Gilbert Arenas 'Ecstatic' to Be Magic's Sixth Man
"I was at the gym (in Washington) when they told me. I grabbed two pairs of shoes, bought my own plane ticket and got here as quickly as I could,'' Arenas said Saturday night. "By halftime, I was here working out (on the practice court).''
Arenas, who grew up in nearby Tampa, had begged the Magic to draft him when he came into the league in 2001. They didn't. He asked for a competitive offer two years ago when he became a free agent. They declined.
The third time he asked, it worked when the Magic traded for him, giving him a new start to his very colorful and controversial career.
"I grew up a Magic fan. Penny Hardaway was my favorite player,'' he said. "I've spent my summers here. I'm ecstatic about this.''
Arenas, whose NBA career has been marked by both excellence and bad decisions, volunteered Saturday night to become the team's sixth man on a roster that is overloaded with players accustomed to starting.
The Magic also acquired Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson from Phoenix. And Arenas thinks they should be starting at small forward and shooting guard, respectively.
"We haven't discussed it (his role) yet, but I was coming off the bench in Washington (for seven of his 21 games). I can do it here,'' he said. "I'm here to score and make plays for others. It's easy. If you have an open shot, you take it. If not, pass it to Dwight (Howard).''
Although the Magic lost Saturday night to Philadelphia, Arenas was all smiles on the practice court, thrilled to be leaving Washington, where he had the best and worst years of his career. For him, it was a reunion with Richardson and Magic GM Otis Smith. All three were in Golden State together. Arenas also will wear No. 1, the same number that Hardaway wore for the Magic.
"This is a new beginning for me, a true new beginning, a new city a new team and new teammates,'' he said. "I get a fresh start. I've watched these guys play every year. They know how to play. They know how to win. I've never played with a big guy like Dwight, who dominates a game. I'm looking forward to this chance.''