Gilbert Arenas Tribute Day began with this essay from Mike. It continues with Jon's look at Arenas' defining characteristic during his heyday: the buzzer beater.
As much as I have hated Gilbert Arenas' existence for the past two seasons, this is a bittersweet time. As part of our Gilbert Tribute day, I had the pleasure of researching highlights to find the top five buzzer beaters of his Wizards career. I honestly cannot think of a more fitting way to honor one of the greatest players in franchise history who has fallen from grace.
I was born well after the lone Bullets championship, and grew up supporting what was possibly sevond-most lackluster franchise in major professional sports, ahead of only the Clippers. Gil never led us to a title, but was the key guy on the best teams in this franchise's recent history. The fact that we expected more than playoff berths during this "Wizards revival" is thanks to Agent Zero.
Sadly, my biggest takeaway from watching all these old highlights is how much quickness Gil has lost. He is still a very good player, mostly because of his shooting, but I used to think his greatest asset was those first couple steps. Very few of Gil's initial 1-on-1 moves were highlight reel material because he somehow made blowing past defenders look so easy. Those days are gone though, and never coming back.
Despite the recent issues, Gil has given us a lot of great moments that cannot be forgotten as we rebuild. Without further adieu, here are my top five Gilbert Arenas buzzer beaters as a Wizard. Enjoy.
5) March 21, 2007 vs. Seattle Supersonics in Seattle.
Here is a little bit of that driving ability that we miss. This isn't as much quickness here as much as it's just a physical drive absorbing contact. This would also be his third buzzer beating game-winner of the season, all three of which are on this list. NBA.com notes that at the halfway point of the 2006-2007 season, "(Gil's) conversion rate on shots to end quarters, halves and game was an astonishing 11-for-11." Not sure how he ended the season, but wow.
4) January 3, 2007 vs. Bucks in D.C.
Gil's swagger is on high walking away with a straight face, but the "Dagger!" call puts this one over the top.
3) May 5, 2006 vs. Cavs in DC, game 6 of their round 1 playoff series
This one tied the game to send it to OT, and we eventually lost, but I bumped this shot up for being in the playoffs. You can certainly see the greater symbolism here of Gil being spectactular, but not doing enough to propel the Wizards past the Cavs.
2) January 15, 2007 vs. Jazz in DC
This is the signature buzzer beater by Gil, and the one I initially expected to have No. 1. Before the game, according to NBA.com's Chris Rosenbluth, Gil made the bold prediction he would:
"score 37 points and a game-winner. He was only half right. While he nailed both the latter portion of his prediction and the shot required to make it a reality, he was off by 14 points. I think he'll swap complete clairvoyance for a 51-point performance."
I can't say enough about this one, but having the hand in his face and then the bravado to turn around and walk away, arms raised, before the ball fell through the net is something special.
1) May 6, 2005 vs. Bulls, game 6 of their first round playoff series
This one is not as exciting or iconic as the Jazz one upon first glance, but this one is much more significant. This shot went very far towards clinching what was, and still is, the Wizards only playoff series win since 1982. In a way, this shot is the symbol of the great things he did for this franchise.
December 8, 2006 vs. the 76ers in Philadelphia
Skip ahead to the 2:17 mark, where Gil hits 30-footers at the end of the 1st and 2nd quarters. I remember those gold uniforms fondly.
A top 10 highlights video.