A million reasons to hear from Arenas
Since training camp started this NBA season, Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas has been a changed man. His quirky, fun demeanor we've all grown to love was replaced with silence. He vowed to talk to the media as little as he could because after returning from yet another injury, it was all about basketball for him, and little else.
With Arenas shuttering his famous blog for good back in March, giving more stock answers instead of his oft-entertaining quotes to the media, and having no Twitter account, one of the NBA's most entertaining and beloved characters had seemingly disappeared.
But something interesting bubbled up early Tuesday evening: Arenas' teammate JaVale McGee first tweeted this: "In five mins I'm going to break some news to Twitter about Gilbert arenas that you guys r gonna like....!!!!!"
Then this: "Gilbert arenas officially has a Twitter but has told me personally that he is not going to start tweeting until he has 1million followers...."
Then this: "So he wanted me to tell the Twitter world to follow @gilbertarenas and to get him up to a million and he'll tweet."
As of Wednesday morning when this column was published, Arenas' account was more than 1/1,000 of the way there, as Arenas had 1,205 followers. Time will tell if (A) Arenas' Twitter persona will feature his gregarious side, (B) he actually follows through with this, or (C) if he ever actually hits 1 million followers.
But it's a move that shows that for as much as Arenas oftentimes feels burned by the way his words are used in bits and pieces against him instead of for their entertainment value -- as he griped about when he shut down his blog for good -- he still wants to be a part of the conversation, and in a big way.
After all, it's one thing to open up a Twitter account. It's a whole other thing to not start tweeting until you have the attention of 1 million users.
And is there more to this? As some have pointed out, this all looks rather calculated. A planned rebirth of his Agent Zero persona, if you will. Arenas' Twitter account links to his Web site, which displays a new video titled: "The Agent Zero Show." The video is voiced by a bobblehead Arenas embodying his Agent Zero persona, pleading with the real Gilbert Arenas to return to his old ways.
Before a loss to the Pistons on Saturday night, Arenas told the media, "I'm Zero. I'm not Gilbert no more. Gilbert's not working out."
Further, the video was posted to the Web 19 days ago, so Gilbert has had this in the works for at least three weeks, and likely longer because somebody had to arrange the video production. It's just classic Arenas: always keeping us on our toes with something new, and manipulating the message.
Even if Arenas' Twitter movement is nothing more than a marketing ploy, for the sake of those who have grown to love him, here's hoping that million goal is reached, and Arenas fully becomes Agent Zero again. These days, there's no better place for an athlete than Twitter to give an authentic glimpse of their lives to fans.
Though with Arenas, I suppose it's sometimes hard to know what's authentic and what isn't.
Top recruit Skypes his decisionHarrison Barnes held us all in suspense.
After a gracious thank you to each of the six schools still on his list -- though everyone knew it was either Duke or North Carolina -- the No. 1-ranked basketball player in ESPNU's 100 for the class of 2010 sat at a table in his high school gym in Ames, Iowa, on Friday afternoon, microphones angled up at his mouth, suit adhered to his tall frame, as he uttered these words: "Today I am proud to announce the school I will attend in the fall of 2010 will be … the coach that I am going to Skype."
No, Barnes was not going to simply announce his decision the old-fashioned way. As the crowd in the gym chattered and buzzed and shushed, Barnes fired up a black MacBook while smiling from ear-to-ear, and attempted to connect to the coach of his choice via the video chat technology of the service. The coach was supposed to pop up on a video projector screen behind him to his left. After some technical difficulties, Barnes finally uttered the words everyone was waiting to hear: "Coach Roy Williams?"
The coach, along with the entire North Carolina team popped up on the screen, and a loud cheer erupted from the crowd. After some brief banter, that was that. Barnes had become a Tar Heel with the help of the Internet.
Barnes' stunt is the exclamation point on what's been a 2009 full of changes in the world of recruiting due to the Web and social media. These high schoolers are tweeting and updating their Facebook status about it now. No longer are programs only sending mailings or using the phone or even e-mailing to keep tabs on recruits; they're tracking these kids via Twitter now, too, and it's only grown since the service's explosion back at the beginning of the year.
And, well, no longer are recruits sitting at a table and tossing a hat on for the school of their choice. The game's changed.
So this all begs the question: Who's the first recruit to announce their college choice via Google Wave?
Ryan Corazza is a freelance writer and Web designer based in Chicago.