It’s the best game of his career, at least scoring-wise. Gilbert Arenas didn’t just drop 60 points; he dropped 60 on Kobe Bryant. He didn’t just drop 60 on Kobe; he talked trash about it before the game and still delivered. As one can suspect, Arenas was feeling himself after that game. Here’s what he said to Kobe and everyone who’d listen.
"I'm the Black Mongoose"
When you think of Gilbert Arenas, you probably think of all the shenanigans he pulled during his career. From the gun in the locker room incident to getting kids at an MJ camp to chant “MJ sucks!” But behind all that clowning laid a monster scorer, and more surprisingly, a student of the game. As much as Arenas himself admits he could’ve had a better career with a more serious approach to the game at times, don’t think Agent Zero didn’t put in the hours. He’s as competitive as they come.
So despite the fact he was literally admiring Kobe while watching film in preparation for a game against the Lakers, Arenas didn’t flinch for a moment when Luke Walton showed up and said,” Kobe said he’s gonna shut you down today.” Gilbert immediately told Walton he can inform Kobe the challenge has been accepted.” I’ve always had great games against Kobe, he just brings that out of you,” said Arenas.” Once I got to cookin’, I already knew he was gonna guard me and from there it was just who can sustain it the longest.” The rest is history.
Walking to the plane after the game, Gilbert picked up that his teammate Caron Butler was on the phone with Kobe. Gil told Butler to put him on speakerphone and started yelling, “The mongoose killed the snake!” You’re the Black Mamba, I’m the Black Mongoose!” Arenas admitted he had no idea about the mongoose and shared the story behind the quote.
After the game, we walk into the locker room. We bring the huddle in, and I walk in late like 'Yo! I just scored f**cking 60 bro, 60 on f**cking Kobe Bryant!' And the coach says 'And we won the game.' [to which Arenas immediately replied] 'MAN, F**K THAT GAME! YOU KNOW HOW MUCH P**SY IMMA GET NOW?!?!? I'M ON IVERSON LEVEL, I'M GETTING ALL THE GIRLS!! YOU ALL CAN'T TELL ME NOTHING NOW!!”
Gilbert Arenas, VLAD TV
So when the team was walking to the plane, and Arenas asked Butler to put Kobe on speakerphone, Brendan Haywood pulled Gil to the side and told him to say he’s the black mongoose.” I was like ‘What the f**k is the black mongoose??’” Haywood explained the mongoose is the mamba’s natural enemy. It was all Arenas needed to know. Feeling himself, Arenas became the black mongoose.
To be fair...
Gil was fair enough to point out it wouldn’t be fair to compare his and Kobe’s scoring output that night.” I didn’t have to guard him, so I was losing no energy. You know, he’s on offense and then he had to stop me [on defense].”
We often underestimate that being a two-way player is a whole different bag of chips. A lot of the guys we put in the top echelon of the NBA - Luka, Dame, Harden - are basically taking a break on defense. MJ and Kobe were are both 9 time All-Defensive First Team, and Jordan was Defensive Player of the Year in ’88. We’ve reached a point where fans in Dallas are hoping Luka gets in shape just so he could make it through a game while resting on defense.
That’s why guys like prime Kawhi, LeBron when he feels like it or Giannis are in a league of their own. Gotta throw in KD, who improved significantly when it comes to defense. You wanna be a top-tier guy? The game is played on both sides of the court.