Arenas Appears Well Suited to Filter Out Commentary on Close Friend Stevenson

By Dan Steinberg The D.c. Sports Bog's Irreverent Look At The Wizards-cavaliers Series
Saturday, May 3, 2008

"Is that okay to wear out there?" Gilbert Arenas asked an hour before tip-off, gesturing toward his cream-colored Élevée slacks and vest. "Just checking," Arenas said. "I know I'm gonna get fined, because it came with a gray jacket."

Why not wear the jacket?

"It's a white-out," Arenas said. "I couldn't find anything pure white in the house. I was gonna grab a blanket."

So yeah, with Arenas back to the role he's filled for much of this season -- high-fashion-wearing, halftime-interview-giving cheerleader -- the guard eschewed his usual pregame retreat to the team's training room and instead offered a short dose of Gilbertology. For example, his thoughts on how to choose an outfit for bench-watching:

"I hate dressing, I hate looking for stuff," he said. "Like, I have probably 45 suits that I've never worn. Like, that [Élevée] suit is probably two years old."

Never been worn?

"No," Arenas said. "Because I hate actually looking at the suit, trying to find the shoes to match the suit. Suits I don't repeat. Because after I take them off, I just throw them on the ground and my girl takes them and puts them at the cleaners. After that, they split it up, [and] I can't find nothing that ever matches any more."

After discussing his wardrobe -- which includes more than 100 suits -- Arenas was asked to assess the postseason performance of his close friend DeShawn Stevenson, who has seemed bent on filling the "quirky" gap caused by Arenas's absence.

"No, he's crazier than me," Arenas said. "I'm already broken. I learned early. He's not filtered. I think about stuff; mine goes through the filter first."

Yes, that's right. The Gilbert Arenas we've seen in D.C. over the past four seasons is, according to the man himself, the filtered, pre-meditated version. Just the thought of an unfiltered Arenas should be enough to earn several suspensions from the league office. But Arenas said he thought Stevenson had successfully navigated his recent journey toward notoriety without reaching pure villainy.

"He's still on the borderline," Arenas said. "Like I tell him, as long as you don't go overboard or do anything violent, you don't get into a fight on the court or anything, other than that you're safe. I told him, 'Other than that, if you're the most hated player in Cleveland, that's a great thing, because that's one whole city who hates you.' I told him, 'No matter what team you ever play for, you've got 20,000 people booing you.' That's a good thing: 20,000 people who actually know you."

Arenas further said that the past year has let Stevenson "get his own identity," a point he also made when Stevenson's agent initially recommended he shelve the post-basket hand waggle.

"I was like, 'You've found something that people are actually taken [with],' " Arenas recalled. "You've got fans doing this, you've got little kids. Antawn's daughter used to do it. She used to come, 'Daddy look.' So I was like, 'That's your snitch now, you've got to do it.' "

Snitch? "Stitch," Arenas tried. Niche, maybe? "Stick," he offered. Schtick, perhaps? "Yeah," Arenas agreed.

Object of Their Affection

Darius Songaila's one-game suspension wasn't announced until yesterday afternoon, but that was plenty of time for the home crowd to turn the reserve forward into a martyr. "Free Darius" signs dotted the arena, and at least one fan wore a "Free Darius Songaila" T-shirt. Songaila received the loudest ovation when his face was shown on the scoreboard after the introductions, and his jersey was laid over his empty seat on the bench.

The corollary, of course, was more scorn for LeBron James, the man whose face was so rudely brushed by Songaila's fingers in Game 5. Various signs in the arena went to various length to advance James's Academy Award candidacy and offer unsolicited advice to league officials.

Best offering? "David Stern, LeBron Shook My Hand Once, Don't Suspend Me."

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