Gilbert Arenas Is Not Quirky
"What is quirky?" Arenas asked me, seeking a definition. "Why do people always call me quirky?"
I told Gilbert that "quirky" is a nice way of saying he's special; that people call him quirky because, well, "you're a little different."
"What are you talking about?" Arenas said. "I'm not different!"
Brendan Haywood, sitting about 10 feet away, quickly lifted his head and said, "You are different, Gilbert."
"No I'm not. What makes me different?" he asked.
I tried to come up with all the reasons that I have labeled him quirky and eccentric in my time covering him. Arenas is often painted as a bit of a goofball by those of us in media. I know that I've helped contribute to the quirky label - but so has he. C'mon, Sports Illustrated dubbed him the 'Wizard of Odd' with good reason. I'm embarassed to admit that I never thought that I'd need to prepare myself to have a discussion with Arenas about what makes him weird. I figured some things are universally understood. Sky is to blue as Gilbert Arenas is to quirky.
I kind of covered my take in the comments section of Lee's blog entry, but I think Gilbert really doesn't feel the need to fall under any sort of classification. He's not concerned with his image like so many athletes are, but I also think that he legitimately does get tired of being labeled "quirky." In a perfect world, I think Gilbert Arenas just wants to be classified as "Gilbert Arenas." With that being said, I think that Arenas is a media members' dream, and that he, on some level, understands that.
Most of the complaints are mere frustration, but Arenas makes some interesting points at the end.
This complaint is definetly valid, but it's the type of thing that is never going to go away. As Lee says, in the eyes of the sports media world, winning cures all. I can understand Arenas' frustration, however. How would you like going from a "hothead" to being "quirky" or "wierd." It's definetly an odd jump to make.
I told him that most competitiors don't break stuff in the locker room. Arenas then got defensive about how players get certain reputations in the league. He takes exception the labels that players around the league receive. He asked how certain players are called hotheads for being emotional when they lose, but others are called passionate and fiery - for doing the same things - if they win. I told him that winning is air freshener for you flaws in this league.
"That's not right," Arenas said. "My first few years in the league, I was called a 'hothead.' Now
that I'm winning, I'm 'quirky.' I don't get it."
Overall, I think we need to remember just how young Arenas is. He's going to have some instances where his immaturity shines through. This seems to be one of those instances. Deep down, I think Arenas is a little more insecure than most, considering that he's been doubted at every level of his basketball career. This just seems like another step in his maturity. I think we'll see a return of charismatic, unique Gilbert Arenas very soon.
How exactly would you characterize Gilbert Arenas? If "quirky" isn't the best word, what is?