NBA Lockout Classics: 2006 - Gilbert Arenas comes home to L.A. and drops 60 on Kobe and the Lakers
Back in the day, when Gilbert was Hibachi, he was the second most lethal scorer in the NBA. On this night, he faced off with the most lethal scorer in the NBA, Kobe Bean Bryant.
It was one hell of a duel on this night as the Bean dropped 45 and even got 15 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds out of Luke Walton. But the Hibachi was here to grill them all, laying down a whopping 60 points on his hometown Los Angeles Lakers.
For everyone watching, this was the birth of the NBA’s next great scoring super-star. Sure, Gilbert had already made a name for himself since averaging over 29 points a game in the prior season but this was a game that would cement his legend in NBA folklore.
Little did we know that Gil’s rising star had peaked. This was the top of the mountain. On second thought, this wasn’t actually the top of the mountain, but this was as high as Gilbert’s career would take him. I’d call his career a flash in the pan but that wouldn’t do him any justice. Gilbert didn’t fall off because his game reached it’s full potential or because he became lazy and he never reached his potential. Agent Zero’s career was curtailed by knee injury after knee injury. Gil and the Wiz would go on to make the playoffs this year, only to get swept by LeBron and their rival Cavs. Then the injuries would pile up and we’d never see Happy Gil again.
It’s rare, especially in the NBA, that one can point at a specific moment or a specific game of a players career and say, “that’s the moment that his career peaked”. I think that’s why this game is so great to me. It’s not just the fact that Gilbert did this in his homecoming. It’s not even the instant-classic duel between an NBA legend and one man who’s legacy might get lost in the NBA mythos. This game is great to me because of the fact that one can sit down and draw Gilbert’s career arch and at the very top, this game would stand alone.
via Myles Brown