By Dan Steinberg
Friday, November 20, 2009
The Wizards already had their full complement of offseason acquisitions, steady contributors of all shapes and sizes who would help get this thing back to where it was supposed to be.
But "where it was supposed to be" included Agent Zero, the fun-loving if mentally unstable hero to America's youth, and not Angry Gilbert, the man who wouldn't look reporters in the eye while spouting "both teams played hard" pap.
This is where Earl Boykins comes in. Turns out Gilbert Arenas's ongoing transformation back from Bitter to Batty was coaxed along by Boykins, his former and current teammate.
"He said, 'I remember that Angry Gilbert in Golden State,' "Arenas told my colleague Michael Lee. "All THAT Gilbert did was get a whole bunch of technicals and tear up the locker room.' He said, 'Nah, man, you just got to go back to being yourself. Just go out there, laugh, have fun, play silly, that's what you do. That's when you're at your best.'"
So is it any coincidence that with Boykins in the fold, Arenas has now let it be known that he has a Twitter account @gilbertarenas, and that he'll start tweeting as soon as he reaches a million followers? In the first 48 hours, he already nabbed more than 2,300, which means this should only take about 2 years 4 months.
(Usually, of course, people attract followers by posting compelling tweets, but "I'm trying to do the opposite," Arenas told reporters this week.
"That's a pretty good strategy," Brendan Haywood said with an eye roll. "I'm glad that it's back to business as usual. The Hibachi has returned.")
Since Boykins has known Arenas longer than nearly anyone on this team, I asked him what Zero used to be like back in the Golden State days. "Like he is now," Boykins replied. "Say whatever's on his mind, does what he wants to do, and if you don't like it, you just don't like it."
All of which allowed me to make it this far without once mentioning that Boykins is 5 feet 5, weighs 133 pounds, and has a max bench press of 315 pounds, owing in part to the fact that he does 500 pushups a day, in five groups of 100. He said it takes him about 10 minutes, which would mean one pushup every 1.2 seconds, which is a rate much more impressive than attracting 1,150 Twitter followers a day.
"That's amazing for a guy that little in stature, but he's got a big heart," said Randy Foye, though big arms are probably equally important. "It's just amazing to think about it like that, a guy that small can bench that much."
"He benches more than you," Coach Flip Saunders said to Haywood.
"Yeah, that's what they say," Haywood responded, though he said he wants to see Boykins actually get that much iron into the air. Still, Haywood has to be one of Boykins's biggest fans; he's repeatedly praised the guard since his arrival.
"Just look at him," he told me, when I asked why. "He's 5-5, MAYBE, and he plays in a land of giants and does well and performs every night. He's fast, he's quick, he's just electric out there. The team, the crowd feeds off his energy. If I was 5-foot-5, I'd probably be working at Target."
So why is Boykins so into muscling up? He said when he began his pro career, everybody wanted to try to post him up.
"And that's why when I first came into the NBA, I was really heavy into lifting weights, and I didn't know any tricks," he said. "Now, I know tricks."
Speaking of tricks, I asked Arenas whether he thought he'd ever hit that million-follower level.
"Probably not," he said.
"He's gonna get it," DeShawn Stevenson disagreed. "He's Gilbert Arenas."