From Chuck Klosterman IV: A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas on NBA star Gilbert Arenas:
"Sometimes you have to create your own legacy, and that is what I have done," he says. "There is no quirkiness about me. I just lash out at things, but it's lighthearted. The freak part of me is not that I'm going to take sixty pills to get attention. I'm not that kind of freak. I just like to watch the Gummi Bears on TV. I'm not Ron Artest. I'm a character. The things I do, the things I say -- these are things I sit in my house and think about. I know what I'm doing."
Gilbert Arenas needs less than one minute to completely demystify every aspect of his iconography.
. . .
A maniacal grudge holder, Arenas claims he would sacrifice an entire NBA season to play one game at the collegiate level, solely to punish Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski for leaving him off the U.S. Olympic Team. "One college game," he wrote on his blog. "That's five fouls, right? . . . 40 minute game . . . at Duke, they got soft rims . . . I'd probably score 84 or 85."
Certainly, Arenas is not the first athlete to exhibit (or perpetuate) goofball tendencies. The roster of self-styled media inventions is vast: Dennis Rodman, Chad Johnson, Jose Canseco, Jim McMahon, Brian Bosworth, et al. But Arenas is atypical, and here's why: unlike almost every other consciously nonconformist superstar, his behavior is never polarizing. Nobody hates Arenas for being odd; it has exclusively served to make him more beloved. If there's any historical equivalent for Arenas's persona, it's probably Mark "The Bird" Fidrych. People are not fascinated by Arenas because his behavior is outrageous; they're bewitched because they have no idea what his behavior is supposed to signify.
The National Basketball Association -- like all sports leagues -- thrives on control. Its culture is corporate and clinical: the bulletin board in the Wizards locker room features a list of eight things you can't do during the National Anthem. . . . As a business model, control is what makes the NBA a successful product. But it's those rare moments that cannot be controlled that make the game meaningful, and Arenas creates these moments all the time. He is always slightly beyond control: it's impossible to control what you cannot understand.
. . .
"Everybody wants to be the All-American boy," he says. "But at the end of the day, America is not perfect. Normal blue-collar people understand this. That's why everyone loved Larry Bird. Larry Bird could hit the game-winning shot and get drunk with the locals. People want personality . . ."
Tags: Chuck Klosterman, Gilbert Arenas