Either way, I’m a little surprised no one told Gilbert Arenas this MySpace stuff almost always ends in tears. DC Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg on an unusual friendship between an NBA superstar and the teen he met online.
Eventually, high school junior Garrett Cleary–still not convinced that his new electronic friend was actually Gibert Arenas–asked whether they might meet in person. Gil said sure, and directed Garrett to come down to the Verizon Center for one of his summer workouts in ’06.
“I was like, ‘Ok, it’s either a security guard pranking me, or it’s actually him,’ ” Garrett recalls thinking. “If he said, ‘Meet me on a street corner,’ I wasn’t gonna do it.”
So, as instructed, Garrett went to the arena’s security office and said he was there to meet Gilbert.
“They didn’t believe me,” he said. “The people at security had no idea. I was kind of weirded out.”
So Garrett went home, and messaged Gilbert what had happened. Gilbert said he would get it worked out, and two days later Garrett tried again. This time he was escorted down to the practice court, where the all-star guard was shooting around.
“He was like, ‘I’m Gilbert,’ ” Garrett told me. “It was like, ‘obviously.’ “
Garrett stayed for a bit, and they played video games in the players lounge, and Gilbert gave him a basketball and his new Gil Zeros–before they had been released–and that was that, since Gil had to leave for a game that night at Barry Farms.
“It was just unbelievable, kind of,” Garrett said. “I mean, he’s an NBA all-star, and all of the sudden I’m sitting in the players lounge talking to him. That was kind of weird. I was star struck, but at the same time, it was like talking to a friend.”
“The first time I asked him for his autograph he was like, ‘Why do you want this, you know me?’ ” Garrett said. “After that I was kind of like, ‘Yeah, that’s true.’