Sports

Sonics face off with Arenas, Wizards

It was a typical timeout during the All-Star Game in Las Vegas, music pumping in the Thomas it's been one of the more talked-about stories of the season.

The tale, which would have been legend if he had accomplished it, goes like this:

Along with Luke Ridnour, Arenas was part of the USA Basketball team that tried out in Las Vegas last summer for the chance to compete in the world championships in Japan.

Like Ridnour, Arenas was cut, so he vowed this season to score 50 points against both Phoenix and Portland because Suns coach Mike D'Antoni and Blazers coach Nate McMillan were assistants on that staff. (Duke coach Mike Kryzewski was the head coach.)

Lo and behold, Arenas actually fulfilled his promise, going for 54 in Phoenix three days before Christmas.

It was inevitable then that Arenas would complete his double dip when the Wizards hosted the Blazers on Feb. 11. Only, Arenas came up 41 points shy that night.

"I said I'd score 50," Arenas said afterward. "I didn't say when I'd score 50."

Though he didn't make 50 points on Tuesday night, his last chance this season against the Blazers, Arenas did have 10 assists to go with 19 points. And it's not his fault Portland didn't make the post season, denying a possible, if improbable, Finals matchup.

Known as Agent Zero because of his icy demeanor, particularly at the end of games, Arenas has become one of the most complete players in the league.

Besides his offensive production, he averages 5.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals. Though he is not quite yet at the MVP level of Phoenix's Steve Nash and Dallas' Dirk Nowitzi, the fact that he has the historically moribund Wizards (36-28) in first place in the Atlantic Division puts him one tier below.

But his off-court antics, which Wizards coach Eddie Jordan calls "Gilbertology," are just as tantalizing. Earlier this season, he and teammate DeShawn Stevenson placed a substantial wager on their shooting abilities, Arenas betting he could make more one-handed college 3-pointers than Stevenson could make two-handed NBA 3s.

They both shot 100, with Arenas shooting first. He made 72. Stevenson then went, and as he shot Arenas undertook a cavalcade of distraction-inducing behaviors, including break-dancing. The whole thing was caught by a camera and has become one of YouTube.com's most popular videos.

"He's a flamboyant personality and he backs it up with his play," Hill said.

Now that he is one of the league's best players, his stories are endearing. He came out during introductions of the season opener in a blue robe with a hood, supposedly looking like a wizard. He once said he wants to convert his house to high-altitude conditions so he can stay in better shape.

On his blog three weeks ago, he announced that his girlfriend was expecting to give birth to a baby boy.

"They can't call him Gilbert," he wrote, "because then they're gonna call him, 'Who's eating Gilbert's Grape.' "

  Comments