Gilbert Arenas was one of the NBA’s most colorful — and notorious — personalities during his heyday in the mid aughts. Prime Arenas was a lethal scorer who put up huge numbers in head-to-head showdowns with some of the biggest stars of the era, most notably a career-best 60-point explosion against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in 2006.
But the man who would later become “Hibachi” or “Agent Zero” wasn’t immediately a star when he entered the league. Arenas actually fell out of the first round entirely in the 2001 Draft, eventually going to Golden State with the 31st overall pick. And that reality ultimately caused him significant financial strain during his early days.
Arenas had played two seasons of college basketball at Arizona before declaring for the draft, and in anticipation of an enormous salary once he entered the league, presumably as a first-round pick, he took out a large loan to purchase a tricked-out SUV and a gold chain with a hefty price tag. After falling into the second round, Arenas was on a shoestring budget during his rookie season as he worked to pay back the loan.
Via Leo Sepkowitz of Bleacher Report:
“When I went 31,” Arenas says, “I got so mad that I threw the chain I bought out the window; gone.” Arenas’ second-round salary was something like $330,000, which was basically spent by the time he showed up at Golden State. Over his first two years in the league, Arenas’ budget was $400 per month.
“Imagine trying to be an NBA player for $400 per month,” he says. He rented a small house and took as much food as possible from the team plane. “Try going on a date in the middle of the month with $100 left. I got gas, I had two dogs and a girlfriend at the time. There was no date night! It was horrible.”
Arenas, of course, would eventually get his big payday, though his NBA career would be cut short due to injuries and off-the-court issues. He’s now found second life at the BIG3, where he plays for Enemies.
Arenas hosts the No Chill Podcast and is as outspoken as ever, mostly recently chiming in on the Devin Booker controversy about whether it’s okay to double-team in pickup games. Love him or hate him, there’s never a dull moment when it comes to Agent Zero.