While explaining his relationship with the GOAT, Gilbert Arenas reminisced of the time he went to his first Jordan Camp ever. Not to be confused with the “Jordan Brand Classic,” an invite-only mini-camp and prestigious international showcase of the finest NBA prospects. The camp Hibachi was talking about was a fundamentals camp for young basketball players, for which he was one of the counselors.
Gilbert said that he came into the camp as a nobody, given the fact he had just finished high-schoool, and it was one of his first times leaving the Valley. To his surprise, Michael Jordan picked him alongside Brian Scalabrine, Sean Lampley, and few other players who Arenas jokingly in retrospect called a “bunch of no ones.” According to Gil, Jordan’s logic was that by putting together a team of players no one has ever heard of, he would end up taking all the shots for the duration of the week-long camp. Now, you can only imagine how excited Gil must have been because he was going to play on the same team as Micheal.
Agent Zero recalled everything going to plan in MJ’s mind until the first game when he got subbed into the game. While reflecting on that moment, he also jokingly said the following:
And so Gil went into the game and, in classic Hibachi fashion, took the first eight shots which, according to him, were “all money.” According to Arenas, this went on, and by day 3 of the camp, he had all the kids chanting “MJ sucks, Gilbert is better.” It seems like a stretch, right? Well, Gil did, however, admit that since he was considered to be the “fun counselor,” he was able to convince the kids to start the chant whenever he started scoring.
“And so I had the Damon Wayans’ kids, I had Lil Romeo who’s Master P’s son… So I had all those kids screaming while I’m in there getting buckets, like I was scoring 40 a night.”Gilbert Arenas, Fubo Sports
Apparently, that alongside his work ethic, made Jordan come up to Arenas give, him some words of encouragement, and compare him to an already established NBA player:
“He said you remind me of a player on my team.”Gilbert Arenas, Fubo Sports
Hearing that got Gil hype as he was expecting to be compared to NBA legend Scottie Pippen, but when MJ told him that his game actually reminded him of Randy Brown, Arenas was pissed:
“I was like who?! Fu*k you mean Randy brown?!”Gilbert Arenas, Fubo Sports
The compliment rubbed Agent Zero in the wrong way, and basically put him in a headspace where he was determined to ball out and never pass the rock to MJ until the end of the camp:
“So I was sitting there, like, ISOing MJ, like GTFO… I’ll show you Randy Brown!”Gilbert Arenas, Fubo Sports
Later, Arenas was again approached by Jordan to ask him what his plans are for the upcoming season at Arizona. After Gil told him he was probably going to be a ‘redshirt’ his freshman year, MJ told him he would personally call Lute Olson to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“And then an article came out that MJ called Lute Olson and told him he had a diamond in the rough, and that most likely I’ll be playing big minutes.”Gilbert Arenas, Fubo Sports
Two years after their encounter at Jordan’s camp, Gilbert Arenas in his sophomore year led Arizona to the national championship game, where they lost to the Blue Devils, 82–72. Shortly after the tournament, Arenas announced that he was foregoing his last two years at college and would enter the 2001 NBA draft.
The rest is history. Hibachi went on to have an all-star career, scoring 11,402 points during his tenure in the NBA, but looking at this story, the best moment of his basketball career might have been the time a bunch of young campers in Santa Barbara chanted his name, rather than the GOATs.