I have a couple of reasons to love Gilbert Arenas. The first is a fantasy hoops related reason. I picked him up off the waiver wire in his rookie season and rode him out to a deep playoff run. Didn't pan out in the end, but you love those guys you take a chance on that blow up. The second is this photo that keeps on giving:
Kind of says it all doesn't it? You'll see that photo here at EvW from time to time because it expresses a general feeling about certain parts of the NBA that just don't have words. I suppose the third reason that I like Arenas is that he had the balls to shout, "Hibachi" when he was shooting for a while. The best reason to like Agent Zero, however, is that he blogs and says whatever he wants. Fuck David Stern.
His most recent blog is just a long rambling bunch of NBA PR about traveling in Europe, probably the result of a deal he has with the league to talk about life as a player and the rest. We get to pure Arenas when he starts talking about recent free agent transactions and trades, and he says this about Richard Jefferson:
"Richard Jefferson going to Milwaukee …. HAHAHA! Oh man, now that is funny. When I heard that, I started laughing. Oh man, did I start laughing. You know why? Because every player hates Milwaukee. Nobody wants to live in Milwaukee. I’m sorry, Milwaukee, to come down hard on you, but no one in the NBA wants to play in Milwaukee. From him going from New Jersey, actually from New York (because he lives in New York), from New York to Milwaukee is like going … let’s just say it’s not going to sit well with you. That was a funny one when I heard that one. I know Yi is happy though."
Couldn't have said it better myself, and even if I had no one would have read it. Hello? Is anyone out there...?
Mr. West and I have been saying this kind of thing for a long time. Mr. West's favorite city to beat up is Charlotte, while I've always had a thing for Milwaukee, myself. You can understand why I rushed to post here about Gil's diary. Why the fuck would anyone want to visit Milwaukee? Why would anyone want to identify with Milwaukee? Seriously.
Now, before anyone from Milwaukee stumbles onto this blog while Googling for cheese curd recipes, and gets themselves all worked up, I have a confession to make. I've never been to Milwaukee. As a father of two and a settled-in kind of grown up, I might even love the kind of lifestyle that Milwaukee has to offer. The people are probably cool and the food is probably good. I bet there's some good live music somewhere and the school system has to be nice. Russ Feingold is my kind of guy. The thing is, this isn't about me and my boring-ass excuse for a life. This is about the NBA.
The NBA has too many teams and needs to knock off at least a half dozen. Among that half dozen, Milwaukee has to be near the top of the list. It's a minor media market, overshadowed by Chicago, and is about as uncool a location as one can pull out of a hat filled with American cities. I'm not talking about actual cool. The Fonz was from Milwaukee so there has to be something cool going on. I'm talking about the kind of cool that sizzles. The NBA is a television product. That's it. They understand that, so they rake in the cash. If there was no TV, there would be no NBA. It would be an afterthought. They'd probably still play in cages and wear belts.
TV loves glitz, fashion, glamor, sizzle, pizzazz, razzle dazzle, hip hop ya don't stop rockin' to the bam to the boogie ta be. It doesn't love nice schools and good neighbors. It likes "Desperate Housewives" and "Ultimate Fighting Challenge" and "Sex and the City" and "Survivor." Milwaukee is like the equivalent of watching local public access debates on zoning regulations.
So, what was the reaction on the net to Arenas' Milwaukee rant? Let's take a peek, shall we?
Jeff Sherman of OnMilwaukee.com writes, ""Every player" hates Milwaukee? Come on, Gilbert! It's no secret that Milwaukee isn't New York City or Chicago. But we aren't some two-cow town in Iowa either. It's tough, yes, for many corporations and sports teams to recruit "stars" to smaller market cities. But, the days of "Bush League" are gone and Milwaukee can and is competing. See forbes.com, which ranked Milwaukee the ninth best city for young professionals."
Really? That's it. You state that you're not a two cow town, and point to a link at Forbes to show why young professionals can be comfortable in Milwaukee? That's the argument that Sherman chooses to defend his city as an NBA location? "Not a two cow town." Let me help you, Sherm. Try this: "Hey Gil. Fuck you. Next time you come to Milwaukee, you better hide or I'll slap you silly. Unless, of course, I'm too busy kickin' back with the Rusty P's at the club, heard?" Who's next?
Charles F. Gardner, beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, "Not all NBA players have viewed Milwaukee as a place to be avoided. Ray Allen wanted to stay here and was genuinely disappointed when he was traded to Seattle, before he eventually moved on to Boston and won a championship ring last season. Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut seem to like Milwaukee well enough and have earned long-term contracts with the franchise. Desmond Mason came back for a second contract as a free agent, after being traded to New Orleans (and protesting vehemently) a couple years ago.
Yi Jianlian's representatives wanted him out of Milwaukee and tolerated one year here, but they were delighted to get the Chinese star to a larger media market with the Nets. The player who arrived in the ill-fated Allen trade, Gary Payton, never wanted to be here and got out of town as fast as he could when he became a free agent after that 2002-'03 season."
So, let me get this straight. "Not all NBA players have viewed Milwaukee as a place to be avoided." Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Kind of more "not a two cow town" kind of defense. Then we have a list of players who kind of tolerate Milwaukee ("Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut seem to like Milwaukee well enough..."), a scrub who came back after he realized he had no other options (Desmond Mason), and two guys who hated Milwaukee (Yi Jianlian and Gary Payton). Oh, and Ray Allen loved it there. Sigh. Even the newspaper people hate Milwaukee. I hear Vin Baker loved Milwaukee's Best.
It's not even a competition. Gilbert Arenas by himself is cooler than everything that has ever happened in and around the greater Milwaukee area, ever. That's why he opted to stay in DC, which is a shit hole of a place to live, but is a quadgribillion times better NBA city than Milwaukee. Don't believe me? This is the CitySearch list of "Top 10 Milwaukee Experiences":
1. Miller Brewery Factory Tour
Sample free, ice-cold beers after witnessing how water is transformed into the tasty, frothy brew that made Milwaukee famous.
Miller sucks. That can't be your top Milwaukee experience. The beer that tastes like piss, but that is less filling so frat boys can drink until puke comes out their ears. Next.
2. Harley-Davidson Tour Center
You'll be in hog heaven watching factory workers assemble the roaring engines on America's most legendary motorcycle.
Watching factory workers assemble motorcycles is the #2 top experience in Milwaukee. I guess it works if you're drunk at 10am from your tour of the Miller plant.
Order a crisp martini and investigate a mind-boggling collection of espionage and spy paraphernalia at this one-of-a-kind back-alley bar.
Okay, a cool bar of some kind. Nice to know. I'd check it out, but I doubt there's anything mind-boggling about spy paraphernalia at a bar. Kind of like eating at T.G.I. Friday's or Bennigan's cause they have all that cool old crap on the walls.
4. Kopp's Frozen Custard Stand
It's a must-stop for not only great custard, but huge and tasty burgers.
Oh, good Lord. The #4 best experience in Milwaukee is a custard stand. Someone kill Richard Jefferson now. It's for the best.
5. Milwaukee Art Museum
Explore one of the most comprehensive collections of German Expressionist art in the country at this swooping architectural landmark on the lake.
Got nothing bad to say about museums, but it says something when yours is ranked below a brewery, motorcycle factory, and custard stand.
6. La Perla
You haven't partied until you've had a margarita and ridden the bucking mechanical red pepper at this bustling Mexican restaurant.
Y'know, I actually think this might be right. I may not have partied until I get my ass to Milwaukee to get drunk on margarita's and ride a bucking mechanical red pepper. Except that I'm sure I saw some shit like that when I was partying in Amsterdam, dodging street cars, while evading the wolfman clone-bots chasing me out of that coffee shop.
Try the E.B.A. (Everything But Anchovies) pizza and you'll understand why people have been flocking to this tiny joint for decades.
That's what I hate about Milwaukee most, and the reason I harbor this not so secret resentment of its Midwestern sensibilities...no fucking anchovies.
8. Miller Park
Witness the famous sausage race where Brewers fans dress as brats and run around the stadium after the sixth inning.
This is the double-whammy of sadness. The baseball park is listed 8th on this list, behind a brewery of swill, a motorcycle factory, a custard stand, and a bucking, mechanical red pepper. Part two is that the Brewers aren't even part of the attraction, but the racing sausages are.
Sip one of the best cosmos in town and keep your eyes peeled for your favorite Bucks player at this ultrahip bar.
I love this. Cosmos are so-2002. Bucks players aren't going to show up there because they're all in their agents' offices making physical threats about leaving town. Even if they were there, they'd be Charlie Bell, Dan Gadzuric, Royal Ivey, and Jake Voskhul. I have cooler collections of lint in my bellybutton than that. (True story).
10. Mars' Cheese Castle
Become a true cheese head and take home farm animal-shaped cheese from this quirky roadside landmark.
What would a list of great Milwaukee experiences be without the quirky roadside landmark, especially when combined with farm animal-shaped cheese. No wonder Latrell Sprewell is such an angry prick. He grew up in Milwaukee. He probably had his high school prom at the Mars Cheese Castle.
After reading this list, even people from Milwaukee are laughing at Richard Jefferson and buying Gilbert Arenas jerseys. Gotta love that.