The Wizards were up one with 15.1 seconds left in overtime. Gilbert Arenas was at the line, looking to push the Cavs to Game 7 of their first-round matchup. It was supposed to be just another day at the office for Gil. But then, he was patted on the shoulder. It was LeBron.
If you miss these, you know who’s going to make it.Gilbert Arenas, AMA Reddit
Three dribbles and a ball-spin later, Mike Brown is drawing a play for the Cavs to close out the series. After getting trapped near the half-court, LeBron passed the ball to Larry Hughes, who made the extra pass to Damon Jones in the corner. Jones, who had just entered the game, hit the long two to put Cleveland up by one, as he did what Arenas couldn’t do – seal the game for his team.
For that one second, I became human and thought about it.Gilbert Arenas, Fubo Sports
It was LeBron’s insecurity injection that had Arenas thinking about it. The mental block that created had Arenas’ routine turn into a Herculian task, and at that point, there was no way around it for Gil. Upstroke – confidence shook and a growing fear of the long term hit on his mental approach to the game.
‘All I thought about was Nick Anderson,’ said Gil referring to the Magic guard missing four straight clutch free throws in Game 1 of the ’95 NBA Finals. Long-term-effects-wise, that’s a good parallel to draw, since Anderson’s career went south after that infamous sequence. Not wanting the same thing to happen to him, Arenas ‘sat in the gym, shooting a couple of thousand of free throws.’ He even took it a step further.
I went to the guy who trains militaries, black ops, all mental stuff. He put me through all these mental breakdowns and things that mentally challenge you.Gilbert Arenas, Fubo Sports
That’s where any parallel with Nick Anderson stops, as Arenas got out of the slump and didn’t let a single moment define him as a basketball player. What could’ve been his breaking point, Gil turned into the main source of motivation. And when dealing with controversy as an NBA player, that’s the best way to do it.