Agent Zero hour (cont.)
Posted: Friday November 2, 2007 10:22AM; Updated: Friday November 2, 2007 11:07AM
I told Arenas that I imagined at his best he could be like Isiah Thomas, who won two championships as a scoring point guard. He nodded in agreement and said, "I'm much stronger and a better shooter than he was.''
But it's his up-tempo approach that makes the big difference, Arenas insisted.
"When I was at Arizona, Lute Olson made it perfectly clear. He said, 'If you guys want to keep your averages, you've got to put up more attempts. You've got to speed this game up.' So that's how I always played,'' Arenas said. "If you want to make everybody happy, you've got to get opportunities. You can't slow the ball up. I understand truthfully how Larry feels over there at Cleveland because, as athletic as they are, they slow the ball up so that if LeBron takes 25 shots and they only took 60 [as a team], it looks like he's dominating. But if you're running and he takes 25 shots and you got your 19 and somebody else got their 19, you don't know the difference.
"That's the only reason the guys on this team like playing with me. That's why Larry Hughes loved playing with me because at the end of the day, even though I take a lot of shots, it doesn't seem that way because if you average 19 [points] and you're getting 19 [shots], you're not looking at mine. You play with Kobe, you see he took 37 shots. I've taken 30-something shots before but it never looked like it because Antawn got his 22 and Caron got his 22 shots.''
He was making it sound as if Hughes appreciated Arenas more after leaving as a free agent in 2005 to sign with Cleveland, where he has averaged 15.5 and 14.9 points over the last two years.
"I'm not even going to lie, I'm not going to put words in his mouth,'' Arenas said. "But he told me in training camp, 'Man, I want to come back.' The first training camp he was there. It's not [because of] LeBron's game; it's the offense he's in. He's not in that offense that used to be when they had Ricky Davis, Darius Miles -- oh my God they were flying. Now they're more a half-court, set-up team, so when [James] tries to play his game, it looks more dominating than it's supposed to look.''
Because he's an impending free agent, I asked Arenas how he would feel about playing with Bryant on the Lakers next year.
"If he adapted his game to my style, then it would be a great fit,'' Arenas said, "because he's going to get his 45 shots but the game is going to be fast. So if he can play this style, we're going to go up and down and you're going to get your 45 or whatever shots you need to keep you happy, but everybody else is going to get an equal opportunity too.
"It's so funny that no one ever realizes that about my game, that I've played with two players that averaged [close to] 20 points, and they're never complaining. Because if you think about it, if someone said, 'Would you play with Gilbert?' they would be thinking about it like, 'Oh, I don't know, he's shoot-first.' And then when you actually sit down and look at it, it's like, 'Damn.'
"They're not paying attention to the game. They're looking at the stat sheet and saying, 'He's a shoot-first point guard. He's a selfish type of point guard, he's a reckless type of point guard.' OK, I understand, but you name your top five scorers, the best players in this league, and then give me two other players on that team that are dominating like the two players I have on my team. That's how you judge somebody. You guys are saying all these great stars are making other players better, and you guys are not mentioning me. And you think about everybody who's played with me.
"D-Wade had Caron [with the Heat in 2003-04]. Kobe had Caron [with the Lakers in 2004-05]. I have Caron. What's the difference?''
Butler never averaged more than 15.5 points before he came to Washington.
"LeBron has Larry Hughes. I had Larry Hughes. What's the difference?
"Same thing with Antawn. Juan Dixon -- there's a reason when these players are leaving [Washington], they're getting paid. I might not be your Steve Nash, but I'm doing the same thing he's doing. I'm making these players look better.''
I wondered if Arenas was planning to have his best year because he was playing for a new contract.
"I don't ever want to hear somebody say he's playing better because it's his contract year," he said. "I mean, I did make three All-Stars and All-NBA three times, so I guess that counts for nothing. But it's just about getting better as a player each year.
"If you have a player who plays dead for five years of his contract, and then he has a blow-up year, that's called false advertisement. I don't think you should pay him. Because you pay him, what do you think he's going to do? He's going to go back into hibernation.''
I asked if he was talking about the Clippers' Tim Thomas, for example.
"Yeah,'' he said. "Thank you.''
2 of 2