Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2 p.m. ET
The Psychic Scars That Shaped an NBA Star
Tuesday, October 31, 2006; 2:00 PM
Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise was online Tuesday, Oct. 31 at 2 p.m. to discuss his two-part profile of Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas.
Read part one:
Read part two:
UpMo, Md.: Scarred and wonderful; giving and reclusive; what a wonderful portrait of a very complicated man you wrote. He hasn't bought a home for his father, but the baby mama who chased him down through her lawyers like a dog has a house, an allowance, and a second child on the way. He can't make himself call his mother after asking about her for years (I don't think I could either), but he can pour his heart out for a basketball league at Barry Farms and lift those folks up. Since marriage has never been modeled in his life (so it seems), I doubt he will ever marry the children's mother, but it is interesting that he has shaped his own vision of morality and stuck to it with the same discipline that he brings to basketball and to Barry Farms and to everything else you discussed. Thank you again. It was a great set of articles.
Mike Wise: Thanks for joining me, people. I've got a truckload of questions and I'll try to get to all of them relating to the story on Gilbert Arenas. Bear with my dial-up connection. Thanks, Mike.
Roanoke, Va.: Well, now we know why Gilbert had those occasional five-point games! Is this typical NBA behavior? When someone is listed as sick, he may be hiding from the law? And he sounds so proud of this! I was really stunned.
Mike Wise: A lot people will see what they want to see in a story like this. I read my words one way, you read them another and so on. In all the time I took to get to know Gilbert and the people in his life, I didn't find any flat-out villains. Just as I wouldn't paint you as a player-hater for your thoughts about Gilbert, I think it would be wrong to paint him as a criminal on the run because of a domestic situation that got out of control on both ends. This stuff goes on in a lot of people's lives, it's just that none of us are famous enough to be served a subpoena on national TV.
Takoma Park, D.C.: How hard was it to get Gilbert to open up about his personal life? The Washingtonian writer who also did an in-depth study, which focused on basketball, said he didn't even know Gilbert had a daughter before reading the Wizards' information guide, which apparently got the name wrong!
Mike Wise: Gilbert will talk to you about most things in his life if he trusts you enough, but he's not going to volunteer information. There was a lot of interviewing of other people about Gilbert before I sat down and spoke to him about his life. It did take a good hour or two during an interview this summer in his Las Vegas hotel room before I felt he could really talk about his mother and the experience he had seeing her after she had abandoned him 18 years earlier. It's one of those conversations where you just get a lump in your throat hearing him talk about it.
Washington D.C.: Why write this disgusting material and not just one day but several?
The Washington Post promoting a deadbeat millionaire athlete is more information than the fans needed to know. I do not sympathize with this man. Yet you fill our lives with this swill.
What a dreadful thing for our franchise, the Washington Wizards and its owner, Abe Pollin, to not only support a deadbeat father in his antics to "hide" from his responsibilities but to involve the entire organization in lying and manipulation. It would have shown more honor, integrity and character to have simply accepted service or done what he finally did contact the young woman's father, whom he purports to be such "good friends" with and amicably resolve the matter privately. Mr. Jordan, married father himself should be thoroughly ashamed for supporting and condoning such behavior.
Mr. Arenas, obviously a liar, was fully aware that he was and continues to have relations with the young woman, what is the mystery? In the Washingtonian Magazine he stated firmly - he had no girlfriend, yet having relations enough to father a second child.
Mr. Arenas and his poor attitude concerning his mother and the mother of his children is a sad commentary. The entire article is terribly disgusting and very disappointing. The lack of honor, character and integrity flows from the top.
As a side note: There is an article in Sports Illustrated regarding NFL running back Chad Johnson, who also was left as a child by his birth mother. The writer handled the entire matter in a much more professional manner. Mr. Johnson also has several children out of wedlock yet it appears no one seems to be "running and hiding." No "Cloak and dagger" if you will.
Mr. Wise, You should have left filth of Mr. Arenas' private business - just that - private. He is no "star" in my books. Thanks to you, neither are Abe Pollin and Eddie Jordan as they call themselves "the family" They will reap the consequences of their actions in spades.
The best thing the franchise should have done is sent him for counseling or discuss how to become an honorable man not a self absorbed liar.
Mike Wise: This was not a question, but I thought I would let it be seen because it speaks for a growing number of very sad and misinformed people out there. Let me be clear: Gilbert Arenas is not a deadbeat dad; he made clear from the beginning that he wanted custody of his daughter and to be involved in her life at every phase. And in the time I've seen him around her, I've never seen a more attentive father. You can make your own moral judgments about whether he should be married or living with the mother of his child, but you can't categorize the guy as some uncaring millionaire because of his situation last year. That's just small-minded and trying to intersperse your own bedrock values in someone else's life.
Dulles, Va.: Hey Mike. Great work as always. Wondering what was the one thing you learned about Gilbert that shocked/surprised you the most? Keep the good stuff coming...
Mike Wise: Thanks much. The one thing that I learned about Gilbert that kind of shocked me? That he actually wanted this story to come out. I thought it was so incredibly personal and private, well, you always think, "What if someone was writing about my life story? How would I feel?" But his whole attitude was, "There are people in this world whose mother abandoned them and they don't have to think they're alone and never talk about it. If my story comes out, maybe other people will see that I overcame a rough childhood and they can, too." He actually said those words yesterday at a press conference. Blew me away. I wouldn't be that perceptive or open at 24. I'm not open and perceptive at 42.
College Park, Md.: Be honest: you rolled down to Barry Farms with him in his Ferrari, right? Have you ever been down there before to watch any games?
Mike Wise: Yo, all the cats know me at Barry Farms, where I routinely drop 40 on all the supposed 'ballers. They call me Mr. Wise, at which point I usually break into a rap song.
"They call me Mr. Wise
I freak so hard I was built to hypnotize."
Okay, I confess: That was my first trip to Barry Farms. And, as Miles Rawls, the commissioner, will tell you, I was indeed the most unhip cat in the crowd. Although I will say this; what a tremendous, real environment. Every hoophead that loves the game should go down there and see the crowd and the basketball. They open their arms up to everyone, irrespective of your color or background.
Rockville, Md.: Do you know why Gil fired his agent?
Mike Wise: Yes, that was in the Barry Farms story. I think he just got tired of Dan Fagan not marketing him the way he thinks he should be marketed.
Bowie, Md.: How's this for an all star nut team:
PG: Gilbert Arenas
SG: J.R. Rider
SF: Ron Artest
PF: Dennis Rodman
C: Bison Dele
Sixth Man: Stephen Jackson
Coach: John Chaney
Owner: Mark Cuban
Arenas is clearly a guy with a lot of baggage, so would he or is he considering some sort of professional help before he walks down the path of those other four players that I mentioned?
Mike Wise: Mildly amusing, but, and I know I'm going to come across as a Gilbert apologist here, he doesn't belong in that group. Gilbert has some odd-ball behavior traits, but he doesn't have a mean-spiritedness to him that some of those other players and coaches you mention do. Do I think he could use help in the way of therapy or counseling? I mean, I'm not a psychiatric professional. But if we agree that most of the people writing in questions today could use professional help, then, yes, Gilbert could too.
Warrenton, Va.: Did the press have any idea this was going on? And that it could explain the occasional game where he just didn't show up? While I don't think the press should air players' dirty laundry, when you've got one claiming illness to escape a process server, isn't that a different situation?
Mike Wise: No, the press had no idea. I mean, one of my co-workers actually tipped me off to the situation in Sacramento. We'll call this person Bill (not his real name; his real name is Ivan Carter, who does a great job of covering the Wizards on a daily basis). Anyhow, there were inklings but nobody could nail it down. The whole story was wild.
Raleigh, N.C.: I enjoyed your article. Gilbert is one of my favorite NBA players. Something in your story struck me as odd, though. His father obviously did a good job raising him. But why did he just leave after the incident with Gilbert's mother? Did he say why he didn't try to gain custody of Gilbert? To me, it just seemed odd for him to say "You got a kid upstairs. You don't need to be doin' this crap," but then leave. Gilbert was his son, too.
Mike Wise: Good point. There was some nuances that didn't get in, including a passage that involved Gilbert's grandmother trying to extricate him from that situation. I think at the time Gilbert Sr. was a 19-year-old kid who wasn't sure what it meant to be a father and wasn't sure if he could even make it in the world himself. I think it's a real blessing that he came around about a year and a half later to take his son, because that probably saved Gilbert from a much harder and sadder childhood.
Alexandria, Va.: First of all I really enjoyed the article on Gilbert. However I noticed when you quote black athletes (in this article it was Gilbert's father) you more than most reporters always capture the misspellings of the people quoted. Are you trying to display the vernacular of the person you are quoting? Why do other Post reporters not seem to always capture the poor grammar of the black community?
Mike Wise: I appreciate you noticing the dialogue in the story. I'm not sure which other Post reporters you are talking about, but I will say this: I didn't think of myself as doing a story on the black community; I thought of myself as writing about a young man's odyssey from boyhood to adulthood, a young man who happened to be black. I try to capture people as they are, irrespective of race, color, creed or gender. I always have. If I was writing about Larry Bird, I guarantee you his mama would sound like she's from French Lick, Ind. If I were writing about a Pakistani man with a thick accent, I would try to capture who he is in his speech. I would never want to embarrass someone, but I also wouldn't want Post readers thinking I cleaned up someone's language to make them sound like a person they're not. We should be about authenticity. Period.
Mike Wise: People, the response has been so overwhelming I've been told I can go over my allotted hour time slot. So stay with me if I haven't gotten to your question. Thanks for the interest. It's really overwhelming and flattering, even you haters. : ).
Matt, D.C.: Why is Gilbert's "quirkiness" viewed as such a negative thing? At no point is it detrimental to the team. He always gives his all. It almost seems to be the knock on him when you compare Gil to the other top stars in the league. Why is Shaq viewed as funny, while Gilbert is "quirky"?
Mike Wise: Matt, very salient point. Shaq used to tell me, "Why am I looked at as a young knucklehead with no priorities when I do a rap video and David Robinson is supposed to be a learned, smart man 'cuz he plays saxophone?" He was right. We completely labeled him. Same with Gilbert. He's got some offbeat character traits, but I would take those traits any day with what he gives you as a competitor on the court. Let's also have some perspective: not many players in the NBA practice alone at 4 a.m.
Rockville, Md.: Hi,
I know very little about Gilbert but I thought your story offered breadth in this man's life. I must admit that I thought he was different than many sports players -- stepping up and taking care of his daughter and her mother. Then, one of your last paragraphs reveals the mother is pregnant again. I don't think it's out of line to morally judge a public figure for his or her actions. We don't do enough of it in our society. But, I'm sure there are people who could care less as long as he keeps playing well.
Good article though.
Mike Wise: One of the things people keep coming up to me and asking me about is, Laura Govan, the mother of his child. And it always starts with, "Is he nuts? After all the drama they went through and he's still having another baby with her?"
I can't pretend to get inside his head about this one, but I do think that sometimes we handicap public figures like sports stars much differently than we do regular folk. What I mean is, if you heard of a 24-year-old kid who had been on and off with the same woman for almost five years getting her pregnant for a second time, you might think, "Well, they seem like oil and water, but they must be either young, stupid or in love to do that again?" When it happens to a public figure, we say, "What an idiot. Can't he see where this is going." I think we forget how young our athletic heroes really are sometimes.
Anonymous: I am disturbed by the judgmental and misguided comments that have been made in response to these articles.
Yesterday on this site, after reading about Gilbert overcoming his tragic upbringing, someone complained that the NBA should not be allowed to claim a player has the flu when he is really healthy. The cat was abandoned in a crack house when he was three and the most remarkable part of the story is the disclosure of misleading injury reports?
Now people want to blast Arenas for his moral decisions. EVERYONE has done dirt and has skeletons in their closest. If the above poster's deepest darkest thoughts and desires were made known to the world, I am sure they would be as filthy as the next man's.
I don't know why he would keep sleeping with her. But in terms of marriage, how successful is he going to be if he can never trust anyone anyway?
He did buy them a house nearby, the dude half-adopted the little boy last year when his family was killed in the fire, the cat doesn't fly off the handle like Sheed, doesn't end up in police reports like Webber and Howard did, and has a greater work ethic than 99 percent of the people posting comments on www.washingtonpost.com.
Get over yourselves.
Mike Wise: Having no skeletons myself, I think...
Seriously, I've never had a reader's back more than I do right now. Shame on us for judging someone whose background most of us will gladly never have to deal with.
D.C.: Very cool of you to stay on longer. Frankly, I am shocked by the negative responses posted above. I found the article to be eye-opening, and most importantly very open. Mr. Arenas surely did not need to open his life up to such judgment. I admire his willingness to do this, and his hope to impact others. Can the haters just take a deep breath and TRY to find some empathy.
Anyway, thanks for a great read.
Mike Wise: No problem. The questions just keep getting better and better. I don't vehemently disagree with the people who have problems with how he has dealt with his situation. But I just don't think you can be black and white about this -- or anyone in the story for that matter. There is a lot of gray area in his life and the people around him that just don't allow you to say, "He's a saint." or, "she's a gold digger." That's not life. Those are labels we get used to because we don't want to look deeper.
Washington, D.C.: Hi Mike,
The story about Gil's childhood was really fascinating. Maybe it's just me and my overly-psychoanalyzing ways, but the part toward the end where you wrote about his relationship with his on-again, off-again girlfriend and how Gil said it wasn't like his mother abandoning him had made him not respect women or anything, and then talking about how he knows he pushes people away and that the ones who stay even when you try to push them away are the ones who really love you... well, it sounded to me like he could REALLY benefit from some time with a good therapist.
I mean, it's just really sad to read about him having that much difficulty with his relationships with people he cares about, and maybe not recognizing that it is possible to change how he relates to people. (Not that it's necessarily all on him; it did sound like Govan might have some issues as well.)
But it sounds like there have been a lot of painful experiences in his life, and it may harder to recognize that emotional injuries can be treated in the same way that on-court physical injuries get cared for.
Thanks for a really touching look at a side of Gilbert Arenas that I didn't even know existed.
Mike Wise: Keep psychoanalyzing, I love it. One of the things we get to do as writers is play amateur psychologist all the time, and I found myself doing that the whole time I was writing this story.
I think anybody that has been abandoned as a child has some real deep-seeded issues about trusting people that get close to them. Jean, a therapist friend of mine, will tell you that people with these backgrounds push those who love them away because they think, in their heart, that those people will leave anyway. It's such a sad way to live your life.
I don't have the expertise to tell Gilbert he needs to go see a therapist, but I do think it's incredibly hard to even conceive of dealing with that kind of stuff at 24 -- especially in a warped profession where any kind of psychological problem is seen as a major weakness instead of something that should be treated and dealt with.
I could see him maybe talking to somebody in his late 20s or early 30s, but I just don't think he wants to deal with it before then.
D.C.: What is Arenas's baby's momma's thinking about this? Is she content to be the unmarried bearer of all his children and a kept woman, or coming from a well-off family, she has some goals in life that she wants to pursue?
Mike Wise: Laura has kind of been painted as the person causing a lot of stress in his life -- and for good reason after last year. But my take on her, having gotten to know her a little bit, is that she really cares for Gilbert deeply and really believes that they can eventually work out as a couple if both of them do a little growing up. Remember when you were young, and everybody was telling you, "She's not for you" or "He's not for you," and you just wouldn't let your stubborn soul listen to their words because you believed in the fairy tale ending. Well, I think there's a little of that in there.
Des Moines, Iowa: I enjoyed the article and the very personal account of his childhood. Too bad that many of the others submitting questions seem to have a very negative agenda.
Gilbert isn't perfect, but then who is? I appreciate his honesty and wish him luck in raising his two kids.
Mike Wise: I wish some of the people really taking him apart would imagine a story written about their own life like that before they judge him. I just don't believe you can tear Gilbert Arenas down until you've walked in his Adidas sneakers.
What's up with the baby mama?: I didn't get a sense of the nature of their relationship other than they still "kick it." Does she love him? Does he love her? I have all kinds of images about her based upon her background: worked for Shaq; hooks up and has a baby with athlete from another city. Bottom line: Was she an NBA groupie? He did question paternity.
Mike Wise: Baby Mama Drama, that's what up. Good questions. A little New York Post-ish, but that's okay. Laura Govan wasn't an NBA groupie, that's not fair. Beyond her own parents, who owned and operated jazz venues in the Bay Area, she's also the goddaughter of a prominent NBA agent. She knew a lot of players growing up. Now, I think Gilbert questioned paternity not because he thought she was a hoochie mama but because they were broken up for a period of time and he just didn't think it was humanly possible for him to be the father given the time he'd spent with her the prior nine months. So he was thinking the worst-case scenario; the baby wasn't his.
Someone told me once, "The most dangerous seven inches in the world are between your ears." The crazy things we come up with in our heads never match reality. That was Gilbert, I think, last year after the baby was born.
I wonder if the Wizards would have backed such a move if Arenas has been a bench player versus a star?
I am sure the Wizards would have turned their back and said that they would above such behavior.
But this happens from the pee-wee leagues all the way to the majors.
Mike Wise: That's an interesting argument. Would Abe Pollin have been so incredibly supportive during an issue obviously detracting from his team's goals if Gilbert Arenas were the Wizards' 12th man? I'd like to think Abe Pollin would, but I really can't say. Because, you know, down deep, that having your franchise player served on national TV would be a complete embarrassment for the franchise -- and David Stern's league. Especially with all the perceptions of deadbeat dads in the NBA. Stern should actually thank Abe Pollin for concocting the flu story.
D.C.: What was the beef between Gil and Kwame all about, since both seem to have had it tough early on? You'd think these two would be close given what they've been through.
Mike Wise: Young kids and that whole respect game. It doesn't make sense, but when they're older they'll realize how much they actually have in common.
Potomac, Md.: Tremendous articles, Mike. I hate to bring it back to the basketball aspect but I am curious. As much of a cerebral person as Gilbert is, do you think that he will be haunted by the missed free throws last year, or that they will define his career by any means. As a wizards fan it was crushing to have our star miss those, but to him it must have been even worse. Did you even get to touch on that issue with him, while documenting his life story
Mike Wise: Those are haunting misses. And if he gets in a similar situation and does it again -- big playoff game, season on the line -- then you start wondering if he's thinking about that.
Two crucial misses at 24, I think, don't really stay with you. Now, if you came close so often, like Chris Webber, and you still can't get to the next level because of a missed shot or something else, then there is a part of you that sometimes wonders if you're cursed.
Occoquan, Va.: Mr. Wise, Mr. Arenas and the Wizards players seem to think it's a laughing matter, a "team bonding experience," to help Mr. Arenas elude a process server in connection with a child he fathered out of wedlock. For shame! I think, and hope, this story is going to have widespread reverberations, not all of them good ones.
Mike Wise: You can make an argument that the whole situation actually hurt the Wizards. I mean, they were fighting for their playoff lives and also helping hide out their star player for weeks on the road. One player actually told me, "I can't wait for this season because Gil is going to be so much more focused with all of that stuff behind him."
Does it make you feel closer to your teammates because they are helping you with an intense personal situation in your life? Yes. Do they also get tired of your drama at some point? Also yes.
Adidas: Did you read the Esquire interview with Gilbert where he describes his ideal shoe commercial complete with people jumping out of the stands and fighting a kid in a wheel chair? Just another reason that he is the man.
Mike Wise: Yeah, I liked the Esquire piece. It was a little gimmicky, but there were some good anecdotes in there.
D.C.: If Gil Jr. owes it all to Sr. for what he has now, why is Sr. on the west coast and living in an apartment instead of here with his son?
Mike Wise: I just don't think Gilbert Sr. wants to live off his son's wealth. I think he's content with his own life. I mean, the man is completely refurbishing his mother's house in West Tampa where he grew up and Gilbert lived for a while -- I saw the thing, it's beautiful. So it's not like he's hurting for cash.
Bowie, Md.: Gilbert's got a chip on his shoulder, based on his upbringing, his draft status, him being dropped from the Olympic team, etc. Have you ever asked him what he needs to achieve in life which will finally take the chip off and allow him to kick back and sip a nice potion and say, "well, I've done what I could with what I had and I'm proud of it and it's time to put all those demons away because I've actually got it pretty good, much better than 99.9 percent of America....."
Mike Wise: A mother growing up, that's what removes that chip from your shoulder.
I think he'll always have it, no matter how much success he enjoys. It's sad, but Gilbert will never see himself as a guy who's completely happy and made it in the world.
You just can't, not with where his life started.
Annapolis, Murralin: I think the lengths the Wizards went to in order to protect their marquee player are admirable. This law firm (and their client at the time) was at fault for the ridiculously aggressive tactics they used to try to serve him. It speaks volumes about an organization that will spend time and money to personally help out their people, particularly at the risk of losing when he "had the flu." Granted, there were team image issues and such to consider but I got the impression they had Gil's back.
Mike Wise: I don't how many of you out there have used an Employee Assistance Program at work, but that's essentially what the Wizards became during his personal crisis -- whether he brought it upon himself or not. They heard the problem, remedied the situation as best they could and made it safe for their employee to go back to work.
It's like what happened with me, without the medication.
Chevy Chase, Md.: To me, the most distressing aspect of this is that Abe Pollin, a man I've long respected and admired, went along with helping GA evade the process server. Did you try to contact him to learn what he was thinking? Maybe I'm just naive, but he's the last person I would expect this from.
Mike Wise: I think that's a little myopic. If you're Abe Pollin and you're told, from Gilbert's point of view, that "a woman I had a child with is telling me they're going to serve me on TV tonight and embarrass me in front of the country," then if you're a compassionate, caring soul and you know your employee but you don't know the situation with the woman and the attorney, well, sometimes you trust your player and reach out to him the best you can. Give him the day off until he takes care of the problem. That might be too simplified, but I don't think Abe Pollin has lousy values because of what he did.
Washington, D.C.: What made you decide to write this article and why do you feel the public needed that glimpse into his private life, which he has managed to do a good job of keeping private until now?
Mike Wise: I kept reading all these crazy stories about Gilbert and his pranks and his behavior and I knew there was something deeper in his background that could explain some of it, especially the way he pushed those close to him away. When I found out about his mother abandoning him, I knew there was a story to be told there.
Some people are really uncomfortable with the personal nature of the article, but it reaffirmed my belief that a lot of sports stars and celebrities are just regular people with the same kind of problems many of us have faced in our lives. It's just that their problems are magnified on a much grander scale.
D.C.: Can a guy with so much talent really lead a team when he's got more baggage than talent? Teammates look up to guys who are rocks, not someone who is touch-and-go with emotions and actions.
Mike Wise: Look, Larry Bird's father committed suicide and Shaquille O'Neal's father bailed out on him. I know what you're saying, but Gilbert's immaturity as a leader is more about his age than his emotional baggage as a child. I really believe the court is his sanctuary, like he said. The older he gets, the better leader he'll be.
Reston, Va.: So it's a "team bonding" experience for the Wizards to help Gilbert Arenas evade his responsibility to support his daughter? Speaking as one of them, I don't think that's going to go over too well with the Wiz's female fans!
Mike Wise: You can look at that way, but the truth is he never said he was trying to avoid supporting his daughter. He just didn't want his domestic dirty laundry aired on national TV, is all.
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla: Thank you for a fascinating article. While I can see why Gilbert has these chips on his shoulders, some of us, like my husband, were abandoned by both parents in early childhood. He seems to have had a fairly good life once his dad got established in California, and he now has $66 million to pay with. Time to move on, Gil! Go Wiz!
Mike Wise: I'm glad your husband has overcome his tough childhood. That's amazing, especially if both his parents abandoned him. But "fairly good life" is such an easy thing to say. His millions can make life easier, but when the person who brings you into the world leaves you, I'm sorry, some people need years to work that out and live a happy, normal life. Trust me on this one.
Zero to Hero: Mike, loved your Arenas series (and your D.C. United coverage).
Q: How well do the rest of the 'Zards like Arenas?
Mike Wise: Gilbert is like the mischievous brother on the Wizards, who just happens to be so good that they can't give him the kind of grief they'd like to. I think all his teammates like and respect him and wonder what in the world he's going to do next.
Washington, D.C.: Why do we need three days of psycho-Baby Mama Drama and whatever story about Gilbert Arenas? Whether 24 or 34 years of age...his story is not new. There are hundreds and thousands of people with "stories." My comment? Mr. Arenas loves the limelight, adoration and publicity. One wonders if all of this is true or sadly made up. Half of Hollywood now claims to have been molested as children. How much of this publication story is "truth" or needed salve for his ego?
Mike Wise: For you to even suggest that Gilbert or his family made up any of the story is just so insensitive and out there that it doesn't dignify a response. You're right, there are thousands of stories like this. That's what makes his so remarkable -- that he overcame his upbringing to get to a station in life where many of the thousands never reach. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it. I'll fax you box scores next time you want to read something interesting.
20010: More baggage than talent?
This person needs to get a grip on reality. He is arguably one of the best basketball players in the world. I think it takes a tad more baggage in my book to match up to what Gil has in talent.
Any reactions from Gil Sr and other folks in the piece other than Arenas?
Mike Wise: Thanks, 20010, you are truly marvelous. I haven't spoken to Gil Sr. since the piece ran, though I know he didn't originally want me to contact his mother. I told him I would be as fair and honest as possible if that happened and I hope I was. I plan to mail the article tomorrow to Virginia Huggins, the woman who turned Gil over to his father. She knows how to locate Gil's mom and get the article to her. Personally, I thought Jonathan Newton's photos were incredible. This story could not have come off without him, Matt Vita, the deputy sports editor, and the big-cheeses who gave it the space and presentation you saw on Sunday. Kudos to all of them for believing in the project. Jonathan is actually the guy whom Blue, Gilbert's half-brother, asked if he could put the gun under the seat of our rental car. What a wild day that was.
DC: C'mon, Gilbert is not just quirky. Here's a list of things he actually did.
- Miss the start of a game because he was too involved with shooting a game of pool.
- Didn't take a shot during the game in protest that someone said he was shooting too much.
- Busy playing online Texas Hold 'Em during halftime of a game.
- Missed a game to dodge being served.
- Said his scoring average was going to drop after the all star game because he was going to get more teammates involved, but right after the all star game, had consecutive games of 30+.
This is not quirky. This is a guy who has a personality disorder.
Mike Wise: yeah, and here's a list of things I did when I was 24 or younger:
-- Tipped a coke machine on myself while trying to steal a free Pepsi on my work break at a freight company.
-- Gambled away my last paycheck after I was fired for tipping a coke machine on myself.
-- Missed work because of a girl.
-- And was so unfocused, I let my scoring average slip from 3.2 to 2.1 points a game at American River College.
It's not a personality disorder. It's called being young and stupid. We were all that once.
D.C.: If Arenas is so close with his father, then why is his father on the other coast living in an apartment?
Mike Wise: I think he and his father have an interesting relationship. In some ways, Gil is probably trying to break away from that influence and his father is content to let him live his life at this point and stay where he and his fiance are, in Southern California. I also don't subscribe to the notion that just because you're incredibly wealthy you should automatically enable your family with money.
Great article on Gilbert. I think if Hollywood made a sequel to "Brother from Another Planet", Gilbert and his story would be all that is needed.
Gilbert is a very gifted, generous, and odd person. I can't figure out why he did not get a summons on the court while in California (if her lawyer was so bent on serving him)? And why did he so resist once out of California? Seems like he would have stood like a man and solved this issue.
How close is Gilbert now to his father?
Mike Wise: I loved "Brother from Another Planet." Awesome movie. Good questions about the legal ramifications. I wish I could answer them. Having lived in California, though, I do know they have some strict laws. I think divorce is a 50/50 split, which would absolutely devastate Maria Shriver if her and Arnold didn't work out.
Upper Marlboro, Md.: So let me understand this: Gilbert has casual relationship with woman (I didn't get the sense it was serious); woman gets pregnant; woman plays hardball and goes after Gilbert with lawyer whose tactics force Gilbert to miss game and use fake names, the Wizards to lie about circumstances; moves woman here in separate residence; AND HE GETS WOMAN PREGNANT AGAIN. That was a great piece on Gil but that circumstance just blows my mind. I hope there is more to their relationship than what I read. That's just ridiculous.
Mike Wise: I think Gilbert and Laura are really a young couple trying to figure it out. I also believe the culture of the NBA makes it almost impossible for these relationships to work out until a player is retired. These guys are hardly at home, there is immense peer pressure to be with women outside your primary relationship and, well, he's 24. That's very young to settle down, even in the most perfect of relationships. So I wish them luck, but the main thing is that both of them are there for their kids.
Washington, D.C.: Arenas is on to something. Forget his accomplishments on the court. He is on to something. He lives with compassion. And I think he really does empathize and care. And without trying to make sure the world knows he's doing it. He may be 24, and he may still make 24-year old mistakes, but he has wisdom that most of us never get. This story is just one of several about Gilbert that has touched me. I hope he keeps it up.
Mike Wise: Thanks. You summed my feelings about him exactly after spending all that time with Gilbert.
Mike Wise: I've never made it through every question in a queue before, but I really felt compelled to stick around on this one. Your interest and comments pulled me in. Thank you. Have a great Halloween.
P.S. Am I allowed to say hi to my sister Valeska on your Web site. No? Okay.
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