Long live Agent Zero. I mean I love Gilbert Arenas too, but Agent Zero, Hibachi, or whatever other nickname he chose to don himself with was worlds better because that's who Arenas became when the lights were the brightest.
Back in 2007 I was going to college at a very small school in Everett, WA called Puget Sound Christian College. Everett is about 30 minutes north of Seattle (on a good day) so going to Sonics' games was a pretty easy and surprisingly affordable thing for a college kid to do. The nose-bleed seats in Key Arena weren't all that bad, so we would grab a group of friends and head out for the night to see some action.
This night -- March 21, 2007 -- I had been lucky enough to be given 10 free tickets from my parents. They got them for being season ticket holders for the Seattle Storm and I was thrilled that my friends and I would get to watch Agent Zero in the flesh, for the very low price of "Free99". Let me reiterate that the Sonics were horrid in the 2006-07 season finishing with a final record of 31-51. The starters were Luke Ridnour, Damien Wilkins, Nick Collison, Rashard Lewis and Chris Wilcox -- that's pretty much all you need to know.
We headed up toward the rafters, found our seats and started to discuss the players and who we were all excited to see. Eight of the people I took were all born and raised in Washington and were die hard Sonics fans -- my future wife was included in that group of people who were clearly ignorant to the greatness that was Gilbert Arenas in 2007. However, one of my best friends to this day Glen Suckow and I did not hold it against them...until later.
The Wizards had two of my favorite players on their roster at the time -- Antawn Jamison and Gilbert. Jamison had been a long-time favorite due to him being a former Tar Heel and pretty much anyone who fits that description I root for with piss and vigor (save for Brendan Haywood who was also in this game). Jamison played well finishing with an array of shots as he usually did and he ended up with 21 points and seven rebounds though he only shot 7-21 from the floor.
I had a small place in my heart for the Sonics as well, because I had always loved Luke Ridnour (still do, don't ask) and he was the starting point guard. He had a cult following while he played for the Sonics because he was from Blaine, WA where he was a high school standout before heading off to the University of Oregon. Ridnour didn't have the best game but he finished with 12 points, four rebounds and five assists in the game. The stars for the Sonics on this night were Chris Wilcox (yes you read that correctly) and Rashard Lewis, who was still a superstar at this point. Wilcox had a ridiculous 27 points and 20 rebounds on 11-20 from the field and Lewis had 26 points and 10 rebounds on 9-24 shooting.
Arenas was exquisite all night long and he finished the night with 42 points, seven assists and a buzzer beater that I will remember for the rest of my life -- mostly for what happened shortly after he hit the shot. Arenas torched the likes of Ridnour and Earl Watson all night long, much to the dismay of the majority of our crowd. Glen and I just sat with amazement watching the ease and style of Arenas and we got dogged for it all night.
Fast forward to the end of the game. There are 14 seconds left and Darius Songaila had just hit one out of two free throws to give the Wizards a 106-104 lead. Sonics call a timeout and even given Wilcox' success on the night, everyone in the arena knows the ball is going to Lewis. The play worked and Lewis drew a shooting foul on Michael Ruffin and he calmly stepped to the line and knocked down both free throws to tie the game. The problem? He went too early and there were still 10 deadly seconds left for Arenas to transform into Agent Zero and rip the hearts from this raucous crowd.
I think you know what happened next -- just listen to the sweet sound of Kevin Calabro's voice as he makes the call with Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkins...
What you don't see in this video (I couldn't find it I tried for hours!) is Gilbert taking off his jersey and slowly laying it name side up on center court in Key Arena, and walking off with a swag that you can't imagine. Every time people bring up Nick Young and the SwaggyP nickname, I think of this moment that I got to share with thousands of people in Seattle -- although I felt like I was alone watching a personal show Agent Zero put on just for me.
Bravo sir, bravo.