Skip to main content

Why Gilbert Arenas was scared to join Kobe Bryant on the Lakers

Gilbert-Arenas-Kobe-Bryant

In February 2012, while the Lakers were finishing off their six-game road trip in Toronto, the team's general manager Mitch Kupchak held a private workout with a 30-year-old Gilbert Arenas.

Lakers hit me up, and I had a tryout. I'm in there; I probably took about 400 shots -- missed 5. I was flamin'.

Gilbert Arenas, Fubo Sports

Arenas was coming off a 49-game season with the Magic, averaging just 8.0 points on 34.4 percent shooting. Orlando waived the veteran point guard via the NBA's amnesty clause provision during the preseason, taking his $62 million contract off of its salary cap.

Meanwhile, the Lakers were in pursuit of a point guard option to bolster their championship hopes. They had their eyes on Arenas, who was looking to make his NBA comeback after going through procedures on both of his knees and hips. But despite his incredible workout in front of the team's representatives, Gil didn't feel ready for LA's spotlight.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

This was right after the gun thing, so my mind, it ain't really settled yet. So when I'm thinking about the LA market, the media, and I'm like, 'Man, everything I do there they're gonna be like, you are a problem in the locker room,' and that's all that went to my brain, so I talked myself out of a job.

Gilbert Arenas, Fubo Sports

The fact it was mid-season didn't help Gilbert's case. He felt there wasn't enough time for him to get into game shape, especially in the environment where Kobe Bryant was the one setting standards. Gil knew he couldn't meet those so quickly, and he decided against joining the Lakers.

I wasn't the player he was looking for. I wasn't Agent Zero, and I was afraid that he was gonna push me like that. You gotta remember Agent Zero was a whole different person, and I didn't wanna be that person because that person got me in trouble.

Gilbert Arenas, Fubo Sports

Kobe also didn't want all the extra stuff that went hand in hand with Agent Zero at the time. Locker room shenanigans, pranking teammates, gun incidents -- none of those would've increased the Lakers' championship chances. However, Agent Zero's impact on the court would. But unfortunately, the Lakers couldn't have one without the other.

You challenge me; I want the smoke. In a game, they tell me I can't do something; I want the smoke. That's what drove me. What got me in trouble is making me good too. You ain't gonna hit the game-winner -- I'm 'bout to hit this one and tomorrow's game-winner. That was the confidence of that. So once I got in trouble, I didn't want it no more. So when he was like, 'Yo, I want Agent Zero,' I'm like, 'Oh, no. I don't wanna be that guy.'

Gilbert Arenas, Fubo Sports

The NBA's bad boy decided it was time for a change, and that was great. It's just a shame his professional transformation conditioned the one on a personal level. The upstroke was a calmer version of Arenas, both on and off the court and that wasn't the player Kobe wanted on the team. He didn't know it at the time, but Agent Zero sure did.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Patrick Beverley

"Patrick Beverley in the playoffs is an issue" — Iman Shumpert speaks on Patrick Beverley's value to the Los Angeles Lakers

Not everyone can see it right now, but Shumpert understands the importance of Pat Bev to the Lakers.

kobe-bryant-shaquille-o'neal-min

"It was an unmitigated slaughter calling out Shaq on everything" — Kobe Bryant savagely criticized Shaquille O'Neal in an unreleased statement

Sports Illustrated's Howard Beck talked about at the unpublished Kobe interview where he apparently ripped Shaq like never before.

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan

"He’ll give you the shirt off his back" — Juwan Howard's Michael Jordan story reveals the other side of Black Jesus

Juwan Howard expected to get trash-talked to death upon seeing Michael Jordan in Los Angeles.

Boston Celtics legend Kevin Mchale, Marcus Smart, Blake Griffin, Grant Williams, Malcom Brogdon

“The team honestly is stronger than any one coach” — Kevin McHale explains why Ime Udoka's scandal did not crumble the Boston Celtics

Celtics legend Kevin McHale admitted that he thought Udoka's suspension would significantly affect the Boston Celtics

New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin and forward Carmelo Anthony

"Multiple points of opposition" — Jeremy Lin addresses Carmelo Anthony's rumored jealousy and who squashed Linsanity

Rumors suggested that Carmelo Anthony played a part in the New York Knicks' decision not to re-sign Jeremy Lin.

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving and New York Knicks guard Stephon Marbury

“They hate your existence because you’re persistent and consistent” — Stephon Marbury has Kyrie Irving’s back

Marbury also said that Kyrie is a true leader and someone he wants his son to look up to.

Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau and point guard Nate Robinson

Nate Robinson opens up on Tom Thibodeau’s rigidity — “He wanted everybody to be just, like, Army serious all the time”

Tom Thibodeau seemingly wanted his players to be as serious as him, but that approach has seen a mixed bag of results in the past years.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson and guard Byron Scott

Byron Scott reminisces on Showtime Lakers feasting on home-cooked meals prepared by their moms

Scott's story shows how much of a tightknit family the Showtime Lakers were.