Gilbert Arenas’ wants the NBA to ‘get rid of all Europeans’
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Gilbert Arenas’ wants the NBA to ‘get rid of all Europeans’

Why anyone listens to former Memphis Grizzlies guard Gilbert Arenas is beyond me. He could be an entertaining listen if he had the self-awareness to realize where the limits of his sense of humor are. Or he could regale his listeners with stories of what it was like to share the floor with former Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol or what it was like learning Chinese during his final season of professional basketball.

In his 20s, he was the rogue captain of one of the most wayward rosters in the modern NBA, and in his 40s he’s the voice behind the most uninformed lineup of NBA podcasters. Maybe the rest of his crew, including Josiah Johnson, aren’t that bad, but Arenas’ thoughts drag down their on-off rating by consistently airballing takes from outside his range.

Anyone who’s watched NBA defenses dissolve under the weight of rules and skills that favor offenses amid the NBA’s recent scoring surge has gone a little unhinged in search of solutions, but Arenas’ red hat level responses to addressing the scoring surge during a recent episode of Gils Arena was the epitome of why he’s one of the least respected voices in basketball.

“I know what they can do. Get rid of all Europeans,” Arenas said during a recent episode.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Arenas doubled down on his rental in Stupid Town by purchasing a beach condo for his commentary.

“You go to college to learn defense. What college do Europeans go to? They have no athleticism. They have no speed, no jumping ability. They are a liability on defense. They are 150 Euros in the league today… name the top defenders. None! Just Rudy [Gobert] and the Greek Freak. Other than that, they are offensive players.”

“The NBA took away aggression,” Arenas said. “They took away aggression to open up the EuroLeague. When they first started getting here, it was too rough for them. They didn’t make it. Eventually, they softened the rules. They didn’t soften the rules for the Americans. They softened the rules to open up international.”

“So when they say the euros are going to run the league in the next five years, why do you think that? More threes, passing, cutting — this is not our league, this is not the American style, this is the Euro style. Drive in, suck the defense in, pass the ball to the three-point line.”

Remember JJ Reddick’s polemic explaining how basketball talk gets drowned out by ridiculous hot take artists? Arenas is the metonym for that ignorance. Not only did he skip over James Harden and the Warriors dynasty’s impact, this 13-year-pro and former All-Star just said with a straight face that you go to college to learn how to play defense. Anecdotal evidence says otherwise. Players who came straight from high school were winners of the last six Defensive Player of the Year awards during the abbreviated preps-to-pros era. Then, Marc Gasol became the first European to win it in 2013. Rudy Gobert is about to win his fourth and soon he’ll likely cede his throne to Victor Wembanyama. The league softened the rules when the scores were being held in the low 80s and 90s. The 3-point boom was a natural evolution which began in the last decade.

The irony of Arenas’ misinformation is that he was a negative defender known for half-assed defensive effort, and one of the original 3-point chuckers in the league during his prime. He was a volume shooter as a pro and as a podcaster.

Agent Zero was the very definition of a Euro-style guard. During his first year in D.C., he shot 39 percent from the field. Nobody in the league had a bigger green light than Arenas, but during his career, Arenas was a league average shooter beyond the arc.

Arenas was the precursor to Damian Lillard and Trae Young’s taking logo shots on one end and playing phantom defense on the other. His amateurish take on NBA defenses is the norm not the exception. Everything he says from mocking Giannis Antetokounmpo working on his post-game with Hakeem Olajuwon to supporting Draymond Green slapping Europeans who are “takin’ the league from our people,”  should be taken with a grain of cyanide. He’s a deeply unserious troll at best or a xenophobic half wit — or both.

In retirement, Arenas has somehow parlayed a history of bad takes into a popular videocast filmed in his basement. Maybe it’s the asbestos down there, but the general public, if you’re receiving hoops insights from Arenas, your basketball IQ is getting cooked. Whether it’s a need for attention or some elite Dunning Kruger Effect at work, Arenas gets loud and wrong with the worst of them.

Find DJ Dunson on X: @cerebralsportex

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