MCs, DJs, Playaz, hotties and shorties took the show to Miami a few years ago. Now, it's called "Urban Beach Week." Older folks, the hip-hop challenged and people who like to see order are a little undone by Urban Beach Week, which is essentially young black folks and young white folks who like hip-hop hanging out on Miami Beach all weekend in various forms of dress and undress. Basically, it's a late spring break for the hip-hop crowd . . . which attracts tens of thousands. Think BET, not MTV. Law enforcement folks who don't necessarily see the similarities get a little nervous sometimes.

This is what Arenas got caught up in, even though he wasn't going to hear music, wasn't walking around with a posse. "I was going to dinner," Arenas said.

But because the traffic slows to a crawl in the evenings, the limousine couldn't move on Collins Avenue, the main drag on South Beach.

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